GE² – or Gaming & Experimental Entertainment – was a first-of-its-kind event for the Pacific Northwest, taking place over two days at the massive CenturyLink Field Event Center.
The event featured some of the latest and greatest innovative and experimental gaming technology on the market today. The over 10,000 attendees weren’t just spectators, but were invited to become part of the action, scattered throughout 280 thousand square feet of event space.
For those that weren’t able to make the trip out in person, both days of the event were live streamed on GE²’s Twitch channel.
The organizers extended me an invite on behalf of Social Blade, so I thought I’d see what all the hype was about!
The star of the show was the drones. These aren’t the big, heavy drones you’ll see capturing 4K video shots for the likes of Casey Neistat on YouTube – these are small, lightweight copters built for speed. Reaching 30 to 40 miles per hour, local drone racers brought their gear out to compete in a custom-built arena filled with countless hoops, twists, and turns.
All of the drones raced at GE² utilized special FPV goggles that allow the pilots to stand outside of the course, seeing only what their drone’s camera sees.
With experts and local hobby shop owners on-site, those interested in the sport had access to all the wealths of information needed to start planning their career as a drone racer. All of the professionals I talked to recommended that beginners find a local club and connect with someone there for beginner instruction. An international hobbyist league called MultiGP can help connect new pilots with seasoned experts to get them started out.
“MultiGP is growing rapidly – there’s over 400 chapters in the world, it’s a worldwide organization,” said Mark Kenworthy of FPV Racing Seattle. “There are over 12,000 pilots in it right now. It’s the way to go, to find drone races.”
Drone racing is becoming a big enough deal that ESPN has a vested interest, inking a streaming deal with the Drone Racing League earlier this year.
“DRL is like the Nascar of drone racing, in that it’s very professional, it’s sponsored, and it’s very polished,” said Conrad Miller, a Drone Racing League competitor from Boise.
We’ve reached a point where televisions aren’t going to get any bigger, and console games aren’t going to get any more advanced. The next step? Making 360-degree televisions that sit right in front of your eyeballs – exactly what VR goggles accomplish.
Full immersion is the next big thing for gaming. With sponsor HTC Vive on site, amongst other local VR companies, attendees were able to experience the magic of immersive gameplay for themselves.
Laser Tag & Dodgeball
While not exactly new forms of experimental entertainment, these age-old games provided kid-like fun for everyone.
Retro Arcade Games, Tabletop Tournaments, Robots, & More
Timeless classics from the Pac-Man franchise, Mario Brothers, and others were scattered around the retro gaming zone, with comfy couches to boot.
Tabletop competitions took place throughout the weekend, with indie titles like the Kickstarter-backed action strategy game DRAGOON.
Students from local Raisbeck Aviation High School were on-site, showing off the latest that their public STEM-focused school has to offer in robotics.
Upstairs, the Sprint-sponsored VIP lounge offered a full bar with a private laser tag arena and a birds-eye view of the expo floor, for those that were willing to shell out double the cash on a ticket.
The experimental event may have been a first of its kind for Seattle, but I’m willing to bet it won’t be the last. Appealing equally to a wide range of individuals, from kindergarteners to senior citizens, attendees seemed to have a blast at this accessible and affordable expo.