Billings got a taste of how big its “geek community” is Saturday, as about 400 people, many dressed as different fantasy characters, flocked to North Park for a mini comic convention, or a Mini Comic Con, as it was called.
The event’s coordinator, Brit Lindell, who also goes by “Spit Tango,” said the turnout was more than she could have ever hoped for, which she said is a testament to Billings’ thirst for similar “alternative culture” events.
She said the event, hosted by Magic City Fantasy Con in conjunction with the Super Heroes of Montana, was a fundraiser for a full-fledged comic convention that she is adamant about holding next year.
But in order to pull that off, she said, they need about $10,000.
She said there’s no “ifs about it. It’s happening.”
Lindell said they were able to pull Saturday’s event together in seven weeks.
Tickets for the event were $10 for people ages 16 and older and $6 for people ages 7 to 15. Kids 6 and younger got in free.
The event featured costume contests for both kids and adults, dancing, panel discussions and, among other things, a live action role-playing (larping) demonstration.
For the costume contests, the winners were crowned “supreme rulers of Fantasy Con” and were granted free admission to future events.
Three-year larping veteran Vincent Moseman, 27, said the event was huge for his alternative gaming world, Amtgard.
He said the event brought like-minded, “geeky” people together who may have never thought about or knew how to unplug from their digital gaming realms and enter into the “real” one.
“It brought a lot of people doing similar stuff together who never thought they had it in them to unplug and go play,” Moseman said.
Moseman said that although larping is a game, it has real-world benefits.
He said it helped him get over his social anxiety because it forced him to interact with people. It also helped him deal with his sexuality, he said, because it provided a safe, controlled environment to explore who he was through his character, a satyr.
He said unlike digital gaming, larping is also a great workout. One of his friends used to wear a circle design on his chainmail armor. But the friend lost so much weight that the circle became an oval.
As for next years event, Lindell said they are shooting to have it at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center. It should take place June 12 - 14, 2015.