October 28, 2012

Stella's Adventures at New York Comic Con

This is the second of 2 posts about my experience at New York Comic Con. Part 2 covers the Tomb Raider Hunting Demo.

On October 13 my son, Max, and I made a geek's pilgrimage to New York Comic Con. It was a crisp, shiny Saturday. Traffic was light, and we drove down to Manhattan in under 2 hours. The toughest part was finding a parking garage that wouldn't eat up our entire swag budget. Thirty minutes and $45 later, we speed walked along 34th Street toward the Javits Center, blending into the throngs of costumed natives headed the same way.

New Yorkers heading to Comic ConComic Con Passes

Since we'd bought our passes online, and the doors had already opened by the time we got there, we didn't have to wait long to get in. Finding the Tomb Raider Archery Experience, where we'd planned to rendezvous with Meagan from Crystal Dynamics and the rest of our posse, was another story. The convention organizers had hidden it away in a corridor between two buildings. But I felt like Lara uncovering a secret (aha!) when we finally found it.

Morgan and Stella
Morgan stopped by briefly so we could snap a photo together. She and I share multiple fandoms, including TR and Firefly. It would have been nice to spend more time with her. Maybe next year....
Meeting online friends for the first time is always exciting. Even if you've known them for years, there's always a little cognitive dissonance as you put faces to names and avatars. But it was wonderful to finally meet Meagan, Tom from Lara Croft Online, and Hunter. I was also psyched to make some new friends, including TR fans Ryan, Keith and Joshua. Like my son, Joshua's friend Adam came along for moral support. Both were good sports about indulging our obsession. ;)

After the meet and greet, we had a friendly archery competition. An instructor from the New Jersey School of Archery (sorry, I forgot her name) showed us the ropes. Then we took turns on the range, each firing two rounds of three rubber-tipped arrows. It was a lot harder than it looked. Only one of my first three shots even hit the target, but I managed to hit twice on my second round. Tom was brilliant! He landed a bull's eye and took home a limited-edition Tomb Raider lithograph signed by the dev team! We got to keep our TR-themed targets, and we each received a customized Endurance Crew badge as a digital souvenir.

Max takes a shotMy target
Tomb Raider Archery Experience
Max taking a shot (above left). Yours truly (above right). The group (left to right): Tom from LCO, Max, Stella, Ryan, Meagan, Hunter, our archery instructor, Joshua, Keith, Adam. More Tomb Raider Archery Experience photos and videos on the Official TR Blog.

Next we headed off to lunch at Dallas BBQ, a carnivore's paradise near Times Square. The food was great, but even better was sharing it with a group of people who love the same things I do. We talked about the new game and helped Meagan come up with a list of questions for a Tomb Raider trivia contest she'd be hosting later on. Keith, who was probably the most adventurous among us, told some amazing stories about his experiences with Semester at Sea, including intrigue in a Tibetan monastery and a close encounter in Shinjuku Toyo's red light district. When Joshua asked me to sign one of his Tomb Raider games, I felt like a real celebrity. And Meagan graciously picked up the check. (Thanks, Crystal!)

Dallas BBQDallas BBQ
Dallas BBQ sign and the carved horses above our table.

After lunch, we rushed back to the con so Meagan could start the trivia contest. Only later did I realize she'd plugged my site on the live stream. So sweet. :)

Robert Peeler, Square's North America Community Manager, and Meagan Marie, our own Community Manager from Crystal Dynamics, hosted live coverage from NYCC. Watch more on Square Enix's Ustream page.

While Meg did her thing, we checked out the Square Enix Child's Play Charity auction and the awesome collection of statues from Play Arts Kai.

Square Enix Play Arts Kai Lara Croft Statue
I'm no collector, but that Lara Croft figure looks pretty sweet!

Then came the moment we'd been waiting for: hands-on time with the Tomb Raider demo! Megan, another long-time TR fan, joined us for that. Robert, the Community Manager for Square Enix North America, helped us secure prime spots in the demo lines and gave us black-and-white Square Enix lanyards for our badges. While we waited, I chatted him up about his job helping us fans. I'm sure Square and Crystal know it, but their community reps could not be nicer or more dedicated!

I've done a separate write-up about the Tomb Raider demo.

Tomb Raider demo stations at New York Comic Con
Players line up to try the Tomb Raider.

When everyone had gotten a chance to play, we reconvened at the Square Enix Community booth. Meagan and Robert gave each of us a collection of Tomb Raider goodies to take home, including a T-shirt, water bottle, lapel pin, and some lovely TR prints. We posed for a final group photo with Jill, a devoted Lara Croft fan and cosplayer. Then we said our goodbyes, with big hugs all around.

Tomb Raider fans at the Square Enix Booth
TR fans at the Square Enix booth (l. to r.): Tom, Stella, Megan, Adam, Jill, Hunter, Joshua, Keith, Ryan and Meagan.

Cosplayer Jenn Croft photographed by Adam Jay
Jenn Croft photographed
by Adam Jay
After we separated from the group, Max and I spent some time exploring the rest of the convention. It was super crowded, but we saw a lot of cool stuff and many creative cosplayers. I had a chance to meet Adam Jay of Superhero Photography very briefly. He was busy shooting a group of costumed crusaders, but his charming assistant sold me a few prints of cosplayer Jenn Croft, which I'm sure you'll be seeing here in an upcoming contest.

I gave the Tomb Raider demo another go. There were so many people waiting to play that I felt a little guilty tying up one of the stations. So I didn't play for too long. Then I headed for the LEGO booth and backseat gamed while a couple of guys tried out the LEGO Lord of the Rings demo. I'm sure they were thinking, who is this crazy old lady and why is she yelling "Toss me"!? I tried to get into the Firefly panel, but unfortunately I arrived too late and it was it was full. I guess I'd used up my quota of awesome for the day, so I let it slide.

Comic Con crowds by numbphoto
Comic Con crowds by numbphoto.

By the time we set out for home, we were exhausted, elated, and much poorer than when we set out. Trying the new Tomb Raider was a thrill, but the best part by far was hanging out with fellow fans. Thanks to Tom, Hunter, Joshua, Adam, Ryan, Keith, Megan and Morgan for turning out, and thanks again to Meagan and Robert for showing us such a good time. Maybe we'll see you again next year!

Photo Credits: Convention goers (first pic): nyutusc.com. Morgan and Stella taken by Morgan's friend. Dallas BBQ photos courtesy of the restaurant. Jenn Croft as Lara by Adam Jay/Superhero Photography. Comic Con crowds (last photo) by numbphoto. Other photos: Square Enix. All rights reserved.

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