RAGE Expo 2017:
rAge Expo 2017, opened it’s doors on 06 October and closed in blissful colour and confetti, on Sunday 08 October.
The rAge Expo has become Gauteng’s and South Africa’s premier gaming and geek culture event. An event that was founded on gaming, has evolved into being a cultural touchstone in South African geek culture and lifestyle; bringing together every aspect of the geeky life, from the local cosplay community to fantasy merchandise and goods, to the booming esports streaming space and casual gamer groups.
RAge Expo is the space to wave your united flag of geek high! While still finding some entertainment and the latest in entertainment technology. (rAge used to be the place to find discounts, but let’s be real, that’s not been a thing for years).
While writing this “discussion” on the recent rAge Expo, I had to take stock, thinking about last year’s event and this year’s faults, while still considering the best that this year’s show had to offer.
Here’s what I found:
*The following is based on my opinion, the comments of my fellow media representatives and casual attendees from the show
Esports South Africa:
The ESL vs VS Gaming:
The ESL and VS Gaming are this year’s big names in South Africa esports, both hosting their respective esports stages and events, both hosting their selected teams and games! Both backed by business giants in Kwese Sports and Telkom Gaming.
As someone that enjoys a good competition, I was pleased that another company has invested in the esports entertainment space. Competition is good the end consumer, so having another corporate investment in South Africa can only improve the infrastructure and industry for viewers and gamers.
Being the touchstone it is, rAge Expo has always been the place for the leaders in the gaming space to compete for exclusives and audience share, in the past Xbox and PlayStation have always been “those” brands. This year though, they were dramatically outshone by the esports stages, and if both of those stages shone brightly; The ESL was the brightest!
The ESL definitely made their name this year, and I think, gave the VS Gaming team something to think about for next year’s show.
The ESL stage was by far the biggest and the most extravagant, including a huge Shoutcaster stage, massive screens and a fully equipped five on five esports stage, all brought together with an electronic extravaganza that would make any light and sound engineer moist.
While this year was about making a statement, the competition makes me more excited for next year’s show, where I hope the Telkom and old Do Gaming stage is updated and competes on the same level as the new leader: ESL.
Cosplay at rAge Expo 2017:
The cosplay community has developed widely in Gauteng in recent years. Growing out of only a few hundred fringe enthusiasts in the past to what now includes its own stage and wing at rAge Expo 2017!
While I don’t cosplay much myself, the collection of cosplayers has swelled to wider numbers from 2016 to 2017 (with most now performing on the GES Cosplay stage itself), now the wing also houses a number of fantasy artists, fantasy merchandise and gear resellers, which in my opinion looks to have only increased in popularity; including two local comic book creators and a now too a local fiction author.
I’m glad the community has grown to the level it has, and while I’m not the expert here (Cosplay for Dummies), its great to see that people that have a passion for the theatric or a peonage for the creepy have come out of their weirdly wonderful caves and braved the wide world, showing that shadow creep is not only cool but that normies are becoming outnumbered.
The Shadow of War vs The God of War:
Every year, the two headline gaming brands are Playstation and Xbox. Every year the competing consoles try one-upping each other in exclusive content, experiential showcases and secret screenings of the next set of exclusives.
This year was no different, with Playstation pushing Spiderman, God of War and Call of Duty World War 2, and Xbox punting Assassin’s Creed Origins and The Shadow of War. (Someone showcased a new racing game, but I have no idea)
Both hosted exciting displays and stands. though, who won the war this year?
Xbox South Africa and The Shadow of War:
This year we’ve been getting more and more hype around Xbox’s coming exclusive and sequel of the 2016’s critically acclaimed Shadow of Mordor. The Shadow of War.
Set between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Middle-earth: Shadow of War is an open-world action RPG that continues the original narrative of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Players will be engrossed in a richer, more personal and expansive world full of epic heroes and villains, iconic locations, original enemy types, more personalities and a new cast of characters with untold stories.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War will be available for Xbox One X, Xbox One, Windows 10 PC (Windows Store and Steam), PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro beginning October 10, 2017.
The Shadow of War was one of the hottest showcases at this year’s Xbox stand at rAge Expo 2017, beating out Assassin’s Creed Origins, I feel, in hype and interest (Judging by the lines).
It’s definitely going to be one of the biggest sellers and most popular titles during its release year! The Shadow of War is certainly one of the titles I’m hoping to get my hands on upon release, it’s time The Shadow of Mordor goes to War!
PlayStation South Africa and The God of War:
I was ushered into a dark room with a bunch of media and YouTubers, and told to leave my camera at the door and phone in my pocket.
We were treated to an exclusive look at the sequel to the massively successful God of War franchise! God of War releases on PlayStation 4 in 2018.
The gameplay in this latest title is obviously stunning; bringing all the elements of the originals back to life, while updating the action, character engagement and development and beautiful large-scale cinematic to the limits of the PlayStation 4’s ability. This game is the reason to get an Ultra HD screen to enjoy.
Narratively, this game explores a new aspect to the legendary God of War himself: Kratos and his relationship with his son: Atreus. While the originals focused very much on revenge and redemption, this edition speaks to exploring what our vengeful character does after he’s toppled the gods of Olympus.
We also got a look at the scene’s motion capture and seeing the man behind the voice himself: Christopher Judge, or as you may know him: Teal’c from Stargate SG-1 TV series. Judge makes a perfect Kratos, and I’m excited to see more developments around Kratos’ character as we get closer to the release.
For PlayStation 4 gamers, God of War is going to be the action-packed standalone title that will be worth spending your savings on and keep you entertained and interested from beginning to end, at least until it’s sequel in 2019.
The New Brands: VPRO and Omen:
There’s nothing better than new brands coming into the gaming scene and investing in the industry of gaming entertainment.
This year, two brands caught my eye, and they should probably be placed on your gear radar when you’re looking for your next technological indulgence.
VRPO: Why So Serious?
New from the team at Apex Interactive comes the VPRO brand, being showcased for the first time at rAge Expo 2017.
VPRO Gaming, according to the team at Apex Interactive and the VPRO Gaming site, aims to insult the status quo of gaming peripherals, giving the corporate giants and over the top spec devices the stink eye (Apparently gaming peripherals needed distribution?), I’m not complaining though, the small glimpse I saw of the VPRO brand: The V720 RGB Backlight Mechanical Gaming Keyboard and the gorgeous VH200 Gaming Illuminated Headset, really makes a point at and shot at both Razer brands and the growing Red Dragon or OMEN headset brands, in both look and cost.
I didn’t really have a chance to test out the peripherals too much, though, they felt above the common standard.
“VPRO’s aim is to take on the deadly serious world of the gaming-peripheral brands with a twinkle in its eye, without taking its eye off the top spot. After all, gaming equipment should do two things: Deliver an awesome experience for the gamer and a real benefit for the gameplay – and do all this while offering great value for money, without being pretentious” – Michael Zeng, CEO of VPRO
VPRO is definitely the cost and performance brand to watch this year end. Hopefully, I get a closer look soon!
OMEN by HP Has Entered the Game:
A gaming brand that seems to have almost come out of nowhere and a personal favourite: OMEN by HP, dominated the gaming technology space at this year’s RUSH Festival and have been one of the top hitters at rAge Expo 2017.
Offering every aspect at this year’s Expo, from curved screens to gaming laptops to headsets, to one of the most stunning stands at the event, OMEN offers and will be offering one of the most focused yet varied gaming offerings from a brand today.
Maybe too much though, moving into the mobile VR space and the mobile gaming space too, also adding in a whole plethora of peripherals and gaming towers, OMEN will be, if not already, be the next gaming Alienware (Which seems to have disappeared from public eye in recent years)
I think we’ll see more and more releases later this year for gaming peripherals and gear, though I suspect due to cost margin, we’ll find OMEN by HP South Africa only bringing in a handful of top spec devices each year. While amazing, price may be a barrier to penetration short term.
South African Indie Developers and South African Indie Gamers:
Home_Coded at rAge Expo 2017:
The Home_Coded stands have always been a major interest to me. There’s every kind there, from young and ambitious game developer to gaming entrepreneur to overly artistic creative searching for meaning in gaming!
It’s both inspiring and interesting to see each year’s new developments.
Both games and development companies smack of passion, creativity, and vision that I never expected to find, both have interesting and unique games and both I’d love to support.
While I want to get into a lot more detail on both of these local titles, here’s a quick highlight:
Jengo; is a traditional point and click adventure game, a throwback from the 90s with the spin of an interesting and dynamic story; which pokes fun of modern gaming and pop culture stereotypes and tropes, while keeping the gamer engaged with interesting and creative art design.
Jengo is said to be planned for release next year October, though the team is understandably hesitant to set a date. Though, whenever this game is released, it’ll be worth it for both the adventure, story and fun it promises to bring with.
Organosphere caught my eye for the simple reason that it’s a third-person shooter/slasher based in Johannesburg, South Africa!
Everything from the news headlines on light polls to Ponte Tower! It’s all there!
While seeing every freakish incarnation of bug infesting my home city is an appealing thought, second only to that of a zombie apocalypse, the game seems to have a way to go in terms of graphics though, it does feel like a campy game from the 90s, though, I think if they can crack a few design elements, their original idea is definitely one to keep an eye on and support.
It is my hope that more of South Africa’s gaming community can access our locally developed games. No other medium has the ability to throw an audience in a story or world the way games do, and I think if we can apply the emersion of gaming, with the natural storytelling culture of South Africans, we can make our mark, and what a mark that will be! *flicks bug off shoulder
Is rAge Expo 2017 Worth the Money?
In a word; yes. I think every year, the expo has its challenges and its triumphs. I feel there is a little something for everyone, although I do think that this year overlooked the budget gamer quite a lot.
I will go again next year, and the year after, and after that, and I’ll keep going as long as there are games and experiences to be had an amazing geeky people to meet. That, or until I burn down this blog.
I’d love to know what you thought of this year’s rAge Expo though, tell me in the comments, or share this story with your feedback, always great to get that.