Now that the dust has settled and we've published our impressions of rAge Cape Town, what do the organisers think of it?
We conducted an email Q&A with Michael James, owner and senior project manager of rAge, covering esports, the games selection and attendance expectations.
Hadlee Simons (HS): How many people do you estimate attended rAge over the three days? Are you happy with the figures?
Michael James (MJ): We have an exact figure of 9091 for the first rAge in Cape Town. I am happy with the turnout and we're pretty close to what we targeted, it's always a real treat to see people experience rAge for the first time – their excitement is infectious.
The Friday was the only slump in the attendance projections as many people were still at school and at work. It would have perhaps been a better call to run the show from the Saturday to the Monday, but this is just an example of learning lessons and applying them the following year.
HS: What was the reason for a lack of unreleased games at the event, which is usually a focal point of rAge?
MJ: Time of the year is a big one and unfortunately there is really only one good time for game code and that’s late, towards the end of the year. That said we almost had a scoop for Cape Town, but international release dates were changed and the companies involved were not able to make it happen.
I also wouldn't say that unreleased games are the focal point of rAge, they're a fantastic addition to the show along with all the other myriad geeky-related things you find on the show floor. Many different components have to come together just perfectly for us to see unreleased titles with their playable code at any rAge expo.
I'm sure as rAge Cape Town grows and goes from strength to strength we'll start see some preview code of unreleased games. But the timing is never up to us.
HS: Games from the Make Games SA community were notably absent, was there any reason for this?
MJ: GDC (Game Developers Conference) was on in the USA last week, so many of the local game developers attended, which is why we cancelled the home_coded stand. We did have one local game developer, WeStudio Games, who came down from JHB to demonstrate their game to visitors.
NAG and Intel also ran a successful NAG JAM stand that featured 7 locally made games, created over a weekend. Hopefully the timing of GDC and rAge Cape Town won't conflict in the future and now that many people have seen what rAge looks and feels like in Cape Town I'm sure they'll be keen to showcase their games to the rAge audience.
HS: Some people felt like rAge Cape Town was a kneejerk reaction to EGE's success. What's your take on that?
MJ: It's a natural assumption to make. We've been talking about hosting a NAG LAN or rAge in Cape Town for a number of years, and with the closure of NAG magazine last year, it allowed us more time to focus on other pending projects, one of them being rAge in Cape Town.
HS: Can we expect to see more rAges in Cape Town after this one? What are the plans in this regard?
MJ: From our excellent turnout figures and happy exhibitors we are definitely going to be doing rAge and the NAG LAN in Cape Town going forward. I do feel that we should look at moving the expo to after the end of the month or closer to pay day. Some visitors wanted to buy things but didn’t have extra funds.
There are many things you learn from doing an expo like this in a city that is vastly different and unique to JHB and we'll be putting those lessons to work for the next one – you have to start somewhere and I feel that this was a good start.
[Editor's note: James confirmed in a press statement that the current space, plus the Grand Arena and Sun Exhibit spaces would be used for the 2017 edition, making for a venue that will be "triple the size".]
HS: The esports side of thing was really well done. What were your impressions of this? Were you happy with the reception?
MJ: I was very impressed with the level of professionalism from both esports tournaments held in the expo itself as well as the casual fun tournaments in the NAG LAN. Visitors enjoyed the spectacle and you just don't get the same energy and vibe from actually being there, versus sitting at home watching it online. The two will never compare.
I'm happy with how both events went and I think as a hosting event, rAge has only just scratched the surface of the world of esports. I think it'll quickly get to the same size and reception as we see in tournaments overseas – it's just a matter of time because we already have the ability, will and skills to make it happen.
The important thing is for people who enjoy watching professionals play to come to these events and support them and the players with enthusiasm and the right kind of positive attitude.