New York Comic Con 2013 was my first convention ever – you have seen representations of conventions on TV shows, blogs, and even credit card commercials but nothing can really prepare you for that first time. Looking around I saw all of the wonder and amazement that I expected.
This huge space thronged with costumed and enthusiastic attendees. Game developers were crowd calling us like circus promoters, huge displays packed to the gills with people trying to get a sticker and a flier that they won’t look at in thirty seconds. At every turn there were the camera flashes catching cosplayers in their natural environment.
I could clearly see that I was out of my league.
I was the king of games before Yu-Gi-Oh coined that term and placed itself on every lunchbox and backpack they possibly could. From humble starter Pokémon to winning legendary tournaments, I conquered the league championship without batting an eye.
Someone showed me Magic the Gathering and suddenly it was like the limits were removed and there were so many options for domination before me. Just as quickly, I rose to beat my friend and then their friends and so on til I was besting the tourney scene again. I repeated this process with Warhammer, Heroclix, and even Pogs.
But there is a reason why you have never heard of me.
Once I realized that there was a whole other world out there beyond my little town of Detroit, I changed. You can say it was because of not having money, or because I lost interest, but the main thing that affected me in gaming was that there was always someone better. They had more drive, they had more resources, and they had more time to pursue it. Competitive gaming was a hobby for me, but was a life for them.
This was also true when it came to the great and powerful Comic Con. I was seeing all the people around me, my brothers and sisters – coming together to show their love and obsession of their chosen genre.
To the left and right of me was a collection of the most impressive costumes and references that only a true lover of a show would understand. There were stables and booths devoted to supplying and stocking the finest of rare goods (so rare it takes an extra 10 steps to find it again!) and most importantly men and women who will both stop and swoon with even the least skilled cosplayers just because they are the embodiment of what they love so much.
Somewhere on day two, my girlfriend looked at me and asked what was wrong.
It was about that time when it had all caught up to me and I realized that I envied every last one of them. From the toddler who had amazing parents dressing them up and taking them there to the professional costumed people who had lines to have their picture taken with them, I was jealous.
I wanted that life but I just couldn’t find a way. I had no real passion for all these things, I just was in awe of all of them! I like comics, but I don’t obsess over them. I can play games but I am far from able to practice as much as the professionals can.
Did I really have any business going there in the first place? If I couldn’t appreciate it as much as the person I took the ticket from (figuratively, as I know plenty of people didn’t get a chance to go) then why did I really deserve to go?
I guess there really is no getting over being a geek. It’s something you are born with, and I don’t think that it will ever truly go away.
What I experienced was really more or less a swan song; a lament for a different path my life could have taken if I had been strong enough to pursue it. All that it really did was serve to inspire me to in my older age to embrace my inner (now repressed) geek and indulge myself. If I took away all the teachings from Harry Potter, Dr. Who, and even Deadpool that I had the potential to, then I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.
I may not have a bookcase of rare manga, but I sure as hell can appreciate their worth. I will never get over that feeling of wondering about what my life could have been, but I shouldn’t have to.
It isn’t too late to find my inner passions and get back to what makes me happy. Some people have sports, some have e-sports. Some people go hiking, some go LARPing. And some people need a $500 Coach purse, but some buy $700 Iron Man figurines. And all options are correct. However people find happiness without harming others are correct and good and should be celebrated.
This being my first post into this subject, I create this promise: to fully indulge my inner child and turn the (comic book) page on my life. Join me as I realize that you are never to old to play with dolls…I mean action figures. That is, if I can ever pull myself to take one of them out of the box.