YLC’s Nina Uddin spent some quality time at ComicCon Gamex among gaming enthusiasts and cosplayers.
The Gamex expo has been held in Stockholm since 2010 and it’s been growing steadily each year, gathering lots of youngsters (and those young at heart) during the autumn school break to test the latest game releases. This year the gaming was combined with comics, movies and TV series to fill up the hall at Kistamässan with all things popular culture – in cooperation with the London Comic Con – so the new name for the event was Comic Con Gamex.
Walking around the aisles it was evident that the wider scope of the convention had brought along much more cosplayers, which made people-watching the most interesting part of the whole experience. One could see meticulously crafted costumes, everything from Batgirl and Spiderman to all your favorite Nintendo characters and Manga school girls, and on to my personal nerd girl favorites like Lara Croft of Tomb Raider and Alex Vause of Orange is the New Black. The 501st Nordic Garrison had brought along their Star Wars characters, so people could get photographed with Darth Vader or the Stormtroopers (with all their proceeds donated to charity). There was also the Batmobile to mark the 75th anniversary of the Batman comic – and the Ghostbusters van to mark the 30th anniversary of the movie.
Jenny Lejon from Gothenburg was dressed as what could be described as a vampire ice queen. She told her impressive costume and make-up had taken about three hours to get ready, and getting those vampire teeth fixed took another hour. She told she likes to attend special events and parades that give her the chance to dress up.
Beside the full-blown costumes, many visitors were wearing caps or T-shirts or other items of clothing linked to their favorite pop culture characters. If they didn’t bring that stuff along from home, there was plenty on offer in many stalls selling merchandise to fulfill the desires of any nerdy collector or fangirl. Swedish gaming success Minecraft was obviously still popular with the younger crowd and another one of this year’s favorites seemed to be League of Legends, with Teemo caps looking like a top-seller. Books, posters, plush toys and mini figures were also on offer and all of this was very fascinating to peruse. As my own nerdiness is more geared towards music, I didn’t actually buy anything (well beside that Teemo cap for my youngest son). But had I spotted some Wonder Woman or Lara Croft merch, I could very well have come home with a T-shirt, too.
One of the most interesting stalls was that of Canvas Warriors, who had come all the way from the UK with their hand-painted custom shoes and handcrafted fantasy-themed jewelry. Sandra Reddy told it was in fact the first time they were in Scandinavia. They had had people from Sweden ordering products from their website and thought it would be a great idea to come to Stockholm for the convention. The reception had been very good, she told, as I was admiring their hand-painted Converse sneakers with motifs ranging from Harry Potter to Game of Thrones.
The gaming part of the convention centered on new releases from the largest gaming companies. Long lines were formed to get the chance to try out Far Cry 4 or Battlefield Hardline, as well as the latest installment of Just Dance and Sims 4. Figures from the gaming industry show that around 60 percent of the Swedish population are playing electronic games, and about half of them are now women and girls. So the picture of gamers as nerdy young men is outdated, as gaming has become entertainment for the masses.
But there’s been quite a bit of debate on sexism in the gaming world this year. Women who have spoken out against the lingering sexist attitudes in many games have been targeted with so much harassment and even death threats it is worrying. Many representatives of the Swedish gaming industry joined together in a recent debate article on Svenska Dagbladet and started a petition in support of diversity in gaming and against sexism. I also spoke to some students from the University of Skövde, where they’ve started a network called Donna in support of a more inclusive gaming industry and with the aim of recruiting more women into game development. That is definitely the way to go, as the gaming world still has plenty of improving to do on that front.
In any case, Comic Con Gamex felt very welcoming of all types of people and it was a blast geeking out admiring all that cool fandom stuff and all those crazy cool costumes – and just generally being a nerd among those who take nerdiness to another level.
Your next opportunity to find your inner nerd or get in cosplay gear is at the The Scandinavian Sci-Fi, Game & Film Convention, which is held at Stockholmsmässan on 29-30 November.
All photos by Nina Uddin