This past weekend I was lucky enough to experience the very first Magma con, a convention in the hills of Tennessee. The Mountain Animation, Gaming, and Media Alliance was hosted by the same hosts of Yama-con, an anime convention held in the same area near the end of the year. While their other convention is focused on anime, MAGMA was more of a convention for video games, though they did host events for the everyday nerd.
The convention was held in a small convention center beside a local hotel, which was a really cool feature. The center itself was literally steps away from my hotel room, and the dedicated poke-center was hosted in a separate room at the hotel. A con-goer could have literally walked to their hotel room easily to rest and been back in no time, which isn’t a perk I’ve had with most other conventions. However, due to the size of the center itself, they had quickly run out of parking near the center and at the hotel.
Once you entered the center, they had used the space they had available wisely. The entryway was in a U shape around a large center room, which was used as the dealer’s room. One side of the U was a tabletop gaming area with the rooms coming off of it as video game area. The other side of the U was the artist’s alley, and the rooms off of there were used for panels.
The panel rooms were large and enclosed, and provided everything one would need to give an awesome panel. The front room is where opening ceremonies were held, the only downside to their organization was that during opening ceremonies, the front area was clogged, making it hard for those coming and going. Also, the two tournament rooms were a bit full when tournaments were going on and there wasn’t a place for people to watch the games, and I honestly think they may have benefited from a few more consoles, as it always seemed as though someone was waiting for their turn. I don’t believe they expected as large of a turnout as they had, and they may want to upgrade to a larger venue in the future.
There were a lot of events hosted by the convention that I thought were really different compared to normal conventions. As mentioned above, they hosted a Poke-Center where you went and battled with their gym leaders. If you win, you receive a gym badge they designed specially, and if you earned three badges, you were invited to the player vs. player battles. The convention also hosted a “hallway RPG”, which emulated games like Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons, and you rolled giant plush dice in order to defeat the monster that you encountered in the hallway. I was excited about both of these events, they were different than most con-events I’d been to in the past.
Though the convention was more focused on multi-media and gaming, they did have a very good board game shop there hosting tabletop gaming events, selling, and demoing many awesome games as well as tabletop accessories. Sadly, due to the focus of the convention, they weren’t really able to follow their schedule, and they weren’t able to host their card tournaments, but the games they offered to demo were great, and the shop employees running the table were extremely nice.
While you could definitely tell that the group hosting was more known as being associated with an Anime convention, as many of the dealers were anime related and most of the fans were in anime cosplay, they didn’t let that stop them from hosting an awesome video game convention. MAGMA was a convention by fans, for fans, and it showed. That helped drive them to host events that were different and fun, and create an environment that any convention goers would love. I am so glad that I took the time to go, and I can’t wait to return for a second year and see what they have in store for fans next.