PAX West 2017 Gamingbalooza…

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I spent much of the weekend with friends and strangers, at the PAX West 2017, an annual event gathering for gamers of the video and tabletop variety. The feelings shared among us involved excitement, cheer, and anticipation of gaming.

The event itself is the largest event of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. Now held at Washington State Convention Center in Downtown Seattle, the event is host to hundreds of companies big and small, and its many ticket holders (at least 70,000).

For me, the event was about exploration into the ever changing industry of interactive games and its culture. I sought out a lot of new indie games, and stuff coming out for PC (not much of a console gamer anymore). Though VR and MMOs are the rising rage, I loved the new treasures of side-scrolling platformers, tactical turn-based strategy, and single-player RPGs; many with a nostalgic old-school edge to them.  For the tabletop variety, I gravitated toward fun, storyline based card games for play at parties (plenty of new stuff around here).

Now, I am exhausted and will write more of my PAX impressions soon on my other blog, strangerworlds.com. Meanwhile, here are some pics taken by me of select moments of this crazy fun show.

– Orion T

 

Picture of Today 3/5/2017, The Heart of the Emerald City Comic Con..

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I spent much of this past weekend at the 2017 Emerald City Comic Con, here in Seattle.

Many attended, for which this was its 15th year in annual rotation showcasing the latest in geek culture through various guests, events, and merch. The good portions were the plentiful choice of awesome products, the many attendees in colorful cosplay, some cool guests, and plentiful opportunities to make new friends and discover new obsessions. The sad portions ran the lack of promotion towards the current comic book industry. Its artist alley ended up in a separate smaller space above the main floors, benefitting less for reaching out to possible new fans. The comic dealers and publishers were kept further to the back, while non-comic dealers carried a heavier presence in the main hall showroom. TV and movie celebs were promoted far more to the audience, with barely any marketing toward the new and exciting stuff happening in the comic industry. This is sadly the direction of many “comic cons” lately. I wish they would just stop pretending to emphasize that.

All that aside, I still love these events. The interaction is still there. I met a few creative people, whose work I have enjoyed past and present. I took part in some fantastic gatherings, bought a lot of cool things, and enjoyed myself with friends here and there. I will post more on the details in the near future.For now, I must rest. Excitement on a large scale can also be exhilarating.

– Orion T

In the above picture is Barry Kitson, a comic book professional artist from a wide range of well-known Marvel and DC comics titles.The character in the picture is Angela, a heavenly warrior currently residing in the Marvel Comics universe. Barry was sketching all weekend for the Hero Initiative, a non-profit charity helping comic creators in a time of desperate need. For more info, visit www.heroinitiative.org.

 

Recent Memories of the PAX 2015

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Last weekend, I played around at the PAX Prime convention..

There, a gathering of gamer geeks mingled with developers, creators and producers of digital interactive and physical tabletop games. The PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) Prime show remains the main one of its kind since 2004, as the event now branched more shows throughout the US and Australia. Still, the PAX Prime show remains popular here in downtown Seattle.

I took many pictures and notes of the three (out of four) days spent there. I have them featured on another site (strangerworlds.com) of which I contribute occasional entries on indie geek-culture. Here are some pictures below, with different notes. If you are further interested and would like more of my PAX coverage, click here for Part 1, and here for Part 2.

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Typical activity on the showroom floor. Just imagine loud booming sounds and the occasional gameplay mic commentary.

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Typical board game fun spread around the show. There is much to appreciate over a fully-developed game after a lengthy long to set-up.

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The largest and strangest of displays…promoting Magic:the Gathering, a game more addictive than crack (not that I tried and compared crack..I’m just assuming based on my long past MTG obsession).

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Über had a cool gimmick, where you may catch a ride in post-apocalyptic vehicles promoting the upcoming Mad Max game.

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Perhaps the most infamous of promotions at this PAX, for the hilariously adult card game, Cards Against Humanity. Stand in line for a lengthy time for exclusive cards placed inside terrible tasting Popsicles. And for a set, you must get all three.

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The walkway through an empty hall to get to that truck and kind-of hidden parts of the show. Worthwhile for the Exploding Kittens game signed by the creators, sold within.

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Classy gals got game!

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A giant Pikachu balloon reminds us that Pokemon will never die

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One of many colorful booths pimping out the expensive tech for rich nerds out there.

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One of many big screens for those who enjoy watching games in big screens..

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Got medical insurance?

Vault Boy from the Fallout game franchise gave this show a thumbs up!

So close, yet far away in distant lands..

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After an hour wait, me finally trying out the Oculus VR system for my first time. That was a very interesting experience, for my love of science fiction and where this may take us humans decades from now..and that’s not just in playing fancy video games..

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That’s all for here. I will likely be back for next year, and looking forward until then.

– Orion

Pictures of Yesterday 4/20/14

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I can never resist a gathering this colorful.

And here, was the Sakura Con; a gathering of a different sort than yesterday and day before’s NorWesCon. This event focused more towards the appreciation and partaking of Japanese anime and manga. Much of the action was inside the convention center, where the event was centered. However, the heavy rains of the last days finally stopped. Many attendees came out the open behind the convention center, to enjoy the sun and surroundings of each other.

Above, is a Sakura Con tradition continued; where many gathering in a circle whole other participants each kick a bottle and eventually have it spun to a someone connecting the circle. That person soon gets a hug from the bottle kicker, and replaces the other..to continues the cycle.

Also, there some dancing, posing for cameras, and more fun-having.

Here are a few pics..
I’ll post more up, another day..

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Picture by Orion Tippens. Note: Do not copy or use any of the images here or herein without written consent (contact Orion at travelingorion.wordpress.com). © Copyright 2014 Orion Tippens. All Rights Reserved

Pictures of Yesterday 4/19/14

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Stranger worlds are ever close..

And here, are some pics from my great adventure at the annual NorWesCon science fiction and fantasy convention. This was my first attendance to this event (now in its 37th year); of which I had a grand time discovering new fiction, turning strangers into friends, and cheering on the boldest among us.

There will be more pics (and more musings) for a few alt-pop websites, soon

In the meantime:

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Picture by Orion Tippens. Note: Do not copy or use any of the images here or herein without written consent (contact Orion at travelingorion.wordpress.com). © Copyright 2014 Orion Tippens. All Rights Reserved

The Commentary of Comic Cons – Part 1

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I love convention gatherings, especially those catering to alternative pop culture or as others may refer to these as gatherings of “geek.”

This con life is my best time to enjoy among others my odd taste in the strange realms of drama, fantasy, science fiction, a good story, etc. Such things I have no preference for in delivery whether by print or digital, motion, still, active or interactive. However, I love the comic serialized format, the constant in my life since childhood.

A good “geek” convention covers as much as possible of these realms, breaking boundaries between. From there, personal experiences are gained where I could deep involve myself in all related joys and obsessions. One could make many new friends, mine inspiration, renew nostalgia, or best of all; involve oneself by becoming a creator, a become a part of something larger in creation.

So now, I would like to share some experiences I recently (last month) had at the great San Diego Comic Con, 2013 year. The Comic Con International, as this is currently known, is special and now arguably the largest geek gathering of its kind. Over 130,000 now attend, not counting the estimated extra 50,000 without badges checking out the expanded festivities throughout the Gaslamp District and beyond. Now, the great San Diego Comic Con is more than comics, including all the relatives crossing into the wonderful, “geek” territories of film, games, books, toys, etc.

One product of my related joys and obsessions, is my growing passion for concept art and world building. Below is an inspiring example from a small press booth at Comic Con, featuring the work of the Aen Chronicles by Robert Carter (shades-of-shadow.com)

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So for me, the Con caters to my bizarre tastes from the familiar superheroes and mainstream counter cultures to the obscure oddities and curious collaborations. From vintage comics of generations past to the latest trash movies to the multi-articulate action figures to the odd video game, and so so much more in between. All of it, and more is here.  Also, this is my 19th consecutive year attending this great show. So, I am remain excited for every year as my experiences with goofy things expand.

For this San Diego Comic Con 2013, I spend much of this time in the grand Exhibit Hall. For which, I will focus on for the remainder of this segment.

The Exhibit Hall, or Showroom Floor, or “the downstairs,” of any convention is the heart of any “geek” convention. Here, a myriad of dealers, creators, artists, writers, producers, exhibitions, distributors, and companies representing product await. All from the mega-companies/publishers/studios/distributors to the little indie creative soul standing before a small table with a stack of books to sign and sell. For Comic Con, there are subjects divided from drama, humor, fantasy, Sci-fi and related including but not limited to literature, motion pictures, animation, collectibles, etc.

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(For a future segment, I will focus on the history and my changing observations of the Exhibit Hall, of which I have much).

The grand Exhibit Hall is the fantasy come true for the imaginative mind to be exposed to new things, concepts, passions. New comics, especially from lesser known publishers can be easily obtained with a personal touch by the creators. It was here some years ago, I turned on to a favorite comic series, Locke and Key (by Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez), simply from browsing at the impressive cover display at the IDW company booth. I purchased the first hardcover at a discount.and a some years later, I met writer, Joe Hill  at the same booth, same room.

I love the Exhibit Hall.

This year, I obtained much on the free previews of comics and graphic novels of interest. A few looking forward to but not limited to are: the new upcoming The Star Wars (comic basing itself on the earliest film script by George Lucas), the new Sandman series by original writer/creator, Neil Gaiman / artist, J.H. Williams III (a dream combo come true), Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction (loved his Hawkeye series), Spera: Volume 3 (great ongoing fantasy story by changing artists).  Also, I have interest in some more recent award winning series including Bandette by Paul Tobin, Sabertooth Swordsman by Damon Gentry. And there, is so much more..

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Overall, the Exhibit Hall is great for exposure to the expansion of your tastes. If you close yourself to the unfamiliar around here, your not getting the most of your Exhibit Hall experience.

The Exhibit Hall is complement to gathering new experiences, meeting interesting creative souls or perhaps becoming one yourself with the right timing or inspiring motivation. Experiences also include the gaining of new collectibles, or the exchange of currency for some special treasure.

Could you spot the potential for new experiences below?

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Here pictured above, is one tiny portion of the SDCC Exhibit Hall. On average is this crowded the large room becomes in prime hours. The space is over 460,000 square feet. The estimated walk time when crowded between both far ends is around 20-30 minutes. The areas most claustrophobic-inducing are the movie or television studios booths, where often free swag is given or presenting the occasional celebrity for photo-ops and signings. Some fancy their booth with set props, or previews of related merch, sometimes a giant HD screen.

During one stroll, suddenly the entire cast of the Game of Thrones HBO TV series.

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Included with these surrounding crowds, massive lines coil around the popular booths. Many involve the sale of convention exclusives or pre-sale items (mostly toys). Popular 2013 exclusives include a glow-in-the-dark Jason figure from the vintage Nintendo game based on the Friday the 13th films, a Breaking Bad Walter White figure in Hazmat gear, a 1966 style Batman figure doing the classic Batsui dance pose. The typical line for Hasbro on the opening days could cost one 2-3 hours of precious con time, but could be worthwhile for the early release of the largest Transformers toy to date (Titan Class Metroplex about 2 feet, transforms into a city).

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Honestly, many present are for the flipping of such items to others for much larger prices elsewhere (like eBay). For example, the Power Ranger Gold Morpher (whatever that is) will cost you $100 and a likely three-hour wait at the Bandai Entertainment Booth. The eBay sold average is a sure $400.00. Now for those in line for the collecting thrill, such an insane wait can be still worthwhile, because of saved money and the experience of a more direct contact with the producing company.

For a different example of direct experiences, not related to money…

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This is the giant head of the Ice King of the popular Adventure Time cartoon. I will be honest, of my ignorance of this strange cartoon. I have never watched a full episode. Yet seeing this, and the fans in line, cheering with their Adventure Time apparel and hats (worn by the popular main character, Finn), I could only feel a sort of empathetic joy with them, to have their love given back with such a tribute in the clever form of this booth, and others like it.

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Above, is my favorite display of the Comic Con 2013; the Nickelodeon Studios booth known for kid-friendly cable programming.  It seemed no matter what angle, the crazy aesthetics of Nickelodeons whimsical appeal called to the child in us all. Such a display is refreshing as these presenters are seemingly having as much fun as the attendees.

For me, I most look forward to the DC Comics booth, a consistent to every San Diego Comic Con. Here, a familiar roster of super-heroes are official represented: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and other Justice Leaguers. For them, new stories and introductions across multiple formats of digital, print, collectibles are displayed.   Here and often, cool freebies including pins and comics are given out. This year for the DC booth, featured props of Superman costumes worn from past movies and TV shows were displayed. Also, much meet and greet happened with the writers, artists, and creators of current DC reads.

A favorite was witnessing fan favorite artist Dustin Nguyen (Lil Gotham) live-drawing.

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(To be continued in Part 2 for another day, when I discuss and focus more on the creative talent of the great Comic Con)

Cosplay fun at Sakura Con – Part 3 (of 3)

photo by Orion Tippens Finally, the remainder of my pictures of my brief visit to the 2013 Sakura Con Northwest Anime Convention, in Seattle. These focus on the costumes and the fanpeople who wear them well.

For previous pics and commentary on this event, click here for Part 1, and here for Part 2.

I really enjoyed this kind of visual atmosphere. I am a bit of a “geek,” so I feel a part of the fun and in showing my appreciation by sharing their awesomeness with the world around. Many of these costumes, I know very well from games I played, books I read, TV shows and movies I viewed. For those I do not, than I am open to learn more.

From here, I hope people who have not attended a gathering like this will understand the love cosplayers bring. These cosplayers are not paid, nor do most of them seek to promote their name or service. Their costumes are handmade. The more skill and thought put into the costume, the more cheer. It’s all in good fun. This collective mindset in enriching, adding to a special atmosphere by dressing up. When next you see a cosplayer, at least smile at that person for being so bold and wonderful in sharing.

Below are the last and best of the cosplayers, noticed at this Sakura Con. Enjoy and click on each for the full details. I recognized some and labeled them in descriptions. Others, I could use some help in the comments.

Cosplay fun at Sakura Con – Part 1 (of 3)

Photo by Orion Tippens

Colorful, exuberant, awesome. This describes the atmosphere of cosplay, the culture of voluntary costume dressup, at its best. Such words are more in frequency for convention gatherings involving anime appreciation.

The following set is from my brief visit to the Sakura Con Northwest Anime Convention, in the great Seattle city. Here, is a gathering of wonderful folk who display their love for their favorite Japanese animation art styled programs, movies, manga, etc. By the best, I mean those who wear their custom-made costume and mingle with others who appreciate, smile, and participate in that displayed affection.

Keep in mind, anime conventions differ from comic and science fiction conventions. More people do dress up. Often, you will see offshoots of things that are not quite based on Japanese animation or styles. – Disney characters, Doctor Who, Marvel and DC characters, and a lot of video games. They are also welcome, as the spirit and pride of cosplay is all the same. Anime conventions also attract a more youthful demographic, so more activity and energetic interaction result.

For the Sakura Con, the weather outside was beautiful and sunny. Outside in the back area of the convention, there was an open courtyard adorned with blooming cherry trees. The atmosphere was playful, full of cheer and activity. Much of that will be highlighted in the next set, to be posted another future day.

For now, dig in. I took all the pics myself. I’m happy to share as long as I and this blog gets the credit. Click on each  to enlarge and get the full detail, and some identifications. Feel free to comment and add more information.