Forewarning: This is extremely long! Thank you in advance for those of you brave enough to read this anyway.


As the weekend draws near I find myself reflecting on the events of the previous one. Last weekend for the first time ever I attended MAGfest and it was the event of a lifetime! How is it that a person such as myself managed to go their entire life without ever attending such an event? I do not know. But for whatever it's worth, that all changed Thursday, January 2nd.

It was Thursday morning and I was satisfying my Facebook addiction when I saw the status of a friend mentioning some strange social gathering called MAGfest. I was curious, so I looked it up and commented to my husband that we should go next year. He immediately told me to start getting ready and an hour later we were in the car on our way to the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center!

We arrived in Maryland a bit later than scheduled but we were there and that's all that mattered. After dropping our son off with some relatives (he had no interest in the convention) we made our way over to the National Harbor. Let me just say that the National Harbor is an amazing place to be. As a person born and raised in Maryland who no longer resides there, I'm usually unimpressed with the locale, but the National Harbor (only 15-20 minutes away from my teenage residence) is a sight to behold!

Upon arrival the parking lot was jam packed. We were forced to park on the top floor of the parking garage, leaving us totally exposed to the snow storm that unbeknownst to us was about to blow through. In the lobby we were greeted by the sight of hundreds upon hundreds of gamers. Some were with their families, others accompanied by friends; many immersed in a self-induced solitude while clutching their 3DS'. Some gamers were in full fledge cosplay, others sported a hastily thrown together costume; as for me and many others causal was the way to go.

A man with a booming voice welcomed us all to the 12th annual MAGfest and then proclaimed that this year was the biggest turn out he had ever seen. Judging by the long line, I'm inclined to believe his declaration to be true. The line was moving at an acceptable pace, not too fast and not too slow. However, we were anxious and ready to explore what lay beyond the entrance way. About halfway through the line things began to split off between pre-registered and on-site registration. It turned out that the line for on-site registration was shorter than the one for those who had pre-registered; lucky us! After quickly filling out a registration form via computer, exchanging a bit of cash, being handed our passes and being fitted with age identifying bracelets we were off to enjoy the greatness that was MAGfest!

Now for the good stuff! After receiving our 4 day passes we began to wander, with having no prior knowledge of how things worked and all. We decided to follow the herds of gamers up and down a myriad of escalators until deciding to visit the arcade section. We checked out a few games but decided not to play any, for all of the ones we truly wanted to play were either being serviced or were already in use. We moved to the next room over to check out the merchandise and Merciful Christmas, the merchandise!

Everything you could possibly dream of was being sold here! Want to buy a Lego replica of your favorite 16-bit video game star? Why there's a both for that! Looking to add a CIB, yes CIB copy of Earthbound to your collection? There's a vendor for that! Want a giant sushi pillow? There's a table dedicated solely to that! How about a handmade Super Mario quilt? Got that too! Need the latest box to your TCG/CCG of choice? There are vendors for those too! Everything you'd want, from that hard to find Atari Lynx to that Steam Punk Cosplay accessories you need was right there, all in one room!

Being a gamer, a collector, and a woman who loves to shop, I just couldn't help myself! We browsed around for quite a bit, going back and forth from vendor to vendor. We even scored a few deals, like the one we got on a Complete-In-Box N64 Xena game (I love Xena)! While it wasn't our best deal (that would come on Saturday), it certainly was my favorite.

After perusing a cornucopia of display cases and vendor tables we decided to move upstairs to check out the Table Top Gaming and TCG/CCG area. My husband, once an avid Yugioh Player turned Cardfight! Vanguard fanatic was desperately seeking one specific card. For what I believe was well over an hour we went back and forth searching for at least one Cardfight! Vanguard player. But too much disappointment, there wasn't a single player in sight. Oddly enough we even had trouble finding Yugioh players, which was also disappointing seeing as my husband had a great deal of cards he was trying to offload.

After succumbing to a slight depression as a result of only finding Magic The Gathering players in the TCG/CCG area, we resolved to make our way downstairs and check out our food options. We came across an intriguing little sports bar and decided to give it a try. The name of the bar escapes me, but the great time that we had there does not. The drinks, while somewhat expensive, were great! The wings were even better! After a bunch of laughs, a few too many wings, and one too many drinks we decided to check out a panel that was about to begin.

We hurriedly made our way back upstairs in order to situate ourselves with good seats for the upcoming panel. What was this panel about you might ask? Why the art of video game collecting of course! Oh the things I learned at that presentation! The panel was mainly being presented by a man dubbed, "Fat Chris". Fat Chris was clearly a man of great and vast knowledge and the things he taught at that panel I'm sure I wouldn't have heard anywhere else. I walked away with a little more knowledge of myself and where I want to go as a collector and a lot more knowledge about what I need to do to make the most out of my collection! Not only was it an informative experience but it was the highlight of my night!

After that panel we made our way through the snow storm back to a relative's house to get our son and crash for the night. We skipped Friday's events because I had promised to finish a job a state over, fixing a few TV's, managing some software and cleaning a hard drive, but Saturday we were back on the road!

Saturday is where things really got fun! This time we arrived a lot earlier than we did on Thursday providing us with more time to truly explore the grounds. After surveying as much as we could Thursday we had a better knowledge of where everything was located. We had been to the vendors, we had dishearteningly ventured through the TCG/CCG corridors, and we even checked out the music scene (something I unintentionally omitted from above). But one thing we really didn't get to fully enjoy was the games! 

You would have thought that with it being a Saturday and the attendance numbers being significantly higher that it would have been hard to find an open game to play, but that wasn't the case at all. We made our way over to the game section and saw an incredible sight, a Guitar Hero Stage! We watched a few people play, some more enthusiastically than others, and then decided to move on. There was gaming of all kind, from fighters to shooters, LAN games to classical computer gaming, from console gaming to arcade machines. What really interested us were the arcade machines, the X-Men one to be specific.

When we arrived at the X-Men arcade machine there were 5 other people already there. They finished up their game and we went ahead and began playing. My husband picked Wolverine as his character and naturally I picked Storm! Gradually more people began to come over and play with us. After winning a few times (forgive me Magneto) and dying even more we congratulated each other on our outstanding team work, said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. After playing X-Men we went and checked out a few more games all of which were extremely gratifying!

We made our way over to the console games section and were just about to go see what the vendors had for the day when my husband noticed a match of Soul Calibur 2 taking place. A line had begun to form and it seemed that there was a loser gives up the controller style competition underway. The line was pretty long and after waiting for quite some time we decided to head over to the vendors for a while.

With Saturday being the second to last day of the convention I suppose a few vendors were looking to rid themselves of some of their inventory before leaving. A few vendors seemed a lot more inclined to make deals because of this. One seller in particular had decided to mark down a few of his games and had even put out a bin of dollar titles. While none of those games where big name hits we were extremely satisfied with what we acquired. From that deal alone we were able to pick up another Xena game (Yay for Xena) this time for the original PlayStation and a few other games that were definitely worth a bit more than their dollar price tag.

At another sellers table I found myself digging through a small box of obscure games. I missed out on the XBOX days but even still I'm familiar with many of their popular titles. However in this particular box I saw a few games that I had never heard of so I was apprehensive about purchasing them. The seller happened to notice me discussing the matter with my husband and offered me a discount. He said he'd knock off a couple of dollars if I purchased a game. I said I wasn't really sure. He said he'd throw in another game at a discounted price if I'd just buy something. I told him I still wasn't sure, because well... I wasn't. In a last ditch attempt to get rid of what I presume was unmovable inventory, he declared that he'd sell me the whole box for 15 dollars. At this point I just couldn't refuse. After all, the game I was initially looking to buy was only 8 dollars! Happily my husband and I made the transaction, grabbed the box of games and made our way to the console gaming section.

Surprisingly by the time we got back to the console gaming section the line for Soul Calibur 2 had begun to dwindle. Soon my husband was up next. He was a little rusty at first, most likely due to not having played the game in about 8 years, but soon enough he was up to speed and winning matches left and right! After playing a few more games we decided it was time to make our way home. After stopping to watch a few gamers awkwardly dance in the lobby to the mixes of a Deejay who looked an awful lot like Red Foo from LMFAO we bid our adieu to MAGfest and began our long trek home.

If you've managed to stay here this long I thank you! I realize that this piece was extremely long but my weekend at MAGfest was one of the best weekends that I've ever had and I couldn't think of anyone I'd rather share it with than you all here at Game Informer. So thank you for allowing me to invite you into my life and thank you for reading. I hope to see you all at MAGfest next year and as always Happy Gaming!