With the end of convention season now upon us -- marked most notably with the conclusion of PAX Prime -- it's time to start prepping for next year's big events. We'll be hitting 15 of the biggest gaming, hardware, and "nerd culture" events in 2014, but there are always smaller, local shows to consider as well; if you're interested in getting into convention culture, we'll briefly overview the major (and some minor) events to add to your watch list. This list of gaming, hardware, & LAN events should serve as your top-level itinerary of gaming expositions to consider attending. In the least, get out to something local and support your homegrown gaming communities!

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There's an uncountable number of local shows out there, so if we missed one that's near you, be sure to drop a comment with information for others in the region! Because the amount of gaming conventions is purely overwhelming, we've compiled them in table format for quick-reference. The events are separated into their greater categories, but may span numerous categories (PAX hosts gaming, hardware, and e-Sports events, for instance).

For at least a year now -- maybe two -- we've kept Plantronics' GameCom 780 headset at the top of our peripheral referral list. It's affordable, now priced firmly at $55, powerful, well-equipped for stream-quality broadcast, and durable.

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As much as we've come to endorse the 780, it's still a mid-range headset; there's an entire spectrum of quality out there, as with all components, and we've yet to explore the top-tier headsets in any officially-published capacity. That changes today, courtesy of SteelSeries' new Siberia Elite headset.

We had a chance to get a hands-on with the new SteelSeries Siberia Elite headset and its accompanying software revamp while at PAX Prime last weekend. Let's hit the specs before further discussion:

Given our dedication to DIY system building, we've historically been wary of system assembly companies and still maintain that building your own rig is the best option. That stated, there are a number of legitimate reasons to contract your build out to an assembly company: Maybe there are time constraints, or maybe the system is a gift / not for you, or maybe you need a half-way step between the Dells and HPs of the world and a DIY machine.

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We've been wanting to post a round-up of all the major system builders for a while now; with the rise of companies like Origin PC, Digital Storm, CyberPower, iBuyPower, and plenty of others, we've heard enough horror stories and high praise to thoroughly confuse newcomers to the market. The issues that arise with system building organizations is often one of quality of service and price: We've received numerous consumer complaints over CyberPower shipping rigs in such a way that the weight of the video cards rips the PCI-e sockets from the board, and I've personally commented on their $50 charge for a 20% overclock -- which can be done in 5 minutes.

After talking with Origin PC Product Manager Jorge Percival at PAX Prime 2013, we're a bit more hopeful about the future of pre-build companies. Let's hit the video before discussing why we walked away with that feeling.

If you've ever been to a major LAN event or gaming convention (or, y'know, the internet), you've probably seen case mods. They're some of the most inspirational creations when it comes to upcoming system build projects for GN's staff, and if you've seen our recent "best system builds of PAX" gallery, it's easy to see why we get so excited about sleeving and painting.

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It's intimidating to jump into case modding, though, and while our team has done half a dozen mods, we're certainly no experts. That's why we recruited Bob Stewart and Rod Rosenberg of BSMods -- makers of the Rosewill Throne Industrial mod we showcased -- to give us a top-level "how-to" guide to case modding and PC painting.

If you're looking for the getting started guide for performance tuning, check out our Overclocking Primer.

Part Kill Bill and part 90s shooter, Shadow Warrior is not only a bloody, pun-filled, hilarious good time, but also a surprisingly vivid game that we’re just a few weeks from fully enjoying. I admittedly know next to nothing about 1997’s Shadow Warrior, but from my hands-on experience with Devolver Digital’s upcoming FPS under the same name, the new iteration's got everything I’d want in an over-the-top first-person action game.

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I previewed Shadow Warrior's first level at PAX Prime and spoke with Polish developers Flying Wild Hog (Hard Reset) about the game’s off-rails moments and the growing powers of one Lo Wang. 

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