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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

PHOTOS: Qatar’s first gaming convention attracts diverse crowd

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All photos by Chantelle D’mello

Throngs of enthusiasts convened yesterday to attend the opening of Qatar’s first gaming extravaganza – the two-day-long IGN convention – at the Qatar National Convention Center.

Organized by T Break Media, the Dubai-based owner of IGN Middle East, the event saw more than one thousand attendees turn up for the first day.

Mountain from Game of Thrones
Mountain from Game of Thrones

Last night, participants mingled with international celebrities like the Mountain from popular TV drama series Game of Thrones, American voice actor Dave Fennoy of The Walking Dead video game, and professional cosplayer Nadiask.

In Qatar, the culture of gaming has slowly been gaining public traction.

In October, news of the recent opening of Hobby Chan, Qatar’s first anime and manga toy shop, quickly went viral, highlighting a previously less publicized sub-culture of video game and anime enthusiasts in Qatar.

Speaking to Doha News, Abbas Jaffar Ali, a publisher at T Break Media, said that so far, the IGN event has exceeded their expectations:

“This is the third event that we’ve held in the Middle East. We’ve done Dubai and Bahrain before, but I think that this is the largest turn out that we’ve seen. People are dressing up, gamers are playing, and it’s great to provide the population here with such a platform.

It’s different from Dubai in the sense that there is a lot of local women. Our largest demographic is generally young men, but in Qatar, the women seem to be a lot more invested in the anime side of it.”

While the conference was originally scheduled to be held in October 2014, it was moved due to a venue conflict for the Dubai convention, which ended up being held that month.

Retail disappointment

The convention, which is open from noon to 9:30pm today, features day-long gaming contests, a cosplay competition, celebrity talks, workshops, and a game-developing contest. Day passes cost QR100 and are available at the door.

According to organizers, the goal is to promote international movies, video games, comics and pop culture within the region, as well as showcase local talent and artists.

Originally, there was supposed to be a dedicated Artists Alley where local designers, artists, and small business owners could showcase and pedal their game-related goods.

A few days ago however, artists were told that they wouldn’t be able to sell their goods at the event as the convention’s retail license was declined.

Speaking to Doha News, Ali explained:

“The basic issue was that there was a miscommunication. The middleman that we were dealing with told us that we had nothing to worry about, but (the Qatar Tourism Authority) then said that more time was needed to process the paperwork. It wasn’t anything lacking, but merely a case of limited time.”

IGN Convention 2015
IGN Convention 2015

He added that preparations were already being made to file the relevant paperwork for next year’s conference.

For many participants, the news came as a serious setback.

“We’ve been creating our products for months – T-shirts, mugs, drawings – and now we can’t sell anything,” one female t-shirt designer told Doha News.

Others complained about the change on Facebook:

“Frankly I was not going to participate in any tournaments yet I was just participating in the event to be part and appreciate the talented collectors, artists, and people that are passionate about this growing culture…

However, if they are denied the right to do so..then this whole thing turns into one big internet/game cafe with gaming tournaments and NOT a convention,” said one fan.

In an effort to circumvent the retail ban but still accommodate requests, some stalls have been accepting orders for merchandise, which will then be sold and delivered at a later date.

However, celebrity autographs are still being sold on-site and cost QR50. A specially designed card to hold signatures cost QR10.

Thoughts?

7 COMMENTS

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Guest
Guest
6 years ago

Sweet

Omnia Sami
Omnia Sami
6 years ago

My son was very disappointed at the no trading part! He spent only couple of hours and came back! Seems like major drawback

Duh
Duh
6 years ago
Reply to  Omnia Sami

Nice photos though?

AnonymityBreedsContempt
AnonymityBreedsContempt
6 years ago

We had a good time on Thursday, although there wasn’t a whole lot going on. I hope it is twice as big next year.

Ali
Ali
6 years ago

And this is why we don’t move forward in Qatar.

Jack Sparrow
Jack Sparrow
6 years ago

I’ve attended several gaming conventions in Europe for over 15 years and been involved in hosting gaming events, this was by far the worst event I’ve ever had the misfortune to attend. It was a spectacular failure in terms of enthusiast/fan experience in every single aspect you can possibly conceive. This was so god awful, you had to see it to believe it. The cost of admission for what was offered was daylight robbery and an absolute disgraceful exploitation by IGN/T-break media for pure profit and offering absolutely nothing in return. There was a handful of games to play unlike with all games being currently available to purchase – no new titles at all except the will-it-ever-see-the-light-of-day Occulus Rift which was a terrible experience as games were running on a laptop thus graphics were sub-standard. No free merchandise, no collectables, no purchasable/collectable merchandise hosting the event (some t-shirts in the anime section which were nothing more than t-shirts with generic ironed on transfers). Few of the games offered you had to pay to play which is obscene, I cant recall a single gaming event where I’ve had to pay. Absolutely pathetic and a slap in the face of the fans. The blueprint on how to host and execute a successful exhibition can only be completely ruined by Qatar. They want to be talked about and looked up to but never fail to disappoint at every level, there’s just no humility, true team-effort in anything. Spectacular fail that only frustrates and cements the belief that everything must change at the top for things to get better

Deepak Babu
Deepak Babu
6 years ago
Reply to  Jack Sparrow

I figured as much from the events listing and game demo’s published. Another money grab and I am guessing Qatar was added as an afterthought.

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