Arizona's Premier Gaming Expo

Media Pass for the Expo

GAME ON!
By Durrilion
Game On Expo, the first of its kind in Arizona, was also my first “official” Video Jouzu assignment.  I was both excited and nervous; I had not played video games since Tetris was new.
The Expo was held in the Mesa Convention center.  At first glance the small buildings and parking lot had me worried.  After getting the lay of the land (so to speak) I sat down to watch the ‘80’s film ‘The Wizard’, starring a very young Fred Savage and Christian Slater.
As I left the ‘theater’ I saw more people had arrived.  A lot more.  Suddenly, despite the Expo’s small size, I was surrounded by the same energy I had felt at Phoenix Comic Con earlier this year.  Without the huge crowd, I found it much easier to approach people and strike up conversations.

main hall
main hall
main hall
main hall
vendor area in the main hall
vendor area in the main hall
the vendor area at the Expo
the vendor area at the Expo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the game room
the game room
the game room
the game room

Almost every booth and table represented Arizona businesses and cosplayers.  The guys at Desert Sky Games & Comics, located in Gilbert, were friendly and relaxed.  They had more dice than I’ve ever seen, and in ALL the colors! Check them out in Gilbert if you’re close by: Desert Sky Games and Comics Warehouse, 2531 S. Gilbert Rd Ste 106, Gilbert AZ 85295. 602-615-5214. www.desertskygames.com.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Desert Sky Games Booth and crew
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Desert Sky Games

Just around the corner I met the crew of The Gaming Zone.  Based in Tempe these guys were friendly and introduced me to the owner, Alejandro.  Located at 930 W. Broadway Rd. #15 Tempe, AZ, this is more than a store.  It’s also an arcade and game lounge.  They have both a website and a Facebook page, just look for The Gaming Zone.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Gaming Zone
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Gaming Zone crew

Walking through the hall I saw the beautiful Princess Peach.

Princess Peach and the SOCAL crew
Princess Peach and the SOCAL crew

She kindly posed for a photo and told me about SOCAL Retro Gaming Expo scheduled for Jan 30th – 31st, 2016 in City of Industry, CA.  The promo card she gave me says free admission and parking.  Watch their Facebook page for more info and details.

Further in I met Jeff Rosenberg, co-owner of Terrasect LLC.  He and his colleague (John Wisniewski) were great guys, promoting their new game Wizards 1984.  Traveling all the way from North Carolina they were handing out cards with QR Codes good for a free download! Go to www.terrasect.com for more info about them and their games.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
John and Jeff from Terrasect

Every now and again, we all stumble across someone who takes the familiar and gives it a great twist.  That’s what I love about the geek crowd:  creativity, thinking outside the box, and passion for what we do.   Check out Retro Nerd Studios Mayan influenced gaming art by Sita Navas;

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Siat Navas from Retro Nerd Studios

        and Marsartwork by Suemei Mar.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These talented ladies bring a breath of fresh air to gaming art.  It shows not only in their work, but also in their faces.  As we spoke, they each lit up and the energy rose.  They both have Facebook pages, and Etsy shops.  Check them out, and get something unique before the winter holidays hit.

Collectors Marketplace.  The STUFF! In addition to the merchandise, this Phoenix store also has a swap meet every Saturday (unless there’s a con).  The staff member I spoke with was friendly, and eager to talk about the store.  Check them out on Facebook.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Collectors Marketplace Booth

One of the last business booths that really caught my eye was Dusty Lion Crafts.  Dressed for the occasion, these Tucson based Ladies hand make all the little stuffed plushy cuteness that surrounded their booth.  Sea creatures, dinosaurs, dragons, oh my! They were so friendly and patient.  I overheard them talking to some of their younger customers about the merchandise.  You can find them online, Facebook, and Etsy, just look for Dusty Lion Crafts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The creative team behind Dusty Lion

In the main hall, I saw these two cosplayers.  They very kindly let me take their photo.  Silly me, I forgot to get their names.  (Note to self- bring that pen and paper of which you are so fond next time).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Cosplayers at the Expo

Right after I put the camera down, this guy caught my eye.  After getting his picture, he told me about MyUGW.com a geek social networking site.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Even though I am still new to cosplay and the con scene, I have already seen a variety of Sailor Moon twists.  This trio, however, was a first! The pastel colors, and the hair! I had to know more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sugar Pink Café trio

After posing, they told me their booth was in the cosplay hallway, and they’re Arizona’s Premier Maid Café.  Inspired by Meido kissa in Japan, Sugar Pink mixes the ‘traditional’ Maid Café experience with Thespian flair.  Facebook? Yes.  YouTube? Oh yeah.  Twitter? Yup.  Tumblr? Sure thing.  Look for Sugar Pink Café and find them at upcoming events.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sugar Pink Café staff
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sugar Pink Café table
Sugar Pink Café table
Sugar Pink Café table
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Sugar Pink Café table

This premier con was full of firsts.  Ever hear of a cosplaying Corgi? Neither had I until I met Kiba! Unfortunately the adorable four legged Link was exhausted and napping on the table, but I spoke with his ‘thumb monkeys’ (aka Humans).  They were full of smiles and positive energy.  Check out Kiba’s Facebook page and follow his adventures on Instagram.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Kiba the [exhausted] Cosplay Corgi

Umbrella Corporation Arizona Hive – not just a bunch of hunky guys wearing awesome combat gear posing for photos- this group also helps raise money for the Arizona Animal Welfare League and SPCA.  They are on ALL the social media- twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and probably more.  Let’s see:  awesome gear, good looking, and they help animals too? Wow, what a combo!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Umbrella Corp AZ Hive

Aside from World of Warcraft in the last few years, I haven’t done any RPG’ing since high school.  That said, if I were in a party I would definitely want Tephros’ Cosplay and Rainbow FX Cosplay on the team! Being in the Society for Creative Anachronism I can be critical of fabric costuming, but I was impressed.  Both cosplays were well done.  I look forward to seeing what they do in the future.  Not only did they pose together

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Tephros’ Cosplay and Rainbow FX Cosplay

and separately,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Tephros’ Cosplay
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Rainbow FX Cosplay

a friend of theirs took a shot of me with them! (I always forget just how tall I am until I see photos. Yikes)!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I saw this cosplay from behind I just knew I needed a photo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
“Chromie” from World of Warcraft

“Chromie” from WOW agreed, and powered up her staff too! While thermal plastics are all the rage right now, Chromie’s armor was made from less expensive floor matting.  Cosplay will only be as expensive as you want it to be my fellow geeks.
What con or expo is complete without Deadpool? I knew if I didn’t get at least one pic of this guy, my editor might reconsider my geek cred.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Deadpool, need we say more?

On my way out of the cosplay hallway, I finally had a chance to stop and speak with Courtney Leigh, of Courtney Leigh Creations.

Courtney Leigh Creations table
Courtney Leigh Creations table

This AZ based cosplayer, who was a sponsor for the Expo, seems to do it all.  Check out her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter! These little gold trophies

Gamer themed trophies for the Cosplay contest!
Gamer themed trophies for the Cosplay contest!

were for the cosplay contest later that night.  Sadly I couldn’t stay for that.
With my time at the expo running out, I went back to the main hall for some more cosplay pics.  I must have rolled a natural 20, because I ran into this Princess Zelda

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Princess Zelda at the Expo

 who graciously posed for a pic, and laughed when I quoted Dr. Horrible (just “a crazy random happenstance”).  The Dusty Lion Crew was just behind her.
Remember me saying there were lots of firsts, and that I must have rolled a 20? Check out the zombie storm trooper.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Zombie-trooper

 I don’t know if this is a thing, but I thought it was brilliant! Of all the firsts for me at Game On Expo, the absolute best was meeting Lady Vader! She was surprised that I had never seen one before.  She posed for me, in all her Dark side of the Force awesomeness,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Lady Vader

 and then asked if I minded taking one of her without the mask.  So Ladies and Gentlegeeks, here is one of the women behind the Lady Vader masks seen at cons and expos around the country.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Lady Vader: behind the mask

 (I really need to remember to bring that pen and paper to get names).
My time ran out, I did not have a chance to speak with the other guests (Keith Robinson from Intellivision to only name one) or attend any of the panels.  The list was impressive.  Personally I really wanted to sit in on The Importance of Women in the Gaming Industry, and Cosplaying and Gaming.  Hopefully I’ll have another chance in the future.

All in all this Expo was a blast.  I am definitely looking forward to next year.  In the meantime, Mesa Convention Center will be hosting Comic & Media Expo 2015 on October 16 -18.  Hopefully I’ll see you there.
(If you recognize someone in a photo who has not been named, please let us know in the comments. I would like to thank them for posing and allowing their photo to be included here. Thanks, Durrilion.)

3 comments

  1. I’m not sure who “luluko” Cosplay is, but that sylvanas cosplay is mine, and it should be under “rainbowfx” Cosplay. Please feel free to email me with any questions or if you need proof. Thank you 🙂

  2. Corrections! The two cosplayers photographed with me were incorrectly identified. I have been informed they are Tephros’ Cosplay (the Night Elf Druid), and Kendra of Rainbow FX. My absolute sincerest apologies to everyone for the error.

Leave a Reply to Durrilion Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *