The first rAge event in Cape Town took place at GrandWest Casino this past weekend, marking an important moment for the local gaming industry.
The first Cape Town event definitely seemed like a success if you were judging by the sheer number of people in attendance.
I attended on Sunday and there were many attendees, although the consensus was that Saturday saw a lot more people coming through the doors.
Judging by other aspects though? Well, let's just say that this event didn't hold up to Johannesburg's take on rAge.
Don't go to play games
The Cape Town event was marketed as a geek/gaming culture event, ostensibly as a way of saying "we don't have much on offer in terms of actual games".
I wasn't expecting there to be many unreleased titles on offer, but unfortunately, there were no unreleased games at all. In fact, The Division was probably the biggest title available to play, and it was already released last week. This pretty much mirrored the first EGE event last year.
Was it simply a case of having no unreleased titles to show? Well, between Ratchet and Clank, Dark Souls 3, Uncharted 4, Doom, Dirt Rally and Mafia 3, there are a few upcoming videogames in the next two months or so. So I'd probably chalk up the games selection to a combination of a first time show and lack of preview code ahead of E3.
In saying so, rAge Cape Town definitely had more support from the big-name publishers, with WB Games, PlayStation SA and Xbox South Africa all having relatively large stands.
Other gaming-related stands included a large BT Games store offering some neat promotions (although some specials weren't special at all), the EvoPoints stand for gaming peripherals, a stand to try out a Google Cardboard clone (available at a tad pricey R249 - go to a Mini dealer to get one for free or check Takealot), some games developed during the NAG 72 hour game jam and a lone stand dedicated to high school game developers Westudio Games and their 'A and C Apocalypse' Android shooter.
Speaking of local games, EGE had the edge advantage here, owing to fantastic support from the Make Games SA community. Local games such as Cadence, Desktop Dungeons, 'Nam 67, Phase Edge and Mergerzerds made for a quality showing at EGE.
EGE also had an Oculus Rift on offer that drew a big line, as well as an esports tournament going on.
A massive advantage
EGE may have had esports, but rAge Cape Town had a far bigger presence in this regard, in the form of the Astro Gaming Cup and the snazzy Telkom Digital Gaming League.
The latter was a huge hit at the show, with a professional setup (such as glass booths for warring gamers), great commentators and a large screen to enjoy the action.
And with R100 000 in total prize money on offer, the first round of the Digital Gaming League delivered in a big way.
In fact, this was easily the most popular attraction at rAge, with the "arena" seats constantly being full (leading to dozens of people standing to watch the action). Who said competitive gaming wasn't viable in SA?
Go for the gaming/geek culture stuff
Disappointing games selection aside, rAge Cape Town was pretty decent in the swag department, with stores offering plenty of pop culture items (shirts, hats, badges, mugs etc).
There was also a Nerd Nab store, offering a subscription-based service where you get a box of geeky goodies each month.
Other stuff on offer included the Intel overclocking stand, a board game section and of course, the NAG LAN area (the latter of which was located a few minutes' walk away in a room next to the Grand Arena).
So it's worth repeating that if you were expecting rAge to be a showcase of upcoming games, you were bound to be disappointed. On the hunt for cool t-shirts, collectible figurines and interesting swag? Then it was worth checking out.
Here's hoping the 2017 edition is much improved on the actual gaming side of things though.
Disclosure: iafrica.com game reviewer Zaid Kriel is an EGE organiser.