Gamers group changing gaming expos to yearly event from biannual activity
This year’s Winter-GAX will take place from February 10th to 12th in the cultural center.
The Moose Jaw Gamers Association typically hosts two gaming fairs a year, drawing hundreds of people, but has decided to hold just one annual event due to volunteer and attendance issues.
The Association (MJGA) usually hosts a Gaming Expo (GAX) at the Moose Jaw Cultural Center in February and July and fills the building with various activities from board games to Dungeons & Dragons to console games and card games.
However, the organization recently changed its game model.
“We will only focus on our winter GAXs going forward. We found that GAX didn’t have that big a turnout over the summer, and when we’re trying to make it a really good event like this, we rely on volunteers (who) come in the summer (because of vacation or work),” Talon explained Regent, Vice President of MJGA.
Instead, MJGA plans to hold GAX once a year in February, which should build people’s anticipation for the upcoming event and allow the association to grow as big as possible, he continued.
This is the first year that the MJGA will only hold a Winter GAX, running Friday February 10th through Sunday February 12th. However, the organization does not plan to give up their time at the cultural center.
“This summer we’re going to be hosting a big Dungeons & Dragons special event,” said Regent. “Over the years, GAX has transitioned from being primarily a LAN (local area network) party for video gamers…(to) board games, and now we’re seeing a shift to where people are most interested in Dungeons & Dragons.”
“So for the upcoming summer event, the focus on Dungeons & Dragons will allow us to make this more specialized event extra fun.”
GAX is one of Saskatchewan’s longest-running gaming trade shows, with the majority of proceeds going to a local charity each year.
This year’s charity is Hunger in Moose Jaw.
Doors open at 5pm and close at midnight on February 10th, open again at 9am and close at midnight on February 11th and open a final time on February 12 at 9am and close at 5pm
During these 30 hours, players can play LAN games, board games, console games, Dungeons and Dragons, Flames of War, Pokémon, Battletech, Magic: The Gathering, Super Smash Bros., Virtual Reality and much more.
GAX will also feature vendors selling nerdy memorabilia, the popular Saturday night pizza party and door prizes distributed throughout the weekend.
General admission is $20, although the association encourages people to register at www.mjga.ca/gax.
This year’s Expo will also feature a national qualification tournament for the Settlers of Catan. The winner will receive a seat at the 2024 Canadian National CATAN Championship. Entry is free with a GAX ticket, but participants must be 18 years or older to play.
“I am thrilled that (GAX) is returning to rekindle the passion for gaming in the hearts of Moose Javians and other Saskatchewan residents,” said Regent. “I’m particularly looking forward to the upcoming Settlers of Catan tournament.”
The MJGA previously held a national qualifier tournament in February 2020, just before the pandemic was declared, he continued. The organization contacted the game maker and was granted permission to host another qualifying tournament, while also convincing Saskatoon’s Dragon’s Den Games to provide multiple copies of the game and prize packages for the winners.
Regent noted that he plans to compete in the qualifying tournament and has been training regularly hoping to make the top 4.
Seeing a large crowd of people passionate about games – from board games to tabletop games to role-playing games – coming together to share that joy is one of Regent’s favorite aspects of GAX.
“It’s a big event. There’s a lot of volunteer hours that go into this project…to make sure this is a success for our community,” he added.
Since 2010, the Moose Jaw Gamers Association has donated thousands of volunteer hours and raised more than $16,000 for charities benefiting children in Moose Jaw.