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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Dragon Con – the charity side of geek

unnamedIt was a muggy Saturday morning in September in Atlanta.  We were on our way from the Sheraton to the Marriott, having just stood next to a pool in our historically-accurate costumes with historically-accurate underpinnings, when we got stopped by a family dressed as the crew from the Starship Enterprise.  They asked if they could take their picture with us, and we happily obliged.  The mom told us how wonderful we looked, and sheepishly admitted she wasn’t really a Star Trek fan, but their daughter Dawn was, so they all dressed up with her.  We told her that we love seeing the family cosplays, and that they looked wonderful.  The family hurried on their way, smiles on their faces, and we didn’t think much more about it.

Two weeks later, we saw an article by the Huffington Post with a picture of Patrick Stewart hugging our Star Trek family.  Dawn was meeting Sir Patrick Stewart as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  Over the past few years, we’ve attended a lot of conventions, and one of things that sets Dragon Con apart is the involvement in charity, both on the local and national level.  Last year, the Dragon Con charity was the Atlanta Community Food Bank, where over $115,000 was raised, including the company match of over $50,000.  Every year there is a blood drive for LifeSouth, which serves more than 40 hospitals in the Atlanta area and more than 110 hospitals in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama. In 2014, the drive welcomed 3893 donors and collected 3,292 units, assisted by a crew of more than 60 people from all three states who descended on Atlanta to handle the flood of donors in costume.  Also new last year was Dragon Con Superheros, which is a year-round community service project, which is continuing this year.

lrf_logo_KOThis year, Dragon Con’s selected charity is the Lymphoma Research Foundation, which will again match $50,000 of money raised.  We’re certain the charitable attendees will surpass last year’s donations, and it’s nice to know we’re using our power of geek for good!

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Secret Identity Ties are here!

IMG_2237There are lots of options for women to participate in closet cosplay, but not a lot of fun options for the guys.  This is something Jen has been working on for a few months, and she’s really excited to finally reveal it – Secret Identity neckties!  You can check them out at our Etsy store, or see them in person this weekend at AthCon! We’ve got these three designs currently, but plan to add many more.  What’s your secret identity?

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The dress controversy and why it matters to cosplay

Is it blue and black, or white and gold?

Black and blue dress, or white and gold?

Black and blue dress, or white and gold?

 

By now, you’ve probably seen (or are tired of seeing) the dress. This dress. The original post was on Tumblr, and has taken the internet by storm. Buzzfeed is taking an internet-wide poll (72% white/gold and 28% blue/black as of 8:24 AM this morning). Several sites have published the scientific reason why not everyone sees the same colors.  You can check out the article from Wired.com, and the article from Gizmodo.com that has even more science and the picture of the dress from another camera.

This isn’t the first time that color and lighting have tricked our eyes.  Remember Captain Kirk’s shirt in the original Star Trek series?  It looked gold, but it was actually a green color, due to the television lights.  We found a great explanation for this, and it was actually done on purpose.

Under TV lighting on the left, under natural lighting on the right

Under TV lighting on the left, under natural lighting on the right

Last year, Jen was working on her classic Moonstone costume.  When the fabric arrived, Jen was heartbroken – it wasn’t yellow, it was green!  Until she took it outside, where it was magically yellow again.  We went to the Home Depot this morning, and took several photographs of the Moonstone costume under different types of lightbulbs.  This is what we found:

color compare

Taken with a Panasonic DMC-FZ60 on the manual setting, no photo retouching and no flash to capture the most accurate representation, and they don’t even match the pictures taken of the costume!

 

Classic Moonstone, photo courtesy of Pat Loika

Classic Moonstone, photo courtesy of Pat Loika


So what can we learn from the blue dress/white dress argument?  As costumers and cosplayers, we try to find the right fabric AND the right color to make our costumes come to life.  And while the blue dress/white dress is an extreme case, it’s always a good idea to keep in mind that your fabric might look different in the store and at the convention.  Our tip?  Check your fabric colors in the environment where the pictures will be taken.  We knew that most of the Moonstone photos would be taken outside, so it worked out for us.  If you aren’t sure, ask for a swatch.  Most fabric stores will be happy to cut off a small piece for you, and all online fabric sites will ship swatches for a small fee (sometimes even free!).  Whether you see a blue dress with black trim, a white dress with gold trim, or another color combination completely, we can all agree that no one sees colors exactly the same way, which makes interpretation half the fun of cosplay!

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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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