1 June 2023

It's time to get working on your costume because GAMMA Wagga is back!

| Chris Roe
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people in superhero costumes

GAMMA is returning to Wagga in 2023 following events in Canberra and Wollongong. Photo: Supplied.

Geeks and gamers of the Riverina rejoice, GAMMA is returning to Wagga with its trademark celebration of pop culture and gaming for the first time since 2019.

“We’re rebuilding GAMMA into something that can hopefully continue to grow and expand,” said Daniel Fisher, who took over as CEO in November last year.

“We can hopefully go interstate next year across Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, but we still want to keep these smaller, regional shows like Wollongong and Wagga.”

Pop-culture conventions and expos have boomed in the past two decades as geek culture, gaming and comic-book movies have entered the mainstream.

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Marvel, DC, Star Wars and Harry Potter are some of the biggest movie franchises in the world and the video game industry has now eclipsed Hollywood, reaping hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

Established in 2013 by a group of students from Canberra University, GAMMA expanded to Wagga in 2018 and returned to Kyeamba Smith Hall before COVID hit in 2019.

“As the show kept growing and growing, they realised that they had outgrown the whole volunteer aspect and GAMMA is actually a company now,” Daniel said, explaining that he hoped to use his experience with other expos like Comic Con and Supa Nova to revamp the formula.

“We’ve got local stallholders and heaps of exhibitors that you will never have seen in Wagga before, as well as gaming lounges, retro games and e-sports, and we’ll put on competitions throughout the day for things like Smash Brothers and Rocket League.”

Gamma expo

GAMMA Wollongong was the first step beyond Canberra for the revamped expo in 2023. Photo: Supplied.

Locals are encouraged to get involved and it’s hoped that each regional event will take on its own local flavour.

“The point of what we’re trying to do and what GAMMA has always done is also trying to work with the local communities, like local gaming stores, universities and places like that, to try and promote local groups and businesses,” Daniel said.

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With a background in providing interactive experiences at expos and through vacation care, he hopes that the new team can build GAMMA into an increasingly immersive event.

“There is a very big lack of interaction at a lot of these shows and I will be testing the waters with a few ideas I’ve had over the past few years of trying to bring in things like laser tag and Nerf, and we’re also looking at doing more Lego Masters kinds of things as well.”

man and woman in superhero costumes

Cosplay events are a key component of pop-culture expos. Photo: Supplied.

Cosplay, or making costumes and dressing up as your favourite pop-culture icon, is a key component of these kinds of events and Daniel is hoping to bring something fresh to the experience.

“The other conventions and expos have their cosplay competitions, but we also want to create an interactive space where people will be able to build costumes at the show,” he said.

“I’m working with a few cosplayers on that at the moment to try and really elevate the experience and get people into that creative space of cosplay as well.”

While the daytime event is geared towards families, with low-cost tickets and free entry for kids under 12, the after-dark ”Naughty Nerds” show is aimed at an older crowd.

“Inside the gaming industry, there are a lot of games that are R-rated these days, so we want to showcase a bit of the R-rated games and stuff that don’t normally get to see the show floors during the daytime,” Daniel said.

GAMMA Expo Wagga LITE hits town on 22 July and you can find out more on the GAMMA website.

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