Just got back from Gen Con 2014 in Indianapolis and wanted to share a few quick notes about the experience. A more detailed post on some of my favorite games will follow.
- Cosplay was, as usual, amazing. I got in on the action this year as Lara Croft and Katniss Everdeen. My partner did his usual Wolverine and a new one this year: King Leonidas from 300.
Love that little Wonder Woman!
- We demoed some amazing board games including the brand-new (released at Gen Con!) Legendary Encounters, an Upper Deck co-op deck building game based on the Aliens franchise. In fact, we got to sit down and play through a full game with one of the developers guiding us, which was a fantastic experience providing a lot of insight into the game mechanics as well as the creation process and the rationale behind the design process. More to come on this game, as I think it is a great example how games can function as adaptations as well as how game mechanics can reinforce a narrative (and vice versa). Also, its crazy fun to play!
- I, of course, had to try my hand at the League of Legends 5v5 tournament. I signed up as an individual, so I got paired with a bunch of other random players of all different ranks, from a Bronze I to a Gold V. Faced up against all Gold pre-made teams and even a few Platinum players and yet still managed to win one of our matches! Ended up getting 4th out of 8, which I was pretty happy with. Unsurprisingly, this was the bro-iest part of the whole convention. There were a LOT of hats being rocked to the side, a lot of physical posturing/bravado more suited to an MMA cage than a video game tournament, a lot of trash talking before, during, and after each match. I was asked multiple times if I was playing support for some imagined boyfriend (my partner didn’t play in the tourney, although he did win a Hearthstone tournament!). I almost wanted to ask if I could quote those last few in my dissertation chapter on memes about female gamers.
- The vast majority of the con, however, was extremely welcoming to all kinds of people. On the convention floor, no one ever assumed I was just there because some guy had dragged me along while he geeked out. I was constantly invited to play demos, look at art, try on cosplay items, and participate in events. There were also several signs detailing the con’s explicit anti-harassment policy, which I was proud to see they had adopted in spite of the existence of some push back within the gaming community about such policies.
- I was also happy to see how attentive all the various exhibitors were to issues of disability and access. A convention floor is not typically an easily navigable space, with its press of people and its tightly compressed booths and tables and shelves, etc. But everyone seemed to be invested in making sure that every member of the community, from cosplayers in restrictive costumes to young children to wheelchair bound individuals and others with mobility problems were able to get access to the games.
- And finally, Celebrity Geek Out Corner! I got a chance to meet two of my favorite comics artists at the con: Scott Kurtz and Alexandra (Lexxy) Douglas! Both of them were absolute gems and I appreciate the time they took to talk to their fans. Pro tip: if you tell Lexxy you recognize her from her stint on the reality web series Strip Search she will give you a special surprise!