If someone would have told me as a kid I would one day grow up, make my own armor, and dress up as one of my favorite video game characters along with my friends and get treated like celebrities for a day in one of the coolest, most colorful environments ever, I would have had a hard time believing this would be true. Then again, remembering the kind of imagination I had as a kid, maybe I would have.
My first PAX East experience for me was like living in a fantasy world for an entire day. As a lifelong fantasy-lover/writer and gamer I was able to take part in one of the most ultimate geek experiences. I have been to a handful of cons already and have cosplayed before, but this one was extra special since I made 85% of my costume and was able to parade around as Princess Zelda (Hyrule Warriors version) for the entire day. I was fully immersed in the energy around me where taking on the mannerisms of Hylian royalty, donning a full suit of armor and jeweled crown was the norm. Everywhere you looked there were fangs, claws, oversized-weapons, scale mail, LEDs, potion bottles, prosthetics, horns, and so much more! It was as if you were walking on set of a movie where all the characters you’ve ever loved were somehow let loose in the same realm, perhaps by way of a thousand portals. What an otherworldly atmosphere to find yourself in where the person next to you makes you do a double take so you can assure yourself they aren’t really part dragon.
Some of my most memorable experiences there were when people called out to me as if I were Zelda herself. They called out to me as if they already knew me. Of course I turned with a smile as if I was greeted by old friends, because just like me they shared the same love for the game series or the beloved princess of Hyrule. I found myself calling out to many cosplayers in the same way in hopes to meet them, have a conversation, and snap a few pictures. The barriers of unfamiliarity were completely absent and that was proof we were all the same, no matter what fandom we hailed from, what we looked like, who we really were underneath the costume. However, I must say when you came across characters from the same fandom it felt like somehow you were being reunited and it was exciting!
I have to say there were a few moments when I was a little taken aback. Once you wear something for a few hours even though it’s super uncomfortable you get used to it. Sometimes you forget you are in character. I had a young woman come up to me and she straight up fangirled. Over me? How crazy! She told me how much Princess Zelda had meant to her and she began fanning herself almost breaking into tears and asked for a picture. I had never experienced anything like that before, but I understood how much this character meant to her and I was happy to put a smile on her face. I will never forget that moment!
There were others too, some seemed afraid to come up to me perhaps being overly shy while others approached me readily and asked for a picture. At one point, I had a crowd of tens of people all taking pictures of me. There were so many cameras pointed at me I often didn’t know where to look! For an introvert, I was in awe of this moment. Never had I thought I would experience anything like this in my entire life! I know I am only a little speck in the geek world, but I appreciated this moment and my hard work had paid off. Not only that, but my friends received the same kind of attention. How cool is it to see people call out to your friends and have them pose for a number of pictures? As one of my best friends, Clarence, aka Barret Wallace put it- “It was surreal.”
I was happy to meet a number of new people, cosplayers who I follow including Lindsay Elyse and Kay Thomas (who inspire the f*ck out of me), and people who follow me on social media. I appreciated all the cosplayers there, because no two costumes were exactly the same even if two people were the same character. You were able to see that person’s version of the character and that was everything. I have never seen so much color, passion, and creativity all in motion in one giant place in all my life. I am grateful that video games and cosplay have gone in this direction and remain widely popular...and I get to be a part of it.
Watch highlights of my first PAX East experience here: