MAGfest is the Music and Gaming festival, focusing on the exciting overlap between the two mediums. In 2017 it was held in the gorgeous Gaylord National Harbour Hotel in National Harbour Maryland on January 5th to the 8th. It was a dedicated highlight of one of the coolest parts of gaming and the coolest kinds of music in the best environment for it. This year there was a distinct Castlevania theme and that’s cool because the adventures of Alucard and the Belmonts always needs more love.
For a full gallery of photos, check out ThisWeekInGeek’s Facebook gallery for the event.
Around every corner there were bands playing covers of MegaMan tunes or renditions of Final Fantasy music. From small scale hopefuls with Soundcloud accounts to established career performers like MegaRan. It’s a great place to catch The ProtoMen live in a crowd of others fans, in decades they’ll consider now to be their golden era.
The dealer’s room had the art and merchandise and used videogames you need to live on but really it’s just a stop on your way to the gaming space with a massive arcade full of free to play games from across time. Another important place to visit is the gaming museum so you can check out classic hardware and play Kidpix on an iMac. and if you wander around enough you can find the MegaMan-athon raising money for charity with non-stop classic gaming. For a small donation you can also flip a table.
The average attendee felt distinctly older than the cosplay kids who inhabit the anime conventions. Maybe it’s the location or all the kids are instead going to Katsucon (held at the same location as MAGfest but in mid-February) but all the MAGfest crowd wandering around felt like they were old enough to actually know who the Battletoads were and not just because they’ve heard jokes about it on Robot Chicken. The panels were all about the nature of modern industry and not about how to write fanfiction about fanfiction. The downside of the older crowd is that by Sunday at four the whole convention folds up and goes home because everybody has work on Monday.
MAGFest had plenty of cosplay, although not as much as an anime convention but at least a couple of people representing every big brand taking advantage of how good the atrium is for photo shoots. The biggest trend this year were dozens and dozens of people dressed as various members of Team Skull from the recent installments in the Pokémon game series but they were all having a good time and weren’t just loitering like other grey skinned fandoms used to.
For whatever reason a big trend at MAGfest are the Collossus yells where crowds of people start loud roars like Collossus’s special attack from the classic X-Men arcade game. It did get a bit annoying by Saturday night but we can imagine a lot of worse habits.
Magfest 2017 was a solid way to start off the new year and forget about the problems of 2016. And a good show that gamers are a diverse crowd who know how to jam. There’s a lot of other party conventions but they frequently have a draining atmospheres with lines and navigation issues and creeps. MAGfest just feels like a ton of friends who you haven’t been introduced to yet.
-Michael Ryan, January 20th 2017
holy moley this article is late