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MAGFest X Recap, Part II: The Meat

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(in case you missed Part I)

Before I get into the panels and whatnot, there’s one thing that I forgot to share in the last post regarding the Gaylord: because it’s so fancy, the Gaylord is host to a lot of fancy parties, including weddings.  One of my favorite moments at MAGFest X was seeing a wedding party and then seeing a full-fledged Zora walk past them.  Furthermore, could you imagine taking wedding photos and having the Colossus mutant power sound roared randomly by twenty different people all around you?  If that kind of stuff excites you, you should make it to MAGFest next year.

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The first panel that Jen and I went to at MAGFest was called “Orchestral Game Music and Society.”  It was hosted by members of the Gamers Symphony Orchestra, which is a group based out of the University of Maryland that plays orchestral arrangements of video game music as well as original game-influenced compositions by their members.  Their members also do many of the arrangements that they perform.

The panelists essentially just talked about who they are, what they do, and what their goals are.  If you live in area surrounding the UMD, you might be able to join them provided you can make their rehearsals and, more importantly, if they have space.  As you can imagine, there’s a high demand to join and, naturally, a limited amount of space.  There’s good news for all of you who play things other than the piano or flute, though: they do accept people of any instrument, though they can’t guarantee that you’ll play since their make-up is slave to the demands of the arrangements that they play.  Who knows, though—maybe someone will write in a part for contrabass saxophone.

The conductor, Kira Levitzsky (four from the left), mentioned a project that she has a vision for that involves the GSO releasing a CD of the works of “future game composers” on iTunes to help raise money for their organization.  I thought this was a pretty neat idea, so I contacted her after MAGFest—hopefully one of my tunes will be tracked!  Just have to prepare one in time…

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MAGFest X Recap, Part I: The Appetizer

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Two Saturdays ago was the 10th annual Music and Gaming Festival (MAGFest).  As stated in my pre-MAGFest post, this was my second year attending.  Based on last year’s experience, expectations were high (though they were really in no danger of being unfulfilled).

This year, MAGFest was held at the Gaylord National hotel in National Harbor, MD.  It was moved there from a Hilton in Alexandria due to capacity issues.  MAGFest has grown significantly since its incarnation, going from 100 people to, reportedly, 6100.  Astounding.

The reason for this lies in the huge community that MAGFest has created for itself.  Not only are people there to play video games, listen to live video game music, and party, they’re there to play video games, listen to live video game music, and party with other MAGFesters.  It’s easy to meet people with very similar interests there, as you can imagine, which has lead to MAGFest being a community within a multitude of communities.  What I mean by that is, you have your video game community as a whole and then MAGFesters inside of that and, likewise, you have communities like your OCRemixers and then MAGFesters inside of that.

So the Gaylord is really nice.  First, it’s humongous, which totally affected the experience.  Whether the effect was positive or not… I think that depends on who you ask.  For me, both had their advantages.  At the Hilton, gamers were packed in pretty tightly, while at the Gaylord the gaming rooms were a lot more spacious.

In blurry Exhibit A, you’ll see my friends Nick (game designer) and Natalie ([Score.] logo artist; mystery-phile) in the game room.  You’ll see that there is a normal-to-large amount of space behind them.  At the Hilton, that much space wouldn’t exist.  You were closer with your fellow gamers and didn’t have to walk around too much to get from game to game.  Advantages of the Gaylord: you could move and there was a lack of that funny smell that places that hold gamers playing hard for hours on end get.  Disadvantage: it was easier to feel more separated from the other gamers.  Oh, another advantage is that the signature Colossus roar of MAGFest can be effectively spread throughout a wider space more easily.
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