The Play Festival is Bigger than Ever

The 2024 edition of Play - The Games Festival marked a record turn-out with a 20% increase in attendance compared to last year’s edition. 28,000 square meters of exhibition space were peacefully invaded by more than 45,000 attendees over three days, featuring 800 events, 2,500 gaming tables, and dozens of guests. Beyond these impressive attendance figures, Play has achieved its goal: to merge actual gameplay with cultural reflection.


Play is officially “coming of age”. As its 15th edition at draws to a close at the Modena exhibition centre, the Festival takes stock, and the numbers reflect the event’s continuous growth.


“It’s more than just games. This year more than ever, Play consolidated its role as a leading event in Italy: we have used all available spaces at the ModenaFiere centre to their maximum potential, covered 28,000 square metres and hosted more than 200 exhibitors, surpassed the 800 events mark over three days, and greeted over 45,000 attendees and 100 visiting school classes. Additionally, for some time now, most major game publishers have been relying on Play to meet their fans and, increasingly, to premiere their new releases. This is a clear sign of the quality and growth of the event”, noted Marco Momoli, CEO of ModenaFiere.


The Festival keeps expanding in both quality and quantity of its offerings: in honour of the 50th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons, an entire hall was dedicated to Role Playing Games, with remarkable results. More than 90 gaming tables were available in this area alone, hosting 40 publishers of RPGs and gamebooks, along with over 80 other entities including associations, content creators, dungeon masters, and independent authors. The 10 live shows held in the Actual Play zone were streamed for a total of over 16 hours of live gameplay. The presence of over 10 international and 50 national guests was pivotal.


A significant debut was the hall dedicated to Scientific Games: here, 10 prominent Italian and international universities and 5 scientific and historical research institutes showcased their innovative games, developed specifically for this occasion, an effort that engaged over 40 university professors and more than 200 university students, PhD candidates, and researchers. The hall hosted over 20 meetings and workshops focused on the relationship between gaming and education, supplemented by over 80 events.


“Gaming lets people learn while having fun”, explains Andrea Ligabue, the Festival’s Art Director. “The remarkable involvement of our academic and research communities at Play provides ample opportunity to use gaming to reflect on issues such as integration, social relationships, and even the climate crisis. Through Play, we aim to demonstrate the educational power of games to as many people as possible, and I believe we have achieved this goal, as shown by the extensive involvement of schools, which brought to Play over 2,000 visiting students in these days”.

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