INVOLEMENT WITH magfest
I originally attended MAGFest 5 in 2007, and from then on staffed as a volunteer until 2013. During a scaling period of exponential growth and transitioning into a nonprofit, I became the first full time employee and CEO/Executive Director of the organization. In Nov 2017, I have passed the torch onto our awesome Baltimore office crew and return to volunteering as a member of the board of directors.
While I was executive director, MAGFest went through massive changes in attendance growth (from 3000 people to 17,000+), corporate structure, and established an office in Hampden in Baltimore City. MAGFest is miraculous, but, make no mistake: MAGFest isn't possible without enabling a gigantic insanely passionate army of volunteers to take risks, iterate, and make mistakes. Every bullet point on this page is made possible by dozens of volunteers who go way above and beyond, every year.
We don't advertise and primarily grow by word of mouth. We don't accept sponsorship deals, we're not an industry expo, and we take extreme lengths to preserve the grassroots vibe that creates the magic MAGFest is so famous for among our insane, diehard fans. We strive to break down the distinction between attendees and staff- People don't just come to MAGFest to consume, they come to create their own content in areas like our indie developer showcases, makerspaces, or cramming every last inch of available hallway spaces with musical performances. At MAGFest, videogame music tracks from NES and SNES are like old-school jazz standards, riffed on and played by everyone everywhere.
FY2018 MAGFEST INC STATS AT A GLANCE
Parent Company: MAGFest, INC, a Maryland 501(c)(3) nonprofit. $1.5million annual budget, 7 fulltime employees, HQ in Baltimore, MD, 1600+ volunteers across the country. Events include:
- Super MAGFest. Our flagship annual event in National Harbor, MD, for 4 days we host 17,000 unique attendees at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, book over 3000 room nights and sell out all hotels in National Harbor. 2018 will be the 16th MAGFest event. We host over 200 console game setups, 250 arcades, multiple panel tracks, and the largest nerdy music festival in the world with over 50 musical acts including international videogame composers, videogame music cover bands, chiptune artists, and nerdcore performers. We also host a film festival and a large videogame+tabletop indie developer showcase.
- MAGWest. Our first expansion event of (we hope) many to come. In our first year, we hosted over 1000 attendees on the west coast in the heart of Silicon Valley at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Santa Clara, CA. This is the first event to take place in a different city, and the first in our series of expansion events which will take place globally in the coming years. The pivot to becoming a company that runs multiple large events in different cities was a formidable challenge for the organization.
- MAGLabs. Combine MAGFest with a maker faire and you get the extremely experimental MAGLabs, an event focused on enabling attendee creation of things like videogames, VR, robots, clothing, circuitry, and music.
- MAGStock. Camping in the woods with a bunch of nerds, videogames, and bands. Man, it's really just that awesome. Bring your soldering iron.
- Other events. include multiple 1-day music shows around the US (and sometimes Brazil), and plugging in MAGFest's unique take on arcades, game consoles, and music inside other events like the Smithsonian American Art Museum, AwesomeCon DC, and a bunch of others.
MAGFest maintains a 6,000 sqft warehouse near Washington DC, where each event we maintain a logistics operation with a fleet of rental trucks, forklift, palletized storage, arcades, giant TVs, IT, and AV gear. We're building up our inventory on the west coast now too.
Since 2006, MAGFest has maintained its own secret weapon in the form of an in-house open source custom ticketing and event management platform called The Ubersystem. It's a mash of python, puppet, VMs, and physical hardware capable of running our entire registration process even with no internet available (for example, when your ISP decides to cut some fiber the day of the event - True Story). MAGFest is a software development shop, with a fulltime senior software engineer on staff. This software also manages our band booking workflow, volunteer shift and hotel room signup management, indie tabletop judging, and automated email sending. MAGFest policy is often written in python. Other events are now running our software to manage their own events too.
Things I'll talk about when I finish creating this page:
- Long-range internet shenanigans
- Sketchup/CAD Drawings + Fire Marshal
- Nonprofit creation
- Music details
- Growth chart