The first inaugural BetaCon hit Portland this weekend, bringing a mix of gamers and designers together to celebrate the art form.
BetaCon is intended to be the bridge between local designers and the public, essentially bridging the gap between the creators and the players that enjoy their games. “There’s a lot of nostalgia in Portland, and that’s been served well,” BetaCon organizer Eric Hersey said. The event joins other Portland conventions such as the Portland Retro Gaming Expo. However, instead of looking into the past, BetaCon looks towards the future of gaming and what lies next in regards to video game technology.
Local developers Portland Indie Game Squad and Oregon Game Project were represented with sprawling booths that highlighted individual creations and new indie games on the horizon. Highlighted at the event were the winners of the most recent Oregon Game Project Challenge, a contest for local students to show off their game design skills. This is a great opportunity for a tech heavy city to get coverage that is usually reserved for convention behemoths like PAX.
Game highlights of the event included Ray’s the Dead, a hilarious take on the zombie genre, and sibling team Josh and Nate Pearce’s RezPlz, a great game that plays on the popular tropes of retro gaming. Each booth was stocked with screens and various controllers to allow attendees to try out the creations and converse with the developers.
Panels ranged Pacific Northwest retro gaming celebrity John Hancock, in conjunction with the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, to Olympian Ashton Eaton, who spoke on the future of physical activity and how it relates to technology. Speakers also gave out tips on how to get your games out there, keeping motivated during development, and the tools for success in the industry.
Although BetaCon is meant as a window to the future, the event did not shy away from embracing the past and present. A large draw was the Super Smash Bros and Street Fighter IV tournaments, which have become a competitive mainstay for all conventions. It was also very apparent that the admiration of retro games is at a peak with a good portion of the indie games focusing on the retro aesthetic.
Look for BetaCon, sponsored by The Portland Mercury, to return next April at the Oregon Convention Center.
Was BetaCon a success for you? What are your favorite parts of gaming conventions? Please comment below and stay tuned to GWW for more video game news.