Anything but Convention(al): A Gal's First Con Experience

Hey fellow gamers! My name is Kristi and Cailleah has given me the great honour of letting me write a blog now and then for She Got Game. I also figured I should introduce myself a little so that you’re not all thinking some crazy chick has hacked the blog.

I have been an avid gamer since the ripe age of 5. My first experience came when I got to try the original Mario/Duck Hunt on the NES at my friend’s house one day after kindergarten. We sat down in her living room and from the minute her mom put the controller in my hand, I was hooked. My friend got bored after 10 minutes and was far more content to play with her paper dolls and Barbies but I was enamored with the world of Mario, never to look back.

From there my passion for the world of gaming only grew stronger. From my computer that was huge and only ran the game DigDug, to the Christmas when an original Playstation showed up on our doorstep from “Santa”, from n64 to Xbox 360, I’ve loved it all.

And now, thanks to Cailleah and She Got Game, I get to spread some of the stories and things I’ve discovered through gaming with a wider community of awesome people. Let’s hope this is the start of a beautiful blog-ship!

I suppose it’s about time to get into the nitty gritty details the real reason behind this post though, so here we go!

This past Saturday at the International Plaza Hotel & Conference Centre, the good people of ConBravo! hosted FanFare II, Geek Fest, a one day Geek Marketplace and Gaming event.

Super 1Up Games provided a plethora of awesome gaming selections for the masses. 

There was rarely any free table space throughout the day due to tabletop gaming popularity.

The vendor selection, though small, provided some incredibly creative and imaginative product.

Get 'em started while they're young, amiright?

There were some intense competitions happening but nothing was exciting as this Sailor Moon side scroller. Seriously. It was amazing.

The convention was small and took place in just two rooms, one for vendors and the other for special events such as live Nerf gun fights and the infamous Fandom Musical, but it also offered the opportunity for hardcore cosplayers who wanted one last hurrah to strut their stuff before the bleak, conventionless winter.

As a female gamer who has never attended a convention before this was a pretty excellent introduction. It was an intimate space and getting to tag along with the Super 1Up Games crew allowed me the opportunity to have a ton of interesting introductions and conversations with people without having to approach too many strangers on my own.

I get a little gun shy when it comes to walking up randomly to people and striking up chats and that’s something I’ve always been nervous about when it comes to conventions. I worried that I wouldn’t experience the fullness of the con if I couldn’t talk to anyone. I have always told myself that I’ll make it to FanExpo or Anime North but not having been exposed to what a convention is or could be I never seemed to have the motivation to spend the money or put together a cosplay either.

But then yesterday happened and a whole new world opened up before my eyes. With everything that’s happened in the past few months with GamerGate I think I’ve gotten too personally invested and had a bad taste in my mouth when it came to talking openly about my passions for games and overall nerddome. I’ve been feeling like I have to always be ready and on the defense but that’s been a bad headspace to be in and I felt it break at FanFare because the people are simply amazing.

What I quickly realized is that the rumours about geek and nerd conventions are true. Everyone is really, really nice and really, really awesome. I have been so blind. I mean, sure, you get the occasional person who isn’t that social but most people are so cheerful and excited to chat about all your favourite things. It was a gathering of happy, positive people who all got together because of a love of games, comics, books, and anything else you could think of.

My point is this. It’s so easy to make excuses for yourself when you’re faced with new opportunities that are intimidating, especially if you feel like a minority in what you love. My love of games and comics has always been something I’ve taken a private pride in and only recently have I begun to wear it like a badge of honour in public so this was a big step. Challenging yourself to be proud of what you love is so important and it’s something that you have to remind yourself of often. It can be a challenge to embrace what you’re passionate about all the time, but you can’t let insecurity stop you from enjoying that and finding new avenues to do so.

FanFare II wasn’t the biggest con or the most widely attended but it achieved what it set out to do, to create a space for fellow geeks to get together, embrace what we love and have a blast doing it, and isn’t that what this is all about?