It can be challenging to convince people that the Perth games scene is as good as it is. It’s not a matter of quality but visibility, and it’s not easy to advertise local games when everyone’s eyes are locked on Steam and PUBG. One look at PGF, though, and it’s evident to see that we’re punching above our weight. Whether your poison is digital or tabletop in nature, Perth Games Festival delivered another solid event that showcased all that the local scene is up to. If you felt that Perth wasn’t making games worth your time, PGF was there to prove you wrong.
The event delivered some excellent games to the show floor. While last year had a few iffy entrants, all the games this year felt like high-quality outputs, and if anything broke on me, the developer was there to talk it out. Games like Project: Wingman and Banishment were outstanding examples of what Perth has to offer, and even simple offerings like Bounce House were exceptional. Either someone had been on strict quality control for the event or the local devs are getting better, which suited me either way. It was also great to see the Perth Public Library housing a brilliantly placed tabletop area for everyone to enjoy.
While a few tabletop games were exhibiting in the main hall, most tabletop games were in the auditorium next door. It may seem a little odd to sequester these games to another building, but it worked well. You could walk in there, sit down and play a game for an extended period without the noise and distractions from the main building. There was a great selection of Australian games to try – not just Perth ones – which felt like a great way to chill out if all the video games became a blur. Then again, if you wanted another distraction, there were some damn solid panels to enjoy as well.
As in previous years, PGF hosted several panels throughout the day. There were plenty of experienced talkers to see, including lecturers and industry veterans. There was also a special panel with Morgan Jaffit who’d worked on Hand of Fate, which was refreshing to see given a Perth-centric event. The only problem with the panels was (and has always been) their location, because the room that’s used gets all the noise from the main hall. It’s not like many other places can be used, though, and it’s expected that a little noise will get through, but it’s still an issue that’s persisted over the years. That wasn’t a problem for the live podcasts, though.
Throughout the day, live podcasts were being filmed on the main stage in the hall. There were chairs set up at the front of the room for people to sit down and watch as Pixel Sift and 7LandHand did their thing. The setup didn’t overwhelm patrons of the event with their conversations, and while you could certainly hear them, it wasn’t hard to zone them out. After a brief rest on a chair, it would be back into the games, but you’d struggle to get through everything on the day.
There were plenty of video games on show from almost every level of the industry. One of the cool things to see is the student games coming from final year grads. ECU and Murdoch both had booths dedicated to exhibiting what their students had to offer, and TAFE wasn’t far away. It was also great to talk with the lecturers and try and figure out how they were teaching game design to their students. Enlightening as it may be to chat with a lecturer, sometimes it can be just as worthwhile chilling with a developer.
The general atmosphere of the event was one of playing games and having a chat. This wasn’t a convention about forcing mass marketed drivel down your throat; this was about the developers getting out there and showing their wares off to the public. All the devs were super laid back and willing to spend some time to talk or get feedback on their games, and it was great to have such an open conversation with some of these guys. Sometimes there was a lot to talk about too, considering how strange some of the exhibits were.
While most of the booths were screens and controllers, you could run into some outlandish sights. Pinball VR stood out to me because it used a physical table for the controls, and there was even a custom-made arcade cabinet for Corporate Combat. Thankfully, there were no physical games around this year (I’m just not a moving kind of guy), but there was plenty of variety lurking around. The festival was good vibes all around, and that’s what made the day for me.
The combination of inviting devs and a well thought out layout this year made PGF a joy to engage in. There were heaps of games to see, from student to veteran, and being able to nip over to the library and take a break with a tabletop game was a fantastic idea. While it’s much smaller than something like PAX, PGF shows that Perth has a lot to offer the industry, whether you knew about it or not. It’s not hard to see when you’ve got a load of great local games in front of you that the local scene is pretty bloody good, and who knows, maybe next year will be even better.