MAGfest is one of the largest Gaming and Gaming Culture Conventions in the US. Hosted each year in Washington DC, our resident cosplay nerd spent a day there to bring you the lowdown.
Held annually since 2002, MAGfest (Music And Gaming Festival) is a celebration of everything gaming and gaming culture related. Originally a small live music event attended by a few hundred in Virginia, MAGfest now spans four days and boasts upwards of 20,000 attendees across 4 floors of the Gaylord convention center in Washington DC.
Open 24 hours a day Thursday through Sunday, MAGfest is a gamers paradise. The main exhibition hall was divided into 4 sections. The first contained a massive arcade with machines from all eras. Patrons can enjoy everything from classic pinball machines and old CRT cabinets, through to the latest in VR experiences.
The next sectiom contained MIVS – the MAGfest Indie Gaming Showcase. Here, indie gaming studios were showcasing some in development titles which you could try out. Each station was manned by members of the relevant studio, all willing to talk to the players and answer questions and demonstrate their titles.
The other half of this section was occupied by the 501st Legion. The 501st are a worldwide Star Wars cosplay organization. All members have screen accurate cosplay from the movies, shows and games. There were characters from every corner of the Star Wars universe. Rey and Chewbacca to Stormtroopers, and even Iden Versio – the protagonist from the newest video game entry, Battlefront 2.
The next section contained The Marketplace. Over 50 vendors were setup offering all manner of nerdy paraphernalia. Custom etched glasses, imported Japanese games and consoles, artwork, custom clothing, action figures, cosplay props… I spent over an hour browsing the stalls and probably still managed to miss some.
The final section of the main hall featured hundreds of consoles of all generations open to play. If you wanted to pass some time you could find pretty much any console or games to play. If you wanted to be competitive and try something different, the Battlepods VR section could be found here.
Anyone who has been to convention will know one of the highlights is the people watching. Cosplay artists flock to MAGfest, and the level of creativity and talent here was amazing. Everything from mainstream culture icons such as Star Wars (my personal choice of cosplay for the event) through to obscure video game and pop culture references. One group had decided to cosplay as the two main characters from the new Netflix movie Bright. There were photo opportunities aplenty and it was a true delight to both witness and be a part of.
Tournaments, panels and more
Throughout the weekend there were a number of tournaments to watch or take part in. From League of Legends to Magic the Gathering, almost any competitive video or board game could be found here. There were panels run in multiple halls throughout the weekend. Subjects included making specific aspects of cosplay, music in the gaming industry, Q&A sessions and many more. Live music concerts from various gaming related artists took place throughout the event, and several areas had busking type setups through the venue.
An Event not to be Missed
People travel from all over to visit MAGfest and it’s easy to see why. With more stuff to do than is possible to see in a day, and with it expanding year on year it’s an experience not to be missed. Next year we’ll be sure to bring you full, more in depth coverage. If you find yourself stateside next January, be sure to check it out.