Live bands, costume competitions, boogie offs, broken limbs, an ambush in a mailbox, hand-painted tankards, T-shirts, statues, Tenacious D, virtual tickets, a Demon Hunter, rows and rows and rows of networked computers, Jay Mohr, Cat someone or other, The Guild and dancing Ninjas… it’s just another BlizzCon. And I wasn’t there. Boo!
No, seriously Boo! Of all the conventions I’ve attended as a video games hack, BlizzCon is my favourite, and not just because I love Blizzard – although that’s a very, very big part of it. It’s because the atmosphere at BlizzCon is liked being wrapped in a warm welcoming blanket made out of love, spikes, swords, heavy metal, ray guns, dragon, steel, mythical creatures and infinite nerd-dom. Attending it as a journo doesn’t even feel like work – and the reason for that, really, is because it isn’t. It’s an absolute blast.
The reason for this is two-fold. First off, the workload’s laughably small. There’s one keynote speech to report on. One. And usually every piece of news worth filing from that can be rolled into one or two news pieces. There are usually three whole games to preview at the event, which is minuscule when compared to the number of titles at say, E3 or TGS. If you plan it right you can split about seven hours worth of work over two days and still get in enough time to have your picture taken in the Liche King’s chair with a bunch of hyped up fans who are grinning ear to ear.
Which bring the second reason BlizzCon is a such a ball; the Blizzard faithful. They really are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met as well as being the most passionate gamers around. This is in evidence not just from the excitement which crackles through the Anaheim Convention Center the moment the doors open, but in the questions at the panel discussions, the receptions at the costume competitions and dance-offs and the huge congregations at the hotel bars afterwards.
The competitions are great. The amount of work most of the fans put into looking like they just stepped out of a Blizzard game is absolutely unreal. Have a gander:
And then, of course, there’s the dance off. This year, some poor bloke got so carried away he managed to break his own leg (and then he got carried away literally), but aside from that one major mis-hap it was just as fun as last year. The only objection I’d raise is that Ninja Crew from Bonechewer – who were easily the best entry at both this and last years’ competitions – didn’t win. This is Ninja Crew from last year:
And this is Ninja Crew from this year:
And they didn’t win. Come on! Those guys had ‘winner’ written all over them. Both years. Ninjas + Choreography + BlizzCon = Win, surely? To my mind that was the only thing wrong with BlizzCon this year; the fact that Ninja Crew were robbed for the second year running.
Oh, and the fact that someone somewhere thought that Jay Mohr needed some help MC-ing the gig. (For future reference, whoever’s in charge of these things, he doesn’t!)
Oh yeah, and the fact that I wasn’t there. I was in an office subbing the copy of a particularly lucky journalist who was filing from Anaheim. A lucky journalist who told me down the phone how lucky he was to be there and how much fun he was having. A lesser man than me would have begrudged him this. For longer than five minutes at any rate.
Instead, I corrected his spelling, placed pictures in his work, sent his stories out to the net and basked in the glory of the Dance Off final – lack of Ninja Crew notwithstanding – and made my mind up right there and then that I will get my ass to Anaheim for BlizzCon 2011. And if not, I will be at the launch of World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm in December of this year. And not just because it is in London and I can afford the bus fare. But because when Blizzard come to town, fun usually follows them.