So apparently my WordPress android app decided not to post anything, that was awesome. Things were quiet here because I left last Wednesday, amidst nearly 11 inches of fresh snow and several rail delays for the Music and Gaming Festival 9, i.e. MAGFest, down in Alexandria, VA. From the convention’s about page:
In short, MAGFest is a music and video gaming festival run by fans, for fans. In more verbose terms, it’s an annual event dedicated to the celebration of video games and video game music. Every year offers 24-hour console, arcade, and PC game rooms, live video game cover bands, a vendors area, and guest speakers from the video game industry and fan scene….What makes MAGFest unique is that it’s an event run by fans for fans. There are no corporate sponsors, no over-crowded showfloors, and no hour long lines. MAGFest is built from the ground up to be a party-like atmosphere with focus on community and fan creations, which creates an environment that no other expo or convention can ever recreate.
One hotel, 3,000 nerds, and just over 3 days of 24-hours madness. It was pretty fucking awesome.
The title of the post, is apparently (roughly at least) how you spell the sound Colossus makes in the 90s X:Men Arcade Game. Starting on Thursday morning, while waiting in line to receive my badge, the Colossus yell near instantly became the rallying cry for MAGfest 9. I’m told that the seed for this was planted in a MAGfest promo video. Regardless, the Colossus yell morphed into something akin to the wave, often starting in a distant corner of the con and rippling its way across the show floor. It substituted for applause or jeers during panels. It became the “official” battle cry for the fight against Dr. Wiley during both of The Protomen’s shows. Some were visible annoyed by this strange occurrence, but I for one was consistently amused. Enough that I bought a t-shirt emblazoned with Colossus and the sound effect.
MAGFest reminded me very much of the video game nights my alma mater’s Sci-fi Club used to hold, except writ much much larger. The console room was massive and stocked full of everything from system linked 360s running Reach and MW2 to Nintendo 64’s with F-Zero X and Perfect Dark, to Sega Genesis’s with old school Sonic, to DDR cabinets, to Rock Band 3, and even some Dance Central. If you played it, ever, it was there. The arcade area was pretty impressive stocked with plenty of arcade classics (Pacman, Asteroids, Centipede, Galaga, Defender and more), Nintendo themed multi-game cabinets, including the surprisingly entertaing if ridiculously difficult Windjammers (in desperate need of a modern Wii or Kinect based remake). There were even several pinball machines including one from Terminator 2 and even D&D themed table. Pinball is still awesome and I hope we see more of those at MAGfest 10. Of course the bane of my existence and most nearly irresistible game for me was a mechanical game called Ice Cold Beer. Rather than explain in detail, check out this video:
MAGFest had several panels. Highlights include Spoony’s late night comedy set/Q&A. I had never heard of the guy before then I saw him at MAGFest but he is a pretty funny dude and I definitely plan to keep an eye on his videos past, present and future (found over at the Spoony Experiment_). My highlight though, much like at last year’s PAX East, was from the ever enthusiastic and exceptionally well prepared gents from the Geek Nights podcast. This time out the topic was “Losing Should Be Fun.” The topic itself likely deserves an entire post itself but they presented some cogent points on the notion that a game should be fun no matter how well you are playing. In the course of their discussion they mentioned the game called Dread, which I hadn’t ever heard of before, but plan on buying at the first opportunity. You can read more on the game over at Tilting at Windmills.
Of course the biggest draw for me was the concerts. Three nights stuffed with video game bands and overflowing with enough nostalgia to kill a man. In no particular order the weekend included performances from the X-hunters, Rare Candy, Metroid Metal, the Minibosses, The Protomen, The Megas, Armcannon, Year 200x, Entertainment System, the OneUps, Bit Brigade, brentalfloss, a_rival, and Powerglove. Highlights for me included the synth-tastic Rare Candy, The Megas, This Place is Haunted, brentalfloss, The Protomen, and of course Powerglove. Of those bands Rare Candy, brentalfloss, and This Place is Haunted were new to me. Rare Candy, dressed more or less like characters from Pokemon (the drummer was wearing a Pikachu suit) were chock full of energy and synth-heavy renditions of video game classics. brentalfloss is the author of the “With Lyrics” series on youtube and typically posts humorous interpretations of games and gaming culture. He is a talented guy, fricking hilarious, and kicked major ass despite being relegated to the JamSpace for his performance. This Place is Haunted were one of the few bands who dipped outside the video game box for inspiration, playing rocking medleys from classic tv series and an epic rendition of all the major themes from Rocky (along with montages from Rocky IV). The Protmen also rocked two nights performed their first album, Act I, on one night and their second album Act II on another night. The Protomen, for the unitiated, are sort of like Spock’s Beard and Porcupine Tree except they write rock operas (or one multi-part rock opera) based on the world of Megaman; both Act’s I and II owe a huge debt in theme and content to The Wall and they are a crazy talented group of individuals that music fans everywhere ought to go see.
I could go on and on about MAGFest 9. It really is its own little world; one that stands apart from other conventions. I do hope in the future that a more diverse spread of musical genres make their way to MAGFest; the distinct lack of just about any Nerdcore presence (with the possible exception of a.rival) was keenly felt by myself and I think that MC Frontalot, Schaffer the Darklord, Beefy, ytcracker and others would fit right in with MAGFest crowd. Gaming fans take note MAGfest is a damned fun party that is definitely worth the price of admission. I’m planning on being back for MAGFest 10 and hopefully a couple more of you out there will join me.