Yesterday was the last day of E3 2015. I got a chance to attend and check out some of the really cool upcoming games — Street Fighter V! Disney Infinity 3.0! Mario Maker! — and even got to take selfies with some of my favorite industry personalities. But 10 years ago, I was taking a whole different kind of photo.
2005: E3 has been bubbling up in the early 2000’s and at the show, it’s getting harder and harder to find the games as you drown in a sea of promotional toys and “booth babes.” I’m slowly shuffling forward in a neverending line of nerds, but instead of inching toward a playable demo, I’m — oh, wait, it’s my turn.
I walk up a couple of faux stone steps, and there are three “booth babes” standing at the top. All day, they’ve been posing with men up there. I say “hey, so I’m doing something a little different,” and the second one of them starts to nod, I drop to the ground and slump down the steps. My friend says “it’s okay, this is his thing,” and snaps the picture. The women laugh as we walk away. The next 400 men squeeze between the women and wrap their arms around them, proudly posing for their photo as if they’ve done something other than stand in line for it.
I am a comic book geek and so is my seven-year-old daughter. Before we start pointing fingers, let me just say that I blame myself for her condition. When you raise a child in a house filled with comic books, where the living room bookcase has Two-Face book-ends and your art supplies are kept in Hellboy lunchboxes, a certain level of interest in the medium is bound to develop. So, it wasn’t a huge surprise when the concept of the “comic convention” stumbled onto my child’s cultural radar.
She’d seen pictures of Comic Cons online. She’d even seen conventions parodied in her favorite Simpsons comics. She knew what the word “cosplay” meant and she wanted to experience it for herself. Through the eyes of a child, pictures from a comic convention look vaguely like snapshots from a trip to Disney World, except EVERYONE is in costume. It looks like non-stop fun…to a kid who’s never been there before. However, I’ve been going to comic-cons for over twenty years and I knew that, while they can be fun, they can also be poorly organized, crowded, smelly, dull, and vaguely soul-crushing.
Every con is different. So, since my daughter had set her mind to experiencing her first convention, I began my due diligence to try to make sure that her first trip to a comic-con would be a positive experience.