This weekend the Ticketpro Dome in Johannesburg will become ground zero for gamers, cosplayers and geeks of every stripe. The reason being that today, (Friday October 5th) South Africa’s biggest video games expo, rAge, opens its doors promising a packed weekend of games and activities for SA’s geek community.
Since its inception, rAge’s main draw has been wrapped up in the games it showcases annually. The gaming industry’s top players – Sony, Microsoft, 2K, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft Square Enix and more – set up booths in which fans can play games that have either just been released, or are in the pipeline in the run-up to Christmas. It’s a chance for players to finally get their hands on games they’ve been following online for months, and usually ahead of release.
But rAge has changed and expanded quite significantly over the years. Where once it was all about pre-release games, now it’s a hub of geek activity. Step away from the main floor and you’re likely to find an abundance of activities and swag to get stuck into. Comic book, toy and gaming vendors surround the main hub, offering baubles to buy and wares to sample. Each year, attendees will find gaming workshops – in which they can try out card and board games – T-shirt stalls, shops selling games and gaming peripherals and a mini-craft fair, offering everything from fan art, to jewelry to cosplay accouterments.
Away from the noise of the Triple A games, rAge visitors can also find games made by South African developers. The indie scene in SA has produced some fantastic games and this is great chance to not only get a taste of local fare, but also to talk to developers and publishers about how they go about their craft. It’s a place to become inspired; last year, one of the show’s highlights was a game called Semblance, made by local developers Nyamakop – this year, the game became the first SA title to land on the Nintendo Switch.
If you’re a cosplay fan, rAge is certainly worth attending. The show runs a competition every year rewarding those with the best costumes and whether you’re a fan or a participant, the efforts are always impressive. (If you’re new to either rAge or cosplay, mind, make sure you get a cosplayer’s permission before snapping a photo – it’s just polite).
On top of that, rAge is a great place to see South Africa’s gaming elite flex their muscles. The expo plays host to several esports competitions with players battling it out for big prize money across different games. Amateurs can even get in on the action this year, with Microsoft hosting daily Fortnite tournaments. The top three players of each day – those who accumulate the most points by racking up kills – stand a chance to win big prizes. All you need to do is queue up for a chance to play.
Perhaps the best reason to attend rAge, beyond the games, the toys, the cosplay and the LAN party (there is always a LAN party) is the community that it draws in. South Africa’s geek community are one of the friendliest groups one is likely to meet and catching them in their element is infectious.
Whether you’re an ardent fan of all things geek, or just a curious onlooker, rAge is definitely the place to be this weekend.