Portland, OR had its first major video game and technology expo this past weekend, showcasing the variety and talent of Oregon’s local gaming community. It was two full days of speakers, vendors, developers, educators, competitors, and of course, fans.
On April 15 and 16 at the Oregon Convention Center, from about 10 am – 8 pm, the BetaCon Game Expo was open to attendees who were able to purchase day passes for $15 and weekend passes for $25, with a VIP option available. The event was presented by the Portland Mercury and had a range of industry participants and speakers from companies such as Insomniac Games, Nike, Wacom, Polycount, Kinjo, Sony, Liquid Development, Phoenix Labs, Intel, Ubisoft, the Art Institute of Portland, and Teak.
The Portland Retro Gaming Expo had their own booth with a few consoles from bygone eras to play: Vectrex, NES, N64, and Atari; while Kumoricon was selling tickets and giving away prizes in anticipation of their October convention. A competition area was set up for Super Smash Bros Melee, Super Smash Bros 4, Street Fighter V, and StepManiaX tournaments. There were a small number of independent game exhibitors as well as the winning projects of middle and high schoolers who participated in the Oregon Game Project Challenge.
The Portland Indie Game Squad (PIGSquad) had the most on display and consequently the most traffic. With a diverse roster of game demos such as Fullbright’s Tacoma, Queer Quest by QueerMo Games, Plunge by Spooky Buns, and the Tiny Swords card game by Brian Wolf, it was the part of the expo that would’ve benefited the most from additional space.
BetaLive panels were held in the back center of the expo hall and had plenty of seating for interested attendees. Beginning with a talk on the history of major gaming consoles to a couple of live art battles to how to get into and then survive in the gaming industry, most panels were more like a discussion with ample time afterward for audience members to line up at a microphone and ask their burning questions.
As far as first-time conventions go, it was much more accessible and friendly to video game fans who may get anxiety from the large crowds at bigger conventions like PAX, yet value the ability to try beta indie games and offer honest feedback to passionate game developers within a close-knit community. If BetaCon happens again next year, be sure to check it out and see for yourself!
A multi-ethnic, racially confused hermaphrodite commonly referred to by his online alias "A Bad Password" - real name Kevin - slightly selfishly and completely uncreatively named the gaming news and related content website ABadPassword.com after himself.