Sorry for the long delay between posts... Got a new job after finishing college, new apartment, new city, new... you get the picture.
First off, to the surprise of possibly nobody, the location for the Midwest Gaming Classic 2013 is again set in the Milwaukee Brookfield Sheraton. There are, however, a lot of changes to go over this year at the MGC 2013, so I figured I'd whip together a sort of unofficial FAQ about them:
Q. I noticed the ticket price went up this year. What gives?
A. This is something we don't take lightly because we've held the line on ticket prices for the last several years. This year ticket prices have climbed from a $30 two-day pre-order to $45 for 2013 ($35 on sale now, FYI). The reasons for this are threefold:
(1) The simple economics of it dictated a price increase. I'm not sure how many of you follow this, but 2011 was the first year the MGC turned a sizable profit which we were able to pay off previous show debts, place a deposit on 2012's space, etc. In 2012, however, despite having fewer "one time expenses" like a new power grid to pay for, we actually made less of a profit because far more people brought pins, arcades, etc. that we pay out rewards for. This year the show will be growing again and we anticipate our expenses will be growing, so basically, we had to do it, unfortunately.
(2) We've seen some explosive growth in attendance over the past few years, and we're getting to the point where areas are overflowing. I feel like we did a pretty good job spreading things out last year, i.e. like the arcades in the hallways, but there were still areas that were tough to navigate like the arcade room(s). We understand that raising ticket prices may result in attendance staying about the same or possibly even dipping for the first time ever in 2013, but we're using the extra money to help expand the show where we can to spread things out even further.
(3) Keeping an eye on the future, we realize the Sheraton isn't going to be able to house us indefinitely. Trouble is, if we grow beyond the point we should be at in 2013, things are going to get very expensive for us very quickly. The year that possible move does happen, we're going to need enough savings from the past show in order to make that leap happen. Again, there is no corporation behind the MGC, no large sponsor to foot the bill. The Midwest Gaming Classic is run by school teachers, army vets, and I believe a few software engineers, etc.... We need to manage our money very carefully because if we don't, we hit the proverbial "Game Over" screen on future Midwest Gaming Classics.
Q. I thought there were no more meetings rooms at the Sheraton. How are you growing?
A. As with other conventions, once you run out of space you can either hop to a new place (discussed in the previous answer) or start cannibalizing your guest rooms and convert them into meeting space, so this year we're renting out several ground-floor guest rooms to make an entirely new wing at the MGC. This comes at a significant cost which again I mentioned in the previous answer, but we have a lot of cool things we've been kicking around for years that we've simply had no room for and a vendor area that has become incredibly packed. More information about this wing will be made at a later time.
Q. I saw tweets from your @MGCInDepth twitter account in regards to #indiegames?
A. Yes! Since the very first Midwest Gaming Classic where we unveiled Jaguar CD encryption-bypass tech and new Jaguar and Lynx projects for those 'dead' systems, we've always tried to include indie game projects at the MGC in some capacity. For example, 2002's indie Dreamcast exhibit led to 2003's first independently published and produced Dreamcast game, Feet of Fury. Last year we showed off projects ranging from new TurboGrafx Super CD games, to iOS games, to even a few pinball and arcade projects.
This year we would like to dedicate a front & center portion of one of our biggest museum rooms to indie games, and much like the rest of the show, system does not matter. These can be projects for older abandoned systems, this can be things like XNA projects, or even new iOS and PC titles.
The only caveat that we place on this is that we need indie developers to make arrangements for hardware, and if possible, we'd really like you to come out and talk about your game(s) during the show and potentially at a special after-party we're considering.
Space is free, but limited. I strongly suggest that you either contact me directly (through Retroids is fine) or through our contact form here. Please do not submit projects containing the copyrighted work of others that you do not have permission to use!
Q. New museum rooms? What happened to...?
A. The museum will be a part of the 2013 expansion. There will be at least 4 new themed rooms this year largely covering things that we haven't been able to properly do in previous shows like... Hmm... Nothing has been officially announced yet, but wouldn't it really kick some ass to have a room dedicated to nothing but import gaming? Hmm...
On the flip side, the long-running Family Game Room will not be making an appearance in 2013. The room will be replaced with something else that hasn't been announced yet (but looks really good...)
Q. Any details on the Community Hall or Arcade Room?
A. The Community Hall should be left largely intact from 2012, though I imagine there may be a few changes. Nothing official, yet.
As for the arcade room, we don't post lists of what units will be there simply because a lot of it is a surprise to us as well. Aside from the units used in tournaments and a few other exceptions, we generally know quantities but not much else until they begin to arrive Thursday night/Friday morning.
Q. When are speakers announced?
A. With a few exceptions, we honestly aren't '99.9%' positive what speakers will be at the show until a few weeks out. I have looked at a list of some of the possible names, and overall I'm impressed with the growing diversity and quality of the speakers there.
Q. I noticed your dates are the same weekend as...?
A. As they have been for now for roughly the latter half of the MGC's span, you can pretty much guarantee that the dates will fall on one of the last full weekends of March. Reason for this is twofold:
(1) We set up these dates with our location host years in advance. For example, we signed a multi-year contract with the Sheraton for these dates about a year prior to our first show back here in 2010. That way we have no more 'surprises' like weddings taking up a room we need or the (my favorite) random dog show conflicting with one of our dates. Yes, that stuff had happened quite a bit prior to the Sheraton in 2010.
(2) We have a few school teachers that are a part of the MGC planning group, so it comes as little surprise that the MGC coincides with school's spring break. There are other advantages to the dates we pick, no doubt, but this is one of the main reasons for this. If we were to hypothetically return to June-ish dates like we did our first few years, we run into weddings, nice outdoor weather, and a boatload of other major conventions that plan in those months as well.
There are unfortunately no perfect dates... Believe us, we tried, and that's what led us to these March dates in 2008. At that point I believe we roughly had just the unrelated Wrestlemania and occasional wild Spring Break trip to contend with. Now some days it feels like we have pretty much every other major video game convention in the world happening at the same time. Disappointing, but there isn't much we can do about it now. So far we've managed to grow every year despite it, and believe us, we thank all of you for that!
A. ...Are yet to be announced, sorry! Rest assured the mainstays will likely return, and I'm nearly certain we'll repeat Friday night's Up to Par after last year's successful run. I understand there may be some big changes on the video game side that should be announced soon.
Q. Live Music...?
A. ...Is as always a possibility, but problematic just where we can fit it. We have some ideas, and we're willing to talk to a few bands to run a few of those ideas by them. Again, either contact me directly or use the contact form here.
Q. I'm trying to vend at the MGC but have gotten no response yet. Why haven't you contacted me yet?
A. I'm told we're still figuring out what space is still available and how much of the new wing will be dedicated to vendors. As I understand it, the MGC has become one of the biggest shows for a number of vendors, and they have been quick to re-up for the next show pretty much as soon as the last show is over. So understandably, fitting in new vendors can be difficult. Once the new and old locations are decided, you should hear back from Gary or Dan.
Q. I have some ideas for the MGC like game suggestions, tournament suggestions, or wouldn't it be cool if...?
A. You can send most suggestions to me directly or the aforementioned contact form, but have you considered joining us and helping set up the MGC? We're always looking for people willing to run new tournaments, bring in some cool games, or help us to get Company X to showcase Product Y.
For example, did you know that our guests bring hundreds of portable gaming systems and even more smart phones to the MGC each year? We'd love to set up show-wide portable gaming tournaments or set up download stations so folks can try the latest games and apps, but sometimes we just need help with the logistics of it, and sometimes we've had no luck contacting Big Company X to help make that happen.
If you'd like to make some stuff like this happen, please, drop us a line. Offers of any assistance are greatly appreciated!
That's it for now, though I may add a few more questions to the FAQ (and change what grammar issues I find) over the next few weeks.
Happy Holiday, folks, Merry Christmas, and enjoy your time off, family, and friends this month!