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NexTech KC-A New Event Featuring eSports, Pinball, and More!

Hello again everyone. This last weekend my friend was in town so we decided to take a visit to the NexTech KC. The event was being held at the HyVee Arena (previously Kemper Arena). First we stopped off at Waffle House and got our fill. Then we headed on to NexTech KC. What is NexTech KC? Was it fun? Should you go next year? Don’t worry, we’ll discuss all of this and much more!

What is NexTech KC?

‘Kansas City’s Tech Expo featuring emerging and future technologies. Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Computers, and Esports are among the features inspiring all ages. Programs for students, as well as, the general public will be offered during the event.’

Pros:

  • Cosplay Competition-While a bit limited, I was absolutely excited to see that NexTech KC found a way to incorporate a cosplay competition into its event. And due to scheduling, I wasn’t able to spectate the event. However, it’s still a good inclusion to have. It makes the whole event more well rounded and it extends the demographic to a larger audience.  If you’re in the area next year and you cosplay, definitely try to get a trophy!
  • eSports-Speaking of trophies, eSports was one of the main attractions of the weekend. We already know that KCGameOn runs a really great and knowledgable eSports event every other month in KC. Well, they brought their know-how to a much larger venue this time in NexTech KC. There were several teams playing a wide variety of games for their colleges. The teams that played each other are listed in the image up above. It was absolutely a blast to see these people in action as they took each other on. The gameplay was featured on some larger screens so that if you were in the audience seating you could see. The competition was definitely fierce but nobody appeared to be a bad sport and just enjoyed the challenge.
  • Pinball/Video Game Tourneys-Another great thing to watch and marvel at was both the pinball competitions and the LAN tournaments. Now it’s definitely hard to see everything going on with LAN tourneys, but there was still commentary over the loudspeakers. The pinball tournaments were definitely more something in line with my gaming preferences. It was great to watch people that had been playing pinball for decades go head to head for high scores. You can always tell when someone is truly familiar with a specific machine and knows how to really get the best score from that table.
  • Free Play Pinball and Consoles-Speaking of pinball and video gaming, it wasn’t all just watching contestants duke it out. There was around the clock free pinball area as well as console gaming. Unless there was a very small child playing a console, it was easy to get some time in with the consoles. I was wondering what the purpose of this was at first as people were bringing their own custom controllers and whatnot to game on. That implied that they have these systems at home and could simply game there. But it’s clearly much bigger than that. It’s for the camaraderie, the socializing, and the showing off factor (sometimes).
    I truly respect NexTech’s dedication to getting people together to do things out in the real world. The same obviously isn’t true of pinball, not many people have pinball machines at home. My friend put his $5 entry cost to good use and got plenty of free pinball time in. It’s worth it too, if you think of how much it costs at barcades to play pinball for the evening, it can be much more than $5. You can play this all day long if you’d like (unless someone is waiting to use the machine, then you share like a good little boy).

  • Entry Price– Not much to talk about here, but I really wanted to make a point to mention that the price was right. The weekend pass was $10 and a single day pass was $5. Now naturally you could just buy a $10 pass if you wanted 2 or 3 days. It’s all the same, but I’m glad they gave a one day option as some people didn’t want to necessarily pay $10 for just one day. Good on the event planners for keeping the price right to give people further reason to visit the event.
  • Streamers– We tried not to disturb him, but local streaming family Cronk Games TV was there. There were definitely others floating around the room and also set up to stream, but CGTV was right alongside the vendors and innovators. Definitely cool that they got some local streaming talent to be at NexTech, I look forward to what and who next year brings in terms of round the clock live gaming.
  • Vendors– I will be candid and state that there weren’t as many vendors as I thought there’d be. But I actually think that the variety and amount of vendors really worked in the favor of the event. If they add more of them next year, that’s great too. I just hope they still maintain a balance of all of the different things that they had going on. If an event is more vendors than it is actual activities, then it loses points in my book.
  • Tech Booths-This is in the same vein as the vendors, but they still get brownie points from me. The tech booths are harder to explain on in text. There is a video down below where I show off the whole place, so you’ll see what I mean. But the easiest way to describe it in the meantime is that they are booths that feature innovators. Whether you might find inventors, tinkerers, companies showing off new tech, you’ll find it at NexTech KC. I was truly baffled that they found a way to incorporate inventors and such into their event and I can’t wait to see if more of them will come next year. There are a lot of them that end up at Maker Faire KC every year that would be right at home at NexTech KC.
  • Location-Mention all of the great things that come with the location. Ample space, tons of bathrooms (typically), food options inside, plenty of seating, very polite security, tons of parking.

Cons:

  • Standing space– I’m grasping at straws here, but the only thing I could think of was the inconsistent standing space. There inevitably be more and more vendors and innovators in the future so this is something they should improve upon. Some booths and tournaments had plenty of standing space to spectate. Others did not so you either had to not watch or sit up in the audience seating to watch. However, you may find you may be too far away from a smaller screen to be able to enjoy it. Most of the time this wasn’t a problem, I just think there may have been too much seating and/or standing space for some events and not enough for others. I’m sure they’ll be able to better balance it out next year.

Overall Thoughts:

If you’re in Kansas City and you hear of NexTech KC happening, attend it. This has so many different things happening at once and they could even expand to more. Even if you go just to walk around it once on one of the days it’s open, you’ll find the wow factor alone is worth the price of admission. Seriously, it’s so fun even just to do zilch! However, it should have something for everyone. I literally saw older people laughing and having a blast over one old pinball machine. So whether you’re young now and appreciate Fortnite and Cosplay or older and just want to talk to a guy about R2D2 for 2 hours straight, this place has you covered!

Walkthrough Video:

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