PAX AUS Hit List: Five video game panels you really should check out

Holy Heck, PAX Australia is this week! EVERYONE PANIC! Panels! Video games! Tabletop! Cosplay! ARGH! What do we do?!

Alternately, maybe you’re the planning type, and you’ve got a carefully arranged schedule already planned out on an interactive spreadsheet. Or maybe you just need someone to cut through the mess of stuff on offer over the three days of the show – kicking off this Friday morning at Melbourne’s Convention and Exhibition Center, and running until Sunday – and that’s exactly what I'm going to be doing this week, offering up some of the best panels and events to lock into your calendar.

Today, I'm looking at some of the more interesting panels around video games. Not necessarily ones with big name devs and massive crowds, but ones that offer a truly unique look at games, gamers, and gaming.

Let’s Hack a Video Game – Friday, 1PM, Gamespot Theatre

“Have you ever wondered how you might go about breaking into a video game, and twisting its gross, hidden insides to your will? Join Lance McDonald (Warpchair), known for cracking open hidden Bloodborne and Dark Souls secrets, as he performs a live hack of PS1 horror classic Silent Hill using only cutting edge technology from 1999. We’ll show processes, talk methods, and answer your questions about video game hacking!”

Switched On: Mental Health Representation in Video Games – Friday, 2PM, Ibis Theatre

“Switched On delves into the world of how mental illness is portrayed in the gaming world. Do games help or hinder in reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness? Can games assist in therapy via escapism? From the good, the bad and the downright ugly - from Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice to Heavy Rain, join our panellists in tackling the realities of powerful plot lines involving mental illness.”

Turning Passion into Profession: How to Establish a Career in Esports – Saturday, 1.30PM, Kookaburra Theatre

“The rise of Esports has created new opportunities for a growing number of gamers aspiring to become professional players. However, just like a pro-athlete, there’s more to competitive gaming than just having a quick trigger finger. So what does it take to be a professional in the esports scene? Join our panel of experts, including Eddy Goyanes, Product Marketing Manager at Alienware, Ben Williams, Commercial Director, Gfinity Esports Australia, and team members of Melbourne Order!”

IGEA Gaming Stories: Once Upon a Start Menu – Saturday, 3PM, Kookaburra Theatre

“We want to hear stories about how games have impacted you! Have your say and contribute to the next phase of Australia’s single most important piece of gaming industry research, the #DA20. The #DA series began in Australia in 2005 and is the pre-eminent, and highly referenced longitudinal study into the demographics of people who play games, the general attitudes towards games in Australia and more recently, how games are being used beyond pure entertainment.”

Why The Mainstream Media's Reporting On Fortnite Is Dumb And Harmful – Sunday, 12PM, Gamespot Theatre

“The mainstream media’s coverage of the popular battle royale game Fortnite has been discouraging. Over-the-top, sensational, and unsubstantiated stories are hurting gaming’s perception for the mainstream audience. Come watch a panel of experts discuss why that’s happening and what can be done about it.”

And that’s just a taste. If you want to see what else is on offer – and trust me, there are more panels than you can poke a stick at – you can check out the show’s full schedule here. And I’ll be back tomorrow with a list of the best tabletop panels and events for all those dice-addicted boardgamers and roleplayers out there!