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PAX Aus 2014

Owning Your Geek –

Over the weekend, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre was overrun by a subculture fiercely fighting its way into the mainstream: Geekdom. PAX was established in Washington, USA in 2004 as an annual event dedicated to the world of gaming. With an impassioned interest in gaming, we decided to check it out.

The art of play is something that holds great significance for us, not only for productive escapism, but for the value found in strategic intellectual exercise. As children we learn through play. Monopoly teaches the value of finance; Scrabble teaches the value of words. We begin to develop social skills through game play. When we reach older age, games are often a part of maintaining acuity of mind and promoting ongoing social engagement. From this, we can see no reason for game play not to be a part of our lives through all stages. Gaming is a world where strategic development, ethical questions and intellectual challenges are presented, ultimately forcing you to think critically in a split second.


PAX is the gamer’s chance to exercise their inner self in a place where oddity is the norm. Hours spent immersed in alter-worlds, creating alter-egos to fight alter-baddies are exemplified through extreme, detailed and character obsessed costumes. Learning that this is a specific facet of gaming, Cosplay, we are introduced to the breadth of the world of gaming. We find that board games are seeing a huge resurgence, while live games offer players the opportunity to physically act out their ultimate gaming fantasy. More often than not, this involves geeks, medieval garb and plastic swords in your local park.

The PAX schedule offers up some excellent panel discussions. First up, we checked out ‘Owning Your Geek’ which was led by Skairidis Gunsmith, co-founder of Beta Bar. The talk covered the process of creating a business out of your passion, with one caveat: the passion was deeply geeky.

Lawrence Leung articulated the three things he believes it takes to do achieve success in independent business: money, time and talent.

The first panelist was Graeme Orr, founder of Forgotten Worlds, an arcade bar in Collingwood. He was joined by Ben McKenzie, self-described ‘actor, comedian, rogue nerd, ginger’. Currently developing a comedy audio series, Ben asked us to picture Susan from Neighbours, doing Dr. Who. Our disbelieving cackles were met with the response, “no really, it’s actually Susan from Neighbours doing Dr. Who.” Lawrence Leung, the most well known of the group, is a screen-writer, comedian, rubik’s cube enthusiast and television personality. The final member of the panel was Bonnie Bradley, also co-founder of Beta Bar- a pop up gaming event space.

From the discussion, universal ideas about starting a business came to the fore. They all owned their geek and in turn, knew their audience. By acknowledging and defining their offering and the meaning behind it, they were confident in what they were creating. A number of the panelists talked about the virtues of crowd-funding, which helped them to kickstart their business. Not only did crowd-funding provide them with vital funds to get things going, but it exposed them to communities who would back their offering when it finally came to fruition.


Lawrence Leung articulated the three things he believes it takes to do achieve success in independent business: money, time and talent. With only money and time, you are lacking the driving force that will make your business unique. With only money and talent, you simply won’t get anything done. But, with time and talent, you have an opportunity to find the third piece through a number of avenues. You have a chance.

Rejecting the fear of failure, each panelist could safely say they just went for it. When asked what they were doing before they went into business on their own, all answered “not much”, or “worked in I.T for a bit” (which pleased the crowd inordinately). They didn’t allow their previous position to hold them back from pursuing their passion.

Ben McKenzie stated the following, “write gags you care about and people might laugh.” He makes a vital point. The user, viewer or consumer you create for is an intelligent being, who is more than capable of reading validity, credibility and honesty. By allowing your passion for what you do to emanate through your work, people will believe you.

Next week, we’ll look into the importance of using games and play for personal growth and workplace culture. Fun and play in the workplace can often be trivialised, but we can show you the value of incorporating this into your business. Here’s a taste: