Raffles Plays at PAX 2016
15 November 2016
Written by Alan Chen
Each year, thousands of people flock to Melbourne for International Games week. It is an amalgamation of developer events such as GCAP (Games Connect Asia Pacific) and Unite, with award nights, seminars, networking opportunities and many other game activities. The largest of the events, and arguably the most popular is PAX, a consumer games festival that brings together the biggest developers and studios; and places them alongside independent titles, colleges, retailers and consumers. Games Week is attended by approximately 60,000 people who are as varied as the games featured, with the lion’s share concentrated around PAX.
PAX is spread over three days - Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Exhibitors however, were setting up on Thursday and it was both chaotic and entertaining to see the multimillion dollar Playstation, XBOX, Twitch and Razor stands being built from scratch. Being situated right near these world class developers, Raffles could have easily been wearing Harry’s Cloak of Invisibility had we approached our set up by using screens and tech. Instead, we took a gamble on traditional mediums; we painted a mural over three days and offered hand drawn commissions to eager members of the public.
From day one, we were warmly received by people who had never heard of us, and did not expect live art as entertainment. Saturday proved to be the biggest of the three days as the queues started from the early morning and extended from within the exhibition hall to outside the convention centre. Seeing 6000 people pour into the exhibition hall within 30 minutes of its opening was both impressive and daunting. People love games, and facts like Grand Theft Auto 5 making one billion dollars in 24 hours are not surprising at all when, early on a Sunday morning, you find yourself standing among thousands of happy people who are giddy with excitement at every game they see. This is a passionate crowd who wear their geekdom as a badge of honour.
Raffles game design students Eshlie, Lorenzo, John and Carlo were right at home in PAX. Huge numbers of people queued up to play their student games, a testament to the skill they possess and the quality of the boot camp they have been part of at Raffles.
At the end of the day, when the pixels have settled, we look at PAX as an amazing experience. For the students, it was a chance to get noticed on a world stage and rub shoulders with the giants that they may someday work for. For Raffles, it was the first step of many into the commercial world of the game and entertainment design arena.