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MAGWest 2019 September 15, 2019

Posted by coolmikeol in Events.
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“MAGWest spawned from MAGFest, the Music and Gaming Festival currently on the East Coast. MAGWest [2019, Sept 13-15] is a three day event dedicated to the appreciation of video game music, gaming of all types, and the gaming community. MAGWest is the West’s flavor of video game music, gaming, and non-stop party action! The event runs 24 hours a day, and offers consoles, arcades, tabletop, LAN, live video game cover bands, chiptunes, guest speakers, pool concerts, and so much more!” – via MAGWest Website

MAGWest started in 2017, this marking its third year running. I heard about MAGWest during its first year as it was running at the same time as Crunchyroll Expo, just next door to it at a neighboring hotel. This year’s was the first for me to attend, buying my badge way back in May when there was a sale going on. I have friends and acquaintances running parts of the event, so that’s partly the reason for wanting to finally check it out. Being a fan of video games and music is mainly why I went, and it’s easy to see how both come together. Even though the event was three days long I only went on Day 2 (Saturday Sept 14th), as I got the most out of it in a single day. I took photos to show how the event looks, so if you want to check it out see my album MAGWest 2019.

Day 2 – Saturday, Sept 14th

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Looking at the schedule online, there wasn’t much that interested me in terms of panels and events, so there was no rush getting to the venue. I had a friend tag along and so after stopping by a Costco to grab lunch for the day, we got to MAGWest held at the DoubleTree by Hilton in San Jose, CA at around 11:30am.

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As we entered the hotel, you can quickly tell that the event is very much a small one, reminiscent of the first anime convention I attended back in 2011. We picked up our badges and proceeded to check out everything. I’ll let the photos do the talking.

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Custom MAGWest video game challenges. Win one, get a prize.

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Saori Kobayashi concert. Never heard of her before, but her music was fantastic. While listening it really got me imagining being in an RPG kind of game.

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Apparently MAGWest didn’t have enough lanyards so this was one of their alternative solutions. There was even a cardboard box asking people to return their lanyard if they don’t plan on returning.

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Overall the event was fun but very small. Because I’m used to much bigger events, I got to see pretty much what the event had to offer in a few hours. I was expecting a bit more people at least, but I guess the combination of it being in a hotel away from convenient amenities and it also being fan run rather than one with sponsors and whatnot explains it. I did enjoy myself playing the games that we did get to play, but most of the ones that were at the events were either retro games, music/rhythm games, or fighting games. The arcade area was quite small but still packed as many games as it could. Just wish that there was more wiggle room. One of the other lively parts of MAGWest was the pool party complete with music and summer heat. The rest of the areas of the event though tended to only have a few people or were just dead. For example, passing by the panel rooms at times there was only a couple of people sitting in.

I didn’t buy anything at MAGWest, but got a few freebies in the form of deck boxes and card covers that I got from the Tabletop main table that they were letting people take, as they said that they got too much from donations. I did however have to pay a pretty penny for parking ($18), and that’s more than I would pay if I was going to the San Jose Convention Center area for a whole four days as I know where to find cheap parking in that area due to going there every year.

MAGWest 2019 was a fun experience but I think it needs more down the road to attract more people. As it seems to establish itself as a “by fans, for fans” event, I think that catering to a more broader audience would help bring in more people. I know that the theme of MAGWest is primarily about video games with an emphasis on its music, but I think when I say “broader” that it needs a better balance of retro games (console/arcade), modern console games, PC gaming, etc. Yes it had all of this but weighted more towards the retro side. And while I did not mention indie and tabletop games, I felt that as they had their own areas that they were covered fine. I was expecting at least a dedicated PC gaming area with modern games, and not just the LAN area being the only area with PC gaming. The LAN area had spaces for 36 computers, but I only saw maybe 8 set up, and at least four of them was brought in by one guy for retro games such as Quake.

Will I return to MAGWest in the future? I’m not sure, but if I do I’d probably come for just a day like I did this year. If MAGWest can also bring in more guests that would be sweet. I was also thinking that because MAGWest is small, if I wanted to run a panel or gaming event that it would be a good way to practice on smaller audiences if I wanted to go that route. As MAGWest is a offspring event from its parent MAGFest, I’m mildly interested in going to it but I know that would take some dedication in order to do so, as it’s all the way on the East coast. I guess that would be a good excuse to visit Washington D.C. as it’s in the area. Either way, MAGFest/MAGWest is on my event radar now, so I’ll look forward to their future endeavors.