When one thinks of large gaming-oriented conventions, the usual suspects may come to mind: Penny Arcade Expo, Game Developers Conference, Electronic Entertainment Expo, etc. Event founder Hugo Castro aims to add another name to that list with the upcoming Gamacon.
Gamacon is a four-day event held in Mexicali on November 6-8th. The convention, now in its seventh year, is a super hybrid of symposiums, panels, symphony, and an expo all highly inclined towards video games. This years’ guests include composers Rika Muranaka (Metal Gear Solid), Gerard Marino (God of War), Neal Acree (World of Warcraft) and recently announced Shota Nakama (Final Fantasy XV), as well as scores of independent and foreign gaming industry members whom traveled to attend the event. Gamacon seeks not only to become one of the biggest conventions in Mexico, but a place to help those with a passion for video games to connect and learn from each other.
The convention however, was not always focused on its current goal of contributing to the gaming industry.
In its inaugural year of 2008, Gamacon came out swinging with not only an entertainment expo, but an accompanying Video Games Live concert; marking the first time the traveling show had performed in Mexico. Castro described the first convention experience a frantic affair full of panicked phone calls and his fellow coordinators racing back and forth between the convention and concert space.
“So many things went wrong with that concert!” laughed Castro in a Friday interview with atombash.com. “The first expo was a disaster financially, but everyone had a good time. …We had so many things to learn.”
Despite being severely short-staffed (only seven folks ran the convention that year), the show was a hit with the attendees and Video Games Live members. After that, Gamacon slowly began to take shape. No longer would it be purely an entertainment event, but something that contributed to the local gaming industry. Gamacon saw learning symposiums and business forums added to its repertoire. Informational programming was coordinated on things such as creativity in the industry, music, design, writing, and more.
Castro worked to define the convention as a serious effort, eventually getting support from the local government to run the event. In 2014, Castro labored to try and secure one of gaming’s most influential people as a guest: Atari founder Nolan Bushnell. Through numerous emails, phone calls, and internet searches resulting in dead ends, Castro finally got a hold of Nolan’s daughter by a stroke of luck.
“She actually convinced him to come!” recounted Castro, detailing how he discussed the convention with Alissa Bushnell and she in turn got her father excited about it. With Nolan Bushnell imparting his video game insight at the 2014 event, admits Castro, it appeared that Gamacon had finally begun to prove itself as a gaming convention.
Now Castro and his team are working to put on the 2015 Gamacon convention. He’s hopeful that this years’ event will further grow it as a place for industry members new and old to exchange ideas and learn from each other. Castro commented that they were expecting visitors from China, New Zealand, Brazil, and more to participate in Gamacon panels. The convention will start with symposiums and progress to the entertainment side of things, as they are planning to host a vendor space, cosplay contest, video game tournaments, demos, and a symphony incorporating Muranaka, Marino, Acree, and Nakama, among other things.
“This is gonna be our most important year to show what Gamacon can do for students, universities, companies, developers, and communities.” said Castro. “This will be the year to show what we really can do.”
Gamacon will take place at the Centro Estatal de las Artes in Mexicali on November 6-8. Tickets are currently on sale on the convention website.