The State of Gaming at DragonCon

In 1990 the annual Origins™ Gaming Convention was held at DragonCon (these days it’s stationary, but in olden times it moved around). As a table-top gamer I was super excited to go and see all the new roleplaying games and board games that were being debuted. As I walked through the vendors’ hall, nestled between TSR’s Dungeons and Dragons and Game Designers Workshop were two new games that were premiering: Torg and Rifts. This year at GenCon the big talk was about the revival of Torg and Rifts. It’s the gaming industry. What are you gonna do?

But I digress.

11986948_10100655657549266_7403375748303020854_nIn the past 25 years (and since the advent of collectible card games in general) I have heard that tabletop gaming is dying. With fewer Friendly Local Gaming Shops, the three tier system of delivery (publisher to distributor to store) created a bottleneck that resulted in the appearance of the death of the hobby.

Then came crowd funding.

Today the industry is not only healthy – it is thriving. You hear the term Golden Age of Gaming and it’s not far off. So, when they tell you the hobby is dying, tell them “You couldn’t tell by looking at DragonCon. “

The DragonCon Gaming Track is sprinkled liberally across the host hotels, but the stronghold lies at the venerable Hilton Hotel on Courtland Street. In the basement ballrooms, it’s wall to wall gaming. Award winning board games and card games cover every table and the gaming population fills every available seat from early in the morning to the wee hours of the next morning.  The latest and greatest games share play space with classics. Gray haired veterans (like myself) shared tables with diverse groups of younger players. I looked on as a group of 50 somethings taught the intricacies of Starfleet Battles to a group of teens. Didn’t bring a game to play? The massive board game library was happy to provide you games for an hour, a day, or the weekend.10599114_10100653951877446_3026110638374308924_n

But what about RPGs? The RPG rooms on the third floor of the Hilton were packed from 8 am to midnight. Campaign RPGs like the Pathfinder Society and Shadowrun Missions were present in force and non-campaign games for first time players and old campaigners were run round the clock by some of the ablest judges I’ve ever had the pleasure to play with.

I haven’t mentioned video games have I? LAN gaming is always a big draw at DragonCon. Tournament play, casual play, and pick-up games were in abundance. Bring your own PC (or console) or rent one. Over 150 titles were available. It was a thing of beauty.

Panels from industry leaders were also in abundance. Topics ranging from “How to fix your roleplaying game” to “How to design games” were addressed by major industry names like Kenneth Hite (Pelgrane Press), Jason Buhlman (Paizo), and Monte Cook (Monte Cook Games).

If it sound like there was enough gaming going on that I had time for little else, that’s because it’s true.

So next year, if you want to get your game on, DragonCon is the place to do it and, if they tell you the hobby is dead, tell them you couldn’t tell from DragonCon.

 

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RECORD CROWDS EXPECTED IN DOWNTOWN ATLANTA FOR DRAGON CON 2015

Cosplayers, Gamers and Pop Culture Fans Return for Annual Fantasy, Sci Fi & Gaming Convention

More than 400 Actors, Artists, Authors and Creators Will Give Talks and Meet Fans.

 

ATLANTA – August 18, 2015 – More than 65,000 people are expected to pack downtown Atlanta over the Labor Day weekend as Dragon Con, the internationally known pop culture, sci fi, fantasy and gaming convention, returns for its 29th consecutive year.

Dragon Con fans will travel from every state in the nation and a few foreign countries to participate in the four-day convention, where they can meet their favorite actors, artists, authors and creators, and talk about the stuff they love.

Guests More than 400 guests, from the worlds of movies, television, comics, literature and other universes, will lead panel discussions and meet with fans.  Battlestar Galactica’s Edward James Olmos, Star Wars’ Peter Mayhew, internet personality Felicia Day, as well as John Barrowman, David Ramsey, and Stephen Amell, all from CW’s Arrow, head an all-star guest list.

Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura, will serve as grand marshal of the Dragon Con Parade.

And, at this year’s Dragon Con, Sesame Street meets Peachtree.  Famed puppeteer Caroll Spinney, who recently retired after 45 years performing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, as well as Muppet performer Steve Whitmire, who has performed Kermit the Frog since 1990, will appear at the convention.

“We’re very excited about this year’s guest list.  We have attracted guests from some of the best shows on television today, including Arrow, Game of Thrones, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, and Once Upon A Time,” convention co-chair Rachel Reeves said.   “We also have guests from fan favorite shows from recent years, such as Warehouse 13 and classic sci-fi shows such as Doctor Who.”

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Cosplay Dragon Con is well known for the quality of its cosplay – or costume play – and that tradition will certainly continue.  The nation’s top cosplayers will show off their best work during the show, participating in costume contests every night of the convention and promenading throughout the five host hotels and the streets of downtown Atlanta.

Cosplay competitions remain a mainstay of Dragon Con, including the queen of competitions, Dragon Con Masquerade, which is both the oldest continuously run competition in fandom as well as one of the largest in the world.  Dragon Con is also thrilled to introduce the newest competition, The Chôsen, which will premiere at Dragon Con Night at the Aquarium.

Parade Atlanta’s largest parade, the annual Dragon Con Parade, will step off Saturday, September 5 at 10 a.m.   To better accommodate parade spectators, the parade will have a new route.  Beginning at the intersection of Peachtree Street and Linden Avenue, the parade will head south on Peachtree, east (left) on Andrew Young International Boulevard and north (left) on Peachtree Center Avenue. It will end on Peachtree Center Avenue between John Portman Boulevard and Baker Street, in front of the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

The new route is now a little longer – .9 miles, from .8 miles last year, and brings the route closer to the North Avenue MARTA station, in addition to the Civic Center and Peachtree Center stations.  Parking downtown is expected to be tight, and Dragon Con encourages parade spectators to consider taking MARTA.

Gaming Perhaps better known for the celebrity guests and cosplayers, Dragon Con is also one of the largest gaming conventions in the nation.  Taking up most of the Hilton Atlanta Downtown and parts of the Sheraton Atlanta, gaming at Dragon Con features voice actors, game designers and other guests from the worlds of table top and video gaming, as well as the opportunity to play tabletop and LAN gaming in casual and tournament formats.

Official Charity Earlier this year, Dragon Con selected the Lymphoma Research Foundation – Georgia Market as its official charity for 2015.  Through auctions and other charity events, plus a dollar-for-dollar match up to $50,000 from Dragon Con, the convention will raise money to support this important community organization.

In 2014, the convention raised over $115,000 for its official charity, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, and collected 535 pounds of food.  Through the Superheroes community service program, Dragon Con fans contributed more than 900 hours of community service.

Dragon Con also conducts the largest convention-based blood drive in the nation.  Last year’s annual Robert A. Heinlein “Pay It Forward” blood drive attracted a record turnout, with 2,972 attendees donating more than 6,000 units of blood and blood products, benefiting LifeSouth, which serves more than 40 hospital in the Atlanta area and 110 hospitals in the Southeast.

About Dragon Con

Dragon Con is the internationally known pop culture convention held each Labor Day in Atlanta. Organized for fans, Dragon Con features more than about 3,000 hours of comics, film, television, costuming, art, music and gaming over four days. For more information, please visit www.dragoncon.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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LYMPHOMA RESEARCH FOUNDATION SELECTED AS DRAGON CON’S 2015 OFFICIAL CHARITY

New Slate of Superheroes Community Service Projects Lets Dragon Con Fans Lend a Hand
unnamedATLANTA – Dragon Con, Atlanta’s internationally known pop culture, fantasy and sci-fi convention, has selected the Lymphoma Research Foundation – Georgia Market as its official charity for 2015. Dragon Con will match dollar for dollar, up to $50,000, any money raised for this charity at the 2015 convention.
Dragon Con also announced its slate of Superheroes community service projects for Dragon Con members and fans in the Atlanta area. This program is now in its second year.
In 2014, the convention raised over $115,000 for its official charity, the Atlanta Community Food Bank, and collected 535 pounds of food. Through the Superheroes program, Dragon Con fans contributed more than 900 hours of community service.
“Selecting the Lymphoma Research Foundation as our official charity this year was a very personal choice,” said Rachel Reeves, convention co-chair. “We are grateful that organizations such as this are working hard to improve treatments and cures for this devastating disease.”
Two long-time members of the Dragon Con family – Eugie Foster, Director of the Daily Dragon, and Mark Brown, Co-Director of Convention Operations – recently died from lymphoma, while a third member is currently battling it.
LYMPHOMA-RESEARCH-FOUNDATIONLymphoma is a group of blood cancers, most notably non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which accounts for about 90 percent of cases. Other types include Hodgkin lymphoma, myeloma and immunoproliferative diseases. Over half a million people are currently living with lymphoma in the United States – the most common blood cancer in adults and the third most common cancer over all among children.
Three Superhero projects are currently planned for the spring and summer of 2015. In addition to having a great time, people who participate in any of these service projects will be invited to an exclusive celebration during this year’s convention and will receive a Superheroes t-shirt.
“We had a great time last year, getting together as fans and volunteers, to do something good and make a difference in our community,” Reeves said. “Donations are always important, but there are plenty of organizations that also need volunteers to carry out their mission.”
atlanta_food_bankThe first Superheroes project will see a return to the Atlanta Community Food Bank partnership, with a half-day of work in an ACFB supported community garden on March 21st.
Community gardens act as a powerful tool for social change by providing neighborhoods with fresh vegetables, attractive landscapes, and place to meet and work towards positive goals. Volunteers help with weeding, seeding, planting, tilling, cleaning, clearing, and any other activity that can possibly take place in a garden.
For the second project, Dragon Con will field a team of volunteers to raise money and participate in the annual Lymphoma Walk, supporting the Lymphoma Research Foundation, on April 11th at Wesleyan School in Norcross. In addition to the walk team, the Superheroes will have other opportunities to volunteer at the walk – possibilities include registration, t-shirt table, set up/clean up, and route cheerleaders.
A third project is in the works, and details will be announced when they are confirmed.
About Dragon Con
Dragon Con is the internationally known pop culture convention held each Labor Day Weekend in Atlanta (Sept. 47, 2015). Organized for fans, Dragon Con features more than about 3,000 hours of comics, film, television, costuming, art, music and gaming over four days. For more information, please visit www.dragoncon.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
For more information on the Lymphoma Research Foundation, please visit www.lymphoma.org.
For more information on Atlanta Community Food Bank, please visit www.acfb.org.
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Cosplayers on Ice Returns to Atlanta For Seventh Year!

MomoCon Con Brings Costumed Characters from Comics, Animation, Games!

12082154203_908a763079_qDecember 1, 2014  – MomoCon, Atlanta’s Family Friendly Gaming and Animation Convention, will be once again hosting Cosplayers on Ice at Centennial Olympic Park for a seventh year of fun on-and-off the ice on December 7, 2014.   This annual photoshoot will allow reporters and photographers the chance to photograph scores of Atlanta’s cosplaying community which will bring out a variety of elaborate hand made costumes, from small to giant, amdist the holiday decorations and on the ice.

The photoshoot is free, but skating costs $12 (including skate rental).  All costume types are welcome, and there will be opportunities for photography around the park. All cosplayers are asked to gather at the steps under the large Christmas tree for a group shot!

“Cosplayers on Ice, part of our MomoCon on Tour, gives a great opportunity for cosplayers to gather together and have some casual fun while still showing off their winter cosplay,” said MomoCon Co-Chair and founder, Jess Merriman.

MomoCon’s Cosplayers on Ice will start at 3:00 PM and continue to the early evening at 6:00PM. In addition to photography and skating there will be door prizes given away.

MomoCon is one of the fastest growing conventions in the United States.  This year the convention, held May 28th-31st, 2015, will be moving to the Georgia World Congress Center. With roots in the world of Anime, MomoCon has expanding its programming in recent years to include all cartoons, gaming, and comic books( which are new for 2015).

“This year at Cosplayers on Ice we will be able to take our cosplayers for a tour of the Georgia World Congress Center,” said MomoCon’s other Co-Chair Chris Stuckey. “Our fans can explore the convention space and get a feel for what is in store for them in May!”

To find more information about MomoCon, visit their website at http://MomoCon.com.

What: Ice Skating & Photoshoot
Who: Open to all
When: Sunday, Dec. 7th, 3pm-6pm
Where: Centennial Park Ice Rink
Costs: Photoshoot, free. The park charges a rink fee and a small skate rental fee, if you wish to skate.

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Look what’s coming to MomoCon 2015!

MomoCon is one of our favorite conventions! Check out what’s coming up for 2015, and get your tickets now! MomoCon pre-registration is open and available for all 4 days for $50! After December 31st, pre-registration increases to $55 for the 4-day membership. Be sure to pre-register here today and save!

We are very excited to announce that Steve Downes, best known as voice of Master Chief, will be a featured guest at MomoCon 2015! If you too are a huge fan of Halo, we hope you will join us Monday November 10th at 10PM for the launch of the Halo Master Chief collection at the Lenox Mall Microsoft Store. Be sure to get your copy of the game, so you can get it signed by Master Chief himself at MomoCon 2015!

We are very excited to welcome Sarah Anne Williams as a featured guest at MomoCon 2015! Sarah has voiced Sayaka Miki in Madoka, Nonon Jakuzure in Kill la Kill, Lisbeth in Sword Art Online, and Jinx in League of Legends among others!

Come and join us on the beautiful grounds of the LIFE University Campus on Saturday, November 8th at 10:00am  to show off your costumes. Photographers and models will have their opportunity to take the photos they want in the good company of their fellow cosplayers without the crowds and hardships of trying to make a cosplay last through a convention day.

At the Life University Photoshoot, there will be staff photographers on site to capture cosplayers in their glory against a variety of backgrounds. The fall leaves should be at their peak. Backgrounds around the photoshoot site on Life University Campus include bridges, a creek, a pond, an old village with a mill, stone walls and stone benches, and a small waterfall.

For more information please visit the Facebook Event.

Atlanta is home to Hi-Rez studios who has worked with MomoCon in the past to exhibit their game Smite. They have been great partners, and we are excited to see how much the company is growing. Hi-Rez will be hosting a high production tournament here locally, starting with the North American Regionals at Cobb Energy Center’s Kessel D Stelling Ballroom on November 22-23. This event is leading up to the over $1,000,000 prize pool for their January World Finals.

This is a must go to for anyone who is a fan of eSports and wants to see a live production in person. Hi-Rez has extended MomoCon attendees a 25% off coupon using the code: MOMOSMITE which can be used at the following URL: http://bit.ly/1uMGVgV

We are happy to announce a free to enter Super Smash Bros for the 3DS Tournament on Sunday November 16th with signups beginning at noon! This is your chance to compete with friends, and the local smash community for free MomoCon 2015 memberships, Gamestop gift cards, and even some cool Smash Bros swag! Find more information on our Facebook Event!

MomoCon is happy to announce the return of Cosplayers on Ice, a free photo shoot event for all ages held at Centennial Park Ice Rink in Atlanta, Georgia on December 7th, 2014 at 3pm! Bring out your best holiday outfits and amazing cosplay to join hundreds of other costumers and professional photographers for a fun day of ice skating, play in the park, and more, culminating in a large group photo under the huge Christmas tree in Centennial Park! Check out the Facebook Event here.
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Our 2015 convention schedule!

It’s barely November, but we’re already excited about 2015! Check out our convention schedule:

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We’re planning to attend these conventions in some sort of capacity, either as vendors, attendees, press or even guests!  As the conventions get closer, we’ll have more details for you!  And we’re excited about MomoCon’s Cosplay on Ice coming up, so keep an eye out for those costumes, coming soon!

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A life in early Dragon Con

unnamedUnless you are completely unfamiliar with geek culture conventions, you’ve heard of Dragon Con. If you haven’t, Dragon Con is a convention held in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s been going on since 1987 and every Labor Day weekend, over 50,000 total strangers come to Atlanta to become best friends for the weekend by sharing their various love affairs with geek culture. We at the Geek Forge call it “Nerdy Gras”.

As you can see from those numbers, Dragon Con doesn’t need me to sell you on the convention, so I’m not going to bother to try. What I’m going to do is tell you why Dragon Con wants you and why you are likely to want Dragon Con.

logo_C3938My history with Dragon Con starts in 1990. I had been a regular attendee of conventions in Atlanta since 1978, but in 1990, Dragon Con hosted the Origins Game Fair and that was something I couldn’t miss. The moment I walked into the Con, I noticed that it was different than other conventions that I had attended. The guests mingled with the fans on an intimate level. The line between fan and guest was blurred to such a degree that it felt like we were all celebrating this event together. Turns out that we were.

 

I could tell you a lot of very personal stories about this shared experience, but I’ll focus on one event that occurred at Dragon Con 1994. In 1994, Image Comics was huge. They were the hot Young Turks of the comic industry and everyone was imitating them. Comics were full of mullets, pouches, gritty heroes, and everyone was wearing leather jackets.

Don Edwing; web source: http://www.galleryofhistory.com/archive/3_2005/art-architecture/252639-DUCK-EDWING.htm

Don Edwing; web source: http://www.galleryofhistory.com/archive/3_2005/art-architecture/252639-DUCK-EDWING.htm

As I walked through the exhibitor’s hall, I pushed my way through the crowd in front of the Image Comics booth to the DC Comics booth and I did a double take. Sandwiched between the two was a small table for MAD Magazine. Sitting at the table was Don “Duck” Edwing. Duck was a gag cartoonist who wrote and drew for MAD for 5 decades. He created this little strip called “Spy vs. Spy.” As creators go, he is kind of a big deal. I stopped to talk for a moment and told Duck how much his work meant to me and I ended up spending half the convention with him and his wife.

I asked Duck what it was like to be sandwiched between all the modern stars of the comics industry. Duck said “Hot commodities come and go, but the fans are forever. They don’t hold conventions for the companies. They hold them for fans.”

That conversation stuck with me over the years and since then I have heard the same words from Jeanette Khan, Martin Nodell, Julius Schwartz, Mike Grell, Stan Lee, and a dozen others. Nowhere is this truer than Dragon Con.

148755_10100393971225756_2684510957559515775_nIt’s been 24 years since my first Dragon Con and the landscape has changed to make that story even more truthful. Dragon Con is a convention where the fans are the stars and the guests are just as likely to take a selfie with a cosplayer or sit down and chat at dinner as fans are to stand in line for an autograph.

Dragon Con is messy, loud, and frantic. It’s often crowded and chaotic. It’s like a family reunion. It’s like a block party. It’s Nerdy Gras and that’s what makes it different; that’s what makes it great. It’s not a convention anymore — it’s a celebration and that itself is worth celebrating.

– Brian

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We made it to Bleeding Cool!

If you’ve been following our costume-making progress over the past year, you’ll know that we made a total of seven new costumes specifically to be worn at DragonCon.  Much to our surprise and delight, five of our new costumes made it to Bleeding Cool yesterday!  Check out all the other great costumes here, and check out ours below!

Deadshot and Scandal Savage, courtesy of BleedingCool.com

Deadshot and Scandal Savage, courtesy of BleedingCool.com

Historically Accurate Disney, courtesy of BleedingCool.com

Historically Accurate Disney, courtesy of BleedingCool.com

Taskmaster, courtesy of BleedingCool.com

Taskmaster, courtesy of BleedingCool.com

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