American Classic Arcade Museum
Located at Funspot
"Best arcade in the world!"
Paul Drury, Retro Gamer Magazine
ACAM Shines at 12th Annual MAGfest

By Mike Stulir • Vice President, The American Classic Arcade Museum


ACAM recently participated in MAGFest for the third time. The 2014 edition was held January 2nd-5th at the Gaylord Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor Maryland. The resort is one of the most beautiful facilities I have ever visited. Like prior years, the resort was still bathed in Christmas lighting and decorations, adding an even more festive feel to an already festive event.

The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, home of MAGFest.

What Is MAGFest?

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


It's not a convention, it's a festival!

What makes MAGFest unique is that it's a non-profit event run by fans for fans. There are no corporate sponsors, no over-crowded showfloors, and no top-secret-behind-closed-doors showings. MAGFest is built from the ground up to be a party-like atmosphere with focus on community and fan creations, which creates an environment that no other expo or convention can ever recreate.


How did MAGFest start?

MAGFest started in 2002, originally under the name "Mid-Atlantic Gaming Festival." Its volunteer force has worked tirelessly for over a decade to help it grow and mature to the point it is at today. It has exploded in size from its original 300 attendees, to 9000 in 2013. 12,000 or more attendees are expected for MAGFest 12 in January 2014.


Who runs MAGFest?

MAGFest is run by MAGFest, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the appreciation of games and video game music. MAGFest Inc.'s main method of achieving this goal is to create events which provide a means for people to enjoy games, as well as musical concerts. We hold several different events throughout the year, including Bit Gen Gamer Fest, MAGStock, and our touring concert series Game Over.

MAGFest is four days of gaming, music, panels, movies, vendors & fun. Gaming includes console games, classic computer games, card games, and an arcade that is second only to ACAM in terms of quantity of games.

MAGFest is a very different event for ACAM. Unlike our appearances at other major gaming events, comic book shows, etc., ACAM does not provide any of the games. The massive collection of arcade games at MAGFest come from a number of sources including games owned by the show and games from local area collectors. Combined, the quantity of games rivals that of an event like California Extreme.
Dane Tullock during his 33 million point run on Robotron: 2084.

Since we do not provide games, we attend in a support role since so many of our friends are involved in the planning, management and operation of the event. In the past, we have assisted with photo-documenting the event, repairs of games, and speaking to the press regarding the importance of such a massive fan event. For the 2014 edition of the festival, ACAM worked with the show staff and some top notch Robotron:2084 players to attempt a 100 million point marathon.
Our two Robotron: 2084 competitors, Jacob Golson and Dane Tullock.

The Robotron Bash marathon was the idea of Dane Tullock. Dane is a top Robotron player and had wanted to make a 100 million point attempt at ACAM or in our exhibit at PAX-East. Doing so within ACAM or at a trade show presented some unique challenges that would be difficult to overcome. However, with MAGFest open 24 hours per day over the course of four days, a lot more time would be available for players to achieve the 100 million point goal. It seemed clear that MAGFest was the best place to hold the marathon.

Jacob Golson plays Robotron:2084 while his father Steve Golson cheers him on.

I ran the idea past Nick Marinelli, one of the main guys involved in MAGFest & David Hernly, ACAM’s official scorekeeper. Between the three of us & Dane Tullock, we hatched a plan to have multiple players make the attempt at the show.

Jacob Golson stares down the Robotron:2084 machine during his 11 million point run.
We eventually decided on three players. Dane would be the first player. The second player is Jacob Golson, a 16-year-old high school student from Massachusetts whose scores have been on a steady climb. Player three was to be Darrin Cormier of DeKalb, IL.

The first day of competition was the second day of the festival. MAGFest had set up an elevated stage in the middle of the arcade with three Robotron cabinets for ACAM & Aurcade to officiate the scoring. MAGFest also provided Internet connectivity and ACAM provided the cameras, equipment and infrastructure to stream the gameplay on Dane’s Twich.TV channel.

Unfortunately, we found out that day that Darrin had to cancel and would not be attending. That left the stage to Dane as Jacob would not be arriving until the next day. Dane managed to put up an impressive 33,341,475 points over the course of 8 hours. Dane had stopped for a break, but miscalculated time and the amount of extra men he had earned. By the time he noticed he was down to his last few men, he quickly went back to playing but never recovered.

Jacob Golson arrived with his father Steve (the co-creator of Ms. Pac-Man) late Friday night and started play on Saturday. After two practice rounds of approx.. 4 million points, Jacob played his best game ever and achieved his first-ever score rollover with 11,838,325 points.

Jacob and Dane continually pushed each other, but they were not able to push past the scores listed above. Later during the event, they cranked the game difficulty up to 10 and worked to show off the best of their skills. At one point, they were even playing cooperatively with one player controlling movement and the other controlling the firing. Despite how difficult this sounds, they were able to put up some impressive numbers. We were so encouraged by this that we are now discussing some potential rules for doing cooperative play at a future event.

Despite some minor hiccups with broken game hardware, lighting and background noise, all involved consider the Robotron Bash to be a success and we will probably do it again next year.

We had a surprise on the stage on Saturday night. Famed Donkey Kong player Hank Chien agreed to come up on the ACAM stage for a while and play with people in the crowd. That was a lot of fun.

Youmee Im, Hank Chien, ACAM VP Mike Stulir & David Hernly on the ACAM stage.

Aside from all of the gaming at MAGFest, concerts are a big part of the festival. Unfortunately, the only concert we were able to catch was our friend Tim White of D&D Sluggers.

We also attended the RetrowareTV panel put on by our friends John Delia and Joey DeSena.

The aftermath of MAGFest.  See you next year!!

SPECIAL THANKS:


DANE TULLOCK: Your passion is what led to this event, and we are all very pleased with how it came together.

JACOB & STEVE GOLSON: Jacob put on an impressive display and he should be very proud of his forst score rollover. It is wonderful to see younger players embracing the games of yesterday. Steve, as always, it was a pleasure to spend time with you. Thank you for bringing Jacob to MAGFest to participate in the Robotron Bash.

ETHAN O’TOOLE, “BUFFETT” & THE ENTIRE ARCADE DEPT. AT MAGFEST: Thank you guys for making sure we had games to play and helping us when we had issues.

NICK MARINELLI: Thank you for your support to bring some top caliber players to MAGFest for a unique scoring challenge. We are very happy to have you as a friend and partner.

GARY VINCENT: Our fearless leader at ACAM. Thanks for your work behind the scenes to make this event happen.

DAVID HERNLY: When scorekeeping in arcade gaming was circling the bowl, David developed the proper scoring system that the gaming community had deserved for many years. David, thank you for making sure that live event scoring is done right. ACAM is fortunate to have you as a partner in what we do.