BlerdCon Convention Keeps Getting Bigger and Better

The BlerdCon Convention in 2023 was bigger than one hotel could hold as the amazing event keeps getting larger and larger. Held in Arlington, Virginia this year, it was within walking distance to Reagan National Airport and had easy access to Metro stations and Amtrak trains. That made it easy to get to, whether attendees were coming from the nearby cities surrounding Washington, D.C. or from across the country.

Blerdcon CEO Hilton George
Blerdcon CEO Hilton George

The events this year were held at both the Hyatt Regency Crystal City and the quieter Courtyard Marriott which is right across the street. That was a good thing because BlerdCon is so huge now that it’s always busy and packed with free standing video games, video game competitions, interesting panels, a busy table-top-RPG room and large events like the cosplay competition and dances.

We were able to get a quick picture of BlerdCon’s CEO Hilton George as he was going from a meeting to an event. He has been very busy the past year hitting lots of other conventions like Momocon, Katsucon and MAGfest to hold BlerdCon panels. He’s even working crossover events on stage at Wooly Mammoth.

This year, BlerdCon ran from July 7 to 9, and this groundbreaking convention continues to fill up and fulfill its mission statement, “BlerdCon (Black Nerd Convention) is a convention that celebrates black nerd culture while also being inclusive of all backgrounds.” This year’s celebration went by the theme Fae’d to Black, which centered on the “mystical realm of fantasy creatures often associated with nature, such as fairies, elves, satyrs, nymphs and trolls.”

Video By Ron Kipling Williams

One room that embodied Fae’d to Black was located in the ballroom level of the hotel where there were D&D Learn to Play Sessions/D&D Advanced Sessions.

Dungeon and Game Masters Joyce Castro, Montel Thompson and Xel Garnett-Small
Dungeon and Game Masters Joyce Castro, Montel Thompson and Xel Garnett-Small

Overseeing the room was Montel Thompson. Thompson’s first tabletop TTRPG was Gamma World where he got to play an alien. He then went into the Navy and didn’t get a chance to play for many years. He bought D&D books and read them, but couldn’t find a group to join. Now, he plays in many groups, has his own Twitch and YouTube channels and runs the room at BlerdCon.

A few years ago, Thompson even collaborated with Roll20 for a panel on world building.

“The energy is great and lots of fun,” Thompson said. “I appreciate the growth, a lot of it by word of mouth. We keep the door open for everyone, so that everyone feels like they belong.” BlerdCon is partnered with Dungeons and Dragons Adventure League representative Eric Menge with a cadre of professional Dungeon Masters, such as Leia Robertson.

Menge stated that the gaming part of the show probably experienced a “300 percent growth this year” and noted that there were two tiers of interaction that were working well. “The first was a 30 minute format learn to play which worked well for those who wanted to drop in-between events and panels which gave them a taste of cooperative storytelling. Then we built on that with a later two-hour adventure.”

Thompson noted that the room was open to anyone who wanted to run a different system, and he had one person even play-test their own tabletop RPG last year.

Moving over to video games, BlerdCon really had a huge space for gamers to enjoy. The video game lounge was run by Aim Hit Go, and it featured both free play as well as game tournaments. There were also some old-school stand-up retro arcade machines that always had players button mashing, toggling and working the old-style industrial joysticks for hours on end.

There were many panels on video games, and video game culture was also everywhere with the huge cosplay crowds, many of which were portraying their favorite video game characters. Of course, there was a cosplay contest and the winners were amazing, but everyone in costume looked great and more importantly, were having a great time.

They even had a cosplay repair station sponsored by the community-minded NOVA Labs to help out in the event of wardrobe malfunctions. This one-stop shop had hot glue guns, a sewing machine and tools galore along with crafty, friendly individuals to help out any of the cosplayers who had drooping wings, busted horns or other costume emergencies.

Some of the events like the panel discussion by actor Cree Summer (Adult Swim, Animaniacs, A Different World) and writer/actor Rachel True (books – True Heart Intuitive Tarot, Emotional Inflammation, acting-Harlem, Horror Noire, The Craft) were moderated by MSNBC’s Jason Johnson. Those panels in particular were filled with funny stories, great advice and even a little bit of wisdom.

If you missed BlerdCon this year, then the good news is that next year’s event will be even bigger. It’s set for 2024 and will be held from July 12 through the 14. GiN will be there, and we hope that all of you will be too.

Share this GiN Article on your favorite social media network:

One thought on “BlerdCon Convention Keeps Getting Bigger and Better”

  1. Thanks for the love, it was nice being apart of this amazing event! NovaLabs will be doing cosplay repair at most of the nerdy DMV conventions, find us when you need a hand with your busted katanas!

Comments are closed.