When teens get asked, "What did you do over the weekend?", typical answers might be: went to the movies, hung out at the mall or played "Modern Warfare 3" or "Skyrim." But when you hear: "I hung out with my good friends Naruto, Scott Pilgrim and Princess Peach," don't think they're crazy. They may have just gone to a gaming convention.
The weekend of Nov. 5 and 6, the gaming convention Mini-Con XL was held at the University at Buffalo. Fans of anime, video games, role-playing games (RPGs) and cosplay took part in the event.
At a convention such as Mini-Con XL, the first thing a visitor might notice is people dressed as characters from an anime, movie, TV show or video game. This performance art, known as "cosplay," is very common at gaming conventions. So it was not surprising at UB to see people dressed as Jack Skellington, Link, Pokemon characters, Alice in Wonderland characters and even the Nyan Cat.
But Mini-Con mainly focused on table-top RPGs. Throughout the weekend, games in which the players assumed the roles of fictional characters were being played. They were the convention's most popular events.
For those who weren't into RPGs, there were other things to do at the convention. Events ranged from watching anime and sci-fi movies, playing video games (including a "StarCraft II" tournament), vendors, to a zombie Nerf battle, a costume contest, and for those who didn't mind being there until 1 a.m., a rave. That may seem like a lot to do, but surprisingly, some people found themselves without enough to do.
Amanda Murphy, a senior at Mount St. Mary Academy, just couldn't keep herself occupied.
"I think there needed to be more events. I spent a lot of time just wandering, trying to find something to do," she said. "It seemed like the majority of the people there were just chatting in the lobby. Obviously they couldn't find events to participate in either."
It seemed finding something to do was difficult for several people who attended Mini-Con XL. It looked like the only people who were fully occupied all the time were the hard-core RPG players.
Some people just sat around talking with their friends and other people they met. And that's when people started to come together.
Nathanael Wittlinger, a senior at Akron High School, expressed the true purpose of the convention -- for people with similar interests to come together, connect with each other and make new friends.
"What I liked most about Mini-Con was I was surrounded by other people who liked anime, video games and cosplay just like me," Nathanael said. "It was a perfect place for people like me to make friends."
While there may not have been as much going on as some people would have liked, the fun was all there in the people who attended. Fans of Mini-Con XL and other gaming conventions can look forward to UB-Con 2012, a much larger convention similar to Mini-Con that will be held in mid-April.
David Caya is a senior at Akron High School.