The Georgia World Congress Center was transformed into a game lover’s haven this past weekend.
DreamHack Atlanta, a worldwide gaming lifestyle festival, brought in more than 30,000 attendees to the event space from Nov. 16 to 18 for their second-ever convention in Atlanta.
Justin Burnham, creative director for DreamHack, said this year’s event has grown in all areas since last year.
The festival’s focus around games has expanded to include art, film and music that appeals to those within the gaming lifestyle, such as performances by EDM act Riot and hip-hop producer London on da Track.
“Besides giving gaming it’s own red carpet direction in terms of growth, adding all those different areas, we also want to break the label. I don’t like labels,” Burnham said. “I think gamers are super intelligent. They are programmers. They’re artists … So what I want our event to do is to smash those labels, destroy those labels and come together and just enjoy what we are creating.”
For the first time, horror media and lifestyle experience brand Fear Haus led by curator and Lady of the Haus Blair Bathory set up a tent at DreamHack Atlanta as a part of the festival’s entertainment offerings.
“I think games and horror kind of coincide because they’re storytelling. It’s just different mediums to tell a story,” Bathory said.
Game competitions in high school, college and pro levels drew large crowds, and some had cash prizes at stake, like $1 million for the SMITE World Championship.
DreamHack Atlanta was the High School Esports League’s first live event. Mason Mullenioux, CEO and co-founder of the nationwide group, said they are trying to help the high school esports scene grow.
“We hope it [coming to DreamHack Atlanta] legitimizes the space, the high school space, that there are opportunities out there for students,” Mullenioux said.
Burnham said people can expect for future DreamHack Atlanta festivals to be bigger than this one.
“Our direction is really to get as big as we can get,” Burnham said.