My first thought was that this might be a clone of the East Coast Game Conference, Game Developers Conference (GDC), or Animazement. After actually looking at what the event has the offer- well, these folks have something pretty original on hand.
Not only will guests include big name talent in the game industry but there will also be music, a lawn showing of the classic 'Flash Gordon', laser tag, card tournaments (Magic: The Gathering), etc. What REALLY piqued my interest was their decision to host one of the largest games of Humans vs. Zombies to date, a type of moderated tag popularized on college campuses where human players can use dart guns or their own socks to ward off swarming zombie hordes (no eating faces allowed).
The long term success of such an event would do wonders to help bolster the Triangle's rapidly developing game industry. These events (as they grow over time) can become serious cash generators for the city they're hosted in, as well as direct the eye of game developers when considering if an area is legit enough to open up shop. Most importantly, it looks like a great time.
I had the opportunity to run some questions by Alex on his team's upcoming event. He seemed pretty stoked about it all, as it appears this has been in the works for some time now.
How are you guys planning on the getting the word out for your event locally?
The Escapist Expo is being presented in partnership with Capital Broadcasting Company, the owners of WRAL and American Tobacco Campus. CBC has enormous reach within the local community and has been helping us get the word out. We've also gotten support from local game stores such as Sci Fi Genre and GameTheory, who are both sponsoring events at the Expo, and from all the local game companies. Plus having a multi-million strong audience on the Escapist website helps!
What led you to the idea to put together your own convention?
We have wanted to put on an expo since we founded The Escapist. It was in our original business plan! What finally made us do it this year? First, after four years working on East Coast Game Conference, I felt like our team had enough experience in conference organization to make it a success. Second, we moved into American Tobacco Campus and got to know the CBC folks that are helping to make this possible.
As far as visiting Developers, do you have any word from notable studios that may be in attendance?
Epic Games is a platinum sponsor and will be hosting a major Gears of War tournament. Red Storm will be hosting a Ghost Recon tournament with never-before-seen DLC. Icarus will be there showing off Heroclix Online. We also expect to have Funcom and Insomniac.
Do you have even a ballpark idea of what type of attendance you're expecting to see?
We're expecting several thousand attendees - 3,000 to 5,000.
If the event is a success, do you have long term goals for growth of the event? What would it take for you to consider your first event a success?
We'd certainly enjoy seeing it grow into an annual event. A first year succeed would be meeting our attendance expectations and earning a profit, which should be quite doable.
How would you consider your event different than something like ECGC or Carolina Game Summit? Do you think you're bringing something original to the area, or do you believe you can do something better?
ECGC is primarily developer and student oriented, whereas Escapist Expo is a consumer show. Carolina Game Summit focused heavily on game tournaments, whereas we've got a broader focus on escapist entertainment generally—there are some genes from Dragon Con in our DNA.
If you would like to pre-register or get further details on the event, visit The Escapist Expo's website.