The Rand Show is celebrating its 125th birthday this year, an age most of us can only dream of ever seeing. Having come such a long way, the Rand Show has gained some extensive experience in the field of bringing you heaps of family fun, so in 2019 the organizers decided to include gaming and cosplay as part of their lineup.
This was a good move considering the direction young people’s interests are moving, but is it possible for the Rand Show to offer something we can’t find elsewhere? The short answer is no, but that doesn’t mean this change was flawed. Instead, it gives South African gamers one more event to look forward to each year and it shows the world that gaming is a growing culture that can no longer be ignored. This is not a revolution, merely a single step in evolution.
gaming at the rand show
Since this is the first year the Rand Show included any form of gaming attraction, I was not expecting this part of the show to blow me away. That said, I was pleasantly surprised at how much effort was put into this part of the event. The main attraction in Hall 9, the gaming capital of the event, was the massive Fortnite Tournament that spanned over the entire 10 days. For a week and a half, teenagers from all across Gauteng could compete in this incredibly popular battle royale game for a chance to win their share of R50 000. Converted to international currency, this prize might seem like pocket change, but it’s one step closer to parents not only accepting gaming as a valid competitive activity but perhaps supporting their teens who dream of making it big in the upcoming world of eSports.
The Fortnite tournament had a good number of stations available where players could duke it out during the prelims, as well as a stage where some of the more prominent games would be broadcast. The quality of this tournament was greatly increased with the inclusion of local gaming personalities and competitive gamers Grant Hinds (@GrantHinds), Sam Playze (@SamPlayze), and Nick Holden (@HoldenZA). These guys truly know every aspect of this gaming phenomenon and having them there to commentate and demonstrate what Fortnite is all about was a great addition to the show.
The highlight for me, however, was undoubtedly Mortal Kombat 11 which should already be available by the time you’re reading this. I was one of many who was able to test drive this latest creation from Netherrealm Studios to ensure they keep going in the direction of the past 2 games and don’t fall into the same bottomless pits as the PS2 iterations of this longstanding franchise.
My main criticism of Mortal Kombat X was the exclusion of so many established characters of the series but it seems that MK11 eyes to correct that. While only a small number of playable characters were available to me, I managed to spend some quality time with Sub Zero, Baraka, Raiden, and of course Scorpion. I even managed to perform a few Fatalities with minimal effort. One major improvement in MK11 is the inclusion of Fatal Blows, a special move that becomes available when your health drops very low. These present themselves very much like Fatalities, complete with sick-inducing gore, but can be performed before the end of the match. These moves do an extensive amount of damage to your opponent and could serve as a fantastic way to make a comeback after a dismal start to your fight.
While I didn’t spend nearly enough time with the game to do an in-depth review, I can confirm that MK11 looks outstanding and from what I experienced, I don’t think fans of the series will be disappointed in the slightest. I just hope Netherrealm Studios includes mental health care as part of their staff benefits packages, they’re going to need it.
The highly anticipated Days Gone also received a spot on the gaming floor but was unfortunately not yet available on the day I attended. None of the other games available were showstoppers like Mortal Kombat 11, merely fillers to color the background of the canvas presented to gamers. Among these were Forza 7, God of War, WWE 2k19, NBA 2k19, Fifa19, Minecraft, Call of Duty Black Ops 4, Devil May Cry 5, Marvel’s Spider-Man, and a few favorites from PSVR.
what else was there
Cosplay was another new addition to the Rand Show this year but one I was also not able to experience as I only attend the event one of the ten days. While the show did offer cash prizes to contestants who wanted to show off their spectacular creations, I highly doubt the prestige will be anything close to that from events like rAge or Comic Con Africa.
If you hung around the gaming pavilion long enough, you would undoubtedly have heard some alarming pops and bangs coming from the stage. Had you rushed toward the racket you would have found a crazy Australian in a white lab coat who calls himself the Kalahari Scientist, setting fire to a variety of gasses. While this show was more aimed toward showing children just how interesting science can be, I’ll admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the Kalahari Scientist’s presentation and antics.
As can be expected from an event such as this, you could also find a wide assortment of carnival rides and exhibitions including JacarandaFM’s Clash of Ages, the latest in South African cooking competitions, as well as “South Africa’s biggest Fashion and Fitness Extravaganza” where both husbands and wives could get into serious trouble for staring at the beautiful bodies on stage. The exhibition I found most impressive though, was from the South African National Defense Force. Due to my limited knowledge of the monstrosities on display, these images will convey their awesomeness much better than I can.
Joburg’s best day out is indeed a great family event. The military showcase blew me away and the sheer number of other stalls at the event was overwhelming. Even after spending an entire day moving from one incredible sight to the next, I still found unexplored areas while I was making my way back to my car.
Something I found curious was the fact that access to the gaming pavilion came at an additional cost, and that fee would only allow you access for 2 and a half hours. This did help regulate traffic through Hall 9 which actually allowed me to spend some quality time with the available games instead of waiting in line for an hour, only to play for a few minutes. However, I can see this being a problem for someone with a teenager whose only goal for the day was to compete for that R50k Fortnite cash prize.
Other than that slight oddity, I found nothing to complain about in the organization or the venue. The Nazrec Expo Centre is massive and allowed more than enough space for the great number of attractions, and there was no shortage of refreshment stands for the thousands of hungry attendees.
I’m hoping this event is just the first step in gaming culture being more widely accepted in South Africa. I applaud the organizers of the Rand Show for including it in this year’s show and I can only see this growing exponentially in the years to come.