PAX AUS 2017: Omegathon, Plus One

PAX Australia is an annual gaming convention that runs for 3 days in Melbourne, Australia. A few weeks before PAX AUS 2017, my partner was chosen to compete in the PAX AUS 2017 Omegathon. For those who don’t know what Omegathon is; Omegathon is a knock-out tournament where attendees of PAX AUS are randomly selected to engage in six different games throughout the 3-day convention. I had the privilege to attend and follow this journey as a ‘plus one’.

When everyone met for the first time, although some Omegathon competitors were shy at the start, everyone was welcoming. Each Omeganaut is allowed a plus one, complimentary tickets if needed for family and/or friends to come watch you compete, one Omeganaut t-shirt to wear during competition that you can keep, a special PAX AUS badge that says “Omeganaut” just in case people don’t know you’re special, and 1-hour early entry into PAX on the Friday with the media. Unlike the other tournaments at PAX, in Omegathon all contestants compete on stage in front of a live audience with the grand final being the closing ceremony of PAX AUS. Even if you get knocked out in the earlier rounds, you are more than welcome to still enter early into the theatres to watch the tournament with the rest of the remaining competitors.

My partner ended up getting knocked out in the second round and had the itch (understandably) to enter more competitions which clashed with some of the Omegathon rounds. Although I was not an Omeganaut and had attended some rounds on and off for the past few years, I found myself attending every single round of PAX AUS 2017 Omegathon, wanting to see it through to the end. I had befriended the Omeganauts and gained reasons to stay, continuing to cheer on the remaining contestants. Despite some players never returning to watch the tournament after being knocked out, many eliminated competitors returned for the same reasons I did.

Every single round of Omegathon was intense and entertaining. Each round is designed to find the ultimate all-round gamer, always using various genres on different platform such as console games, card games, board games, arcade games etc. Although you are told the games you are going to competitively play beforehand (to possibly practice if you wish), you aren’t told which platforms the games will be on. The only round you where you aren’t disclosed any game information is the final. But more likely than not, the final game is usually found in the convention expo hall and/or table top area.

At the final event of PAX AUS 2017, I found myself (despite my best efforts) tearing up. I have been to PAX Australia every single year since it started in 2013 and have never been moved enough to cry about it ending until now. I’m not even an Omeganaut but had now formed a special bond with the contestants, their plus ones, and I didn’t want it to end. We had formed friendships, in-jokes and a shared experience that only very few would relate to. I was especially upset when I found out because I am not an Omeganaut, I couldn’t join the special Facebook group. Naturally, I took matters into my own hands and formed a group-chat with all the contestants and their plus ones so we can keep in touch. We’re already swapping friend codes and talking about having dinner together prior to PAX AUS 2018 next year.

I am always in awe with how wonderful the gaming community is. At PAX AUS it is particularly evident with how nice everyone is. One time I lost a limited-edition Princess Peach Nintendo 3DS but it was handed to lost and found. Even though I didn’t have a 3-day pass, another gamer in less than 24 hours helped me collect my console from lost and found and handed it back to me. I have been coming back to PAX every year since and have experienced the friendliness and kindness of the gaming community. The Omeganaut group experience was no-different, except the kindness was intensified, more defined and personal.

Being chosen for Omegathon is the equivalent to finding a shiny legendary Pokémon. But if you are chosen, please make the most of your experience. Befriend your fellow competitors, go to every round if you can, make your family and friends attend to support you. Follow the journey that fate has bestowed upon you as it is a once in a lifetime experience. I’m really proud of how far my partner went in the competition and I’m honestly stoked that he was selected in the first place. I also admire how he handled his defeat; graciously and always with a smile. Although there were some players that were salty and never showed up to the other rounds after being knocked out, most of the contestants were fair and just happy to be apart of the unique experience. After PAX AUS 2017 Omegathon had ended, everyone was so lovely and supportive, hugging each other at the end with many group hugs which was a wonderful thing to see.

I really hope that one day, I too get the opportunity to be an Omeganaut. I believe my partner was very lucky to be lumped in with a magnificent bunch of people. I understand that being an Omeganaut is a rarity, so if I am never chosen, I still have the wonderful experience of being a ‘plus one’. Sure, every Omeganaut gets a medal, and the winners gets their choice of either a free trip to any PAX in the world or some cash. But as one lovely Omeganaut said to me this year, “I’m not here to be serious, I’m here to have fun.” So if you do play your cards right, as cheesy as it sounds, the ultimate prize of being a part of Omegathon is actually friendship that will hopefully last for many years (and games) to come.

PAX AUS 2017 was held at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from October 27th to the 29th.

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