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DreamHack Has Signed A Deal To Keep The Festival In Melbourne For The Next Five Years

Five more years!

Australia’s third annual DreamHack festival is in sight, and with the three-day show returning to Melbourne across the weekend of April 26th to 28th and with early bird tickets finally going on sale this week there’s a lot to get excited about and even more to suggest that its ambitious growth and passionate ideals are aligning for the biggest local run to date.

In a massive win for Aussie gamers and creators, DreamHack is not only landing back in Melbourne this year but has secured a deal with Visit Victoria, TEG Live, and ESL FACEIT to have the city host the event for the next five years, cementing Melbourne’s reputation as a hub for cultural events and especially in the gaming sphere.

“DreamHack last year had Visit Victoria’s support, and before that, the Melbourne eSports Open also had support from the Victorian government. So, they’ve been a supporter of ours in the gaming community for a while, and Melbourne’s just a great place for us to do events,” DreamHack’s head of product Ben Green told Press Start Australia. “The government’s supportive, and the venues are fantastic and help us out, they’re really supportive too. And it certainly feels like a large chunk of the gaming community in Australia is in Melbourne so it makes it so much easier to do an event there. I felt like we grew quite a lot between our first two DreamHacks, even with only six months between them. And I feel like this year is kind of like our breakout year for the event, where we’ve kind of shown the community what the show is about.”

“Being able to plan and know year on year, we can come back, we can take feedback from the community, we can build the show up each and every year with those things, it’s been very good.”

Prior to this announcement, there’s also been a good amount of discussion on social media around the event’s plans for this year’s Artist Alley – a dedicated space where local artists can showcase and sell their work while interacting with show-goers and the artist community. With rising tensions brought on by the advent of AI-generated images, the festival has officially positioned its Artist Alley as a No AI zone, saying in a response to developer Chantal Ryan that “AI will not be welcome at DreamHack. We will thoroughly check all applicants to make sure it doesn’t get through.”

For us it’s about talking to the community and knowing the community,” Green said of the decision. “I don’t pretend that I am the expert on every piece of content that we have at the show, that’s not the job. But the job is to talk to communities and ask them what do they want, what is important to them, and what does the best version of them look like. So, for the art community, that’s obviously, they’re all creators in their own right. They spend a lot of time on it, and for them, it’s about making sure that they’re comfortable that when they come to our show, they’re with a group of people who are doing the same thing as them.”

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“When people submit their application for Artist Alley, we go through all of those and we pick the people who we think match the show best and the content of the show and people who maybe came last year and had a good time and all those sorts of things. So, I think there’s no perfect solution at the moment. But by saying, hey, we support artists as they are, we support what’s important to you. That’s what we support.”

Sticking with the creative side of the show, cosplay is getting another big push this year with an expanded offering at the festival which includes a brand-new ECG Qualifier offering qualification into the international Extreme Cosplay Gathering competition hosted in Europe. Kinpatsu Cosplay will be in attendance all the way from Canada to participate as an official cosplay judge, and aside from global-level competition there will be avenues for cosplayers of all skill levels to showcase their work.

The first day of the event, on Friday April 26th, will also see the DreamHack Creator Summit, which Green says will be like an evolution of student’s day and will see schools get access to cheap tickets to the show for that day. When asked about whether things like burnout and large-scale exposure in creators are conversations that the event is interested in having or sharing with its community, Green said, “…we have particularly creator and student focused pieces that are about that. Plus then in the panel space, on the panel stage across the weekend, we touch on lots of those sorts of topics as well because I think it’s super important and you can get really caught up in the gaming and the gaming space and the online communities, and there’s so many positives to it, and we just need to make sure that we prepare everyone, as with anything in life.”

It’s great for mums and dads to come to the show and go and have a look at the LCO stage and see all these pro players up on stage and how awesome it is, and at the same time they go, oh, yeah, that’s fantastic. I didn’t realise this was an opportunity for my kid. And maybe some of the problems that they’ll experience, we can help them navigate that already from now.”