EGE 2017: an interactive event for an interactive medium

For some reason, the middle of the year seems like a good time for introspection and with a lot of events going on, I started to reminisce a little. The first gaming event I can remember going to was (and I’m potentially misremembering) a World Cyber Games qualifier held at Canal Walk in Cape Town and it was definitely an eye opener. At the time I was probably only in junior school and was finding my way in the world of gaming. It was an interesting experience as it was the first time I’d ever seen competitive gaming occurring outside of a LAN environment and I also saw quite a few people engaging with it. It was probably due to the open nature (being in the middle of a mall and such) of that event, but it was an awesome feeling seeing a whole lot of people engaging with gaming on a competitive level. Fast forward a couple of years and we’re having these sort of events on a monthly basis. When you look back at it, it’s crazy to think that we’re frequently able to enjoy some delightful gaming events and this past weekend’s EGE was no different.

I wonder at what point walking into these events and seeing an unexpected amount of people will stop surprising me as once again stepping into the CTICC wowed me in the best way possible. It’s something else being able to walk into a room filled with excited faces, all looking to enjoy a couple of hours of gaming and geek bliss. From cosplay to top level Dota 2, you could get a taste of almost everything at EGE. What was more interesting for me, however, was how everyone was engaging with what was on show. Of course, everyone goes to these sorts of things to engage with what’s on display but there were a couple of events that had me leaving the event a little more fulfilled than I usually do. I could go on about how great this and that setup were but that’s quite easy to see from images coming out of the event. I’d much rather speak about some personal experiences from the event and I hope you all will be able to get something out of this.

Okay so I’m a bit of a fraud, I will divulge a bit on some of the setups. The VS Gaming Dota 2 stage was epic, taking up a large segment of the show floor and providing a grand way to watch some of the best of the local Dota scene. VS Gaming events have been on the up and up ever since their first DGL Masters events and it’s great to see the high production first hand. At the same time, however, there were a lot of other interesting esports events happening around EGE and one, in particular, managed to steal my heart. I love Injustice 2 as a video game but I will admit I’ve never tried to pick it up at a competitive level. I knew there was going to be an Injustice 2 tournament hosted by ACGL but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I decided to register for it.

We had a large stage dedicated to a fighting game which even grew a bit of a crowd, it was an incredible sight to behold. We’ve seen a lot of focus on games like Dota and CS:GO, so it was quite nice to see a different game manage to have a large presence at EGE. It may not have been Guilty Gear but I’ll take it for the time being. Once the actual tournament started things even managed to get even better, with a fair mix of veterans and newbies getting in on the action, with some of the best players in the country and people who had only played the game that morning going at it for number one. I managed to go out in the first round (I was nervous okay) but it was still an enjoyable experience to be a part of and seemed to run incredibly well. The other thing that made this part of the event was meeting some people from the SA FGC Discord (who were only identifiable by their hype side commentary). They were an absolute pleasure to interact with, even if they may seem intimidating on the actual Discord. It was nice to be able to simply interact with players and see people just be welcoming to other players. I think ACGL managed to do a stunning job over the weekend in all their games but I have to be a little biased and say your Injustice 2 setup stole the show for me.

It can’t all be a competition though, and while a lot of the EGE floor space was taken up by competitive gaming, there was still a lot more to be experienced. From the usual stores to technology displays, there was a lot of other things to be done at EGE. The next stand that managed to take a bit of my time was the Interactive Entertainment South Africa stand where I got to see with what was going on with the local game dev scene and even chat to some of the devs about their projects. This is an incredibly useful opportunity for any inspiring game developer as you get to actually talk to devs who may have worked on similar concepts or are able to advise you on any struggles you may be experiencing. It’s awesome to see what is going on locally, and the scope of it is even more impressive. From board games to government initiatives, there are a lot of interesting things going on.

The coolest thing for me, however, was overhearing some apprehensive parents talking to a local developer about a future in game development and what they can do to help their child. I don’t think it’s easy for most parents to understand game development or even be able to grasp the complexities of the scene. It was amazing to see some local developers take it upon themselves to try and help out these parents and it’s definitely something that could help out quite a few potential developers. Personally, I wish my own parents could have experienced something like this because, while they are supportive of my endeavors (not that I’d really call them that yet), it would help them to understand a little more of what I and many others want to try and achieve. These sort of community engagements are priceless and I sincerely hope that this is a common occurrence at these sort of events.

There were all sorts of engagements and interactions on display at EGE and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. I may not have touched on the excellent craftsmanship of our local cosplayers, but I think everyone involved, be it organiser or participant, came together to make the event exceptional. So in closing, congratulations to all involved and I can’t wait to see what next year is able to bring.

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