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SA Gaming Heavyweights Weigh In On 2015 - rAge Expo

For MWEB GameZone, our most important audience has always been local gamers. We have, therefore, decided to launch a series of articles with the focus on South Africa's gaming scene. We will talk to our local heavyweights on hardware, media, distribution, and development to name but a few. It's important for us to talk about the things that matter to you, so drop us a comment on what you would like us to cover in future.

It's only right to kick off the series by talking about the biggest annual gaming event in South Africa. So join us as we chat to Michael James, Senior Project Manager for the rAge Expo.

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What do you contribute your continued success to?

The short answer is the team of people involved in making the magic happen. Everyone who works on rAge understands the market, and the people in it, and we all now have 12 years of experience to lean on. What makes it easy for us is that the thousands of visitors that attend the show all share the same love for this crazy geek lifestyle that we do – so we’re really just creating an experience that is filled with all of the stuff we love ourselves.

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With the limits the Coca-Cola Dome imposes, how do you plan to grow rAge 2015?

Along with rAge winning the Best Consumer Exhibition over 6,000m2, The Dome also won Venue of the Year. The only limitation with the Dome is the size of the venue. However, this year we had visitors spending less time in queues, we had more support infrastructure and we increased the expo floor space significantly by moving some of the LAN into a new area (Area 51).

We also widened the aisles, increased eating area space, opened the loading bay area for people who wanted to get a little fresh air, and shuffled the stage location around to accommodate more people and create a free flowing area. We’ve already had a meeting with the venue about expanding and maximising available space in 2015 and they’ve come up with a few smart suggestions.

Since I always get asked this, let me pre-empt it by saying that we have extensively looked at other possible venues in Johannesburg and Pretoria but the list of cons far outweigh the pros when comparing them to The Dome. Regardless, this is a high priority for us and we are always working on making rAge a better experience for everyone.    

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There's always something peculiar & fascinating going on at rAge

Anything you can tell us about what we can expect from rAge 2015?

One of the unique things about a show like rAge and why we keep growing is that you never see the same thing twice. Unlike other shows that always have the same kinds of things, rAge (besides the nuts and biltong stands), is always evolving and changing. So you can expect new and different technology (we had 3D printers last year), the latest in geek culture (high-end figurines) and of course all the freshest games.

There are games that will be at rAge 2015 that we haven’t even heard about yet. Generally after E3 and Gamescom our local distributors have a clearer idea of what will be at rAge in 2015. So as much as I’d love to publish a bulleted list we simply have no confirmations on what will be at the show. We will be making a few big announcements during the year regarding games and hardware and other interesting concepts, but it’s just too early in the year for specific details.

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Will Cosplay play a bigger role at rAge 2015?

The Cosplay is an important part of the show and basically everything that happens at rAge involving Cosplay is community-based and run. It’s just something that happens naturally each year, and while we facilitate with the exhibition space, stand, and even sponsored stage time, rAge isn’t directly involved in the organising of the Cosplay competition that happens each year. It’s amazing to see the effort and attention to detail this community puts into everything they do and rAge will always support cosplaying one way or the other.

One interesting thing I noticed this year is that more and more people were trying it out for the first time. I lost count of how many drawn-on cat whiskers and small touches many of the show going public had on display. It’s almost as if rAge brings out the adventurous side of people and lets them have fun in a place where everyone just gets it.    

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What would you personally like to change/add/improve for the annual rAge show?

There isn’t much I would change that can realistically be changed easily or quickly. Of course if we’re talking fantasy, I’d love a massive venue like the Los Angeles Convention Centre to be built overnight just up the road from where I live, then I could land on the roof in my helicopter and have people throw rose petals at my feet as I walk through the crowds. I’m kidding of course…

I would like more space or at least use the space in smarter ways, I’d like more international developers and visitors attending the show and I’d like to add more geek culture to the show. I always love walking around during the weekend and seeing all those excited people playing games, buying art or just staring in wonder at everything (even the moms and dads). It tells me we’re doing it right, so while I’d love for things to grow faster and quicker and better I’m happy to just see where it all takes us along the path we’re on.    

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Why do you continue to succeed where others fail?

(See "Cape Town gears up for its own gaming expo")

I can’t really comment on why all of these proposed shows and organisations fail or why some of them make promises they can’t keep. I guess if you look at the show it’s easy to do the sums and count the people and see who pays what for what and then go back home and think that what we have can be easily duplicated by following some show formulae or whatever.

We have a massive media engine behind the show (including NAG magazine and IGN Africa) that speaks directly to this geek culture and these fanatical fans each and every day, we have the right kind of technical and logistics people involved to make it happen, plus an amazing and passionate management team that makes sure the show is the best it can be no matter what. We’re not in this for a quick buck or to try and divide the community or to offer something better than the next person. We do this because we love the industry and the people in it and this is why we continue to succeed.   

 

rAge Exp: Facebook | Twitter | Website | YouTube

Closing thoughts

The annual rAge Expo is something every gamer and geek fanatic in South Africa looks forward to every year. It's a showcase of the best South Africa has to offer in the fields of gaming and technology, and something we are all proud to associate with. If you've not yet attended rAge, then 2015 marks the year! At rAge 2014, the GameZone team had the opportunity to chat with key game industry people from around the world. We had "A glimpse at The Witcher 3 with CD Projekt Red," we discussed female representation in gaming with Ubisoft, we had a "dudebro" chat with Far Cry 4's Production Manager and best of all, we talked to Project CARS' Game Director, Stephen Viljoen, a local that made it big.

rAge is the biggest gaming and tech party in Africa, so see you at rAge 2015!

A big shout out to Michael James for taking the time to chat with us. We wish the rAge team all the best for 2015 and we thank them for their invaluable contribution to growing gaming and tech in South Africa.

If you have any questions for the rAge team, then just drop a comment, and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. Keep an eye on GameZone for our next feature on what local gaming heavyweights have to say about 2015. The next article will focus on key people from Xbox South Africa, Rectron and PlayStation South Africa, to name but a few.

Han: Twitter / MWEB GameZone: Twitter | Facebook

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd

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