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MAGFest 13

23 - 26 January 2015 | Written by Maxxum

I can't start this article without first mentioning that MAGFest's theme this year was based on the movie 'Tron'. In the 80's, 'Tron' was a reflection of gaming culture... now, it is a visual record from which gaming communities like MAGFest can draw inspiration for reliving the moments 30-somethings had when they first tried to reach over the top of an arcade control console as young children.

MAGFest is largely represented by its musical performances - this year saw the return of 'The Protomen', 'Powerglove', dozens of other well known VGMusicians, and a DJ performance by Yuu Miyake (the main composer for Katamari Damacy). However, MAGFest also brings with it an entertaining list of panelists, and an educational series called the Music And Gaming Education Symposium (MAGES) where one can hear discussions about the brain and how it perceives information as it pertains to gaming.

As with each year, I'm unable to cover the majority of the event, but this year MAGFest recorded all of their panels which can now be seen through their YouTube Channel, so I was able to attend more of their concerts which have attendance in the thousands.

I still receive looks of confusion whenever I tell people who don't game that I listen to videogame music, perhaps because videogame music is viewed as a soundtrack for games, not as a genre of choice outside of the console. I've heard people say (to knowing nods) that 'Jagged Little Pill' by Alanis Morissette was the soundtrack of their youth - I wonder, would a person receive the same nod of approval if they had named a videogame soundtrack?

When I spoke with Machinae Supremacy, a Swedish SID metal band, I asked them about their experiences when they tell people about the music they play, the inspiration for the music, and their personal lives:

Due to hotel scheduling this year, Sunday was the peak day for performances, not the usual cool-day of previous MAGFests. I'd received word that something amazing would happen after the Protomen concert, and were it not for photography I could spend pages describing what I felt. The surprise was that Dan Behrens (aka Danimal Cannon) would come onstage to lead the crowd from one stage to another inside the hotel's expo hall where the concerts were being performed. The crowd was already on edge; they had just been entertained by a 90 minute Protomen concert before Behrens' unannounced apperance... but before jumping off stage to take the crowd, a masked Protoman flanked Behrens with the American flag, while another urged the crowd split - I followed both Behren's and the flag-bearer off-stage as closely as I could through a corridor of screaming fans.

I have no words to describe what I felt... but I believe I understand now when I hear grizzled hippies talk about their previous concerts in the 60's as concrete emotional experiences with only the words "I was there".

MAGFest 13... I was there, man. I was there.

End of line.

Photos and video by Maxxum, with audio and auxiliary video recording by Richard Baldovin @ TriFocal Productions