It felt like old times. After a two-year hiatus due to stupid CoVID, Penny Arcade Expo Australia returned to its former glory. This time we decided to spend a few more nights down in Melbourne and stayed across from the exhibition centre. From our window we had a great view of the river as well as the line to get in. Since we were about a 30 second walk to get there, we were able to utilise this surveillance spot to make tactical logistics decisions. Very handy indeed.

A grey day in Melbourne.

A grey day in Melbourne. Forecast is for showers and geekery.

As usual our focus was on the panels and presentations. The PAX Q&A sessions remain the biggest drawcard for me. Jerry’s eloquence and charisma have been widely commented on before, so I won’t go into details. Kris Straub (AKA Kris Strawberry, Australian Mike) is now, I would say, not a substitute but a genuine product on the stage. As it was the 10th year of PAX Aus there was a birthday vibe to the proceedings, combined with the persistent troll-the-Yanks-with-Australiana-themed-questions. Jerry even gave Shelley a party bag. Panel highlights included a fireside-style retrospective from composer Mick Gordon. It was a decade ago that we all sat down to hear him speak for the first time and participate in some impromptu foley work for Killer Instinct. As his standing has grown over the years, so has the number of sequins and shiny adornments (some would say ‘bling’). He’s earned those sparkly shoes, in my opinion.

The other highlight was Meena Shamalay and St├ęphanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe highlighting the links between “Classical music” and video game music. It’s the first time I’ve seen Meena in person and if it hadn’t been for the large crowds I would have asked him for a photo. The only other time I’ve ever done that was after hearing Mick Gordon speak here in Canberra. I still feel a bit embarrassed.

We also went to a composer panel where we reviewed five different takes on a game trailer cue. Each participant had only a few days to put together a version of their own. It was a great way to start discussion. In the halls and surrounding environs two hypercolour Stormtroopers stole the show with their antics. It’s not often you see two brightly coloured soldiers of the Empire dancing with two giant Pikachus. In fact, I’d wager this was probably the first time it ever happened.

Outside of the show we spent a considerable amount of time at The General Assembly and Crown – the South-Bank drink prices are slightly less South-Bank in the casino proper. We met some of Shelley’s southern colleagues and we also had the opportunity to catch up with Wolfie. This is the first time I’d met him in the flesh and the first time I’ve met someone from the Cooking With BuzzMoo community. We had a grand time and a grand banquet at The Spice Temple. These are the perks of being a mod for a Twitch channel. There’s something about Sichuan cuisine that sets it apart from other Chinese varieties. I’m going to say it’s the pepper.

We wrapped the trip up with the obligatory merch haul (I quite liked the retro-VHS flavour of this year’s offerings) and a flight back to Canberra that was only slightly delayed. Another one for the books. What will next year hold?