2012 MAGFest 
Last weekend was spent in Washington, DC, volunteering for the security crew at MAGFest 10. MAGFest (Music And Gaming Festival) is a DC area convention that celebrates video games and video game music. The main attractions at this convention are a large video game area, a vast collection of vintage arcade games (around 100-150 this year), what may be the world's largest Bring-Your-Own-Computer LAN party, and concerts by bands that play music from video games.

The concerts are, for a non-gamer like me, surprisingly good. If you've not been keeping up on music in the video gaming world (which I haven't), you may be surprised to discover how far it's advanced beyond the cute little tunes played on Pac-Man or Mario Brothers consoles. This year, along with the various bands that usually show up to play music from their favorite games, MAGFest scored a major coup -- Nobuo Uematsu, composer of most of the music for the Final Fantasy series of games, brought his band to the convention to perform for the fans. If you played Final Fantasy, Nobuo Uematsu and the Earthbound Papas was the must-attend event of the weekend.

I'm not a video game player, but I worked on crowd control before the concert and the autograph session afterwards. Although I didn't need to be there during the concert, I discovered I like Uematsu's music. I stuck around in the hallway behind the stage and listened to the whole performance. I've decided I need to buy the Earthbound Papas CD -- I liked the music that much.

Once the autograph session was over, Uematsu's translator mentioned that the band was impressed with how smoothly the session ran and asked that the security crew working the session come to a dinner Uematsu was hosting the following evening. Nice guy and good composer -- I enjoyed myself.

This year, the convention had around 6200 attendees -- more than double the 3000 that attended last year. The new venue - the Gaylord Convention Center and Hotel in National Harbor, MD - was a vast improvement over last year's hotel. Both places had first-rate staff and excellent rooms, but the new venue has four times the event space. (I'm guessing here -- I don't have the actual numbers.) Also, four times the public elevators ... and I'm not sure I counted all of them.

It's a weekend of loud games, loud concerts, and relatively few incidents. The few people who made major nuisances of themselves were carted off to jail, but the vast majority of the attendees where just plain terrific. I'm not used to having so many people thank me for checking their bag when they exited a room. "I understand why you have to do that; thanks for keeping our stuff safe," was the gist of most of the comments. A very nice group of people, overall, and I look forward to working MAGFest 11 next year.

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