The biggest games event in the Asia-Pacific will return in-person to Melbourne next month, with a swathe of events ranging from an augmented reality tour of a pump station to the renowned PAX festival.

The Melbourne International Games Week (MIGW) will take place from 1 to 9 October after two years of online-only events due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MIGW, which is now in its eighth year, is the biggest event of its kind in the region, and will see industry players, educators and games enthusiasts from around the world converge on Melbourne for a range of hybrid, in-person and online events.

The festival is backed by the Victorian Government and is organised by Creative Victoria in partnership with VicScreen, ACMI and the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association.

Victorian Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos said that more than 8.6 million households in Australia are now playing games in some form.

“We’re backing Victoria’s games industry and creating more jobs in the sector while also supporting the businesses that produce some of the world’s most innovative games,” Dimopolous said.

“With more than half of the country’s games studios and workforce based here, Melbourne International Games Week further supports Victoria’s cutting edge digital industry and attracts games leaders from across the globe.”

The Australian games development industry has been growing rapidly in recent years.

Since 2016, the sector’s revenue nearly doubled to $226 million, while employment in the industry increased by more than 50 per cent in the same period.

The sector is also eagerly anticipating the passing of legislation introducing the previous Coalition government’s tax offset for game developers, which will offer a 30 per cent refundable tax offset to companies which spend at least $500,000 on game development locally.

The MIGW events will focus on new frontiers in game design, music and art, augmented reality, the career opportunities in the sector, and celebrating diversity of the games industry. It will also look at the application of games in health, education and the environment.

Included in the program is High Score, a hybrid two-day event centred on “building from the ground up”. It will include keynotes, panels and feedback sessions focusing on the role that music and audio play in game design and experience.

The annual Game Connect Asia Pacific will return, with a theme of “ambition”. This will challenge attendees to create world-class products, experiences, studios and businesses.

There will be a number of augmented reality sessions as well, including one dubbed “Flush Back” at Scienceworks, a tour through the Spotswood Pumping Station narrated by the first woman to work at the plant.

The eSports industry will also feature prominently across the week, including through a “highly competitive” Mario Kart tournament and the Esports Australia Summit on 7 October, which will look at some trends in Australia, the push for eSports in schools and the road to greater recognition.

The annual PAX Australia will be returning too, bringing the games community together through new game demos, musical performances and live tournaments, among many other initiatives.

As part of the event, Amazon Web Services will be holding Australia’s first Girls in Games Jam, a multi-day virtual event featuring lightning talk sessions, roundtable panels and a game pitch competition.

The event will centre on women and girls in games in an effort to improve representation and diversity in the sector.

It comes on the back of Screen Australia funding 31 local video games last month, and the imminent launch of the new tax offset for games development.