MAGFest 15 was this past weekend. Situated on the cusp of Virginia and Maryland in the Gaylord Convention Center, it was as it always has been, a celebration of video games, gaming culture, and the music that ties them together.
MAGFest is always a party, always the highlight of the year for me (both personally and professionally). It’s always a chance to see friends and to connect with people in an industry that I love. And yet, this year was noticeably different previous years. With the direction of the winds of the world, I half-expected this year’s Mid-Atlantic Gaming Music And Gaming Festival to be a somber affair. To my delight, it was anything but.
Thursday started with a bang where I sat on a panel with Tee Morris and Nick Kelly, talking about Storytelling in Video Games. It was a delight to work with them both, especially Tee whom I consider a good friend and one of the best voices in modern literature. Also on Thursday, I gave a panel on Sundering Fandom, about hardcore gamers and casual gamers and the hybrid gamers caught in the middle. I avoid metaphor and allegory in my work, but there seemed to be a certain profundity to talking about two groups so divergent in their preferences and yet so common in their desires. Through all of this, I promoted my first two novels as well as encouraged pre-orders for my newest book, RocKaiju.
On Friday, I got to help out with Gamer Fitness with friends from Fat Gatsby and other fitness enthusiasts and professionals. I also spoke on Competitive Gaming and how, as a fan, to dive into this blossoming sport. Saturday, however, was the kicker as I gave what is becoming my landmark panel, Top Ten Episodes of Transformers, where I list off the ten best episodes of the long-running franchise.
Sadly, as the panel is a work-in-progress, being updated and overhauled with the completion of each season in the franchise’s history, I ended up not only running WAY over my allotted time but also still not being able to quite finish. Fortunately, it continues to be worked on so future presentations will be far better paced.
The convention had tremendous energy. I went to parties and met new and long-time fans. The dealers’ room was hoping at all hours and the arcade was simply amazing. Most delightful was the glut of indie game developers and other showcases, giving gamers a preview of what is to come in the gaming world.
Perhaps that’s what was different this year: hope. This year’s MAGFest held so much hope. Maybe there was more than usual or maybe it’s always been there and the dark days of late made it feel fresh. Whatever the case, I left MAGFest physically and emotionally exhausted yet more invigorated than I can recall having been in ages. It was simply a delight beyond words and MAGFest remains on the best experiences of the year. To everyone I met, talked to, interacted with, or merely shared an elevator with, thank you for such a wonderful weekend and such a tremendous time.
See you next year!