DragonCon 2016: An Awesome Overview

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The year 2016 was auspicious for DragonCon as it was the 30th anniversary of the convention, and as such, the convention itself was swirling with even more excitement than usual. There were big celebrity names in attendance such as William Shatner, though he was only available for autographs; Charlie Cox of Daredevil fame; Alex Kingston for the Whovians; Alexander Siddig of both Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Game of Thrones; the cast of Grimm; and even familiar faces from CW’s The Flash.

The Dealer’s Room overflowed with fantastic geeky merchandise, and gamers flocked to the boardgaming and RPG venues. As always, the costumes were an important part of the entire spectacle, ranging from ridiculously funny to painstakingly crafted, and the concert offerings this year were top notch.

The Good

Even the Beerbarians were happy this year!
Even the Beerbarians were happy this year!

One of the really inspired changes DragonCon staff made this year was shifting the game room from the bottom floor of the Hilton and shifting it to the Americas Mart complex. Doing so afforded not only the gamers more space and therefore more space for demo games but also afforded them the opportunity to nip conveniently to the vendors’ spaces in order to purchase either dice (really who has enough dice?) or some of the games being demonstrated. The move also allowed the good folks at LifeSouth to set up an additional location in the basement of the Hilton, which is perfect for attendees who prefer to give blood in a slightly quieter space.

The registration lines remained short, even if lines for panels were not. Fortunately, my experience was that most attendees handled the lines with equanimity. I heard the usual “Line Con” jokes, but in all honesty, standing in line with for the panel on dagger use, we chatted with other attendees about the convention, mutual interests, and generally made new friends. Truly one of the best things about DragonCon is that it provides attendees just with this kind of opportunity to meet new friends and realize just how small the world really is.

The Odd

This year’s app seemed to be a bit less convenient, whether it was from updates going through or the mad press of more than 70,000 people attempting to use their data to upload photos of that fantastic costume they saw on the sidewalk between the Sheraton and the Marriott. Fortunately, DragonCon provides paper programs which outline the activities by both Track and day so that attendees can determine how best to parcel out their time while on-site.

Dance magic dance!
Dance magic dance!

The art show entrance changed from one side of its usual location to the other. While I appreciate the ease of access, I am really not certain quite why that particular change was made. Regardless, there were fantastic artists offering a wide variety of prints and crafts, including old favorites such as Mark Helwig. If you have yet to check out the art show and bazaar, you should do yourself a favor and do so.

Last year, I discovered the panels presented by the Atlanta Freifechter group regarding European martial arts, which is a fancy name for medieval swordfighting. This year, I made it a point to attend their panel on defending against daggers, which rapidly dwarfed the space in the Armory. Fortunately, DragonCon staff were able to find them a bigger space in which to present their panel, which was a fascinating look at how daggers were used in medieval martial arts complete with the opportunity to run drills (with pencils, not edged weapons). However, going forward, I hope DragonCon finds additional space for these guys because what they do is fantastic.

The Awesome

Dont you want to hug my little arms?
Dont you want to hug my little arms?

I have mentioned previously that the Benihana in Peachtree Center is worth checking out for a respite, and apparently, The Bride and 88 of her craziest friends took me up on the suggestion. Only at DragonCon can one eat hibachi while sharing a restaurant with cosplayers dedicated enough to come as close as possible to finding 88 Tarantino fans.

Speaking of costumes, DragonCon is always host to some amazing cosplay, and this year was no exception. World of Warcraf and Warhammer 40,000 were both well represented as were Harley and Joker from the recent film Suicide Squad, but my favorite this year, bar none, were the T-Rexes offering free, albeit awkward, hugs.

Aracknoid3 had the best Deadshot cosplay I have ever seen, using his adaptive devices to his best advantage in order to yield my favorite photograph of the convention—Deadshot taking out a series of Necromongers.

Deadshot taking out a series of Necromongers.
Deadshot taking out a series of Necromongers.

I highly recommend you check out the gallery we will be posting for more.

Every year DragonCon somehow steps up its game, and 2016 was no exception. If you are anywhere near the Atlanta area, or are able to get there, do yourself a favor and check it out next year as it is becoming a favorite stop, and rightfully so, for thousands of grateful attendees.

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