GameSided Roundtable: Favorite Gaming Conferences

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Erik Sugay

San Diego Comic-Con isn’t exclusively a video game convention. It obviously isn’t even the most dominant medium featured at the event. However, its presence is steadily growing and that mixed with the convention’s pop cultural diversity makes it my favorite convention.

Years ago, video game publishers and developers used to be scattered throughout the massive hall and would easily get lost in the shuffle. Nowadays, an entire end of the hall is dedicated to gaming with big companies like Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Square Enix and Bandai Namco commanding swarms of crowds with hands-on demos, tournaments and exclusive merchandise.

The best part is you don’t even really need a badge to enjoy the con. Microsoft and Nintendo host impressive gaming lounges in adjacent hotels packed with hundreds of gamers, so there’s really no easier way to get an absurd amount of StreetPasses within a matter of seconds. There are also other free festivities (like the Assassin’s Creed parkour attraction), autograph signings (like for the Gears of War cast) and parties that spill out into the Gaslamp Quarter’s bars and restaurants. With hundreds of thousands of people in attendance throughout the weekend, it’s quite literally an entire city of wonderfully nerdy people doing wonderfully nerdy things.

Barrett Womack (Twitter)

While I haven’t gotten to spend as much time as I would like at expos or conventions, I still have a soft spot for the spectacle that ensues during these events, and no expo has historically been more of a spectacle than E3. With major announcements from every major company, there are always new games and big surprises to be excited about.

I remember spending hours downloading trailers of new games at 56K speeds just to get a two minute glimpse at Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door and Super Smash Brothers: Melee during previous E3 events. While it is not the beast that it once was and has toned down its ‘tude-ridden image since the early years (thank goodness) E3 is still, in my mind, the biggest and best gaming expo.

Daniel George (Twitter)

Erik brought up a good point about the mixture of several sects of pop culture coming together for Comic-Con. However, my example for the GameSided Roundtable, instead, is Fan Expo Canada, held right in downtown Toronto, Canada.

I had visited once for half a day with my friends in high school back in the day, not knowing what I was getting myself into. It had almost anything one could ask for; gaming areas, panel sections, comic book stands, merchants, tabletop RPG’s, insanely intricate cosplayers and so much more. They had even managed to bring in a slew of name-recognition celebrities, including William Shatner and Stan Lee. My experience was taking in the surroundings and learning more about my inner culture geek, allowing me to appreciate my interests with like-minded people.

Unfortunately, since then I have always been busy that late-August weekend Fan Expo Canada came around, being unable to attend. By great fortune, however, this year not only will I be in attendance, I will be covering the events for us at GameSided! It will be my honor to talk to attendees and in-convention event organizers, chronicle the main days’ events and get my hands on some of the more exciting upcoming video games on display. Canada can definitely handle itself within the gaming conference world, and I hope to prove it with my coverage coming late August/early September!