2020 South African Gaming and Geek Expo Guide

Last year saw the local event scene settle a little. Fewer gaming and geek expos were hosted than previous years. Smaller events and larger events started disappearing. Cape Town took the brunt of the reduction, losing EGE and the Canal Walk Gaming Expo. Gauteng saw more added with the Sandton City Gamers Expo being the major addition, along with a number of other malls hosting gaming activities. Rand Show was another Gauteng event that joined the gaming scene happening around the country.

Worryingly, the warnings of this grumpy and cynical zombie may have been ignored last year, when I suggested it was up to you “to ensure your favorite expo or event doesn’t become a footnote in the future.” So let’s try this again for 2020.

Events we are unsure of that formed part of last year’s calendar include ComicEx, Gaming Forum by GameNation and StelCon. A few new partnerships see two events become one (Rand Show and Rush). Some new partnerships also bring into question what becomes of ‘discarded’ partners, as is the case with GeekFest, which joined Rush in 2019. Most of the others are likely to announce throughout the year. There are plenty of big name events on the horizon, so start booking these dates today.

*Please note that at the time of writing, some events have not been confirmed or even announced. This list is compiled based on known information and previous years of activity, and will be updated as details are confirmed.


UCON

  • Date: 21 to 22 March 2020
  • Time: 10h00 – 17h00
  • Venue: UCT Sports Centre, UCT Upper Campus, Cape Town, Western Cape
  • Cost:
    • Day Pass: R60 pre-sold | R80 at door
    • Weekend Pass: R80 pre-sold | R100 at door
    • Free to children 9 and younger
  • Details: Facebook | Twitter

One of Cape Town’s original events hits its eighth year (if our math is correct) and heads back to their UCT venue after 2019’s detour to GrandWest.  As always, expect a healthy dose of gaming, esports, anime, cosplay and a lot more in one of the most social environments of all the year’s events.


RAND SHOW | FESTIVAL OF GAMING | RUSH

After 2019’s ‘surprise’ addition of gaming, 2020 sees the gaming hosted and managed by NAG, who brings along their Rush esports event too. There should be plenty of variety this year in the halls allocated to the ‘Festival of Gaming’. A variety of video games, gadgets, tech, esports and cosplay will feature, plus a feast of other geek and pop culture delights. Alongside that and Rushis the World Cosplay Summit (WCS) South African Championship.


ICON

  • Date: TBC
  • Time: TBC
  • Venue: TBC, Gauteng
  • Cost: TBC
  • Details: Site | Facebook | Twitter

Last year saw “South Africa’s longest running comics and games convention” hosted on Easter Weekend at Emperors Palace. We will guess at it being all very similar for 2020. If not, 2019 might have been the 27th and last one…


COMIC CON CAPE TOWN

  • Date: 1 to 3 May 2020
  • Time: 10h00 – 19h00
  • Venue: Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town, Western Cape
  • Cost:
    • Day Pass: R160
    • Weekend Pass: R450
    • via Howler
  • Details: Site | Facebook | Twitter

After two successful Comic Con events in Gauteng, Cape Town will join the circuit this year. We would suggest that the Cape Town iteration will not be a carbon copy of the Gauteng version. Cape Town is ‘co-located’ with the Cape Town International Animation Festival, so expect movies, comic and geek lifestyle to be the focus. Gaming is likely to take a back seat.


TECHFEST EXPO

  • Date: 26 to 27 June 2020
  • Time: TBC
  • Venue: Soweto Theatre, Soweto, Gauteng
  • Cost:
    • Day Pass: R80
    • Two-Day Pass: R120
    • via Techfest
  • Details: Site | Facebook | Twitter

The event formerly known as Ekasi Techfest & Gaming Expo returns for its fourth year with a sleeker name – Techfest Expo. Expect “more exhibitions, esports tournament prize pools and the best gaming to accommodate the drastic growth of the event.”


GEEKFEST

  • Date: TBC
  • Time: TBC
  • Venue: TBC, Gauteng
  • Cost:
    • TBC
  • Details: Site | Facebook | Twitter

Having joined forces with Rush in 2019, it’s a little unclear whether GeekFest will return for its eighth outing. If it does happen, it’s likely to be in June or July, as that has been their regular slot in previous years. Hopefully the event aimed at gamers, cosplayers, gadget and technology fans, and TV and film fans returns in 2020.


FANCON

  • Date: 4 to 5 July 2020
  • Time: 10h00 – 18h00
  • Venue: CTICC, Cape Town, Western Cape
  • Cost:
    • TBC
  • Details: Site | Facebook | Twitter

Cape Town’s ‘original’ comic convention heads into year five in a new time slot. Their traditional May dates having been appropriated by Comic Con Cape Town. Whether the Cape Town geeks have room in their hearts for two events within two months focusing on comics, cosplay and geek culture remains to be seen. But we should be there stalking the floor, and so should you. So start getting your outfits ready and preparing for a panel-packed experience with some top local and international comic artists and writers.


LANX

  • Date: TBC
  • Time: TBC
  • Venue: TBC, Gauteng
  • Cost: TBC
  • Details: Site | Facebook | Twitter

LanX 2019 was hosted in July last year, so expect the LAN and Expo to return again around that time. Usually LanX is operated over four days with competitive gaming and a “great expo of tech and geek related stalls.”


ICON By The Sea

  • Date: TBC
  • Time: TBC
  • Venue: TBC, KwaZulu-Natal
  • Cost:
    • TBC
  • Details: Site | Facebook | Twitter

July was the month of ICON By The Sea in 2019, so assumptions may be that the event will return around then too this year. The sister event to ICON offers geeks and gamers in KwaZulu-Natal their local gaming and geek event.


A MAZE. / Johannesburg

Since 2012, the A MAZE. Festival has been hosted in September, so there is no indication to suggest otherwise. The festival “represents the current state of artistic and experimental game and vr design, alternative games, virtual realities and interactive digital arts.”


RAGE

  • Date: 4 to 6 September 2020
  • Time: TBC
  • Venue: Ticket Pro Dome, Northgate, Gauteng
  • Cost: TBC
  • Details: Site | Facebook | Twitter

In a move that appears to be an attempt to grab control back from Comic Con Africa, rAge 2020 brings itself to life earlier in the year than before. Securing a spot three weeks before the Comic Con behemoth should ensure fresh games at South Africa’s longest running gaming expo. Just expect more. And then more of pretty much everything. Chances are pretty good that some of the stuff seen at rAge this year may feel second-hand at Comic Con.


COMIC CON AFRICA

  • Date: 24 to 27 September 2020
  • Time: 9h00 – 17h00
  • Venue: Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand, Gauteng
  • Cost:
    • Day Pass: R170
    • 4-Day Pass: R525
    • via Howler
  • Details: Site | Facebook | Twitter

Year three of Comic Con Africa and we would suggest you can expect more of the same as 2019. And that includes the unfortunately overpriced catering supplied by the venue. Otherwise, Comic Con Africa is a great day out with plenty on offer. Gaming, geek culture, cosplay, TV and movies, and a whole lot more is available in abundance.


CON.ECT

  • Date: TBC
  • Time: TBC
  • Venue: TBC, Eastern Cape
  • Cost:
    • TBC
  • Details: Site | Facebook | Twitter

The gaming, cosplay and fandom event for Eastern Cape residents strutted its stuff in October last year, so assume the same time frame is likely to be the case this year.


SANDTON CITY GAMERS EXPO

  • Date: TBC
  • Time: TBC
  • Venue: Sandton City, Sandton, Gauteng
  • Cost: TBC
  • Details: Site | Facebook | Twitter

The Sandton City Gamers Expo was hosted in November in 2019, so chances are that November will be its home in 2020. The BT Games powered event may have been the reason Canal Walk’s gaming expo failed to materialise in 2019, but there should be room for more of these mall gaming events. Free entry and access to demos, giveaways and tournaments sounds like the perfect day out right?


PLAYTOPIA

  • Date: TBC
  • Time: TBC
  • Venue: TBC, Western Cape
  • Cost: TBC
  • Details: Site | Facebook | Twitter

Playtopia is likely to head into its third year entertaining Capetonians with panels and entertainment all focused on African game developers and development. Hosted in December in 2019, there’s no reason not to expect the event around the same time this year.


GENERAL

A few events that may be a little lower on your radar but are worth noting:

  • Gaming Forum by Game Nation, was hosted at Wits University in March 2019. Whether the “Live Concert, 10+ Speakers, 1000+ Tickets, 1 amazing day” event will return this year is open for debate.
  • StelCon is usually hosted around September and is the Stellenbosch University’s (Western Cape) gaming and geek event.
  • Our Z-Fest event may return in 2020. Who knows. We don’t always ourselves. But December anybody?

There is plenty on the agenda for 2020, which should keep local gamers and geeks happy and entertained. We will update this article with further details as they come to hand, but if we have missed an expo or convention, please feel free to let us know about it in the comments below.

For a more fluid update on upcoming events, you can also keep your eye on our calendar of events which we update with events as soon as we are aware of them.

About Zombie Dredd

Wannabe gaming journalist. Wannabe zombie. And sometimes clan leader of OAP. Clint O'Shea when in his human disguise.