Dreamhack Melbourne 2024 – Event Review

Dreamhack Melbourne returned to for its third consecutive year at Melbourne Park and it was our outlet’s first time visiting the annual gaming festival. Held across multiple venues at Melbourne Park, I saw the iconic location normally used for sporting events (especially tennis for the Australian Open) and live music, changed into the ultimate gaming haven.

Spread across Melbourne Park, the gaming festival had its main stage at Rod Laver Arena which was halved to contain an exhibitor area. Main Stage content included anime podcaster team Trash Taste with a talk or a Q&A depending on the day you attended, industry talks from and for content creators, a Just Dance competition, and a cosplay contest, both competitions with prize money included.

The exhibitors in the room included the likes of KICK, Intel, MSI, Centre Com, PLE Computers, Monster Energy, and That’s Hot Gaming & Collectibles, the latter of which had a cool skill machine where you could win plushies while also selling the coolest pop culture items. In this exhibitor area, there were tables where you could try out the latest in handheld PC gaming, try an F1 Racing simulator, had the opportunity to play a very cool arcade version of Pong in a corner area dedicated to arcade gaming, or even grab some freebies whether it be hats and energy drinks from Monster Energy, acquire from another skill machine a plushie chicken dressed in an Intel shirt and bucket hat, or cable ties from MSI Australia. In fact, this area didn’t hold the only arcade at the festival, there were actually little pockets of free play gaming everywhere throughout Dreamhack Melbourne which was great.

The Dreamhack app also had a game of its own where patrons could scan QR codes and spin the Dreamhack Wheel to win a variety of prizes. Unfortunately, the day we attended, I didn’t think to scan the QR codes, nor did we the find the wheel, located in the foyers of Margaret Court Arena until the Dreamhack Wheel had already closed.

If you love Esport, the best area to be at Dreamhack Melbourne was Margaret Court Arena titled the ESL Challenger area. The venue turned into the ultimate gaming arena for spectators to attentively watch while the best of the best faced off on stage playing a variety of games. LCO’s League of Legends Live event was also held here.

Located in the Centrepiece building of Melbourne Park were the streamer pods where streamers/content creators had booked sessions to stream live from the gaming festival. There were also community panels available on a stage set-up, podcasting studios, Tabletop gaming, and my favourite part of this area was the Cozy Corner lounge intimately lit with fairy lights. Inside the Cozy Corner were two TVs supplied as well and consoles hooked up to these screens so that patrons could relax on a bean bag or chair while playing Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley. There was even a coffee cart in the Cozy Corner, so if you were lucky to grab a seat, you grab a drink, take a seat and relax. I only wish there was a spare seat in the Cozy Corner so that I could take advantage of the facilities.

Outside the Centrepiece building there was a section for Archery Warz where groups of patrons could form two teams to play a game of live action archery, similar to Paintball, against each other. There was also a LARPing area where well-dressed players in their finest warrior outfits provided patrons with combat example for patrons to witness their first round of LARPing, with lucky patrons being able to choose their champions. This was very, very cool. The details of the players alone with their attire were super impressive, and some looked as historically accurate as possible.

After passing an impressive Pokémon Go stand which provided a moving Pokéstop just like in the phone game, a photo opportunity for fans, in game goodies including the possibility of catching a Pikachu with a party hat, Pikachu paper hats, stickers and Pokémon themed phone grips, I found my favourite section of the whole gaming festival – the Artist Alley.

With no less than 92 stalls that circled around parts of both Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court Arena, there were so many talented artists and even more neat little trinkets available. My favourite of the Artist Alley was the Wookieprint stall which was selling 3D printed game cartridges as wall art or game cases. Unfortunately, the Piplup game case I wanted was sold out as Wookieprint had a successful convention, selling incredibly well to the point of almost emptying their pop-up store completely.

To cap the day off, hololive idols performed on the Saturday night of Dreamhack Melbourne which was accessible through a ticket upgrade and included the talents of Houshou Marine (hololive), Tokoyami Towa (hololive), Kureiji Ollie (hololive Indonesia), Pavolia Reine (hololive Indonesia), and hosts Mori Calliope (hololive English) and Hakos Baelz (hololive English), in the first-ever hololive Productions concert in Australia at Rod Laver Arena. Hakos Baelz, an Australian VTuber, even got emotional while hosting, to the point of tears, as she was very touched to be performing in her homeland.

The concert itself was a lot of fun, with gorgeous lights illuminating the venue and some fans even wielding two lightsticks, one in each hand to get into the concert spirit. Dreamhack Melbourne even sold out of lightsticks! I couldn’t even get one for myself! I found hololive to be a fascinating and fun experience that I would be surprised if they didn’t return as this concert was very successful.

Dreamhack Melbourne 2024 thoroughly impressed with a lot of elements and offers that many other conventions lack. Cosplayers connected, gamers united, content creators networked, and artists shined. The little pockets of free play arcade games throughout the festival were a lovely touch, the LARPing area and Archery Warz game outdoors was great, the Esports area having its own arena was perfect as it was self-contained and didn’t interrupt any other patrons from other activities, and the gaming festival had one of the best, if not the best Artist Alley I’ve ever seen at any event.

As someone who attended Dreamhack Melbourne for the first time this year, I was really impressed and enjoyed my time at this unique and community appreciative gaming festival. I am certain next year will be even bigger and better, and I personally cannot wait to return.

Dreamhack Melbourne 2024 was held at Melbourne Park from the 6th of April to the 28th. Our writer attended on Saturday the 27th of April for the purpose of the review. Photography is from both the Saturday and Sunday of the event.
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Photography by Grant Alexander.
Wookieprint photo supplied.

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