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rAge Gaming Expo 2023: Highlights and Personal Reflections

As the buzz of rAge Expo 2023 echoed through the Gallagher Convention Centre, it was clear that South Africa’s premier gaming event had made a triumphant return. This year’s expo was more than just a gathering of gamers and tech enthusiasts; it was a celebration of creativity, innovation, and the vibrant community that makes rAge so special. Here’s a blend of personal reflections, detailed insights, and quotes from attendees to capture what made rAge 2023 an event to remember.

The Comeback of rAge

For many, the most significant aspect of rAge 2023 was simply its occurrence. The importance of this event happening post-COVID-19 can’t be overstated. Last year marked a tentative return, but this year solidified rAge’s resurgence, bringing together gamers and enthusiasts once more. Diablo5966 emphasized how great it felt to see rAge back in action, noting, “COVID really messed us up as an event company that needs lots of people in a giant space which we just couldn’t do, so rAge last year was an official comeback year for us”​​​ (Vamers)​​ (Joburg.co.za)​​ (ITWeb)​.

Standout Activities and Attractions at rAge

rAge 2023 was packed with unique activities that kept attendees entertained throughout the weekend. One of the most talked-about attractions was the Human Crane, where participants were strapped into a harness and hoisted into the air to grab prizes. Gam3rdude shared his excitement about the Human Crane and the scavenger hunt, mentioning how much fun he had trying to make cosplayers laugh to win prizes, even though he didn’t win​​​ (South Africa Today)​​ (Home)​.

Cosplay has always been a vibrant part of rAge, and this year was no exception. The creativity and craftsmanship on display were astounding, with cosplayers bringing beloved characters to life with incredible detail and enthusiasm. Diablo5966 mentioned seeing a standout Kratos cosplay from God of War, adding, “I also feel like cosplay will always be amazing and crazy no matter what we go through as an event”​ (ITWeb)​​ (Home)​.

Insights into rAge 2023 Gaming Technologies

This year’s expo also highlighted some cutting-edge gaming technologies. The RGB stand’s VR arena was a major hit, offering attendees a chance to immerse themselves in virtual worlds. Diablo5966 was particularly impressed with the increasingly sophisticated VR setups, noting, “The VR scene is getting crazier and crazier and at rAge the RGB stand had a really cool VR arena”​​​ (Vamers)​​ (Home)​. While 3D printing technology was also a point of interest, it remains prohibitively expensive for many, including our interviewees.

Nostalgia for the Dome

While many attendees expressed nostalgia for the Dome, the previous venue, the Gallagher Convention Centre offered its own charm. The new venue provided ample space for the myriad of activities, panels, and booths. The layout allowed for better traffic flow and more engaging setups, making it easier to explore everything rAge had to offer. Diablo5966 reminisced about the unmatched vibe the Dome brought to the expo but acknowledged the benefits of the new venue’s separate halls​ (South Africa Today)​.

Panels and Talks

The panels and talks at rAge 2023 were another highlight, providing deep dives into game development, tech trends, and educational initiatives. Sessions on game development featured insights from local developers, sharing their journeys and the challenges they’ve faced. Gam3rdude attended a panel where participants could win prizes by making someone laugh, finding it entertaining despite not winning. In contrast, Diablo5966 focused more on the LAN segment, where he participated in an interview and emphasized the fun nature of these events​​​ (Joburg.co.za)​​ (Home)​.

Educational Initiatives

Educational initiatives were a strong focus this year. ‘Unplugged Coding with Six Bricks’ offered a hands-on approach to learning coding basics using simple, tactile tools. Contributions by Eduvos, RGB Gaming, WeThinkCode, and The Animation School emphasized the intersection of gaming and technology with learning and career development. These initiatives are crucial for inspiring the next generation of tech-savvy creators​ (HTXT)​​ (Vamers)​.

Spotlight on Local Talent

Local talent shone brightly in the Home_Coded section. Games like ‘Poached: Hunt The Hunter,’ ‘Meow Meow Wizard Arena,’ and ‘Themba: The Last Hope’ showcased the creativity and skill within our community. These games were not only fun to play but also highlighted important cultural themes and narratives, adding a unique South African flavor to the expo​ (HTXT)​.

Gaming Demos and Economic Realities

Economic constraints were a reality for many attendees, affecting their ability to try new games and purchase the latest tech. Despite this, the indie developers in the Home_Coded section found innovative ways to engage with the audience, offering affordable demos and experiences. This accessibility allowed more people to enjoy the fruits of local creativity and innovation. Gam3rdude expressed that he didn’t try out any unreleased games due to financial limitations, echoing a common sentiment among attendees​​​ (Joburg.co.za)​​ (ITWeb)​.

Esports Competitions

Esports competitions were a major draw, with the Valorant tournament and the Carry1st VALZA Cup creating an electric atmosphere. The intensity and skill displayed by the competitors were awe-inspiring, and the excitement in the crowd was contagious. Diablo5966 was thrilled by the Valorant tournament, saying, “The Valorant tournament was AMAZING… it was cool to see such a big stage and spectators again like we used to have!” In contrast, gam3rdude didn’t participate in or follow the esports competitions closely as he does not consider himself a competitive player​ (Gadget)​​ (ITWeb)​.

Hardware and Gadgets

Deals on peripherals and professional gaming PCs attracted significant interest. Attendees were eager to get their hands on the latest gear, and the expo provided ample opportunities to do so. Diablo5966 recalled winning a free keyboard last year by spinning a wheel and noted that rAge is known for offering great deals on new gear. Gam3rdude also showed interest in the professional gaming PCs on display, though he noted that financial constraints were a common issue for many attendees​​​ (Joburg.co.za)​​ (ITWeb)​.

The Cosplay Scene

The cosplay scene at rAge 2023 was a feast for the eyes. The dedication and effort put into each costume were evident, with cosplayers spending months preparing for the event. From casual fans to hardcore enthusiasts, the cosplay community brought a level of creativity and fun that added a vibrant layer to the expo. Gam3rdude was particularly impressed by the military group cosplays, reflecting his interest in guns and weaponry​ (ITWeb)​​ (Home)​.

The Unique LAN Experience

The LAN event at rAge has always been a cornerstone of the expo, and this year was no different. The atmosphere in the LAN area was electric, with rows upon rows of PCs and consoles, all running different games. For many, this was a chance to connect with friends and experience the communal joy of gaming together. Diablo5966 highlighted the unique experience of spending 3-4 days playing games, eating junk food, exploring the expo, and sleeping amidst the hum of hundreds of gamers. “It really is just amazing and I’ll always love it and miss it one day when I’m much older,” he said​ (South Africa Today)​​ (Home)​.

Final Reflections

Overall, rAge 2023 was a remarkable event filled with both nostalgia and new experiences. Despite the economic challenges and the shift in gaming trends, the expo remains a beacon of gaming culture, bringing together enthusiasts from all walks of life. Here’s to many more years of unforgettable rAge experiences!