x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

IMAX screen puts gamers on to the film star level at IGN Convention

The first IGN Convention in the Middle East attracted hundreds of comic, video game and movie fanatics.

DUBAI // Avid video gamers always look for the latest technology, the next smash-hit game or new piece of merchandise, but a chosen few were yesterday given something money cannot buy - the chance to play on one of the region's biggest cinema screens, the Meydan IMAX.

Newly released PlayStation exclusive The Last Of Us was showcased on the mammoth screen in front of dozens of awestruck spectators, who were lining up for their turn on the controller.

The zombie thriller was a perfect fit for the venue, with suspense-filled scenes and an eerie soundtrack played in surround sound.

The showcase was all part of the first IGN Convention in the Middle East, which attracted hundreds of comic, video game and movie fanatics.

Fans were given the chance to meet IGN celebrity presenter Naomi Kyle and American Wrestling star Kevin Nash, who were on hand to answer questions and sign autographs.

"We're essentially creating a paradise for video games, film and comic book aficionados," said Abbas Jaffar Ali, director at IGN Middle East.

"The IGN Convention is a big festival with local and international celebrities, heaps of amazing content, and activities for the entire family. Film buffs will rub shoulders with cosplay enthusiasts as geeks discuss movies and gamers take part in a giant video game tournament. It is quite simply the biggest and best event of its kind in Dubai."

Local and international gaming businesses were also on hand to parade their wares to enthusiasts.

Nimit Deepak Palija, business development manager at Geekay Games, a Dubai-based company, set up shop at the convention.

"It is serving the community, it is not like any other event where people just come to shop," he said. "People come here for an experience. The atmosphere is brilliant, everyone has happy faces."

Geekay were selling games, licensed merchandise and, perhaps most importantly, taking pre-orders for the next-generation console, the PlayStation 4.

"Over the past couple of years, our gamers are wanting more and more merchandise. People now want T-shirts, hoodies and figurines, not just the game itself," Mr Palija said.

UAE online merchandise company Wamli.com were also exhibiting.

The web store launched at the end of last year, but they have quickly found a loyal following among video game and comic fans.

"We are really happy to be here because we are also gamers," said Imad Ghandour, head of products for Wamli. "When you go to conventions like this, you just want to be part of a community because everyone likes the same stuff.

"There is more and more demand. We are an online store, but we really wanted to get out and meet our customers and thought this was the ideal time to do it," he said.

The event, which continues today, also features a video game tournament, allowing the best in the region to battle it out in front of crowds of spectators, with finals to also be played out on the IMAX screen.

Games featured in the tournament include football simulator Fifa 13, first-person-shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and beat-em-up Tekken Tournament 2.

Technology giants such as nVidia, Sony and Virgin Megastore all were represented at the event.

Alongside the video games were many comic book fans and creators, not least the co-chief executive of Archie Comics, Nancy Silberkleit.

She said comic books were now becoming an increasingly accepted medium, regardless of cultural or geographical differences.

"It is a universal value that we all share," she said.

"Archie Comics have always been welcomed in other cultures and societies. The comic book is coming out in film, in gaming and it is acceptable because it is the visual image that gives a segue into the story being presented to you."

Tickets are available for today's event, which runs from 10am to 10pm.