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Comic-Con: Video Gaming Continues To Grow

New Exhibit Space Highlights Gaming’s Increased Presence At Comic-Con

Above: Video gaming finds a new home in Exhibit Hall A this year at Comic-Con.

I have been going to Comic-Con since my mom took me as a baby in a stroller and I have seen a lot of changes in those two decades.

Credit: Tony Weidinger

Dragons at the gaming area of Comic-Con.

As Comic-Con has grown over the years it has been interesting to watch the presence of video games grow as well. When Comic-Con first started video games were almost non-existent and if you were talking about gaming at Comic-Con in the early days it more likely referred to Dungeons and Dragons. Back in the 1970s, when Comic-Con was drawing hundreds rather than tens of thousands, video games or arcade games (like Pong, Pac Man, Asteroids) were also in their infancy. But now it is hard to imagine walking through the exhibit hall without seeing a Playstation or Xbox logo.

In addition, a nice chunk of the 600 hours of programming is now devoted to gaming – everything from how to break in video gaming to bringing an MMO to life. And as Hollywood learned, video gaming is sending people to panels to do Q&A’s and to hear feedback from fans.

Comic-Con has become one of the major ways for video game companies to show off their new games. Although ComicCon is not as big as E3 or Pax for video games, the video game industry has realized that Comic-Con is a great way to remind people what awesome games they have coming out. Both Ubisoft (maker of Assassins Creed) and Playstation also invested in off site events to further bulk up their presence. This year some of the major games featured at Comic-Con were: Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag, Watch Dogs, Dark Souls 2, Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy 13, Saint Row 4, DuckTales Remastered, and Strider. Then of course both Sony and Microsoft were there showing off their new consoles.

Credit: Tony Weidinger

"Dark Souls" at Comic-Con.

Most of the games listed were playable at the Con as well as having panels discussing them. But of course the hands-on playable part is the most important thing, because there is no better way to know if you like a game other then just playing it.

From my experience with these games I learned three things. One: Final Fantasy 13 was way more fun then I ever expected it to be. The reason for this is because Square Enix has now achieved the perfect balance of action and RPG that they seemed to be looking for in the past couple installments of Final Fantasy.

Two: Saints Row 4 is going to be even more fun then Saints Row 3. The reason for this is because it has everything from Saints Row 3 plus super powers and aliens.

Three: Dark Souls 2 is going to be just as hard as Dark Souls. I know this because I died in the first 30 seconds of the demo, but it was an incredibly fun 30 seconds.

Credit: Tony Weidinger

Gaming at Comic-Con can also include all kinds of merchandise directly and indirectly related to games.

It is nice to see Comic-Con embracing video games even more than it has in the past. This was especially apparent this year because Comic-Con moved gaming was being Hollywood’s neighbor down by Hall G to its own designated area down at the opposite end of the exhibit floor by Hall A.

Comic-Con grows bigger every year but I’m happy to see that happen when it’s being enlarged by fun things to do and not useless stuff. Although I was thinking it would be nice to have the equivalent of a Fastrak pass for those of us who need to get from one end of the floor to the other and know exactly where we want to go and hate getting stopped by the lookie-loos who abruptly stop dead in their tracks to look at a booth or snap a picture with a Slave Leia. Better yet, Comic-Con should have a monorail that glides above the floor – allowing high angle view of the floor – and stops at each exhibit hall. Now that’s a future Comic-Con that would be great. In the mean time, I’ll just enjoy checking out the booths and gameplay over at Hall A.

And just for fun, check out The Angry Video Game Nerd and lose hours of your life watching him review old games.

--Tony Weidinger is a video game enthusiast who hopes to study game design. He is the son of Cinema Junkie blogger Beth Accomando.

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