This past weekend, Oct. 8 – Oct. 10th, TooManyGames 2021 took place at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. After nearly two years of no fan conventions, over 15,000 people including cosplayers, vendors, gaming enthusiasts, and YouTubers joined together for a weekend of gaming, competitions, and in-person socializing.
And I was one of them. Having worked for Retroware as well as their parent company, Screenwave – I got invited with less than a month’s notice…and I figured, why not go? I had nothing to lose and having gone to New York City Comic Con in my sophomore year of high school, I thought I was ready for anything.
I didn’t quite realize how exhausting conventions can be, especially if you’re there for three days straight surrounded by thousands of people while surviving off of funnel cakes after nearly two years of isolation. I had a great time – but it took a lot out of me. I basically haven’t left the couch since coming home.
There was a lot to do and I only got the chance to do about half of it.
AVGN, Charles Martinet and Competitions…Oh My
When I went to my first con, I didn’t go to any panels. I thought you needed to get tickets to each specific panel you wanted to go to – and my friends and I just wandered around Artist Alley.
Now, I am much more aware of how conventions worked. But I still found myself wandering around a lot, entranced by everything. I spent quite a bit of time in the arcade area, playing pinball and failing at retro arcade games.
My biggest issue, though, was choosing which events to go to. Seeing The Angry Video Game Nerd seemed like an obvious, as he is one of the biggest names in video game criticism. It was also the only person that I really had heard of.
I usually hang out in the media criticism, video essay corner of YouTube so there is some overlap.)
But here’s the thing, when you’re around somebody whose passionate about the topic or the person being discussed, you get into the topic too. The energy is infectious. You can’t help but engage with the subject at hand.
James Rolfe in real life is personable and funny. He happily accepted a beer from a Spider-Man cosplayer at one point and toned down his language when he realized there were children present.
Who the heck lets their young children watch the Angry Video Game Nerd I’ll never know. I guess some people don’t really have an issue with kids cursing
It was also really cool to see people get excited over their other favorite celebrities like Charles Martinet, the voice of Mario.
I didn’t get the chance to take a selfie with him, but I understand that meeting the voices behind your favorite characters is a wonderful experience.
There were also several video game competitions throughout the weekend – which I didn’t really get a chance to go to – but judging from what I heard, they were fun.
Cosplay wrestling was the event that interested me the most. And it was probably the most memorable thing that happened that weekend.
Aquaman and Robin versus Spider-Man and Black Panther tag team started out the event.
And, from there on out it was absolutely bonkers from the time it started. People were screaming and cheering; the wrestlers did backflips and occasionally threw each other into the audience. (I got nervous one of them was going to accidentally land on me.)
It was great.
At one point, Giovanni from Pokémon showed up and tried to take over the game from Princess Peach. At another point, one wrestler dragged the other around the audience so spectators could slap him in the chest.
It seemed like you could hear the slaps from anywhere in the convention hall. While I knew that it’s wrestling – and therefore nothing is real – the sound of bodies crashing in the ring certainly made it sound like things hurt.
While I didn’t recognize all the characters who participated, it was still a lot of fun. I had no choice but to cheer on Waluigi during his match against a Mortal Kombat character. (In case you’re curious, Waluigi won.)
I had an absolute blast, even though some of the matches seemed to drag on and on.
I would have preferred more and shorter matches.
I could leave behind the gaming tournaments, the tabletop games area, and even some of the panelists if it meant having Cosplay Wrestling events all three days of the con.
And if I had gotten to see it – I’m sure the Cosplay Contest would have been a close second.
My biggest regret was missing out on the cosplay contest on Sunday afternoon. I had to leave while it was going on to make my train home. Though from what I heard about it in the TMG Discord, the biggest thing that I missed was a judge who didn’t know much gaming or anime characters.
It was surprising to see that there were a lot more than just gaming fandoms represented at the convention. I knew there was some overlap but I wasn’t expecting to see Studio Ghibli art alongside stuff from Mortal Kombat. But as an otaku, I wasn’t about to complain.
I did not expect to spend most of my time in the vendor’s area – but what choice did I have? There was so much cool stuff to look at, like knitted dolls of popular characters, gigantic stuffed Pokemon, novelty T-shirts, swords…and so much more.
I mean there was even a ton of Power Rangers stuff – cosplays, pocket knives, and of course, action figures. I was a huge Power Rangers fan as a kid and just seeing all the stuff made me feel giddy.
I probably spent way more money than I should have on merch, but I figured I was doing my part by helping small businesses. Besides, I haven’t been able to find Zombieland Saga merch anywhere else.
Some cosplays confused me – somebody dressed up as Loki from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and another person dressed up as an Arizona Iced Tea can. Awesome costumes but why wear them to a gaming convention?
But it was nice to see them, as it showed me the convention is accessible to all kinds of gamers, from the intense to the casual to the complete noob. There was something for everyone.
It was an amazing experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I met cool people, got some awesome merch, played some pinball, and got a better understanding of the gaming community. What more could I ask for?
I definitely want to go again next year and hopefully, I will see you there.