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Geeking out at MAGFest

Stars and Stripes game blogger Sam Laney takes viewers on a tour of MAGFest, the annual music and gaming festival.

Geeking out at MAGFest

There's a quiet void between the end of the holidays and the pickup of the new year. News is slow, major gaming releases are few and far between, and endless barrage of gift giving and family time has probably left everyone in need of a little getaway.

Nestled in this holiday twilight, for those who make the trek, is MAGFest, a four-day music and gaming festival that celebrates everything geek. Rooms of board games, endless consoles, hundreds of free-play coin-ops, dozens of bands, and even game culture icons are all on full display. 

This year saw more than 9,000 gamers descend on the Gaylord Hotel at National Harbor, just south of Washington, D.C. It was bigger and better than ever, with attendance growing and areas such as the arcade, table top and panels increasing in size and popularity. The festival seemed to ooze geek chic, with many fest goers sporting gaming-related costumes, also known as cosplay, and yelling X-Men battle cries into the bowels of the hotel at all hours. Why? Well, why not? One remarkable statistic: MAGFest's charity events, like auctions and table throwing, raised more than $28,000.

Guest stars this year included Arin Egoraptor and JonTron of Game Grumps, Angry Video Game Nerd James Rolfe and the voice of Duke Nukem, Jon St. John. Musical acts included Yuzo Koshiro composer for "Shinobi" and "Shenmue" and the ever-excellent Gamer Symphony Orchestra. And that's just a small sampling, really. MAGFest has a little of everything for a gamer needing a little post-holiday vacation.

As you can see in our video tour, it's all about the community, and, you know, button mashing. We'll see you there next year.

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About the Authors


Brian Bowers is Stars and Stripes’ Assistant Managing Editor for Europe and Mideast and one of its video game reviewers. He joined the newspaper in 1992 in Germany, where he worked on the news desk and the city desk. He has a wife and three children, who are always eager to help him test games.


Sam Laney joined Stars and Stripes in 2007 as a copy/layout editor and slowly convinced upper management to support his video game habit. Since then, he’s added game reviews and previews to his list of duties and moved on to the iPad. When he’s not rocking newbies in “Left4Dead2,” he covers PC and Nintendo systems.


Michael S. Darnell joined Stars and Stripes in 2013 as a reporter and quickly annoyed his bosses into allowing him to write about video games in his spare time. He's a PC gamer at heart whose life goals include buildin