Slap on your Assassin’s Creed costume and warm up your thumbs: it’s GAME CITY time. Once a year, Vienna’s historic Rathaus town hall and square turn into a hi-tech meet for gamers of all ages, from young to young at heart.
- Austria’s largest gaming festival, including a cosplay parade
- Free entry
- Also a great way to see inside the Neogothic Rathaus
- …use the opportunity to view the Ceremonial Hall
- 2024 dates: TBA (was Oct 13-15 in 2023)
- See also:
What is GAME CITY?
(Games and neo-gothic architecture)
A 3-day “gaming fair and exhibition” sums up the event, which features the usual attractions of such occasions, many of which naturally require swift reflexes:
- Games and hardware to view and try
- Numerous exhibitors, typically including such behemoths as Nintendo
- …but also indies and related organisations
- Live eSports events
- Special games zone for younger children (4-12)
- Cosplay parade
On my 2023 visit, for example, other bonuses included a marketplace for merchandise, plenty of VR experiences, numerous street food trucks, games-related photo opportunities and more.
(Inside the exhibition hall; press photo © Andreas Tischler)
The event attracted something like 70,000 visitors last time out with over 110 exhibitors; get an impression of it all from a video flashback at the bottom of this article.
GAME CITY places a strong emphasis on attracting people beyond what you might call the core gaming audience (though plenty of that very audience also attend).
And though the focus is on the fun, the event also covers the wider aspects of gaming, such as the educational opportunities and, of course, the surrounding social and parental issues.
(Cosplayers at a previous event; press photo © David Pan)
Unlike most of its colleagues around the world, the festival does not occupy a convention centre or hotel complex. Instead, you enjoy the intriguing contrast of modern tech with historical surrounds. The location is the Rathaus town hall, built in the late 1800s and one of Vienna’s iconic buildings.
The festival fills part of the square in front of the Rathaus, then continues inside across floors and into the large central courtyard.
As such, GAME CITY actually gets you into the building (at no cost), offering a view of the wonderful Neogothic interior architecture with its Hogwarts-like staircases, as well as revealing such joys as the 71m-long ceremonial hall used for balls and other grand events.
Dates, tickets & tips
I don’t have confirmed dates for the 2024 GAME CITY yet.
For the record, the 2023 edition ran across Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, October 13th to 15th. Opening times were 3pm to 9pm on the Friday and 10am to 7pm at the weekend.
Entry is free and you don’t need to get a ticket in advance. But check on arrangements, more details on the programme etc. at the official website, once available.
As a local event, German dominates. But the prevalence of English in the gaming world (and in Austrian schools) means you should have no trouble communicating with exhibitors and others.
And if you want to explore the history of the tech that runs all the screen-filling excitement, consider a trip to the Retro Gaming Museum. There you can also play some of the games that set us off down this path: Pong, Pac-Man and more.
How to get to GAME CITY
The Rathaus is very central and easy to reach. Simply walk there from the old town. Or…
Subway: Take the U2 line to Rathaus and go around to the other side of the town hall.
Tram: Use any of these lines to reach the Rathausplatz/Burgtheater stop…1, D or 71. Or take the 2 tram to Parlament.
Address: Rathausplatz, 1010 Vienna
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