The second day of adventures at MAGFest 2015, held at the Gaylord Convention Center.
I spent a good amount of my morning looking for the things I needed for the cosplay that I was going to wear that day. A few years previously I had made a simple Thief from Final Fantasy 3 costume. Black shorts, white shirt, a green sash and a green bandana. I had given it some simple flairs, a key ring with numerous skeleton keys attached, a wooden knife, fingerless gloves, and along for the ride my moogle plush (affectionately named Kupachi). Being as it's January and cold as balls outside, I packed everything up into my bag and set off for the convetion to change there.
I spent about twenty minutes in the bathroom getting ready. The tight quarters of the stall were only challenged by the small space in my bag. For some reason, I thought it was bigger on the inside and had a terrible time getting my shoes, jeans, shirt, and coat into it. I eventually succeeded and was rewarded with a ready to burst bag to carry around with me everywhere I went. I fussed with the sash for a while, trying to get it just right. When I finally felt myself presentable, I left the bathroom behind and returned to the convention with Kupachi in hand.
The marketplace and game room were already open this morning, the later probably still open from the previous day. I wandered the marketplace for a while, looking to see if I could find anything interesting that I may have missed the first time through. There were a lot of cool goods being offered, but nothing really caught my eye at this point. I searched the rare game selections for a copy of that last part of the .hack// series for the PS2, still feeling regret in not being able to send my friend the complete series as a christmas present. I struck out at every vendor, but not before chewing one out for selling the PS2 version of FFXI for 50 dollars. Got 50 bucks to waste? I know someone who's selling a completely unplayable game right now.
I quickly tired of walking around at this point. I had been on my feet for roughly nine hours the previous day and walked gods know how far in that marketplace already. I settled down in the game room beside a girl dressed as Belle from Beauty and the Beast and watched her play Dark Souls for three hours. She wasn't very good, but I'll admit neither am I. She had just arrived at the main hub of the game world when I arrived and I watched as she played through the parts of the game that I was most familiar with.
At first I tried not to be a backseat gamer. I didn't want to interrupt her or point things out when she messed up, but slowly I was starting to get into it and I gave her little tips and pointed things out to her. She made he way slowly through to the first real boss, the Taurus Demon, and on her first attempt accidently rolled into the ladder rather than climb it .She was destroyed quickly and sent back to the bonfire. It took her another hour and a half to get past that boss, succeeding with her last Gold Pine Resin. She scored the leaping attack and I sat there cheering for her, urging her to not stop attacking. When the Taurus Demon fell dead, she admitted that she had the game at home and this was the furthest she had ever gotten.
She eventually gave up, unable to consistently get to the boar mini-boss without nearly dying. She had gotten close to clearing all the fodder before fighting it once, but as her attempts dragged on I had a feeling she had peaked. When she left and another player took over, I gave up on watching and wandered for a while longer. I settled at a table in one of the main hallways played on my 3DS. I did a lot more Find Mii and even more puzzle pieces. Played some Smash Bros and took care of all the Street Pass data that came flooding in for my games. I completed my second win of Find Mii and was happy to see Find Mii 2 unlocked. I was not wanting for adventurers to throw at that and find me more hats.
I ended up sitting there doing that for a couple hours and decided to get up and wander, to see if there were any interesting panels or if I could find more treasures in the marketplace. I saw a cosplayer dressed in the simple white and red robes of a classic White Mage. This was perfect. Here I was as a Thief, there he was as a White Mage. All we needed was a Black Mage and a Fighter and we could be four heros of light. I told him as much and was given a look of disgust as a response. As he walked away it hit me.
What am I even doing here? There's all these people who are dressed nice in their costumes that they've worked hard on and I'm the jackass with a sash around his waist and a bandana carrying a moogle around. How much time and effort went into my costume, if it could even be called that, and I expect to be treated with the same level of respect? I couldn't help but think back to a similar situation, years prior at an Otakon when I had attended as a Blue Mage.
I had gotten a pair of pirate-y boots, slacks made from a medievil themed costume pattern, a nice long sleeved period shirt off the same site I got the boots, and a gorgeous blue vest from a celtic festival. I had a blue cape made and painted my own mask. It wasn't a terrible costume in the least. Yet when I tried to join a large group of Final Fantasy cosplayers for photos I had been snubbed. As though I had no right to be with this group of Terra's and Cloud's. I had shrugged it off then, and even found a classic White Mage, Black Mage, and Scholar to take a picture with. Why was this incident so different?
I found the nearest bathroom and started changing back into my weather appropriate clothing. What was I thinking? This was a terrible idea. I'm not fit to cosplay anything. My proportions are off, I don't have the time or money to spend on such a hobby, I don't fit in with any of these people here. Why did I think I could approach someone at random and try to join in their fun?
I left the convention center and stalked through the cold down Fleet Street toward the parking garage. Despite it being only early afternoon, it felt colder than it did the previous night. I returned to my car and just as I'm pulling out of the parking garage I get a text from my brother-in-law. "Where u @?" I read the message and snorted derisively. I'm leaving. Far too little, far too late. I didn't get another text from my brother-in-law until I was almost home a good forty minutes later. I ignored that one too.
My wife was surprised to see me home early and I gave her the excuse that there was nothing in the evening I wanted to be there for. My parents were watching the baby that night anyway, so might as well take my wife out to dinner, right? We had a nice evening out at a place called Adam's Ribs. We always order the same thing there, the rack of ribs. Why get anything else? After dinner I drove her to an ice cream parlor for desert. During the ride we talked, surprisingly the topic was on games. Perhaps spurred on by that, or maybe in an attempt to make myself feel better, I stopped at Gamestop and picked up Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix.
I spent the next three hours remembering why everyone hates the beginning KHII. I was feeling mildly better about my earlier insecurities, but it was still dwelling on my mind. I did my best to get some sleep, the next day was going to be long and loud.