MAGFest Interview with Nick Marinelli

Had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing Nicholas Marinelli the Promotions/Public Relations guy for MAGFest a music and gaming festival. He was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to explain the ins-and-outs of MAGFest. Gamers and music lovers of the Platform Nation community should feel right at home when it comes to MAGFest check the site out here

The Music and Gaming Festival
4 Days of Non-Stop Games and Concerts

Hilton Alexandria Mark Center | 5000 Seminary Road, Alexandria, Virginia, 22311 (Near DC)
Jan 13 – 16, 2011 (Thu – Sun)
You have traveled to the likes of Comicon took a trip to PAX maybe even had the luck of being brought into the world that is E3 so MAGFest is the same right? Setting MAGFest side by side with other similar conventions you will find many similarities but MAGFest shines above the rest as we learn more about it. Check out the interview to see what it is all about.
1. What is MagFest all about?

MAGFest an annual event dedicated to the appreciation of video games and video game music. It’s built from the ground up to be a community event where fans, artists, musicians, and anyone at all who appreciates video games and video game music can come, meet up, play games, party, and rock out. This next one will be January 13-16,  2011 at the Hilton Mark Center in Alexandria, VA (right next to DC).

2. What can we look forward to at MagFest?

Since MAGFest runs 24 hours a day for all 4 days, there is constantly something going on somewhere. The console, arcade, LAN, and tabletop game rooms are all open the entire time. There are also live video game cover band concerts every night, panels and guest appearances that go all day into late at night, and a 24 hour “Jamspace” where anyone is welcome to come up and jam with other attendees with instruments that we provide (or they can bring their own!).


3. What are some notables?

We’ve had some really great guests over the years. We’ve hosted video game bands like The Minbosses, The Advantage, Metroid Metal, Arm Cannon, The OneUps, and a ton more. We’ve had guests like Jon St. John (the voice of duke nukem), Howard Drossin (composer for Sonic 3 & knuckles), Grant Kirkhope (composer for Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, and the Banjo Kazooie series), Jake “Virt” Kaufman (video game music arranger, and composer for Contra 4 and Shantae, among others), and even Sid Meier (creator of the Civilization game series). At MAGFest, our guests aren’t hidden away in some mystical undisclosed backstage area, only to emerge to speak at a panel and sign autographs. All of our guests are there to have fun just like the rest of the attendees, so you can expect to see them mingling out and about. You might even catch them at a few room parties you wander into!

!!!Video contains foul langauge!!!

4. Who shows up to MagFest?

We’re an event by fans for fans. If you have any kind of tangential interest in anything related to gaming and geek culture, there will be something you enjoy at MAGFest. Our console room has games from the 1970s all the way up to today, attracting console game fans from young to old, casual to hardcore. Our 70+ arcade machines on free-play attract the people who long for the days of arcades. Our tabletop rooms are host to magic, warhammer, D&D, or anything anyone wants to bring in at all. Since it’s a community event, you’ll see people who make all those fan creations you see passed around; music, movies, crafts, art, comics, blogs, and more. Different online and offline communities such as OCRemix, Destructoid, Speed Demos Archive, VGMix, The Shizz, Dwelling of Duels, college gaming clubs, and more use us as an annual meeting place, so not only do you have MAGFest going on in all the meeting areas of the hotel, you’ve got about 30 floors worth of room parties happening upstairs.

5. Why should someone attend when there are other cons and expos to attend?

MAGFest is a unique festival experience that no other gaming event can compare to. It’s not a convention where you’re ushered from panel to panel, and it’s not an expo where companies and advertisers ram products down your throat. It’s an event with a strong emphasis on the community and social gathering. There are no overcrowded show floors, no long lines to video rooms, and no corporate sponsorships blasting you in the face from every direction (we let the bands take care of the face blasting). Many years ago, one attendee, flustered by how unprofessional we are when compared to big events like E3 and Otakon, complained how we were just a “video game party with a rock concert.” We found that to be a very apt description, so we decided to use it as a tagline rather than criticism. It’s an incredibly social atmosphere where nothing more is expected of you than to play games, rock out, and make new friends.

6. Any good Cos-players?

Cosplay is present at MAGFest, though our philosophy on it isn’t exactly what you’d call typical. We get plenty of high quality costumes, and we get our fair show of low quality costumes. We don’t care what costume you make as long as you have fun making it, and have fun wearing it. Too many conventions focus on the meticulous perfection achieved through countless hours and sleepless nights until every stitch and seam is identical to the source artwork. Meanwhile on our end, one of the hit cosplay groups at MAGFest last year was a group of about 8 or so people who spent a half hour in a hotel room with multi colored duct tape, pizza boxes, beer boxes, and a few sharpies, and produced some of the most hilarious Mortal Kombat costumes you’ve ever seen in your life. Our costume contest is more like a costume roast, so we encourage people to have a sense of humor about things. We welcome costuming of all kinds, we just recommend that you try to lighten up a little bit and enjoy it, rather than stressing out about it. After all, we’re a bunch grown people dressing up like video game characters….

7. What is there to do?

To sum up what I’ve said so far:
– 24 hour console, pc, arcade, and tabletop gaming all 4 days
– Live video game cover bands every night
– DJ and Chiptune music performances
– Guests from the community and industry
– Jamspace for all attendees to come rock out
– Hang out, meet new people, and party until you drop

8. What kind of booths are there?

We get a wide range of people who purchase booths, and use them for a variety of purposes. Game dealers sell a range of vintage and modern games and hardware, bands and independent musicians sell Cd’s and merch, artists and craftsters sell their homemade creations, apparel companies sell a lot of geek themed clothing, and some press even get a table to set up as their home base to do reports and interviews. One thing that makes MAGFest different from other events is that, while other events will spread different types of vendors/artists out into separate areas, MAGFest combines it all into a giant vendor area that we call “The Marketplace.” The Marketplace is located in the center of the entire festival, so it’s always buzzing with activity of different types, and you get to see the small craftsters and the bigger game dealers alike mingling to create an friendly social atmosphere.


9. Do you ask for sponsors?

Since MAGFest is meant to be a community gathering for the fans rather than an expo, we try to stay away from sponsorship as much as possible. While we occasionally do some cross promotional deals and get some swag to give out, we do not pursue, nor do we wish to have, any major sponsorship deals. Every dime we get is from the attendees (some of which very generously purchase our Supporter and Super Supporter level badges) and the individual marketplace dealers, which means we don’t have to worry about appeasing corporate overlord entities, and can instead focus on putting on the best show we can for the attendees.

10. Is there an age limit?

All ages are allowed, but attendees under 18 require a parent to sign a waiver.

Check out a video Promo:

Nick also was excited to add to the conversation in another email “We just announced some big guests today, the main highlight being Hiroki Kikuta, the composer of Secret of Mana”

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  • Magfest is definitely growing into its own and I think this year will be the best yet!