September 28, 2020

BY ALLANAH PINHORN

There have been elves, daleks, zombies and gunslingers in Guelph for years, if you know where to look. An oasis for all things geek, anime, steampunk, furry or WHO, Con-G, a kanji-based pun that is short for Convention Guelph, has been delighting cosplayers, nerds and comic book fans alike for five years.

Held from Feb. 22 to 24 at the Delta Hotel in Guelph, the event attracted over 1,500 people, most of a like mind. Local artist and part-time costumer Sabrina Scalarini manned a booth at the show this year for the first time.

“I walk in here with a rainbow- coloured wig and no one looks at me weird,” she said. “They all run up to me and say, ‘Oh my god, the wig looks great. Where did you get it? Can I give you a hug?’”

Indeed, Con-G is well known for creating a safe-haven for shy and usually self-proclaimed nerds. Along with the usual artist and swag tables, over 75 different panels and events were held over the three days, including geek speed dating, wig styling, ask a scientist, prop making, cosplay 101 and armour smithing. High-profile topics ranged from My Little Pony to 18+ Hentai, HP Lovecraft and Sherlock Holmes.

Also featured were: Pokemon and other gaming tables, music and theatre geared toward geeks, a weekend-long interactive murder mystery, the Dr. WHO lounge and the Masquerade, an adjudicated costume contest.

Special guests included Derek the Bard, Big Mike of the 404s, Dr. Holocaust and acclaimed voice-over artist Rob Paulsen. Many will recognize Paulsen as the voice of Yakko on Animaniacs, Raphael in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon and Pinky from Pinky and the Brain; he treated the audience to a good ol’ “Narf!”

One of the biggest presences at Con-G this year was Toronto-based Underworld LARP. An immersive game usually played outdoors, LARPing, or live-action role-playing, combines fantasy and horror. Players create and live as their characters 24 hours a day during a game, which follows a broad storyline dictated by the actions of the characters. Much like acting out a Dungeons and Dragons campaign or living a video game, relationships form, alliances are broken and combat ensues. A complex rule book outlining races, talents and abilities shapes combat; it often includes spells, shields, weapon damage and healing.

Many players become very attached to their characters. “When you play a character for five years, it’s like a second you,” Underworld co-owner David Ashby told the National Post.

LARPer Conor Goodeve knows this all too well. “I feel like I could switch into my character at anytime, I’m just so linked to my character. It’s awesome.”

Goodeve, who is from Owen Sound, is used to being judged by people who don’t understand the joys of live-action role-playing. He loves events like Con-G for the simple reason of being able to fit in. “There is a social stigma against it (LARPing), but in general everyone here has enjoyed hearing about Underworld,” he said.