SALT LAKE CITY — Get your arcade sticks and costumes ready — Salt Lake Gaming Con is returning for its fifth annual run at the Salt Palace Convention Center on June 27-29.
The Salt Lake event is the sixth-largest independent gaming convention in the United States, according to the convention’s website. Jake Williams, the convention’s founder, told the Deseret News that fans of all types of games — video, tabletop, role-playing, eSports and even pinball — can expect something to keep themselves entertained during the three-day event.
But, Williams noted, the motive behind Salt Lake Gaming Con is to inspire attendees — including families — to play together.
“(The most important thing about games) is the connection,” Williams said. “We really put a big emphasis on family entertainment since (Utah) has one of the youngest (gaming) demographics in the nation. … We’ve tried to push giving a chance for people to sit down and play with each other.”
Williams sees the convention a little like an amusement park, with a wide variety of activities to keep people entertained. For example, while convention attendees wait to compete in a tournament, they can play pinball or retro games to pass the time.
“We want to make sure that it's about the experience. The general person at a convention spends a little less than four hours on average (at a given convention),” Williams said. “We’re tracking about six and a half hours per person spent at our show because there’s so many activities for people to do.”
The convention will feature a 60/40 split between video games and other gaming content. Twenty-four tournaments will run throughout the weekend, featuring “Street Fighter,” “Apex Legends,” “Settlers of Catan” and “Magic: The Gathering,” among others.
Those interested in competing in any tournaments must purchase an entry pass and register on the convention’s website. Each competition costs $1 plus processing fees to cover base costs for the events.
Other attractions include Nerf gun battles, a live-action role-play arena featuring sword fighting, a life-size Mario Kart racetrack, pinball machines and a retro arcade space. Celebrity guests and gaming industry experts will also be present for panel discussions and meet and greets. Williams noted panels will cover everything from cosplaying to designing games.
Special guests attending the event include actor and comedian Jason Mewes (“Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back”) and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, the actor behind Shang Tsung in the 1995 “Mortal Kombat” movie and this year’s “Mortal Kombat 11.”
Other guests include voice actors Hannah Telle (“Life is Strange”), Jen Cohn ("Overwatch"), Richard Epcar (“Mortal Kombat 11”) and Erica Luttrell (“Apex Legends”). Several cosplayers, an illustrator and former WWE star Lisa Marie Varon will also make appearances. (The complete list of guests can be seen on Salt Lake Gaming Con’s special guests page.)
Microsoft, GameStop and the U.S. Army will also have a presence at the convention. Williams said Microsoft will have a 7,000 square-foot booth set up for video game demos, rivaling their appearances at PAX West in Seattle.1 comment on this story
At the end of the day, Williams wants to provide a fun-filled experience for unlike any other convention.
"It's not just about getting people in the door," Williams said. "We want to make sure that it's about the experience, so people walk out going 'Holy crap, that was fun.'"
If you go …
What: Salt Lake Gaming Con
When: June 27-29
Where: Salt Palace Convention Center, 100 S. West Temple
How much: $20 for single day pass, $40 for three-day pass, $90 for VIP pass, $60 for gold pass