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Sunday, September 9, 2012

San Diego Comic-Con & Gam3rCon 2012

My trip to San Diego, and more specifically to Comic-con, almost didn't happen this year.

San Diego Comic-con is notorious. Not only for the convention itself but also for the inability to get tickets. Awhile back I was given the possibility of going to Comic-con for free. How might you ask since all the tickets had been sold out for months? Well, I work for a wonderful organization called The D20 Girls Project. We put out a monthly newspaper and quarterly magazine, as such, members can qualify for press badges. And with the help of my awesome assistant manager, Cryshayn, we were able to attain press badges. However, I struggled to actually get my badge from Comic-con despite the approval. For awhile it looked as though I wouldn't be getting a badge at all, and so, I began making secondary plans. I already had a hotel to stay at and knew that several happenings occur around downtown San Diego during comic con from a previous trip. One of these happenings is Gam3rCon.

So I contacted Gam3rCon to see if they needed/wanted any help. Luckily they did. However, shortly after I agreed to help out Gam3rCon, I finally recieved my badge for SDCC. So now I had two cons to attend. Woohoo!

Day Zero: Thursday

We left NorCal on Thursday late morning and decided to stop by Disneyland, because we can. Of course, this meant missing out on all of Thursday's panels at SDCC AND missing out on Nerdcore nights at Gam3rCon. Luckily we were planning on going to the Nerdcore show later that weekend. Disneyland was great, as usual, but not being used to SoCal, I didn't realize leaving the park at 11pm would mean we wouldn't get into San Diego until after 1am - oops. Luckily our host we so generous and nice, as well as our other roommates. Yes, we were those people, and stuffed seven bodies into our hotel room at the Hilton Bayfront. Being that it was so late we just literally threw sleeping bags on the some available floor space and passed out in our clothes.

Official Day One: Friday

My Gam3rCon staff shirt (photo courtesy of  T1nk the C0n Fairy)
Awoke at a decent hour, but not early enough to grab my SDCC badge, and got dressed and then headed directly to Gam3rCon. We met the awesome Robin, our volunteer co-ordinator, and got settled in. Even H4773r decided to join in on the volunteerism. I was set up to do street team work, which meant heading down the Gaslamp district near SDCC and promoting Gam3rCon. We headed out with our beautiful mascot, Fallen Flyte (aka Olivia) and spent a couple of hours promoting the heck out of Gam3rCon.

Fallen Flyte (photo courtesy of T1nk the C0n Fairy)
As soon as I was able, I ran down to SDCC and grabbed my badge and then spent what little time I had left wandering around the con. I had missed most of the panels already so I decided to check out the vendor hall and see if I could meet any of my D20 Girls in person. I found Cryshayn in the "gaming room". I use the verbiage "gaming room" very loosely. The gaming room is located on the Mezzanine section of the main convention center, which in of itself is hard to find (I actually had to look it up on the FAQ section to just find it). And then you make a turn and wander down a hall. Seeing as how I'd just come from Gam3rCon earlier that day, with 3 floors of gaming, I wasn't impressed. I also found Leah Rose from our Arizona location on the main floor.

Ermahgerd! Cermic Cern! (photo courtesy of T1nk the C0n Fairy)

After I enjoyed the wonders of the vendor hall and met a few other D20 Girls by just wandering around I headed back to Gam3rCon. I decided to walk back and enjoy all the sights of the Gaslamp district, but I could have taken the free shuttle that was being offered by Gam3rCon. There are so many restaurants in the Gaslamp. I was really disappointed that I wouldn't be able to eat at most of them because we were trying to save money on this trip. Although I did enjoy a delicious veggie burger at Hodad's earlier in the day.

Every evening Gam3rCon hosts some type of rooftop event/party. This night was the showing of Video Game High School, which also had a few of the stars making an appearance. I had actually caught this YouTube series earlier in the year in one of my random, geeky news feeds and was familiar with the opening episode. H4773r and I are big fans of Harley Morenstein from Epic Mealtime. I was a bit disappointed he wasn't able to make an appearance. Overall the cast was super nice and I enjoyed watching some more of this hilarious series before I decided to call it a night.

Day Two: Saturday

Saturday's outfit (photo courtesy of T1nk the C0n Fairy)
I woke up at a fairly decent but still not early enough to get to anything at SDCC. Instead I made sure to get breakfast and stop by a Starbucks on the way (not the one at the Hilton though because the line was out of the door). I made my way back to Gam3rCon and made swag bags until it was time to start my next shift doing street team work again. I had debated on wearing a costume that day, but overall decided that since it would be a long day I probably wouldn't have the stamina to tolerate a costume.

Fun story that happened while working for street team: A guy with a microphone and camera man approached our street team and asked Olivia if he could interview her for a segment. I only glanced at him and couldn't quite see his shirt to identify what company he was with, but I did notice he had what looked like a Fleshlight in his other hand. She immediately said yes and then he asked her what she thought about Fleshlights. (So it was a flesh light!) Her face drew a blank as she asked aloud, "What's a Fleshlight?" I immediately made some kind of face at Olivia who took one look at me and then told the interviewer that she changed her mind. I piped in with, "So that is a Fleshlight you're holding?" To which he responded yes, and then asked if I would be interviewed. To which I said, "Yes!" I was asked which superhero I'd have sex with (answer: Tony Stark), which superheroes I'd have a 3-way with (answer: Catwoman and Batman), do I own a Fleshlight (answer: no), would I consider buying one (answer: no, but if someone gave me one that'd be cool). He then mentioned Fleshlight/Hustler Magazine would be having a party that night and I should stop by. I said maybe, but I knew I wasn't going since I had a concert to go to that night.

I trekked back to the Cryptozic store with everyone to get picked up and then stopped in to check with H4773r and another friend to see how they were doing at Gam3rCon. I knew I had missed all the panels, again, but decided to head back to SDCC and into the vendor hall to pick up swag and maybe meet some more people. I did manage to find Adrianne Curry getting interviewed on the street and snag a photo, thanks to her awesome manager/friend.

Could I have more of derp face? (photo courtesy of  T1nk the C0n Fairy)
Honestly, I kind of forgot that getting swag at SDCC is it's own thing to do. You have to wait in line and run around from place to place hoping you'll make it before the line is either cut off or they run out of stuff. I managed to pick up a few things and make a couple of purchases for some friends who missed out on joining us. I also ran into/met Lili for the first time. She's one of my new hire for the California D20 Girls and has a great girls gaming group that she works for, The Mos Eisley Girls.

After running around all day I barely managed to pull myself away from SDCC to meet up with H4773r so we could attend "Nerdcore Nights." This was an event I wanted to attend for a few reasons. One, I absolutely love any chance I get to see MC Frontalot or MC Lars live. They're great performers and the concerts are fun. Also, I knew that Devil's Playground Burlesque would be performing and I wanted to network with people from The Gamer Girls. I had a great time for the time I actually spent there. Please check out this blog for my review on the show.

Sunday: Last day in San Diego

I decided to wear my costume, Alice from American McGee's Alice, on this day since I knew it would be a short day as far as work. I checked in with Gam3rCon and did my final day of street team work. There weren't any panels of interest on Sunday so I didn't feel horrible missing out on anything. And I did spend my last day back in the vendor hall picking up more swag, because really, that's all I could afford.

H4773r and friend playing Starcraft II (photo courtesy of T1nk the C0n Fairy)
After SDCC shut down I had planned a D20 Girl dinner meet up at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was a very small, but great event. I love when I get to meet other D20 Girls in person and just chat about geeky things.
The D20 Girls (Cryshayn, Leah Rose, and JC) at Hard Rock Cafe (photo courtesy of T1nk the C0n Fairy)

I ended the night back at Gam3rCon for their "Deconpression" event. It was a great day to end a long weekend.
At Deconpression as Alice (photo courtesy of T1nk the C0n Fairy)
Where we stayed
View from our room (photo courtesy of T1nk th C0n Fairy)
H4773r and I, in our old age, prefer to stay in hotels connected to the convention center. In this case it was the Hilton Bayfront. However, I honestly had no idea what price we'd be paying even splitting the cost amongst 6 people. In the future, I think we'll look into staying somewhere farther away and using the shuttle buses or the trolley to commute to and from the San Diego convention center. This year SDCC helped those out by extending the trolley running hours as well.

What we ate
H4773r and I usually try to be thrifty when it comes to food. We often bring our own snacks and items to make meals out of. H4773r has a huge preference to using MRE's. But we did eat out a bit. In general, the Gaslamp district offers a huge variety and pricing scale for places to eat. I enjoyed meals at Hodad's and the Hard Rock Cafe. H4773r ate at Cremolose. And then I did have an emergency meal at Papa John's pizza. There are also a few Starbucks around if you're in need of caffeine.

Veggie foods: I always bring vegetarian/vegan snacks with me. I also usually break my no dairy rule on vacations just because I have such a hard time finding decent protein sources. At Hodad's I enjoyed their veggie burger and fries (no cheese). At Hard Rock I had the Veggie Leggie (sooo good!) and enjoyed my side salad with a vinaigrette.

H4773r and I didn't have any problems with parking this year since we were hotel guests. We opted to pay the $27 per day to park at the Hilton Bayfront parking lot.

Overall trip
This trip was a wash for me. While I did get assistance in get my SDCC tickets and got a share a room (albeit, very expensive room), this trip was highly expensive. In general a trip to SDCC is expensive. I had quite a few of my roommates spend hundreds, almost a couple of thousand on purchasing SDCC exclusives. And this is in addition to hotel costs, travel costs, food costs, and cosplay costs (if you're into that sort of thing). Also, because of my  obligations I really feel like I didn't get to enjoy either con as much as I wanted. I didn't game at Gam3rCon and I didn't catch a single panel at SDCC.

I honestly don't know if we'll be heading back to SDCC next year. We've already missed out on purchasing the passes and since my article was never submitted to D20 I don't know if I'll be eligible for a press badge next year. If we do go next year, I plan on making the most of it by spending my day at SDCC and then joining Gam3rCon in the evening as an attendee.

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