Last weekend, I attended the annual Geekfest event at the Sun Arena in Pretoria. This year the event was a bit different as Geekfest teamed up with the eSports event, Rush. This was a merging of two worlds as Geekfest is mainly focused on pop culture, board games, comic books, cosplay and video games, while Rush is heavily-focused on eSports. Many wondered if these two worlds could co-exist together and make a wonderful event.
I was pretty excited for it all as I’ve attended a few previous Geekfest expos but Rush was a new world for me. I’m not really into Esports but Rush has always been a pretty big eSport event. I knew that it would be interesting as there was a myriad of different events taking place at the same time at the convention. You would think that both events would take their strengths and evaluate them, but instead it all just created confusion.
If you came to buy goods at the event, there was very few vendors to buy from. Cosplay only kicked off on Saturday with beginners, while Sunday saw advanced and masters. The stage was small with limited seating. The cosplay stage was also behind the huge eSports stage, which created a sort of dissonance between eSports and cosplay.
On the eSports side of the event, players competed in FIFA 19, Tekken 7, CS:GO, Dota, and mobile Fortnite. It was great to see people who aren’t really into eSports sitting down and watching matches. You would hear cheers coming from near the stages every now and then. The FIFA 19 tournament had a great turnout and a lot of screens and space. Other games, like Fortnite, were a bit disappointing with smaller displays.
Again though, there was a huge issue with seating. At the eSports events, there was no seating to watch tournaments, which left people standing around. This was a big problem with some of the events which had a small space. The food vendors didn’t even receive a lot of seating as everyone cramped together to eat some snacks.
Other than the eSports tournaments, there were other events. There was a Robowars tournament, which was regulated to the outside in a small corner. It was a nice idea but ultimately a let-down since the space was so small and many people couldn’t get a nice view of the competition. There was also LARPING, which seemed like great fun and provided some funny moments.
However, the highlight of the entire event was easily the noodle box theater where you could buy yourself some noodles and sit and watch a very old Studio Ghibli film. Everyone wore headphones to watch the film, hich made it a very intimate experience. It was a great time, the only disappointment was that there was only two films available to watch.
Overall, many may think by reading this I hated the event but I did enjoy my time there. It seemed really quiet on Friday with mostly media and industry people walking around but that did change over the weekend. There was also a mismatch with Geekfest’s theme, which was “Big in Japan” but it was hardly represented at the event. The Japanese Embassy was there but they only had a small stand.
I think the merging of these two expos is a step in the right direction and in future may lead to even bigger events. But for now, this expo was a bit of a disappointment for both Geekfest and Rush fans. The small size of the event hurt, as well as the weird meshing of ideas, limited advertising, and small number of vendors. This year was a letdown but there’s no telling what the future holds. Maybe next year’s will be better.
Did you attend Geekfest this year and what did you think about it?