ColossalCon 2k17

Colossalcon was fantastic.

I feel like a goof, taking so long to write these entries when I had such a great time, but the past few months have been ridiculously busy, both as far as con prep goes, and real life. I think I explained this in passing in the very belated Anime North post. I’ll try to go into it in further detail later, but first, I’ve got three conventions to write about here.

So, Colossalcon.

I feel like most of the summer’s con plans can be summed up with, “a last minute decision.” As mentioned in the Anime North post, I spent the Saturday of Anime North making plans for Colossalcon. We established rides, hotels, and costume plans. All I had to do was bring shoes, shorts, and a shirt for Team Skull, and the rest was taken care of. Everything was good to go!

And then in the two days after AN and before Colossal, we found out that we were to be joined in our adventure by Jackie! And so more planning happened. I spent the Wednesday before Colossal (also known as “the day I was leaving” oops) shopping for cosplay supplies, and then very hastily prepping my Team Skull shirt and packing while waiting for Toast to come pick me up to spend the night at her place. (And then, still packing while she watched, since I thought I had more time that I did.)

We began our road trip Thursday morning, after I’d stayed up making sure our Team Skull hats and scarves were good to go. You could say I did the…grunt work…

Fortunately, I’m not a driver, so my level of exhaustion was irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. The trip itself was mostly uneventful, aside from a stop at Burger King where I purchased the Red Lion (a la Voltron), and a Froot Loops milkshake. In theory, this was not so terrible an idea, until we remember that Froot Loops get soggy.

As we approached the hotel, we pulled on our Team Skull hats and turned up the theme song, rolling into the parking lot like a bunch of hooligans. Worth it. We stayed in grunt mode for check-in, while we shopped at the Wal-Mart, and while getting dinner at Sonic. Everywhere we went, shouts of “TEAM SKULLLLLL!” followed. Amazing.

Jackie and I were very fashionable at Walmart.

On Friday, Jackie and I did our Adventure Zone twins, Lup and Taako. We had a minor crisis when the elf ears I wanted to wear were just inexplicably missing, despite everyone seeing me put them in my bag. Fortunately, I had my backup ears just in case. And then, while walking from the car to the convention centre, crisis struck again and my shoe literally broke. I was the walking epitome of a hot mess, and I ended up buying some leather sandals from the gift shop.

We had a blast being these perfect trash twins, and took selfies with so many other Adventure Zone cosplayers. This fandom is so good, and everyone was just so positive. It’s so interesting to me that Adventure Zone cosplayers are so recognizable despite it being an audio medium with very few canon appearance details. We stopped by the Voltron shoot to watch that, and I lamented not bringing Pidge.

After a long day we headed back to our hotel to change into civvies, and then went to Steak and Shake for dinner, which was wonderful and perfect. I had a chocolate-covered strawberry shake, and I could not describe the bliss.

Look at this perfection.

We had some horribly optimistic plan that at some point on Saturday, we’d all end up in Team Skull grunts, so Toast and I started the day in those. Jackie really wanted to wear her Zelda (which is absolutely gorgeous), and had an evening shoot planned, while Trish had photo shoot plans in her Rikku. I’m not sure when we were all supposed to Skull Grunt, but we had fun anyway.

My beautiful roomies and ridemates. <3

Unfortunately, we started the day with me and Jackie missing the shuttle, with the next one not coming for half an hour. We tried calling for a cab, but it would be at least 20 minutes before it arrived so…we walked.

Do not recommend.

After arriving at the con, we spent a good long while trying to cool down and also manage our faces so we didn’t look like we just walked for about half an hour in costume, and then met back up with our other roomies to help with photo things.

Trish is majestic as heck.

We headed over to the outdoor pools to hang out until Jackie’s shoot, and I changed into my super-secret bikini costume, which was the same as my Team Skull costume but with my bikini top instead of my Team Skull top. It was a really nice day for lounging pool side, and it was probably one of my highlights of the con.

Soaking up that sun…in the shade.

Once our day ended at the Kalahari, we headed back to our hotel to take advantage of our mostly empty waterpark. We went on the slides many times, despite one part of the stairs smelling distinctly like pee. Other than that, it was super great, and I’m glad we got some slide time in. We had dinner at Applebee’s, which I’d never been to before. The food was really cheap? It was weird.

We spent the night in our hotel room playing card games; a chill ending to the con.

Sunday morning we went to Joanne’s before hitting the road, taking advantage of those sweet sweet deals that we can’t get back in Canada. I bought so much fleece. We went through the Steak and Shake drive-through, taking our delicious mixed milk beverages to go, and made our way back to Canada.

Overall, an excellent weekend, made so by the wonderful people I spent it with. I’m not sure I would go again if I weren’t staying at the Kalahari though. My previous two trips were both there, and I guess I was spoiled by being where it was happening. Maui Sands was good, and quiet, but…the convenience of being on-site is hard to pass up.

Shout outs of course to Jackie, Toast, and Trish for being the most wonderful people.

Anime North!

It uhhh

It happened!

(Two months ago…)

Between back-to-back conventions, helping the housemates out with Steel Rails, and then moving, it’s been hard to find time to actually just…sit and write.

So I guess I’ll do that now.

Anime North was great this year. I had the most minor panic from personal drama at the end of the weekend, but I was able to chill in the staff lounge for the last hour or so and everything was fine.

I wore Pidge on the Friday while judging.

A huge shout-out to Chibi Lenne, who before the convention asked if I’d like to help judge the skit contest. It’d been so long since I’d judged competitions, and I was more than happy to help out. It was a really great opportunity, and seeing all the entries up close was…inspiring a little. I haven’t been on stage myself in more than half a decade, and for the first time in forever I’m seriously considering getting back into competing. Best in show went to these three, who absolutely killed it.

With my staff duties mostly out of the way for the weekend, I took my time getting ready Saturday. I spent most of the day wandering around with my sister and nephew, helping them out with their Naruto cosplay things. I wore Stevonnie from Steven Universe, which was a lot of fun, and also super comfortable. I spent the evening having casual hangouts, and making plans for Colossalcon the following weekend.

So comfortable.

Sunday was mostly unremarkable, as I spent it in civvies. I bought a pair of Siamurai pants, which are amazing. I made the rounds to make sure I saw some people I’d missed throughout the weekend. And then I attended the Awards Ceremony to do my job and hand out ribbons. It was great being able to see some of the winners of the other contests throughout the weekend. I almost feel inspired to actually get my butt back into gear.

Capturing some friends I had barely seen that weekend.

Coming soon: Colossalcon write-up, summer updates.

The Diversity Lounge – PAX East 2017

Note: This is another LONG post.

There’s an experience I failed to mention in my post about PAX East, and I felt that I really owed it to the Diversity Lounge to give it its own post. I’ve worked in the Diversity Lounge selling my wares at three PAX conventions now (South 2016, East 2016, and East 2017), and while I have enjoyed my time selling at the previous two, I feel like I actually took the time to be a part of the Lounge this time. My time spent there was unique to that room, and has made me more determined to become a more active voice for representation in the community.

I’ll preface this by talking a little bit about my own identity, which I am super public about on my less professional platforms such as twitter and tumblr, but less so on my website or fanpage. I’ve been identifying and out as bisexual since 2004. It feels a little silly to me to realize you like girls because of a video game, but seeing Morrigan from Darkstalkers when I was 10 was the first time I’d really considered it. It wasn’t until high school that I learned that bisexuality was a thing and it had a word. Even still, while out, I didn’t become largely vocal about my sexuality until my 20s, when my friend group changed again and suddenly almost everyone I knew was not-straight.

Ooo dang, those pixels

My gender is a different issue. A few years ago, if you’d asked me, I would’ve told you I was a woman without hesitation. Questioning my own gender wasn’t something I’d really considered. As my friend circle continued to grow, so did my awareness of gender not as a binary but more of a spectrum. People did not have to fit into “man” or “woman.” Last spring I started coming out as a “demigirl” (partially identifying as a woman/girl/feminine, but not wholly). I felt that word pretty much described how I felt in my body and as a person. Kind-of a girl? But also not a girl. More of…not a binary gender. Girl/agender. And it worked, for a while. More and more I found I was just referring to myself as “nonbinary,” or “nonbinary femme,” and that felt more right. And then for National Coming Out Day, I made an Instagram post about being bisexual and nonbinary, and have been coming out (again) since.

Because asari are also nonbinary and bi, yeah?

What does this have to do with the Diversity Lounge? If you’ve never been to the Lounge at any of the PAX events, it’s a place for those who don’t quite fit the expected demographic of gaming events (cis straight able-bodied white men) to share their creations, events, and ideas. It’s a safe space for those who might not necessarily feel safe in spaces that are heavily dominated by that demographic. It’s PAX telling marginalized people that they are trying to be more inclusive. My role in the Diversity Lounge is usually to sell my things as a queer creator, and (try to) talk to people about LGBT HQ on behalf of Jay Justice when she’s not there. While that part didn’t change, I did also make an effort to talk to other creators in the room, and also to…sort-of exist as an openly queer individual at this event.

What does that mean? For starters, I actually talked to the folks at the Toronto Gaymers, who I’ve seen at a few events but for some reason, despite being from Toronto, I’ve never really approached them or attended their events. I bought a shirt! It’s pretty great. I spoke to the AbleGamers and learned what they’re about, and signed up to be apart of their fundraising initiatives to purchase special controllers for disabled gamers. And I sat behind the table and talked to the people who came by. If you Google the Diversity Lounge, some of the first results are talking about whether or not there’s actually a need for it. I want to respond with a resounding YES. There is no other place at the convention where I saw people of all genders, of all races, of all ages, of varying levels of ability, more or less OUT and comfortable. Maybe on the showfloor someone might hide part of their identity because, let’s face it, the gaming community can be pretty unwelcoming. But in the Lounge, these were their people. They were welcome, they were home. And I felt that connection with so many of the people that walked in the doors. And it was just so good. And so important.

It’s a good shirt.

The Diversity Lounge is a necessary and meaningful space. I’d love to see more spaces like it at other conventions. You can’t guarantee a convention is going to be safe for everyone. You can try, and you absolutely should, but unfortunately, shit happens. Give marginalized people a place they can exist without fear of violence.

PAX East 2017 Writeup

Note: This is a LONG post.

Travelling 700 miles by bus is a task. I’ve been told that I must really like the event to spend 17 hours on several different buses to attend, but that’s not entirely true. The weekend prior to PAX East, when many of my friends were attending Emerald City Comicon, I was filled with so much longing. The last time I saw many of them was PAX South at the end of January. ECCC is my favourite convention. I love the people, the location (Seattle!), and the event itself. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it happen. Instead, watching my friends have a blast through their social media feeds, I became determined to make PAX East work. And I did.

The weekend started with a hiccup, as they do sometimes. Being unable to connect with anyone to hang out with when my bus arrived, I panicked. I immediately wondered if it was worth it, and my brain started working through backup plans. I finished changing at the bus station, deciding that I would check my bags there and wander the city alone, when I received a message from friends who’d just gotten in. I didn’t have to spend the day before con alone.

At the event itself, I spent a decent amount of time on the show floor, looking at merchandise and the demos available. A few that caught my eye that I wasn’t able to play were Rain World, Dauntless, The American Dream, and A Cat’s Manor. I kept eyeing the Brawlhalla booth, which I’d tried at PAX South and absolutely loved, but it was busy every time I went by. Fortunately, it’s free on Steam, so I definitely recommend checking it out.

I made a Nug kigu so Jayuna wore her Leliana with me. Perfect!

I attended two panels that weekend: the highly anticipated Mass Effect: Andromeda panel, which was Bioware’s return to the convention panel rooms, and Foreplay: Romance in Games which is a crowd favourite (though only my first time attending it).

I didn’t take too many notes during the Mass Effect panel, being totally enamoured with the content they were showing. The game looked stunning. Before attending the panel I was pretty excited for ME: A, but I didn’t have it pre-ordered and figured I would pick it up later. After the panel, my need for this game increased exponentially and I made a note to immediately pre-order it when I returned home. We got to see a bunch of Liam’s loyalty mission, and aside from being visually stunning, it brought back one of my favourite things about Bioware games: the banter. The character interactions between Ryder, Cora, and Liam were natural and entertaining. I have an undying love for witty character banter, and these scenes delivered. I’m so excited to play it myself, having made a single tweet during the panel: “So horny for this one.”

On the flip side, I took a page full of notes during the Romance in Games panel, most of which don’t make any cohesive sense. My favourite part of the panel was the very beginning, during the introductions, when fanfiction snuck its way into the conversation. The door swung open and a booming voice called out a greeting. Mike Laidlaw (creative director for Dragon Age at Bioware) had entered the room in the most dramatic fashion possible. He made his way onto the stage, saying he had one question for Arden, and pulled off his top shirt to reveal, “DO YOU EVEN RIFT BRO?” underneath. He posed triumphantly. The crowd went wild. It was the single greatest introduction to a panel I’d ever seen.

Taken by @emiliym

A few key concepts from the panel that I’m able to decipher from my scattered notes include data from a study on the three most important factors of video games to the two binary genders. Men prefer games with elements of Destruction, Competition, and Completion. Women prefer their games to have elements of Collection, Completion, and Customization. This data is important for figuring out where the similarities lie in order to market games to a wider audience. Another concept from my notes is the idea of stress reactions. We’re used to the idea of “Fight or Flight,” but there’s another key decision we make in situations, which is “Tend or Befriend.” You see a lot more video games giving you options that lean to that side, with a little more caring and a little more heart, and it’s really nice to see. “Romance in books is massive, why isn’t it in video games?”

The panelists mentioned a few of their favourite romances and relationships in video games such as Delilah of Firewatch, and the mentor/pop idol relationship in Yakuza 5. Much of the panel was currently playing My Horse Prince, which is a free dating game app where you…date a horse with a man’s face. Kind-of. They also had good things to say about the Kitty Powers Matchmaker series, which I’ve made a note to check out.

The aforementioned Arden is also the writer of Date or Die, which was demoing in the Visual Novel Room. I stopped by and picked up We Know the Devil, after having heard overwhelmingly positive reviews from my friends. And really, at $5, how could I not? They also had Ladykiller in a Bind, which I actually own and have started, and A Normal Lost Phone, which I had actually just received from the IndieBox booth (a monthly subscription box for Indie games, which sounds pretty cool).

I stopped by the Firewatch booth twice, despite having not played it yet (listen, my backlog is ridiculous). A friend of mine was working the booth, which was my original reason for stopping by, and they also had a photobooth. Photobooths are by far my favourite PAX activity, and the best way to get me to stop by your booth. The Assassin’s Creed movie booth also had a greenscreen for photos, which was super cool! The staff working it were super friendly, and even let me get into costume over my bulky Nug suit.

There’s always the moments after the convention where regret sets in, from not enough time spent with people you wanted to see, from the people you missed entirely, from the things you wanted to do but didn’t find time for. But when I look back at the weekend, it was perfect. It’s hard to make all the connections work, and we did our best, and it turned out great. For the first time since my first PAX East in 2012, I felt like I actually attended the convention.

I travelled 700 miles by bus because I was lonely. And it was totally worth it.

Shout out to Jayuna aka Jackie for being awesome!

New Year! Con o’clock!

I don’t have the highest of expectations for 2017. Let’s be real, the world as a whole is kinda going to hell. I keep looking on the bright side of things though, which is that the complete shock of 2016 being so so bad has prepared me for whatever 2017 throws at me. Go through hell, come out stronger. Nice.

I attended PAX South again this year, and had a complete blast. I mostly hung out with Sam, Mae, and Mike, and it was so chill? No big parties, which I do enjoy sometimes, but lots of dinners and drinks. I wore Pidge from Voltron on both Friday and Sunday, because it was just the perfect casual costume, and the idea of Pidge at a gaming convention brings me so much joy. Sam and I did up our Asari makeup on Saturday for a few hours (mostly for Mike’s panel and lunch). Costumes went over great and sorta made me feel a little more of the positivity I used to get from cosplay. Lots of people yelling out “PIDGE! YOU LOOK GREAT!” And otherwise general good feelings from people being excited to see the characters.

Pidge selfies. Me, Mae, and Sam, being super classy

I met some awesome new folk and got to talk a lot about Voltron, Yuri on Ice, and just general queerness in media which is definitely one of my favourite things. Also got to spend more time with people I only met briefly last year, and admire a lot (Hybrid Cosplay – check them out!), and actually played games on the con floor! (I recommend Brawlhalla. It’s easy to pick up and play, and it’s free! It’s on Steam right now and coming to PS4 soon with both local and online multiplayer? Nice.) I picked up some tabletop games I was looking forward to: Simon’s Cat, which I had tested last year, and One Deck Dungeon, which a friend worked on and features five different (ONLY) female characters of varying races.

I stayed an extra day after the con because of cheaper flights, and treated myself to a day out at the San Antonio Zoo. It was really great spending some alone time after a weekend of people, and doing things entirely at my own pace. I took HUNDREDS of pictures which I don’t know if I’ll ever get through, and I got to FEED A GIRAFFE. We took a selfie together.

One of the best con weekends I’ve ever had, and I don’t think I would’ve changed anything about it. I definitely needed that. <3

An Extended Hiatus – The Good Bits

I promised I’d follow up the last blog entry with some positive notes. Not that it lessens the unfortunate negative impact 2016 has had on my life, but it is good to note things weren’t all bad. So here we go.

January: I attended PAX South in San Antonio for the first time, thanks to my friend Jay. We were vending in the Diversity Lounge, which was also my first time selling my own wares at a table. I learned a lot about what I could improve on for the next time, and really appreciated the experience it gave. I met some other awesome ladies (Chiara and Allegriana), and also got to see Texas.

February: We planned and executed a weekend winter photoshoot adventure. We had a campfire, freezing butts, lots of chocolate, and pizza. I had the best companions for the drive there and back in Amanda and Toast, and every time I listen to Hamilton I still think of our additional commentary. (“I have THREE FRIENDS!”)

March: Through my friends at Skyleaf Creations, I was able to attend the March Toronto Comic Con and see some people I hadn’t seen in a long time. The con itself was meh, but hang outs were always appreciated and excellent, and I also got to wear Imai Cosplay‘s Hawke costume, which is remarkable.

April: Undoubtedly the best month for me. I attended both Emerald City in Seattle for the first time, and returned to PAX East since I’d missed it last year. Emerald City was quite possibly the best convention I’d ever been to, both in terms of the actual con, and in my own personal experience. It was my first time travelling alone and leaving most of my plan to the wind, which was an exhilarating experience. Special thanks to Cara and Emma for putting up with me during the weekend. PAX East was super different in which it felt like I had too much to do because EVERYONE was there. I was once again selling things in the Diversity Lounge (though it was a little last minute), and I actually attended some panels this year. PAX is always something of a a whirlwind, and I am super looking forward to some of the games we have coming out soon.

May: Anime North happened. My sister bought me a pass so I could actually go in, and it was nice to spend so much time with her at a convention.

June: YetiCon! We hiked in the Blue Mountains and that was super rad.

July: Sailor Moon Celebration happened! I equipped the Cosplay for a Cure group with costumes and we looked rad and it was super good. I also finally moved out of my shitty apartment, even if it meant putting my stuff in storage and couch surfing until I found my new forever home. A huge shoutout to Chris and Sarah for hosting me for two months, and for my brother for the month and a half after that while I finished my placement.

September: I attended Tony and Zeena’s wedding, which was beautiful and magical and one of the best weekends I had this entire year. I felt so blessed and things were so good.

October: I finally started my Paralegal placement, which was the last time I needed to complete my diploma. I made my plans to move, and attended the Silver Snail Halloween Party as my sorta last Toronto hurrah before leaving the city.

Novemeber: I finished my placement, and I moved! I live in a house! In a new city! It’s pretty great.

December: I received my diploma, and I graduated with Honours.

And I’m still here.

Con-G: The End

So last weekend was the final year of Con-G, and what a weekend. While I didn’t spend too much time doing con things (I rarely do), I got to see so many people, and had such a good time. We took so many photos and partied super hard. Went out for late night pub food, danced until we couldn’t dance anymore, got up for the earliest hockey game ever (GOLD BABY) and just. Amazing. I also helped out with two panels! And that’s always been what this con was for me. It was that reason to go out in the winter and see all those people you only see in the summer months. To dress up and run around and just be a geek.

And I’m going to miss it. I’ve got photos up for most of the costumes I wore (SWOL Neptune, Casual Usagi, and Casual Morrigan), as well, reminiscing with the costumes I wore in previous years (Rattata, Miwako, Peach, Raven and Marceline). How I’ve changed! Look at this oldie!

It’s been fun, Con-G. We’ll miss you.


Summer Con Season

It’s almost over! Oh my.

Con Bravo was pretty awesome. With Cosplay for a Cure we raised $1600 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. I made Sophitia from Soul Calibur 2, and rewore my casual Morrigan. Had SO much fun partying and meeting new people.

It is now confirmed that I will be attending FanExpo in two weeks! I won’t be there on the Thursday, as it’s my birthday, but provided I can get my Saturday off work, I will be there the other three days. Not 100% sure what I’m wearing, but I’ve got some ideas on the Events page.

After that it’s DragonCon! SO excited. I have way too many plans and I’m going to be in the parade and I get to see people I haven’t seen since last year, and some since the year before and some I haven’t even met yet. It’s going to be great.

Post-Fan Ex and Dragon*Con!

So sorry I didn’t update before I left! There was such a whirlwind getting commissions done in time for FanExpo and Dragon*Con and then trying to magick another costume. I completely forgot until I was away from my computer that I hadn’t posted yet. o.o

First! Commissions! If I HAVE NOT responded, I apologize! They are staying closed for the time being while I figure out life stuff. If I HAVE responded, and we talked about quotes and deadlines, you’re fine and good. I really am sorry, but life takes precedence sometimes. (However, there are still things on my etsy!)

So FanExpo! Ended up being around all four days, though not for very long. Wore Sailor Neptune (for the last time before I tear it apart and redo the leotard) with Gill and Meg in the Sailors Uranus and Pluto costumes I made them. So happy. <3 Friday Gill and I quickly wore Fire and Ice for a shoot with Geek Girls. We were around for an hour before heading home to get ready for the G33kpron FanEx Kickoff party. Admittedly lots of drinking. I wore my Tinkerbell costume, sort-of. (I finished the dress, but don’t yet have wings, so they were just painted on, or a proper wig.) Saturday I magically made Chel from The Road to El Dorado (in 4 hours while people were sleeping) to go with Kyle as Tulio and Alex as Miguel. And that was awesome. Sunday I wore Sophie so I could finally get photos of that.

Photos will go up as I get them! For now, check out this awesome photo of Rachel in the Sailor Moon costume I made her!

And then immediately following was Dragon*Con!

Lots of things. Wore Gill’s Black Canary around partying Thursday night. Friday was Luna Lovegood with an AWESOME Harry Potter group, and then changing into Query for the Gotham shoot. Wore swimsuit Asami around partying that night. Saturday I wore Brave and the Bold Ice for a bit. Sunday was casual Hawkeye. I was having a bit of a rough weekend emotionally, so I wasn’t around and in costume too much unfortunately. Hopefully next year will be better!

As for future cons, it’s very possible that I am done for the year. I -might- try to make it to Youma, but I really don’t know. Currently focusing on Halloween and commissions, and then prepping the big guns. Next year is my 10th Anime North, so I want to make it count.

Until next time!