Popular international gaming website IGN will host its third regional conference in Doha this year from Oct. 10 to 11 at the Qatar National Convention Center.
The aim of the conference is two-fold, focusing both on promoting international movies, video games, comics, and pop culture within the region, and on showcasing local talent and artists.
Organized by IGN Middle East, a Dubai-based branch of the IGN corporation, the event will be the first of its kind in Qatar.
Gaming appears to be growing in popularity here. Last fall, an independent company opened The Gaming Lounge to cater to residents who wish to compete in video game tournaments.
And in December, a group of young women launched Qatar’s first locally-made video game: Giddam, a side-scrolling, racing/platform game for mobile devices, which draws on familiar characters who are armed with traditional headgear and footwear, and fueled by hot karak tea.
Speaking to Doha News, Sandeep Pamulapati, a recent graduate of Northwestern University in Qatar and head of its gaming club, hailed the convention as a milestone.
“I’m happy that there’s an increase in gaming culture in Doha. Not many people know that there’s a thriving gaming scene, and this will be a starting point for, hopefully, better things. Who knows, in a few years, we may even have an E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) conference.”
The 2014 edition of the convention, which was previously held in Dubai and Bahrain, is expected to be IGN’s biggest production in terms of offerings.
Discussing the upcoming convention, organizer Hitesh Uchil told Doha News:
“The event will host a number of spectacular activities for enthusiasts as international celebrities mingle with the crowds. Fans will also get to interact with regional artists in Q&A sessions. This is all in addition to amazing comic book and film events, including a cosplay competition, gaming announcements, trivia quizzes, comic book stalls (etc).”
While a finalized schedule hasn’t been released, the two-day conference will feature various zones for comics, video games, movies, toy rentals, and retail.
Part of the convention will be dedicated to the Artist Alley, which will showcase and sell work by Qatar-based artists and game developers.
The main stage will host gaming celebrities, interactive discussion panels, Q&A sessions with regional artists, and other entertainment. Other attractions will include an Action Figure Museum, a Cinema Zone, and numerous video game tournaments.
The convention also promotes cosplay, short for “costume play,” a form of performance art where people dress up as characters from popular films, comics, and games. Prizes will awarded to the best-dressed participants.
Workshops on movie making, video game development, drawing manga, and creating animations will also be offered to attendees.
The convention also aims to showcase the best in gaming technology.
“At our last event, we had the PlayStation 4 a month before global release. We also have Oculus Rift, NVIDIA Shield and some really cool game previews. Similarly, we should have a lot of new games showcased at the event as well as some cool new gaming gear,” Uchil said.
Previous conferences have drawn large crowds, with over 5,000 fans attending the Bahrain convention and over 7,000 in Dubai. So far, the 2014 convention event page has signed up nearly 800 registrants.
Young people in particular appear to be excited about the upcoming event. Abdullah Idris Gamil, a 21-year-old college student, said:
“I think it’s amazing because it includes local talent and the gaming community on an international stage. It promotes a positive image of what gaming is, and shows the world that it is so much more than a hobby.”