This weekend we finally got to experience Cape Town’s first gaming and technology expo, courtesy of Impact Exhibitions. While it was definitely a bit lacking in certain areas, it was a good start to what will most likely be Cape Town’s answer to Rage.
If you just want to find out what I thought about the event just scroll down to the TLDR section. And as always, I will be gathering links and videos so people have one convenient place to check them all out. These are available at the bottom of the post. Anyway, on to the main event!
Any geek who’s kept their ear to the ground has been hearing rumours of a gaming expo in Cape Town for years. Various groups have tried to get an event off the ground, but it took Impact Exhibitions, who run one of the biggest South African boating expos, to finally make it a reality.
The first thing that made EGE appealing was a decent venue in the form of the Cape Town International Convention Center (CTICC). It meant there was plenty of space (something FCBD is struggling with), secure parking, and was ideal for attendees from both the northern and southern suburbs. Initially we thought our wallets were going to get violated by CTICC parking prices, but thankfully EGE had organised a pre-paid parking rate of R25. The actual ticket pricing for the event was also pretty good. You paid R80 at the door, and R70 if you booked through Computicket, which is only a little bit more than most take out meals these days. If you were lanning, you could drop R150 on a three day pass (this would not have been a good idea if you were just going to check things out the stands).
Once you actually got inside, you were greeted by a large Frontosa stand. Unfortunately they were pretty much the only major hardware vendor there. There were a couple of other smaller companies and educational institutions who had some hardware on display (like Learn3D and their Oculus Rift, which had a massive queue), but if you were going and expecting a lot of PC vendors, you’d probably be pretty disappointed (thankfully I wasn’t because I already knew what the situation was). There was also quite a few indie game devs there, with the likes of Bro Force, Desktop Dungeons, and Cadence on display. On the console side of things, Sony was stamping their dominance on the SA market with a lot of Playstation (Vita and PS4) consoles.
Just next to the Playstation consoles was the gaming stage where all the exhibition matches would be taking place. They had a 103″ screen mounted above the stage, as well as two smaller (50″?) screens on the left and right. Directly in front of the stage they had these awesome (and expensive) bean bags, so you could lay back and relax and watch the exhibition matches. I had the pleasure of finding a spot on one of these for the League of Legends exhibition match, which was a lot of fun to watch.
On the less digital side of things there were a few of board games companies with a huge variety of games on display. There was also an area with demonstration games going, and a lot of people getting involved in their own games like Magic: The Gathering.
The tabletop folk were lucky to be close to the food area, which had three or four food trucks. The prices are what you would expect from one of these events (a bottle of water was R15 and a can of Coke was R17), but at least there was a reasonable variety of food on offer. There was also a cocktail bar on the other side of the expo, if you felt like something with a bit of kick.
Next to the tabletop section was a small artists alley, with a few of the regulars you’d recognise from FCBD (like the awesome crew of Cotton Star). There was all sorts of comic and gaming merch on sale in this area, such as prints, t-shirts, and jewellery. Of course, Readers Den was not too far way from these folks with a large variety of figures and gaming related comics on sale as well.
Towards the back of the hall was the console and PC gaming lans. I wasn’t sure exactly what the setup was, but it seemed there was a decent internet connection and people were quite happily playing against each other. This was quite a surprise to me, as the last time I attended a big lan there was always some hardware issue that needed to be sorted out, whether it was a faulty pc tripping everyone’s power, or somebody bringing down the network.
Overall, I did enjoy EGE. My buddies and I had a good time wandering around, checking out what was on offer, and chatting to the various people we knew who were involved with the show. We ended off our day with a good old fashioned battle of the sexes, albeit with a modern twist, in the form of a League of Legends boys vs girls match.
As much as I felt I got my money’s worth, the show was definitely a bit lacking on the tech side of things. However, I don’t think this was the fault of the organisers. Anyone who’s been following the news behind this event knows that they’ve struggled to get vendors to commit, and it wasn’t until Frontosa and Playstation said they will be core exhibitors that things started to get rolling.
In regards to the gaming events, I would like to have seen more exhibition matches, or even just skill videos playing on the big screen in-between the exhibition matches that were going on.
Another issue I had was with the social media side of things. Whoever is in charge of this needs to be way more on top of it. To put things into perspective, after the event had been confirmed, I had to go onto Facebook and ask them about the Facebook event. I’m sure someone was going to get to it, but at this point the hype was already starting to build so you’d think they’d have the event page sorted out and ready to go once they announced the event was actually happening.
Another problem was that a lot of people were posting queries on Facebook, and quite often no-one from the EGE team was answering them. I’m guessing they have a small team with no dedicated social media guys, but this is something they will need to address for next year.
The website was also missing a lot of information, such as a complete list of all the vendors who were attending, where they were in terms of the floor layout, and when the exhibition matches were happening. These are all things that people expect to easily find a schedule for, but considering this is the first time they are hosting this specific event, I’m willing to cut them some slack. It’s little things like this (as well as others I’ve undoubtedly missed) that they need to get right for next year , but if they do I have no doubt that EGE will become a worthy competitor to Rage.
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