While there was plenty of merch for fans of games and places to buy board games, Chicago’s Pop Culture Event (C2E2) was lacking in game programming this year. However, the local Chicago gaming scene was represented in both the video game and tabletop realms with booths by local shops and some great organizations.
One of these hosted a women’s coding networking session through the company meet up. An organizer told me Friday night that the company had reached out to national chapters of Girl Develop It, a non-profit devoted to education and networking for women in programming, after a high demand for places for programmers who are women to meet was communicated to them.
Unfortunately, only two women from outside the organization made it to the meet up, and the rest were men. But I have high hopes that continued meetings will increase the lady developer presence in Chicago nerd events. After all, it’s not as if these women are not already at these events. I suspect they’re just there as fans of comic books and the like.
There were no panels devoted to video games or their creation as in past years, but there were vendors offering nostalgic items for grown up nerds, such as Bartendo’s Nintendo cartridge flasks. On the floor, there were also video game tournaments, as well as open play where players could choose heroes like the Zero Suit Samus as an avatar, lovingly named things like “Ian’s Boobs” and “Buttboy,” only to then be destroyed by 10-year-olds.
Also on the floor were gaming and nerd organizations advertising their causes. While not local, it was good to see Geeks OUT highlighting queer culture and creators.
The Chicago guild for charity group Extra Life had a table—not to fundraise, but to raise awareness for the organization. Chicago’s guild plays for the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, but Extra Life is a large organization with chapters fundraising for different hospitals. David Hansen, guild president, said their purpose at C2E2 was to spread the word about the organization and its workings, explaining that, “Our biggest thing is exposure—since it’s national, the more people that see it helps more kids.”
There was also a booth devoted to spiritual questions about video games called “Gamechurch.” I admit, I did not approach the table, which was advertised with questions like “Would Jesus play video games?” even though they were giving out free lanyards.
I was hoping for more networking opportunities with gaming groups beyond playtests and tournaments, but C2E2 is, after all, a comic book-heavy convention. I’m also happy to report there was less cheesecake passing as fanart this year, though still plenty of sexed-up characters. On the other hand, C2E2’s hardcore display and support of ‘Cosplay Is Not Consent’ was refreshing, and really gave the event an inclusive and safe feel.
In past years, there had been more involvement from local gaming groups and developers, as well as demos by international releases. I don’t know if they were absent this year due to a lack of outreach from C2E2 or because they did not find the experience enriching to them, but they’re certainly missed.