SDCC 2017!

Wow, what a weekend! I’m still trying to process the whole thing, especially since it was four straight days of convention goodness, but I’ll try to summarize it all as best as I can.

I haven’t been to San Diego Comic Con since 2011(?), so a lot has changed since then. I considered that year to be riiiiight before it started getting ridiculously big. I mean, SDCC was still big then, but it wasn’t at the level it is today. This was also the first time I was going all four days; last time (which was my only time at SDCC), I went only Thursday and Saturday, so I didn’t get to experience the different activities and the different crowds that characterize each day.

I’ll start off by saying I had an incredible amount of fun at this convention. I got to see several really interesting panels relevant to this blog (and meet important people in the industry), I got to cosplay as a couple very recognizable characters, and I even got to meet several of my favorite voice actors in person! I really don’t think I could have asked for more, and the best part was going with a great group of friends.

Now, if you’ve ever been to SDCC, you know that it is impossible to see everything, especially when it comes to very popular movie/show trailer reveals. I’m still catching up on trailers, in fact, and I’m really just here to fill you in on what I saw during each of the days, so let’s get started!

Day 1, Thursday:

This day and Friday I went as D.Va from Overwatch in her Cruiser skin. My friends were still finishing up their Overwatch cosplays, so we would be going as a big group the next day. This was actually the first time going in a cosplay so recognizable that I was stopped for pictures, so that was really cool. My goals for this day were simple: attend both panels focusing on storytelling in video games. The first panel, entitled “Creating Immersive Game Story” had George Krstic (Blizzard), Leah Hoyer (Telltale Games), and Guillaume Colombo (Bungie) discussing the ways in which writers think about creating video game stories, what makes a good story, and how writing for a video game is a very different experience from writing for other mediums. I had the chance afterwards to speak with Leah Hoyer, Eric Stirpe (also from Telltale Games), Scott Hawkes (from Riot Games), and Jason Hill (also from Blizzard), and I asked them how they would approach encouraging someone who had never played video games to play a video game. Each of them gave me very different answers, but interesting in their own way. It became a discussion on how video games calls for immersive participation in a story and how different mechanics might appeal to different people, depending on their genre preferences.

The second panel I attended was “Writing for the Computer Gaming Industry,” featuring speakers: Neal Hallford (Lily Bard Online), Neil Druckmann (Uncharted 4), Anne Toole (Horizon Zero Dawn), John Zuur Platten (Ingress), and Kimberly Unger (Dexter: Slice), and moderated by Jana Hallford (Swords & Circuitry: A Designer’s Guide to Computer Role-Playing Games). Much of this panel focused on the mechanics of writing for video games, such as thinking through player logic rather than being very concrete in your story’s content (as players, we all know that we don’t always want to do what the game tells us to) and the ever evolving nature of video games (indie games in particular adding new and different kinds of mechanics).

By the end of this panel, the floor was closing, so it was time to call it a night (for me anyway, my friends still had cosplay work to do).

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Day 2, Friday:

Friday very quickly was a different animal from Thursday. This was the day we were going as a cosplay Overwatch group, which automatically means you’re going to get stopped for photos…a lot. And it was fun! Like really fun! I especially got to meet a lot of really cool people this way, either fellow Overwatch cosplayers or attendees. We did manage to get to a number of places before eventually making it to our meet-up in the afternoon, and who should be there but Reinhardt’s voice actor, the wonderful Darin De Paul. He was great to speak with, whether it was discussing how great the community has been or taking the time to sign notebooks and cosplay weapons and take photos. He stayed for the majority of the gathering until he had to go to his panel, but throughout, he gave his full attention to anyone who asked to speak with him.

After our group got our own photos of our cosplays, we eventually started making our (long) way to dinner. Now, I think any of us would have been satisfied with just running into Darin De Paul that day, but it appeared that the day was not yet over for meeting voice actors. In a situation that can only be described as “pure chance” and “is this seriously happening?”, our group ran into the entire Critical Role voice actor cast at dinner. With more situational ridiculousness still, the table was in direct line of sight of us as we kept getting stopped in front of the restaurant for photos. Naturally, they noticed us and waved and would occasionally keep looking over at us. Whenever we were able to sit down at a table, the cast was leaving their own dinner (yes, the wait time was that long that night) and Matthew Mercer and Taliesin Jaffe were kind enough to walk over to us and tell us that we looked great in our cosplays. We were able to get some photos with them, and I’ll tell you that even though I experienced it, it still feels incredible that it happened.

Day 3, Saturday:

Saturday played out a little differently than Friday since it was a lot more crowded that day. I decided to cosplay as Makoto Niijima from Persona 5, and my friends went again as the Overwatch team. We started the morning early this time, since a few of us wanted to go to the Critical Role panel (which was a lot of fun btw). Something I thought was hilarious was that since the Persona 5 cosplayers were so rare at SDCC, every time we found one another, it was this moment of “OMG!! You!!” My friends got a lot of awesome pictures taken of them throughout the day, and this day was especially great for meeting new people! Ended the day at a fast food restaurant, which is currently one of my favorite ways to have dinner at the end of a con day (aside from running into voice actors accidentally).

Day 4, Sunday:

Sunday was very chill since most of us went in casual or casual cosplay and spent the day walking the main floor. It was also a shopping day, and by the end of the day I was able to pick up a Bulbasaur plushie (something I’ve wanted for a long time) and the Deluxe Edition of the Dragon Age comics!

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By the end of SDCC, I was exhausted but I had a really fantastic time! It managed to surpass my expectations in the most awesome ways, and I loved experiencing the whole thing with a great group of friends!

A big thank you to @that_one_cosplayer76 for making my D.Va pistol!

If you want to see more photos from the conference, I’ve opened up an Instagram @thegamersjourney, so feel free to follow me there! (I’ll still be uploading photos) You can also find photos on our group’s Instagram @sdcosplaysquad!

Finally, if you’re curious about what I’m up to in terms of gaming when I’m not posting on here, I highly suggest you also follow some of my social media, especially if you want updates on when my posts are going up, see what I’m playing now, and just funny (well I think it’s funny) gaming commentary.

Twitter: @gamers_journey

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Instagram: @thegamersjourney

Happy gaming!

~ M