As the years drag on, I constantly hear more and more people complain saying “I wasn’t able to get passes to Comic Con” or that it’s just too expensive, or even that they hate how mainstream it’s become and there are just too many people to deal with. People still go because they love the environment and they love getting all kinds of collectors items and seeing panels. Today I’m going to offer up an alternate con worth checking out.
San Diego Gam3rCon is a small convention that takes place at the same time during SDCC. Located in a building off of 10th and Broadway, Gam3rCon is just under a mile away from the Convention Center putting it in perfect walking distance from SDCC. The folks over at Gam3rCon really went the extra mile though (no pun intended) by offering up a free ride with Uber using a Gam3rCon exclusive promo code. That code definitely came in handy for more than a few people too because in addition to all the awesome gaming they had going on, they also had a good selection of alcohol available. On their site, Gam3rCon mentions that safety is their number 1 goal, and they proved that they truly do care with this one.
As I mentioned, Gam3rCon was in a small building on 10th street, but it used the entire building. Every floor offered something a little different, including the roof. On the first floor you had a wide variety of open play games available. Boasting over a dozen consoles, gamers were able to play anything from Mario Kart 8 to Sonic 2. They had pretty much every system from PS3 all the way back to Sega Genesis and NES and a full game library to go along with them. Hell, there was even an Atari in there running Pong! Everyone was more than nice and offered up help whenever it was needed, answering questions about the con and offering up the occasional technical assistance when necessary. The con is of course all ages so I had to be careful not to trip over the occasional child as I made my way through the floor. The building was in no means over-crowded however, with just enough space to make it feel comfortable with everyone moving around. On the third floor of the building was an open play tabletop game lounge. Some of the featured games included Warhammer 40k, Diplomacy, and other dungeon crawling classics. I’ve never been much of a table top gamer myself, but it was an interesting atmosphere to experience. There was almost a schism of culture between the first floor lounge and the third floor lounge. The first floor was loud and dimly lit, and competition could be felt in the air almost as if the tension was waiting to spark a fire. The third floor was almost a complete 180 degree flip; it was brightly lit and quiet, and everyone was more or less smiling or laughing as they delved into their mentally constructed universes, sharing adventures and banning together in a struggle against the GM. No matter the preference of game, though, I always felt welcome by everyone that was attending and working, by far my favorite con atmosphere that I’ve experienced so far.
On the fourth floor of the building, Gam3rCon hosts an art exhibit featuring artwork by local and nationwide artists. They’ve made it a point to recognize these pieces of art as just that: works of art from the heart. Here’s a short clip explaining more about the art exhibit:
In addition to the art exhibit, the fourth floor also plays host to the various panel discussions that take place during Gam3rCon and also a couple of plays.
On the roof of the building, gamers can relax in a lounge-like setting and enjoy some snacks and even a small bar. There’s music being played at all times and artists working on murals around the walls of the roof. There were a couple of comedy shows, live music performances and even a movie screening as well. The rooftop lounge, for me at least, set the bar for the atmosphere of the whole con and from there everything trickled downward in a sense. On the top people were constantly smiling and laughing, enjoying the entertainment and just being great company in general. No matter where you went during this con, you felt like you were welcomed and it felt like a family gathering and as a gamer, that’s really refreshing to feel. Gamers are too used to toxic communities and hateful interactions with each other over game chat that being among so many nice, enjoyable people and being able to share some genuinely fun rounds with them was the highlight of my week.
In addition to the awesome location on 10th, an additional area in the Media Design School was available as well. This location hosted the various official tournaments for the con. I say official because there were also several other smaller tournaments that were simply aimed for fun in the first floor gaming lounge. These tournaments were all high octane competitive matches. Some of the games that were featured were Team Fortress 2, Call of Duty: Ghosts, and of course, League of Legends.
All in all, Gam3rCon was a wonderful experience and definitely a worthwhile endeavor to check out. Even if you get Comic Con passes every year, Gam3rCon doesn’t even open its doors until later in the afternoon and runs all the way to the dark hours of the night. You’ve got plenty of time to go to Comic Con and then head over afterwards. For me, it’s a haven for gamers during the unadulterated chaos of Comic Con and I absolutely can’t wait to go back next year!
If you want to you can check out the Gam3rCon official website Here where they provide a lot more information than I could hope to cover here.
I’m ChristianCoal, thanks for reading everyone!