Stage set as geekfest rolls into Auckland

Stage set as geekfest rolls into Auckland

From classic Pong consoles of the '70s to an XBox One/PS4 face off, robot wars and Kim Dotcom gaming against the masses, the Digital Nationz expo in Auckland this weekend has all the hallmarks of a geek's dream.

You'd think an event reminiscent of the US electronics and entertainment expo E3 would be a year or two in the planning but organiser Peter Hall and a raft of participants have pulled it all together since they pitched the idea to Vector Arena in May and got it signed off to be funded by the venue.

The event, expected to draw a capacity crowd of 3000, is designed to let people try out games and products they couldn't otherwise try, says Hall. "I hate shows where all it is is shops. You can get a Hello Kitty keychain anywhere. It should be things people can try out that they couldn't try at home or anywhere else."

The history of gaming museum is case in point - it's a rare collection of consoles and computers dating back to the 1970s. Anyone remember the Videosport Pong, the Atari 7800, the Sega SC-3000H, Sinclair's ZX Spectrum. There's even the classic Commodore 64, Amstrad's Mega PC, Sega's Family Computer and Sony's first Playstation.

Avid collector Mark Barlow, who loaned part what's on show at Digital Nationz, is even on the crowdfunding trail to set up a computer museum at Wynyard Quarter. And he's got the backing of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak if he can pull it off.

"Woz has said if we can get this off the ground he will attend the launch and host a lunch with major contributors and sponsors," says Barlow.

Those who pledge $5000 to the launch campaign will get lunch with Wozniak.

The show also offers a chance to try the nausea-inducing Oculus Rift, one of 32 XBox Ones brought in for the event by Microsoft, and Sony's latest gen Playstation 4, due to be released here from the end of November. The XBox one is set to come here the week before that.

Across the exhibit are two robot contests - Roboclub's is for kids who want to learn to program Lego Mindstorms and build K'nex. Kiwibots' competition is a little more grown up. Competitors will be playing Toss Up, which the trust likens to Mechano on steroids.

The trust says it wants to inspire a passion for IT and create a pipeline of recruits for high growth Kiwi tech companies to hire.

The stage is also set for internet mogul Kim Dotcom to test his Call of Duty skills against media types and game developers - plus other attendees who win the right to compete.

There'll also be an e-sports competition with 32 teams.

See some pictures from an event preview:

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