We were recently invited down to a new gaming event here in Colchester called Rapture Gaming Festival. Based at Charter Hall this was the first event put together from the team but we are hoping it will be far from the last. This was a full on weekend event that also included an evening after party for over 18’s only. The team made sure they attended each part that was available to us to ensure we got the full Rapture experience. So just how was the first ever Rapture Gaming Festival?
We arrived at the venue ready to see just how much attention had been gathered for opening day and seeing the queues outside the door had me impressed. I had not expected to see such a queue of people ranging from all ages waiting for the doors to open to Rapture but this was certainly a positive outcome for the event organisers. We met up with a group of people we knew and ventured in for the first day after getting our tickets. I have to say that the staff looked quite stressed out but handled the flow of people and questions well. Anyone who has put together an event for the first time will know just how much work, organisation and stamina is required and how hard it is to stay on top of things. This was my first time at Charter Hall so I had no idea how big the venue was, well it was huge and packed out with gamers, stages and consoles. Most of Saturday was spent just investigating and having a look at what was on offer to all the guests.
There were a number of special guests in the form of streamers, youtubers and industry bods invited down to the event (I like to think I am special too!). There was the Streaming zone that our own LeFranzine was a part of during the weekend. This area was predominately closed off to the public but made available to streamers from across the country who had come to take part in the event so we didn’t really get much time to see what was going on there but over the whole of the weekend, the streamers were doing what they do best on Twitch for all to see. There were some fantastic Cosplayers down for the weekend too, not that I recognised all of them but hands down the Overwatch characters of Roadhog and Torbjörn were the best of them all. During the day the games on offer were all kept to a certain age range due to the family setting and you could see many an adult being dragged around by their children wanting to jump on the next game available, there were times I even saw the adults dragging the kids. The amount of setups that were on offer for people to play was outstanding, from some seriously old retro consoles that brought me straight back to my childhood all the way through to the latest VR setups. This may seem weird but I got more excited about running my hands over a SNES controller than getting myself strapped into one of the VR systems.
A gaming event just wouldn’t be an event without some great competitions and Rapture had everyone covered for the weekend, with Rocket League, Street Fighter and Overwatch to name a few. I took on the Rocket League tournament with Al. This was supposed to be a 2v2 but turned out to be 1v1. The age range on this setup was very varied and we both managed to break through the first round only to be stamped out in the second, I was totally crushed in a match by a young lad who couldn’t have been older than 10! This was like being back at home playing games with my kids. I’m obviously getting too old these days. The matches were tense and a lot of fun but you can already see some budding eSports champions in training. Kuniku found his place for the Street Fighter event and he of course ended up on the main stage where he crushed his opposition. The atmosphere around each of the competitions was intense and you could see just how involved each and every player was, even if they were just competing for fun and some prizes of course.
It wasn’t just all about the playing of games by far, the next room in the hall was full of some amazing stalls selling all kinds of gaming goodies, even our local GAME store was down there doing their thing. There was a lot of offer from clothing, merchandise and of course games. The place could have honestly bankrupt me for the month if I had taken cash along with me (exactly why I didnt!). One stall that caught my eye was selling a lot of retro goodies from classic consoles to some seriously rare games, though the prices reflected just how rare some of these titles were. Does anyone remember Suikoden? You could have nabbed that for a nice £120. If tabletop gaming is more your sort of thing they had you covered here too, with a few stands dedicated to such things as Warhammer 40K, another hobby that had cost me a pretty penny over the years. I also managed to catch up with our good friends over at Teaboy Games who were showing off their upcoming game Pendulum along with Shark Infested Custard at the Indie Zone.
Now things got a little more interesting at the After Party. This was specifically for the over 18’s only so the bar was available and we had a lot more time to sit down, have a drink and play on some good old games without having to worry about taking too long. The whole atmosphere became very calm and people were all just jumping on set ups and meeting new people through multiplayer games and that is always something I love to see. A lot of the games had been adjusted for the older audience which was brilliant and gave us all a chance to beat the hell out of each other while acting like big children that could swear. There was a very unexpected surprise during the evening (Think I missed the memo on this one!), On the main stage appeared a burlesque show in the form of cosplay. Have you ever seen someone making it rain with Pokemon cards? Neither had we! For evening entertainment it seemed to appeal to a lot of people there. The night came to a close with the stage being invaded by pretty much everyone having a good old drunken dance to a selection of tunes that were playing out. A truly good time had. The whole weekend was really enjoyable and a massive kudos to the Rapture team for all the hard work that was put in. We hope this will be the first of many exciting events to take place under your banner.