As I sat on the plane flying away from California, I was struck by just how absolutely wonderful my last couple days were. Blizzcon 2019 was, frankly put, perfect. Now, that’s not to say that the experience was without its bumps. I think I got about half as much asleep as I usually do (and I’m not usually the best about sleeping!) and I had my wallet stolen on the second day. But even with all of that, I have no regrets.
I think J. Allen Brack said it best in the opening ceremony when he said that Blizzcon is about people. Totally, there are the announcements and the championships and the game demo stations. Absolutely, there are the considerations about Blizzard’s recent corporate actions. But at the end of the day, the community itself is the true draw.
This year, as opposed to the last time I attended, I spent the majority of the time with my friends rather than family. My guild rented a house together not far from the convention center, and we were able to walk back and forth very easily. Not all of our members got tickets to the con so we always had folks at the house watching the coverage on a virtual stream. The end result was we had a veritable fortress of nerdom where folks were constantly hanging out.
Speaking of guildies, I, at first, was so incredibly nervous about meeting my guildies in person. Sure, I’ve played games – both World of Warcraft and others – with them for a good long time now, enough that we have a plethora of in-jokes and shared experience. However, there is certainly a difference between knowing a person virtually and knowing a person in the flesh. I was anxious that there would be residual awkwardness or, worse, that I would be unbearably annoying to everyone in person. There’s something to be said about the fact that internet friends can be muted temporarily if you just need a brain break.
Unsurprisingly to everyone except for me, my fear were completely unfounded. Even though I’d never met any of my guildies in person before, we instantly clicked together like a family. We joked about Sleepy being a giant, Weare T-posing, and Dame and Jules being memelords and it just felt so natural. Heck, my guildies even brought me a grilled cheese sandwich when they came to pick me up (which was both a sweet gesture after a very long flight and a devious inside joke). What was even better, I got a chance to get a lot closer to guildies I didn’t know as well prior to the convention (shout out to Mason and Niz!). Everyone was so incredibly funny and open and, most importantly, dedicated to each other.
Outside of my current guildies, I also got to connect with a number of old guildies and other community friends! The Con Before The Storm party in particular was a perfect venue for me to speak to some of my artist friends (and totally gush in person about their artwork). Shout out to Quel in particular, everyone should go read their webcomic! I also met up with some Perky Pugs folks for the first time which was incredibly awesome! So many names that previously had just existed on my Twitter feed or in my Discord servers were transformed into faces. I would go through them all if I could but there were almost too many to list off!
As much as having my wallet stolen on the last day did suck, there were also silver-linings to it. For one, I lost it at the end of the second day, so I wasn’t stressing about it until the very end of my trip. However, the thing that truly humbled me was the outpouring of support I got from my guildies and friends. Immediately, I had multiple people offering to help in any way they could, whether that be checking in with Lost And Found, running back to the panel we had just come from, or offering financial support to help me get back home (since I had no money for food in the airport). Shout out in particular to Weare, Mason, Shaedriana, Pug, and Dame, you folks are all absolute heroes. I cannot accurately put into words how much that meant to me, and I hope I can one day be there for you in the same way.
Blizzcon was so incredibly special. I had been expecting the convention to be fun (why else would I spend all that money?) but what I hadn’t been anticipating was just how… I suppose mending is the best way to describe the experience. Even though it was an action-packed couple of days, I feel invigorated and recharged.
The moment that truly captured it all for me was a simple one for me. I was standing in line for the Overwatch demo with a guildie and everyone in the line had their heads cranked up to see the Overwatch World Cup match being played on the screen above us. This part of the convention floor had fallen silent, all breaths held to see if the United States would be able to eke out the win from the prior champions South Korea. With a decisive combo, the American team took out the South Korean supports and then their key damage player. The rest of the defense crumbled and a roar washed over the crowd. The words “United States Victory” flashed across the screen amid the cheers.
When this happened, I took a step back. Surveyed the crowd. Experienced the moment as an observer rather than a participant. What I saw made me break into the widest smile.
I loved that moment. The nerdiness. The triumphant victory. The uncomplicated happiness. Video games aren’t always that happy and that unifying but in that moment, everything was just right. Even those supporting Team South Korea joined in that moment of cheering, for we all recognized that the game had been well-fought on each side. And here I was, at the center of a bustling, excited, passionate convention dedicated to the community I call home.
It was wonderful.
I truly didn’t mean to get this mushy-gushy in this post but I felt I had to write it. Recent events, both in my life and in the greater video game community at large, have shaken a bit of my optimism and enjoyment in the gaming communities I am a part of but, at Blizzcon, I was reminded of why I fell in love in the first place. Yes, we’re not perfect and I would never claim otherwise. But we’re still a home, and we always can, and do, strive to be better.
Blizzcon brought me back to my gaming home.