We all knew it was coming but the news was finally made official on June 16: PAX Aust and PAX West have been cancelled (*insert sad face*)… and replaced with something even bigger: PAX ONLINE 2020!! It’s not enough to create a huge virtual event; they are going to bring the Northern and Southern Hemispheres together and create the ultimate global gaming event 24 hours a day over 9 days ALL FOR FREE.
Okay, okay. Everyone, calm down a bit. This is some absolutely out-there news and I need a minute to process it. The COVID-19 Pandemic has changed how we do a lot of things, including big social events like conventions. This virus is damn horrible and I wouldn’t wish even the mildest version on anyone. Most of us understand as they close down events, they are doing it for our health and safety AND to limit the impact on hospitals and health providers.
So, when they announced PAX Aust was cancelled for 2020, my mood was:
I mean, we already knew PAX West was on tenterhooks, and here in Australia, everything is being cancelled including protests (but not football–don’t ask).
PAX Aust is, however, one of the biggest gaming events in Australia (if not The Biggest). Many indie developers of both video games and tabletop games LIVE for PAX; mostly because there really is nothing else like it in Australia and flights to anywhere other than Bali and New Zealand are really expensive.
This “PAX Online” could be a real boon for everyone, not just the Aussies. In fact, I think there may be many more international parties attending this event. So let’s have a look at what is included.
What’s On the Schedule?
PAX Online is the combination of PAX Aust and PAX West with added support from EGX (the largest gaming event in the UK). It will be a digital space encompassing everything to do with gaming, streaming live 24-hours for 9-days (Sept 12 to Sept 20). This would normally be an exhausting effort but by splitting their work across three separate time-zones, it is going to be pretty smooth.
According to the Press Release, there will still be plenty of demos, esports tournaments, and indie showcase opportunities. They are lining up game reveals and hands-on experiences, as well as the opportunity to speak with developers about the experience. They have also opened for Panel Submissions, so there will still be plenty of community discussion and workshops–one of my fave features of PAX, both to attend and present.
And for those who can’t bear having a gap in your annual PAX Merchandise collection, there will still be plenty of loot to grab in the PAX Online Store.
What About Tabletop?
This is the one area I am REALLY curious to see how they manage it. Because tabletop games do not carry well into the digital setting. Sure, there are some games you can play online or you can set up a video camera with people and match your game to everyone else for each move but from personal experience, it is a pain in the meeple. When scanning the room for new tabletop games, my best results come from sitting down with the developers and other players, feeling the quality of the publishing, joking about the rules, and seeing the interaction in person. I know the PAX organisers feel the same way so I will trust them and wait to see how they manage this facet.
It is still early days; the news was only released June 16 and the event itself is a solid 3-months away. There will be plenty of hype leading up and plenty of opportunities to see what is involved. GeekMom and GeekDad have always loved PAX, attending almost every event across the globe. Who knows–maybe we might organise our own Global GeekMom / GeekDad Panel after all? Stay tuned for more news as it is made available.
Panel Submissions close July 24th–for more information found here.
Applications for developers to register for PAX Online Indie Showcase close July 17th–for more information found here.