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  • Writer's pictureAshSaidHi

AGDQ and MAGFest Adventure!

It’s Ash and I am back with another super cool adventure story. I attended Awesome Games Done Quick 2024 (AGDQ 2024) and MagFest for the first time. I didn’t know what to expect and when I arrived to each I realized that I felt like I was at home at both events. They each had a ton going on practically 24/7 and I loved every second. First let’s talk about AGDQ.


Ash and Thormungandr at the Unapologetically Black and Fast table at AGDQ
Ash and Thormungandr at the UBAF table at AGDQ

Awesome games Done Quick is a week long speed running charity event. This year in was in support of The Prevent Cancer Foundation and held in Pittsburgh, Pensylvania. I attended as a host/safety volunteer and I also helped run the Unapologetically Black and Fast Table (UBAF). UBAF is a speed running/challenge running event where we uplift Black talent in February. Our table was there to bring awareness to the event and to also promote the Juneteenth event. It was such a fun time running the table, I got to meet and speak with a lot of wonderful people. 



As a host I was on schedule for Sharkhat87 who ran Dead Space, CarcinogenSDA for his Resident Evil 2 Remake No Damage Run, and Funkmastermp for his Diablo 1 Level 1% Sorcerer run. Hosting was an absolute blast. The GDQ staff do a careful job of prepping you for host duties and are there to support you for every question and concern. I felt immensely supported and like an important part of the team. As a host it is my job to transition from each segment, read donations, hype up the chat to incentivize donations and to keep the momentum going if there are quiet moments in commentary. I am also there to let the runners know if any special milestones happen. While I was hosting for CarcinogenSDA we hit $500K to the charity and that brought a ton of excitement and momentum to the show. 



Ash giving couch commentary for a speed run
Ash giving couch commentary for a speed run

I also got to do couch commentary for Cypherin who ran Gargoyles Remastered and for Bobbeigh who ran Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. Bobbiegh achieved a world record that run and it was a masterful display. Cypherin did a phenomenal job showcasing Gargoyles, it was a fun time to vibe on the commentary couch together. Cypherin also taught me some speed running tricks and even introduced me to Apollo22237 who helped me get a world record run of Home Alone on NES submitted to speedrun.com. Some of my other favorite moments of AGDQ was watching Peanut Butter the dog and JSR_ run Gyromite. The room was PACKED and electric with hype. Another run that knocked my socks off was the Super Mario 64 16 star run on drums.





I never saw something like that before and I love the use of alternative controllers. It is amazing to see what speed runners are capable of doing. I also had a funky fun time during the awful block. We saw Sneak King, Beetlejuice and the last Ninja on C64. I mean it doesn’t get better than that. 


Ash playing Crokinole
Ash masters Crokinole

AGDQ also had a 24 hour arcade room filled with pinball machines and rhythm games. There was a board game room where I met with friends and had tons of laughs. There was also a huge free play room where you could rent consoles, sit at a CRT and play anything you wanted. There was a tournament space and there was a quiet practice room for speed running. There was never a dull moment, always something to get into, something to watch, and someone to chat with. One thing I also loved is that you could watch AGDQ from your hotel room (if you were staying in the hotel). It was convenient and an easy way to stay connected. The magic is certainly in hanging with people at 2am watching games and feeling welcome in the space.


Free play room at AGDQ
Free play room at AGDQ


Sadly I did have to leave the event before it concluded because it overlapped with MAGfest, but a few GDQ peeps were also going to MAG so I was happy I knew I would see them there. Overall we raised $2.5 million for the Prevent Cancer Foundation and I was glad I could do my part. 


Ash in front of a digital MAGFest Prime sign
Ash in front of a digital MAGFest Prime sign

On to MAGFest. OH MY GOD WHAT A PARTY!! I loved every second of MAGFest. MAGFest is a Music and Gaming Festival that runs 24 hours for four glorious days in January. The show has been going for about 22 years. I never attended and had no clue what to expect. I stayed at the Gaylord Resort in Maryland which is where it is held every year. There were parties, cosplaying, concerts, jam rooms, panels, LAN parties and shenanigans 24/7.



MAGFest Prime 2024 Badge
MAGFest Prime 2024 Badge



We even had MAGTV where we could watch MainStage concerts from our room. Speaking of the room, if you ever go to MAGFest book a room in the Gaylord. It was comfortable, warm, and super classy, also it is convenient to be able to ride down to all the activities and never have to go outside. Everything is decked out and themed to a game/franchise every year. This year’s theme was Metroid Prime. The badges looked awesome and the decor and signage had a Metroid theme too.







There is a culture to MAGFest that embodies the spirit of the event. They promote inclusivity and do their best to keep a fun and cheeky sort of vibe. There was a shrine to Danny DeVito and everything left at the shrine was auctioned for charity. There was a soap box space where anyone could go on stage and debate a topic for 10 minutes with crowd participation. There were rooms where anyone could set up and play music, there was a chiptune stage with a vibrant LED display stage. The main stage was stunning. I saw Bit Brigade, The Protomen, Metroid Metal, and a slew of other incredible talent. I danced and ran around and partied all night. I woke up at 7AM to play Dance Dance Revolution because I could. I mean where else could you do that.


Danny DeVito Shrine at MAGFest
Danny DeVito Shrine at MAGFest

Speaking of the arcade, I never saw a space with a variety like the one at MAGFest. They had a whole train conducting game where you sit in the seat of a Japanese style game and drive a train, they had tons of indie arcades I hadn’t seen in years like Killer Queen and Nidhogg. There was even a button you could press just to make a counter go up, there was a tug of war machine and a game set up where you wore a comically large hat and hat to control the character walking with two people.


Normally when I attend these events I have a little bit of work to do. I did speak on one panel with the Tee Monster and fellow Twitch Ambassador Steve Saylor. We spoke about gaming out of your comfort zone and how that impacts the way people approach video games and streaming. I got to see some of my industry colleges and connect so that was really awesome. 


The music performances will sit with me in my heart forever. I got to hear an orchestra play some of my favorite music from Chrono Trigger, The Legend of Zelda, Halo, Metal Gear Solid and others. In fact Cynthia Harrell sho sang Snake Eater for MGS3 performed her song. It was breathtaking. Another performance I fell in love with was The Protomen. They brought the house down with their 80’s rock inspired Mega Man themed ballads. I even got to meet the band after and get an autographed t-shirt!


Orchestra at MAGFest 2024
Orchestra at MAGFest 2024

Overall I would absolutely go to both events again. I am happy I was able to attend and experience these shows. I hope this article is able to convey some of that joy to you and I hope you get to go to one of these shows someday. Thanks for reading.



Melo, Ash, Anarchy at AGDQ 2024
Melo, Ash, Anarchy at AGDQ 2024

This article was originally written for https://agentannk.com/. It appears in issue 67 of the Dank Zine which you can purchase here. Thanks Ann for letting me contribute to your Zine!

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