FanExpo this year a bit hit and miss for me this year. While I loved the line up of guests, I found myself not entirely enamored by the event compared to previous years. Still, there was tons of fun to be had including tons of tabletop gaming goodness, with Microsoft and Sony busting out their next generation for consoles to enjoy. Showcased on the floor included games like Beyond: Two Souls, Batman: Arkham Origins, Assassins Creed: Black Flag and Watch_Dogs just to name a few. Unsurprisingly, there was a lack of console RPGs on the floor for better or worse, but there was stll tons of high-profile titles to get a feel for.
The congestion this year was definitely worse than previous years, but there were always different places to escape to. Becky and I had the chance to attend a panel for the movement #1reasonwhy and got to listen to women within the industry express their voices (with one man on the panel, the wonderful Jon Lavallee whom we've interview before). It was great to see industry issues put out on the table and be able to express some of the frustrations and dualities of this situation. Huge love to the ladies (and gent) on the panel for their did an amazing job.
Overall I didn't do as much as I wanted to, but definitely check out my interview with Eve Silver. Eve is a funny, quirky and amazing author to chat with. Not only does she care about what she does, but she offered tons of great insight into the publishing world and answered all of my questions with kind and thoughtful answers. I'm disappointed I missed out on Morgan Rhodes (aka Michelle Rowan) and Lesley Livingston's panel, but Saturdays at FanExpo are beyond terrifying. I still had a great time, as once again the costumers and artists continue to always make my experience worthwhile. A huge thank you again to FanExpo Canada for having RPGamer at the event all weekend, we continue to appreciated the experience of covering the show.
Although FanExpo continues to lack RPGs (at least of the video game variety), I had a great time this year. I'm not sure what it was, but the whole convention had a very friendly and comfortable feel about it, perhaps because it was spread out over two buildings and there was more room in the isles to walk around.
The gaming section of the show offered some great opportunities to check out the upcoming consoles and their games. I learned that the PlayStation 4 controller is more comfortable to use than the PS3 DualShock, which is great news. My gaming highlight was a demonstration of the open-world gameplay in Watch_Dogs, which looks fantastic. The game might not technically be an RPG, but it's at least in the neighbourhood, allowing for plenty of sandbox game hijinks.
Along with the usual con wanderings, I had a brief but delightful photo session with Mr. George Takei, visited the always charming fantasy author Violette Malan, and attended an intereating #1reasonwhy panel. The panelists were a variety of women working in the games industry, who underlined the fact that the best way to make both professional and community settings better for gamers who are women is for men to stand
up and refuse to accept hateful and sexist behaviour that comes from other men.
I'm looking forward to seeing where this newly-expanded FanExpo goes next year, and hoping that we can get some RPG developers to return to Toronto. BioWare, you're Canadian — come back to us!
Tabletop News Editor
Tabletop gaming at Fan Expo has, historically, fallen somewhere between a joke and an afterthought to the conventions organizers and programmers. Not so this year, with two packed role playing rooms, a massive board game library, endless opportunities to play CCGs, a robust panel line-up and a great guest list, it feels like a small gaming con has that grown within the confines of the nerd wallet vacuum of the convention centre. Kudos to Gaming Programmer, Justin Mohareb, and his team for making all of this happen.
Also new to the con was a sporting memorabilia and autograph section, which mostly served a grim reminder that no matter how many hand-forged buster swords one might own, hockey fans will always be willing to spend more money on their obsession than gamers. The show floor on the days I attended did feature many attention grabbing displays and demonstrations. LEGO (™) pulled out all the stops with a massive scale reproduction of Tolkien's "Bag End" in tiny bricks. While there were no console RPGs to try at any of the game developer booths, I did get to try my hand at Beyond: Two Souls, which plays exactly like the next generation of David Cage games for all the good and ill that such a comment entails. Also on my radar was Batman: Arkham Origins, as this promises to have more of the same formula that made previous Arkham games great fun. Though I hope the new Remote Batclaw gadget doesn't make an appearance until late in the game, as it makes clearing a room full of goons child's play.
At the end of the weekend, I felt better about having attended Fan Expo than I had any other convention this year. It's not as though my usual complaints (line-ups, prices, lacking of personal space, obnoxious con-goers, unsupervised teens, and so-on) weren't present, but they felt lessened by the sheer size and scope of all the enjoyable elements of the convention.
PS: Boo-urns on Hulk Hogan for jobbing out in his arm-wrestling match with Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford.
If you have any questions or would like your picture removed, send me an e-mail. See you all at FanExpo 2014!