MAGFest 2016 Convention Report

Journey LIVE concert

The MAGFest 2016 Gaming and Music Festival took place from Thursday, February 18 through Sunday, February 21, 2016 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor, MD.  There's not a whole lot to talk about here since in general it was just awesome.  A place for video game and video game music nerds to hang out, play games, attend concerts, and meet industry guests.  This year was bigger than ever.

MAGFest started off interestingly enough by trying to compete with last week's Katsucon anime convention that was held at the same venue by having their own Fire Alarm incident on Thursday.  It didn't turn out to be anywhere near as big and disruptive as Katsucon's "great fire" event as MAGFest's fire alarm was simply due to some smoker throwing a lit cigarette onto the mulch and causing the mulch to catch fire.  The fire alarm was over in no time and because it occurred early on Thursday when there were not very many attendees it wasn't really a big deal.

Over the weekend I got to sit in on panels by industry guests such as Austin Wintory (music composer for the game Journey) and Ellen McClain (voice of GLaDOS), various voice actor panels which are always good for a laugh, various live shows such as the return of Super Smash Opera and a new stunt show by the DC Stunt Coalition "Enter the Grimdark", and various concerts such as Super Soul Bros., Journey LIVE, and Bit Brigade.

Of great note was the fact that Austin Wintory was finally able to make his first appearance at MAGFest after having to cancel his appearances the previous two years due to health or personal issues.  This time Mr. Wintory was able to bring along a special gift to fans by holding a Journey LIVE concert where six attendees chosen through a tournament were able to play through the game Journey live on stage while Austin Wintory conducted a live orchestra performed by the Fifth House Ensemble to match the music to the gameplay on screen.  That was truly a magical moment and the highlight of the festival for me.  I've certainly never been to a concert where everyone sat on the ground and was silent for much of the concert just taking in the beautiful music and gameplay.  The funniest thing happened though when a random player via the Internet connected to our game near the end and caused a PlayStation Trophy notification to pop up on screen.  Whoever you are, WhiteRaven444, thank you for being part of Journey history!

This year's MAGFest was such a success that they actually experienced growing pains as all of the parking garages at the National Harbor location were filled to capacity on Saturday which caused a lot of would-be con goers a lot of grief in trying to find parking.  Although, even before the parking garages were filled up the garage staff were making life difficult for everyone by blocking off the entrances and only allowing in people with hotel reservations or parking passes.  This does raise the concern about whether MAGFest will begin to cap attendance to the event or whether they might need to consider moving to a larger venue that can support more than the 18,000+ attendees that came this year.

Whatever they decide to do, I just hope they don't decide to once again hold the festival the week after Katsucon like they did this year.  While MAGFest saw a sizable growth in attendees, I do know that some people that would normally have gone decided not to go this year since they were either still recovering from last week's Katsucon or simply cannot take off of school or work two weekends in a row.  I personally liked going to MAGFest in January as it was always a good way to kick off the year.

Overall I think the only big problem that they had over the weekend concerned the autograph session of Keiji Inafune and Inti Creates.  I wasn't personally involved in this incident and only heard things second-hand but apparently the autograph session started early and the management of the autograph session overall was a complete disaster by many accounts.  There were certainly a lot of piping hot comments on MAGFest's social media accounts by not-so-pleased fans.

Click here to check out the hall cosplay photos I took during MAGfest.

Click here to go to my Facebook Photography page to see photos from the Super Smash Bros and Splatoon cosplay photoshoots.

Click here to go to my Youtube channel where I uploaded various video recordings such as Austin Wintory's Q&A Panel, Ellen McLain Q&A Panel, Super Smash Opera show, Super Soul Bros concert, Voice-a-palooza VII panel, Voice Actor Panel, and the Journey LIVE concert.