VR, Tattoos, and Drinking With Celebrities at Wizard World Sacramento (Recap)
On July 17th-19th Wizard World invaded the Sacramento Convention Center, bringing together Northern California geeks to celebrate video games, comic books and most importantly celebrities. Being this was a smaller con and the first one of the season, I wanted to take it slow, and mostly test some new camera equipment so I didn’t have a lot planned going into the convention. We arrived Friday night and immediately began shopping the merchandise, checking out vendor booths and in general seeing how we were going to fill out our weekend. Unfortunately being this was only their 3rd year, Wizard World Sacramento was some what lacking when it come convention-goer entertainment. Unless you were there for a celebrity meet and greet, to show off your amazing cosplay creation, or to shop, there wasn’t a ton of stuff to do. This is a scary trend that I have noticed with smaller conventions, instead of creating a geeky atmosphere to share and showcase the culture, we instead get traveling mall/celebrity meet and greet factories. But that’s not to say a small convention doesn’t have its advantages; lines were short, creators and artists were approachable and I never felt over crowded or claustrophobic, even on Saturday.
So, what to do at a small convention that was mostly gaming kiosks hosting games I already owned and small shops selling every imaginable geek accessory, wearable or toy? Why not convince my wife to get Harley Quinn tattooed on her arm. This decision was mostly fueled by alcohol and my wife’s love for getting inked up, but after a few pops we decided to visit the largest booth at Wizard World Sacramento, The Geek Tattoo Legends Tour booth. After some initial joking about getting a geeky tattoo, my wife confidently exclaimed, “Let’s do it.” After a brief discussion we decided she would get a picture of cutesy Margot Robbie, Harley Quinn from the upcoming Suicide Squad film, but under the portrait would read our daughter’s name Harlow Quinn. The appointment was set and we proceeded to drink the night away, keeping in line with our other favorite thing about going to conventions.
After an early morning Starbucks run we headed back to the convention floor so my wife could begin her tattoo adventure and I could go play with the HTC Vive at a private Newegg demo. While the initial work on my wife’s latest body art began, I headed off to checkout VR for the second time, but this time I would get the full, premium experience thanks to Newegg and the HTC Vive. After some slight technical hiccups, the guys over at Newegg strapped me in and I was set to play Space Pirate Trainer. Transported to a platform, staring out over a futuristic city as I looked all around me I was immediately impressed with the world and ability to see in 360 motion and move in open space. After some short instructions from the PR guy it was time to start my training. Holding two Vive controllers, I was rocking two futuristic pistols in game that gave me a variety of weapon options, from laser beam to machine gun and even a riot shield.
The game itself wasn’t anything extreme impressive as it was essentially just a gallery shooter (See The Game-play Video Below) but after spending some time with Vive I can definitely see how VR can become a literal game changer is the technological space. After my demo I was able to chat with Newegg and while they couldn’t say much about VR hardware and its availability on Newegg.com, they did say they are working to make all HR devices available on Newegg and already have PC bundles ready to go and for sale to support the VR boom. After my demo and conversation with Newegg I am sure a VR headset is in my future.
Following the demo I was riding high and excited to experience more of the con, but my wife we about only half way done with the tattoo at this point so it was time to venture off alone. At this point I went from aisle to aisle eyeing things I wanted to buy and stopping every cosplayer I saw for a picture (Wizard World Sacramento Cosplay Gallery HERE). I also spent a lot of time in the very large gaming section at Wizard World Sacramento and lost too many matches to 10 year olds in Street Fighter V.
After a couple of hours the tattoo was complete and Casey Baker from Area 51 Tattoo absolutely killed it. I will admit I was extremely worried at first as the stencil he applied wasn’t exactly jaw dropping. But once he added color and all the subtle details the tattoo came to life and my wife now has Harley Quinn as a permanent fixture on her body. I was a proud moment for any geek husband and every time I see it I see a tribute to not only my daughter but my fandom and there is nothing more a husband could ask for.
Now that the tattoo was done it was time to do some serious shopping and more take a lot more cosplay pics. So it was back to walking the aisles and searching for missing Pops to add the collection, a new Star Wars backpack, and of course all those geeky tees. A couple of hundred dollars later and Saturday at Wizard World Sacramento was in the books, but lucky for us, our convention experience didn’t stop when we left the convention floor. As I mentioned earlier we really like to drink on our convention vacations so it was only natural that after the convention was over we would hit the hotel bar for some drinks and dinner. Much to our surprise it appears Sebastian Stan had the same idea. Being a guest of the convention he was also staying at our hotel and appears to like to cap of his nights the same way we do. Being the gushing fan I am i of course approached the Winter Solider and we engaged in some small talk as we sipped our vodka tonics. This was an unexpected highlight of the trip and another great reason to spend the extra cash and stay in the hotel closest to the convention.
Sunday came with little fan fair as we had already experienced most of what Wizard World Sacramento had to offer, so it was back to taking cosplay pics and spending more money on Geek swag. As we left Sacramento I felt good about our latest convention experience and while Wizard World may come across as a factory-con designed to squeeze every penny out of its attendees, I always enjoy a smaller more intimate con, because you truly get to experience all it has to offer with minimal frustration. Wizard World Sacramento wasn’t a life changing experience but if definitely left me with enough magical memories to warrant a return.