Opinion Other

rAge Cape Town... was it all the rage for you?

rAge Expo Cape Town.jpg

Now that rAge has blown through Cape Town and already started heading back up to Gauteng to prepare for October’s event, it’s the perfect time to consider whether the event was a success or not.

Over the weekend I chatted with plenty of familiar local faces (or at least they are familiar to me) about their experiences and thoughts on the Cape Town edition of the gaming expo. Listening to them excitedly talk about the number of gaming, geek and anime expos happening in Cape Town this year, it became clear that simply pulling off an event was just not good enough anymore. Each one now needs something to differentiate it from the others – an element (or preferably elements) to justify the entry fee.

The Bad

The thing was that many didn’t seem to feel that rAge was worth that entry fee. Sure, this was the first event in Cape Town, and many had not been to Gauteng to see the scale the event can reach, but considering the ‘other’ major gaming expo had no previous event before 2015, for many Capetonians that attended both Cape Town events, the feeling was rAge should’ve been more than it was.

To be fair though, rAge Cape Town was a first time event really, and in all the media beforehand, it was stated that the event would not be the size of the Gauteng one. But size isn’t the thing that matters most.

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Usually rAge offers new code for players to experience, exceptional specials, giveaways capable of causing riots, a wide variety of tech and peripherals for all platforms, all the major distributors and their products on show, a cosplay parade on stage, as well as on-stage demonstrations and more. On top of that, the media also has the opportunity to interact with representatives from developers and publishers.

Speaking as someone who has been fortunate enough to be to rAge Johannesburg a few times, rAge Cape Town did - in essence – have everything needed and accounted for on the floor. There were cosplay, vendors, hands-on opportunities, tech, LAN, eSports and more. However, having seen what that equates to in Johannesburg, the Cape Town expo seemed pretty light on content.

The time of the year would’ve scuppered any new code hopes, meaning the titles on display were generally already familiar to the majority of attendees. Specials were pretty limited and giveaways were the domain of the energy drink company with the ‘M’ on the can.

With Virtual Reality being a major catchphrase this year, the lack of VR headsets and content on display was a surprise, but given the difficulty to arrange units that have only just been confirmed for commercial release, it would’ve been down to smaller organisations with access to development kits that were be willing to set up and demonstrate the units. Unfortunately, that would most likely have been at their own cost meaning there was no real value for them.

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Cosplayers were out and about in Cape Town, but there was no parade, and without a stage (at least, other than the DGL Masters one) there were no demonstrations on offer. I also heard a few people complain about the lack of PC peripherals and hardware on display – or even available to buy. It was also pretty apparent that some distributors were not in attendance at the event – but if you looked carefully, some of their brands were.

Maybe it was unfair on the show that attendees expected that the rAge name itself would have the pulling power needed to draw everyone down to Cape Town. The simple fact of the matter is that the cost implications kept a number of potential vendors (and content) away, and being year one of a new show will always weigh in on that decision.

The Good

However, there was plenty to still applaud at the Cape Town show. While early marketing seemed to suggest that eSports was not high on rAge Cape Town’s agenda, the two main tournaments on the show floor drew plenty of attention and were great adverts for the local scene.

The venue has a nice atmosphere, but it is certainly not conducive to growth of the event which seems to be returning for at least the next five years to GrandWest - it will however be moving to the larger space of the Arena. There is also plenty of parking at the venue (although traffic going out seemed a little challenging on the Saturday).

There was also a convivial vibe in the venue as friends met up with friends they hadn’t seen since the last big gaming event. The NAG Jam and Intel overclocking component was a nice addition to things but obviously had an appeal limited to only some attendees.

The board- and card-games drew a good amount of attention all weekend and indicates that the scene is having a resurgence - or players are braving the crowds more these days.

The vendors I spoke to that are regulars at the other Cape Town events seemed generally pleased with their returns for attending the event – which is really a good indication of numbers (and shoppers) through the door, however, the official numbers are not yet available.

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The Ugly?

Funnily, the one element that I found difficult to judge in Cape Town was the NAG LAN. In Gauteng I always thought it was a black hole on the show floor – space that should be allocated to the expo itself. It also seems a little voyeuristic looking through the chain-link fence at the attendees sleeping under/on/next to tables. In Cape Town, it almost seemed too isolated again, being placed in another part of the GrandWest complex. It was at least there, and it did appear to be well supported by Cape Town LAN goers hungry for more LAN events.

In Closing

It’s inevitable that attendees to rAge who haven’t been to Johannesburg will start by comparing the Cape Town expo to that other Cape Town expo. That is a little unfair to both expos, but what was a little more worrying was that when chatting to a few people at the event who had never been to rAge in Gauteng, some felt that they would not make the journey based on their Cape Town experience.

Whether Cape Town needs two gaming events that seem so similar to each other is debatable, but as I said earlier in this piece, if both of Cape Town’s expos do their own thing and bring something unique to the party, the people will come, and I have a very strong suspicion that year two of both events will be the one that each goes its own way.

Did you attend rAge this past weekend? If so, let us know your thoughts on the expo below. Here's something from Gareth Woo

Photos via rAge Expo on Facebook and credited to Carmo Fernandes Photographer & Designer Art's. YouTube by TheRedTieGuy.


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