Gameodactyl Invades MAGFest 8
I’ve been to my fair share of conventions. Three E3s, an FFXI FanFest, and some quick visits to Otakon have taught me what to expect over the years. Though there are plenty of “holy grail” events I’ve not yet reached — GDC and TGS among them — I think I have a good feel for how conventions go.
And that’s exactly why my experience at MAGFest (Music And Games Fest) 8 was bittersweet.
Let’s start with the bitter.
If you hold a convention, it’s important that the events you’ve lined up happen, when you scheduled them to happen, where they’re scheduled to happen. This was in no way the case for MAGFest 8. The by-fans for-fans nature of the event adds to the chaos, but it’s not like the level of chaos I witnessed couldn’t have been prevented. Let me give you one example. I wanted to meet Little Miss Gamer, one of my personal favorite video reviewers (if only because she *isn’t* brazenly negative, like AVGN or ZeroPunctuation). I don’t know what her original appointment was, but I do know that Friday night, she got rescheduled to Saturday, noon, in Panels 3. Because I was only at the event for Friday and Saturday, I had planned to begin my Saturday with this event.
I come down from my hotel room @ 12:05, head to the panels room, and the sign that had been up the night before saying to expect Little Miss Gamer there was gone. I ask some people running the check-in booth, and they said, “yeah we just saw her walk by, the door was locked and she was looking for keys.” As far as I could tell, it was still locked. And no one was in there. I banged the door loud and screamed like an idiot. By 12:15, I decided to check every other panel discussion room. They were filled with other events.
I never met Little Miss Gamer. What a bum deal, right?
This story is representative of many, many experiences had by MAGFest attendees. They go expecting to meet someone, or see some sort of cool concert, or event, or video. Then, last minute, the schedules change, someone cancels, someone new is booked, and before you know it, your whole day is a big mess of confusion. While I didn’t experience this at Otakon, I also didn’t spend much time there, but I expect this is a common experience for “fan-based” conventions. E3 and the FFXI Festival always work out well for me, even if appointments or events are rescheduled, because (let’s face it) it’s run by professionals!
That’s the bitter part. Let’s get to the sweet stuff.
First and foremost, I saw this amazing concert Friday night. There were all these bands that do nothing but cover game music. Most of them I hadn’t heard of, but one band that I had been following for years played. Metroid Metal… oh man, it was awesome. Full details of that concert here.
What else? In the hallways of a Hilton Hotel, I saw dozens of free-to-play arcade cabinets lined up. They ranged from new, top-of-the-line machines to the oldest of oldschool. See picture below.
Yeah, that’s my daughter learnin’ about the wonders of table-style arcade machines. DONKEY KONG JR for the win.
In one ridiculously large room, people had come with their own consoles, alongside TVs and/or projectors, and brought their favorite multiplayer games. In the span of 30 minutes, while wandering this room, I played CONTRA, SUPER SMASH BROS MELEE, ROCK BAND, BLAZBLUE, and a host of other games. All told, I heard there were over 400 games available to play in that one room. In one corner of the room, SDA was hosting competitions to see who could get the best times on certain parts of certain games.
I also met up with Josh Whelchel, whom we’ve mentioned in passing on Gameosaurus in the past. He’s a great dude and a wonderful indie game composer. He’s got another “Songs for the Cure” charity album planned for 2010. Should be good stuff.
I made some new friends, including the incredible MC Death Bear. There were dozens of people like this guy peddling their fan art wares. Some people made clothing (printed designs, as well as hand-knit custom clothes). Others had comics for sale. Plenty of people were selling piles of used games. But MC Death Bear? He had pixel-style 8-bit Lego art. For real. Just check out this Air Man from MEGA MAN 2, which I got for a cool $60.
Yeah, you know that’s sweet. MC Death Bear also had the DR. MARIO viruses, Cut Man, classic Mario sprites, BUBBLE BOBBLE dudes, and all sorts of stuff, in this lego-y form. It was amazing. The guy also does illustration and is starting a web-based TV show called Purgatory Pizza.
All in all, it was a fine time for me, though it was cut short by way of family obligation. I highly recommend anyone living within 5 hours’ driving distance of Washington DC make the drive to MAGFest 9 when it happens this time next year. Maybe they’ll do the scheduling better next time around. Maybe.