By Intern Morgan.
MAGFest, or Music and Gaming Festival, is a celebration of all things music and gaming related. Open to #gamers, #anime fans, #musicians, and of course, #Cosplayers! #MAGFest is an annual convention that takes place at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center every January. This year it took place on January 23-26, 2015. I had the pleasure of going for the second year in a row, and might I say it is an honor to share my experiences with the #OJBG team and all of you! Please enjoy my take on #MAGFest!
The Gaylord Itself – Complete with over seventy floors and 12+ elevators, the Gaylord National is a spacious hotel and convention center all-in-one located in Fort Washington, Maryland. Many con goers book rooms in this hotel several months in advance because the it’s the most convenient place to stay. However, there are other hotels nearby so you don’t have to worry too much if you can’t get a room in time. Other hotels include The Westin National Harbor (4-star) and the Hampton Inn and Suites (3-star). There are also at least two parking decks to park your car, and I would recommend carpooling in order to save/share parking deck fees. It’s also a good idea to get a group together and share a hotel room. As many as five, eight and in rare instances ten people will split a room and it’s completely normal during con weekends! (Not to mention it saves megabucks on the room expenses when you split the cost.)
In my experience, up to five people is “comfortable”. The main “hang out” area is set to a tropical forest-like oasis theme, complete with a fountain and cottage-like souvenir shops surrounding it. At night the Gaylord is beautiful and romantic, and the fountain gives a “water show” every evening at 6 PM. I suggest taking a bird’s eye view of the main area by riding the elevator all the way to the top. Truly a breathtaking experience for first timers and veterans!
Cosplay – The cosplayers this year were gorgeous. Since this is MAGFest most of the characters I saw have appeared in video games or anime adaptations of video games. A lot of people also dressed up in their very own creations which the community refers to as Original Characters (OCs for short). The central area of the Gaylord is a great place to take photo shoots complete with a gazebo that I swear out was purposely built there for said photography to be taken in. Getting good lighting can be somewhat of a gamble if you don’t have an expensive camera, but most cosplayers are patient when you ask them to “turn a little this way please!” Or “Hold on, let me try from this angle!” And of course, yours truly also did it up with her own original cosplay. I like to call my costume the “Neko-Neko Maid Warrior!” The cat ears are animatronic ones called “Necomimi Brainwave Cat Ears”. That’s right, they move with the power of your brain! Wanna be cool, too? Click here for more info: http://www.necomimi.com/
Below are some of the pictures that I took in the upper and the lower sections of the main convention area.
The Nonstop 3DS Adventure – There are many continuous games and events that occured during MAGFest. Tabletop game rooms were open at all hours, Arcade rooms were always full of players getting their old-school gaming on (for free, no quarters or tokens necessary!) even a couple games of “Zombie Tag” went down! But nothing puts the “Gaming” in MAGFest like the massive amounts of Nintendo 3DS users you will see. A 3DS is a handheld gaming system created by Nintendo that was released worldwide back in 2011. Similar to the Nintendo Wii system, owners of Nintendo 3DS systems can create and interact with their own personal Mii and play games that come with the system using that Mii. One of those games is called “StreetPass” where you collect copies of other people’s Miis in order to gain special goodies for your own Mii. Tons of Miis will make their way to your 3DS by a special type of Wi-Fi that’s always accessible whether you have normal Wi-Fi connected or not. These character “copies” will then be able to help your Mii get lots of valuable prizes such as accessories and puzzle pieces. I am proud to say that I finished at least five puzzles and gained six new hats for my Mii, ‘Morrachan’! ^.^~ If I had to guess, I would say I have collected over 250 Miis in the three days I visited this convention. Imagine how many I would have collected had I actually stayed in the hotel overnight! More than any other con I’ve been to, MAGFest is where I’ve gotten the most StreetPasses in one !
Panels – Panels are where guest stars from various animated video games, music, movies and the like come to see thousands of their fans scream and shout at them in pure happiness. [Paul, N SP]. Voice actors, game developers, YouTube stars and musicians visit us from various parts the world to talk to their fans, answer questions and sign autographs. I didn’t get a chance to visit a lot of panels this time but one that I did go to featured a “fan movie” adaptation of best-selling videogame “The Last of Us”. The room was packed, PACKED I tell you! The movie was pretty decent as actors reenacted notable cut scenes from the game and acted in a way a player would as if they were controlling the actors. Afterward, the actors went to the front of the room to talk about the film and gave advice to people interested in making or starring in films. More info can be found here: https://en.stagepool.com/
MAGFest Marketplace – This is where I always spend the most money at, LOL. Merchants come from all over the US to sell their anime and gaming style merchandise. Anything from commissioned artwork, hats, books, games, pins/buttons, plushies and accessories. Most of the merchants hand-make their items so you really get authentic keepsakes from your time at the con. You won’t believe how talented some of these people are and how much effort they put into their work! Some indie musicians sell demos or complete albums of their CDs there as well, usually playing samples at their kiosk. Here are some of the items that I purchased from the MAGFest Marketplace.
Music – On the musical side of things, one of MAGFest’s only flaws is that the “Music” in its name is not very well represented at the actual con. Sure, you have your concerts and indie musicians and YouTube musicians show up to entertain the crowd, but it seems a little lackluster to say the least. I feel that the gaming aspect is very well-defined but that should not be all there is to this particular convention. It’s almost as if the musical portion is hidden away somewhere for you to wander in on while you’re walking around collecting StreetPasses. I did see random musicians around the con such as a woodwind trio near a set of escalators, a small percussion ensemble near the tabletop game rooms, and the token saxophone player playing Mario and Zelda tunes as he meandered through the crowd. The con does include a few “jam spaces” where bands can come in and practice whenever they like and con goers are allowed to peek inside to listen to what they had to play.
So MAGFest 13 was a nice little gathering for gamers and anime fans alike. Anyone with the passion for video gaming and music playing can always find a comfortable haven here. One of the things I love most about going to conventions is finding a whole lot of people to interact with, sharing the same interests as me and teaching me lots of things I did not know about and I them. I look forward to next year’s convention and I hope you stop on by, too! Everyone is welcome.
Thanks for reading! I hope I was able to entertain you for a little bit >.< Please leave a comment if you feel so inclined~
*All pictures Lovingly taken by Yours Truly. <3