[Con Report] Magfest 2023: It Has Gone Super Now!

Salutations Heroes and Villains, Ben Odinson here with a convention report on this year’s Super MAGfest. Hosted at the Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, the convention spanned from January 5th to the 8th. For those who are unaware on what Super MAGfest, here is the event’s official summary before I continue.

Short for “Music and Gaming Festival,” MAGFest is a four day-long event dedicated to the appreciation of video game music, gaming of all types, and the gaming community. The event runs 24 hours a day, and offers consoles, arcades, tabletop, LAN, live video game cover bands, chiptunes, vendors, guest speakers, and much much more.

Now, I have been attending MAGfest since 2018, and have met many people that became my close friends since then. So, this convention will always hold a special place close and dear to my heart. Continuing from that point, this was my first time attending the convention since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Surprisingly, I was easily impressed with the COVID-19 protocols that were put in place to protect guests and attendees. Additionally, I felt that the “masking up” policy while on hotel property was a nice touch. Although, I feel like the wristbands could have been handled better, but for the most part they were fine. Furthermore, I am glad they continued the tradition from last year where attendees are required to at least be vaccinated. Yet, I know people say it is not fair, as there are some individuals that cannot medically get the vaccine. However, I did feel slightly safer, and more comfortable attending knowing that the vaccination policy was enforced. Also, I saw that mostly everyone in attendance abided by the specific masking rules put in place. As a result, I think MAGfest did a great job at protecting the congoers’ health for the most part.


Then regarding the panels at the event, I went to a few of them over the weekend. The first one I want to highlight was on wrestling, properly titled, “Pro Wrestling with Marginalization: Dumpster Fire Edition Redux.” The panel was a wonderful time spent, and was very informative since people discussed how all companies could do better. Specifically, no one was afraid to hold back on saying what AEW’s faults are, which is commonly frowned upon online. Usually, bashing the WWE is the most accepted thing since it is the largest wrestling company in America. Like just being able to hear everyone’s take what WWE and AEW could do better was my favorite part. We even discussed Mercedes Moné’s (f.k.a. Sasha Banks) debut in NJPW from the night before at Wrestle Kingdom. Also, McMahon’s return to power was a major topic, with everyone expositing their fears for the product moving forward. Surprisingly, we were not too far off given the recent leaks and rumors out of the company. Additionally, there was several people talking about supporting the various indie-promotions in our area. However, I am sadly guilty of not doing enough to support or attend these shows. Yet, the panel reminded me that there are more people into wrestling than what I am used to interacting with.


Moving along, I went to some dance panels, “Partner Dancing for Introverts” and the “Filipino Line Dance Workshop.” Sadly, I came to the first dance panel at the tail end, but it seemed like everyone was having fun. However, the “Filipino Line Dance Workshop” seemed to have the most overall fun due to the songs selected. Like one can never go wrong with several feel-good songs that can make anyone get up and move. Then as for music, MAGfest is known for its concerts that span all four days between 4:00 pm to 2 am. Thankfully, I managed to attend some of them, and I had a blast at each one. From the bands performing at MAGfest, I got to see the 8-Bit Band, Super Soul Bros, and the NPC Collective. All of their performances were wonderful, and even while writing this review, I am listening to more of their music. So, I should say they had an impact on me, and made me realize I like video game music. Now, my goal is to expand my musical interests to feature even more video game music, or inspired songs.


Besides the panels and concerts, a huge thing about MAGfest is their arcade room that remains open 24/7. Most machines were operational, and there was even a ticketing system for those waiting to play downed units being repaired. I had a blast playing Jubeat and some pinball machines, but I did not get to play the fighting games. As many congoers should expect, the arcade fighting games are usually the most frequented cabinets by attendees. Also, there was a designated console room, which hosted practically every system ever released in America. So, there are gaming systems for everyone attending, but people just need to hunt down their preferred genre or game. Then this year’s marketplace had many vendors selling amazing items, where I bought some keychains and a Kirby blanket. However, one thing that I wish happened was that there was less Genshin Impact merchandise being sold there. Like seeing Genshin Impact overwhelm MAGfest, it reminded me of Fighterxaos’ My Hero Academia experience at Anime Boston 2019. Yet, I am sure that by next year another anime series, or video game will be the new main focus.


Sadly, I find getting food at MAGfest to a little hard with the lines, but it is not impossible though. However, outside of the convention, the surrounding area has great and affordable places to obtain meals. I mostly ate at Pot Belly, which is a good sub sandwich shop that is part of a smaller chain. Also, I went to IHOP the following morning since a person can never go wrong with pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Whereas, the hotel underwent remodeling to add a new restaurant, which merged with the existing coffee and pre-packaged meal store. Surprisingly, I found this addition to be nice, and the lines were not too long either. Furthermore, there were pop-up shops in and around the hotel, I especially enjoyed the Street Tacos shop there.

Overall, I found Super MAGfest to be fantastic as always, and I find that the convention gets better every year. It has become one of my favorite events each year, and I cannot wait to do it again in 2024. Additionally, I even think that Super MAGfest has become my favorite convention among the ones that I regularly attend. So, I highly recommend that people should check out MAGfest at least once if possible. Ultimately, the convention is worth the money to attend, and features an amazing community that keeps it going annually. Nevertheless, I have been Ben Odinson, and I hope everyone loved hearing about my experience at Super MAGfest.

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