Over the past weekend, I had the great fortune to represent GameSided at Fan Expo Canada..."/> Over the past weekend, I had the great fortune to represent GameSided at Fan Expo Canada..."/>

Fan Expo Musings: Costumes, Games & Merch


Over the past weekend, I had the great fortune to represent GameSided at Fan Expo Canada. While I was there over my brief two-day stay, I got the chance to talk to fellow Canadian gaming enthusiasts, sit in on panels, try out some of the upcoming holiday games and take pictures of many detailed cosplayers. Outside of a few hours spent at a previous Fan Expo event years prior (spent mostly in the smaller building, and mostly looking at retailers), this was my first time at a gaming or geek convention or conference.

However, in the time spent between lining up for gameplay demos and asking random costumed passers-by to take their photos, I contemplated observances of the more intriguing, off-beat sensibilities about the convention that you don’t really think about if you don’t stop to smell the roses. Here are a random assortment of my thoughts that were strikingly odd or noteworthy during the weekend at Fan Expo, my first real convention experience.

Courtesy Daniel George, 2014.

“Thank you” For Taking A Photo

As soon as you walk through the convention doors, the first thing you will notice is that a great number of people are dressed up in costumes. It’s not just as video game and film characters; anime, comic books and even web comics were represented in great numbers everywhere you go. I just had to take some pictures (gallery coming later today) to share with readers, showing that Canada (more specifically, Toronto) can hold its own in the cosplay department.

Going throughout the day, amassing a small collection of photos taken between the long (read: very, very, very long) lines waiting to test out new video games, I noticed a certain pattern evolving from early Friday to mid-late Saturday. I would ask people politely if I could take their photo. Nobody said no, but what really got to me is that almost each and every person said “thank you” after I took their photo.

That got me thinking about the thought process behind dressing up for conventions like Fan Expo. Besides a very small contingent of professional cosplayers (Jessica Nigri, Yaya Han and Meg Turney were on hand during the show), most of these superfans spent dozens of hours and upwards of hundreds of dollars to make these costumes. With a great number of amateurs doing it just for fun, what really is in it for the people dressed up as avatars of their geeky fandom?

“I put in the time to dress up like this because it’s just plain fun,” a young woman explained to me, dressed up as what could have been one in more than a dozen Harley Quinns to walk through the Fan Expo gates this weekend. “You can’t even begin to imagine how many people I’ve been able to talk Batman comics with just because they’ve recognized my costume from the Suicide Squad run. It’s all about being appreciated for putting the effort in.”

That kind of drove home the reasoning for me, right there; appreciation. These costumes were like a badge of pride; a beacon that brought in like-minded individuals and brought them together in common interests that one might find hard to broach in a public sphere. Gaming, anime and comics are not as respected or understood outside of convention walls, while Fan Expo brings together fandoms from all corners of the globe and unites them with ease.

Courtesy Daniel George, 2014.

Marketing Bros Gonna Bro

I got to play a good number of upcoming Xbox One and PS4 games this weekend, while absorbing constant slews of marketing buzzwords and empty “joy” from helpers at each side of the block trying to pump up interest in their company’s games. Most of them were good at their jobs, as it seemed like they knew what they were doing. One individual didn’t even know that what they said was almost blasphemous in its ignorance.

While talking it up about Driveclub to a PS4 marketing rep, it was clear that he knew almost everything there was to ask about the game. He had played through the three playable tracks to know how they ran, and to get a layout of the courses. However, after I was finished, I was itching to get my hands on other games in the surrounding area and wasn’t quite sure what was available. I immediately ask if Bloodborne was available to play. He asked me, “What is that?”

What is that. Bloodborne, the game that might be the straw that broke the camel’s back that sees me buy a PS4 earlier than I had hoped to. Bloodborne, perhaps the most promising PS4 exclusive to come out within the first three months of 2015, perhaps the next AAA exclusive and one that comes from the creative minds behind Dark Souls. “What is that?”

I don’t expect these non-Sony employees to know everything about the PS4. A great deal of people playing these games don’t talk anything but video games, and will dance circles around them when it comes to brand knowledge. However, they should at the very least have heard that name before, and pretend only to have “just remembered” about it after I explain it.

Either way, the Xbox crew just seemed to be very loud, amping up the excitement by being cheerleaders. Yelling incomprehensible screams made it harder to focus on the pure gameplay experience in front of me. So, in the end (for me), knowledgeable about a select number games, including the ones on display > being obnoxiously loud while others are trying to play their games.

Courtesy Daniel George, 2014.

“X” Is Way Overpriced, Save For One Neat Thing

You can replace “x” with “essentially anything on sale.” Granted, those running the show at Fan Expo can’t control what retailers or what talent managers charge, but some of these sold packages are downright crazy, too. $500 to get a VIP experience, where you can meet up with some of the celebrity guess, take photos with them and sign an autograph. There are a great number of follies that are more expensive and more outrageous uses of money than that, but spending that much to create the fleeting illusion that you’re friends with Stan Lee makes no sense to me.

The merchants weren’t much better, outside of shirt sales. There were a great number of games available for sale that had my double-checking if I had stumbled upon a misguided section of Craigslist. However, amid all the marked up prices were some cool ideas that you don’t really get outside of convention halls. Ink Whiskey came to mind.

Courtesy Daniel George, 2014.

While a great deal of retailers pertained to selling detailed figurines and kawaii anime plushies, Ink Whiskey was selling flasks fashioned out of old NES cartridges. To avoid copyright infringement, they had even renamed some of the classic NES titles of the games, including Metal BeerDrunk Hunt and Castlevodka. They had cornered a very specific market, but one that I thought was untapped; people who would like to spend money at places like Fan Expo on utility items. Plus, at only $15 it’s a lot more sensible than what a lot of other places had the nerve to sell at.

When entrance alone costs up to $50 just for one day, let alone over 4 days with a $150 pass, it was great to see some middle ground between cutesy items and actual game/comics/tv and film products that are reasonably priced. Even though I opted not to pick one up (I was given a perfectly-usable flask as a birthday gift some time ago), the attention to detail is remarkable and looks worth getting if you’re into that kind of thing.

Want to get the latest gaming news on your phone or tablet? Download the official Fansided App on the App Store or Google Play Market today to stay up-to-date on the latest news and rumors from GameSided without even being at a computer. You can also sign up for our newsletter below to get daily updates send straight to your e-mail. And don’t forget to connect with us on Twitter @Gamesideddotcom.

Looking to write about video games? Join us at GameSided! Contact me to apply or if you have any inquiries/tips: daniel.george@fansided.com.