Convention Coverage: MAGFest 5

Where do I begin with MAGFest? Quite simply, it is the hardest of the hardcore video game conventions. Sure you’ve got your PAX and your (now neutered) E3, but those are kind of like the pop music of game conventions. MAGFest is for the truly dedicated. That isn’t to say that it’s an exclusive or elitist event, it’s just underground.

2007 marked the fifth and largest year for the convention, drawing nearly 1,000 attendees to the Washington, D.C. area for four days of video game awesomeness. That’s over seventy two straight hours of games and eleven bands of music.

Even though I say this is a hardcore event, it caters to all types of gamers. If you just want to sit down in front of a big-screen TV and play Smash Bros. for a while, you can do that. If you want to embroil yourself in a bracketed tournament of 4v4 Halo 2 action, there’s also a place for you. Or maybe your thing is Dance Dance Revolution, or River City Ransom speed runs or just some friendly eight-player Mario Kart DS. There’s room for everyone here.

While it’s always an awesome sight to see over 1,000 square feet packed with all things video games, you can’t play games all the time (or so I’ve been told). To that end MAGFest features a number of bands throughout the weekend. Almost all of the acts were of the heavy metal variety and some came from as far away as Michigan or Arizona to play.
The NESkimos were a personal favorite of mine, having hung out with them at last year’s convention and owning an album of theirs. Other notable performances came from This Place is Haunted from State College and the final performance of Chromelodeon/Sprite Slowdown out of Philadelphia. MAGFest also got its first taste of Nerd Core this year, what the uninitiated would call Geek Rap, from Brooklynite Shael Riley. And I have to mention Shawn Phase, the Konami-inked musician from the Baltimore area who was recently featured in Nintendo Power; nobody rocks harder with a power glove, pokemon hat and power ranger mask—no one.

You can also check out some of the best and worst of what video game cinema has to offer. From big-budget productions like The Wizard or the truly awful Blood Rayne to small indie titles like the premier of The New Adventures of Captain S, which is now on

Of course, what convention would be complete without the panels and guest speakers? The crew from hosted a panel/performance on remixing tunes from games. The always-popular MAGFest costume roast was an event well worth your time this year, with Sonic and friends presiding.

Really, there’s too much going on to see all of MAGFest. Trust me, that’s a good thing. Between all the concerts, games, tournaments, panels, movies and people to meet, you’ll never be bored.

Unfortunately, you have to wait eleven months for the next one but take my word, you’ll never forget it.