Interview: Brendan Becker on MAGFest

Brendan Becker, the ringleader of MAGFest, at his finest

Amish Otaku: Do you have an exact number on attendees from this year?

Brendan Becker: Pretty close to 1,000. I don’t think we went over, but essentially that was our target and I’d say we hit it.

AO: How long have you been organizing conventions?

BB: I’ve been organizing videogame events and parties and stuff on a small scale for, uh, quite awhile. But on the order of MAGFest or something with several hundred people, we’re looking at about six years.

AO: Have you managed to make a profit yet?

BB: Kinda not really on the profit thing. We’re not operating at the level where we fall further into debt, but since our benefactors are past paychecks from our jobs and such, MAGFest kind of owes us a sizable chunk of money (for example, I threw about $10,000 at it). But, things should improve on that front soon.

AO: That’s $10,000 over the five years, or just this one year?

BB: 10 grand in total.

AO: Okay, what was your favorite thing about this year’s event?

BB: It’s really difficult to pick one favorite thing about MAGFest, but I really enjoy seeing everyone else enjoy it.

AO: What’s your most hair-pulling moment from this past MAGFest?

BB: It’s always the moments where people don’t respect the hotel or each other. Those kinds of things usually impede us going back to the same hotel the next year.

AO: What’s your greatest logistical challenge with MAGFest?

BB: Getting dependable, reliable staff. Even that went pretty well this year, though. We had a lot of people helping out and they did an awesome job. I can only hope that we get even more people next year.

AO: What’s one thing you’ve absolutely wanted to do at MAGFest but so far couldn’t?

BB: Well, we have lots of lofty goals and things we want to do, but I think the thing that bothers me most is that we can’t possibly work everything we want to into MAGFest each year. On the bright side, that means there’s pretty much no end to the things that can happen at the festival, so it’s a good problem to have.

AO: Katsucon has around 7,000 attendees, Otakon near 20,000; do you think you’ll match those numbers at some point in the future?

BB: In the future? Sure, we could hit those numbers easy, but we won’t let it happen unless we can keep the same warm fuzzy MAGFest vibe with that many people. I’ll probably consider capping attendance if we ever grow to the point where it diminishes.

AO: What surprises will MAGFest pull out of its hat for next year?

BB: We haven’t really started planning next year; we usually focus on getting our dates/location/etc. finalized first. Once that’s in stone, we move onto other things. Needless to say, I’m sure there will be plenty of neat new things going on.