Losing My BlizzCon Virginity – Why Did I Ever Wait!?




I’ve been involved actively in the world of interactive digital entertainment for almost 20 years, but had never attended BlizzCon. The dazed and dazzled faces of my students and colleagues who had attended previous BlizzCons underscored how BlizzCon was indeed something very special; but the stars had just never aligned for me to experience it personally. That all changed this year as I was fortunate enough to attend as part of the media team for Inven/Inven Global, the preeminent Korean and English-language Esports websites, and long-time supporter of all things Blizzard Entertainment.

It seemed most appropriate for BlizzCon to occur in Anaheim as the level of affection, joy, adoration, and anticipation emanating from the waiting throngs of devotees mirrored that of the neighboring Disney visitors. Disney, in fact, might be the only entertainment rival to the sheer and utter delight I experienced during BlizzCon.

The experience was akin to an alien spaceship landing boldly in Anaheim, California, calling forth the alien horde that had been implanted and multiplied on Earth years or ages previously. This was more of a summoning than mere attendance, akin to the quixotical gathering of Druids and pagans at Stonehenge. If BlizzCon ever wanted to change its name, Blizzard Evocation would be a good substitute.

Seldom I have been as impressed with the logistical command of a company as that demonstrated by Blizzard at BlizzCon. They transformed the Anaheim Convention Center – in its totality – into a Blizzard theme park, in many ways fulfilling the long-held dream of Blizzard devotees of there being an actual, physical, temporal, Blizzard World.


Entire halls were dedicated to Blizzard’s premiere franchises: StarCraft, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch. Cosplay characters from these universes mingled together like patrons in Star War’s Mos Eisley Cantina.

I’ve been to numerous cosplay events throughout the world, but BlizzCon cosplay is on a different level of devotion and dedication. Costumes here are literally transformations, veritable portals into genuine character identity. The meticulous crafting of this fashion rivals anything nearby Hollywood could produce. The ultimate BlizzCon cosplay competition was handled with respect and admiration. I pitied the judges designating a winner from the panoply of brilliant costumes. As one who loathes the notion of everyone getting a trophy, I could easily have seen there being a triple winner among these contestants.


The great reveals of individual game evolution and explosive news elicited rightful cheers, gasps, excitement, and an immediate desire to descend to the gaming platforms set up in each distinct area to explore these advancements. This is marketing brilliance in its purest form.

About the only criticism of BlizzCon I could conjure was the amateur musical talent competition. This totally self-serving exercise seemed Trump-like in its overt corporate narcissism. While I was happy the contestants got their public moment in the sun, this interlude suffered from sycophantic judges and grating tonality. The only detraction in an otherwise amazing conference, this interval served to heighten anticipation for Muse.

The appearance of Muse as the closing musical act seemed a fitting conclusion to this otherworldly experience. Their dynamic amalgam of heavy metal, throbbing motor bass, ethereal tones, and haunting lyrics rained down upon the crowd like manna from heaven.

BlizzCon 2017 was my wedding night. I lost my BlizzCon virginity and came out of it seeded, impregnated by a whiteout of Blizzard Entertainment. Time to start working on my cosplay outfit for 2018!




■ About the author

Professor Donald Marinelli's unwearying support was imperative in the foundation of Inven Global. As our Director of Innovation, he is planning to utilize his great interest in and understanding of the Korean game development and entertainment technology industries.

Donald Marinelli is a household name in the American digital entertainment industry. As a co-founder of the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center in Pittsburgh - a top-tier educational institution in the fields of game development and entertainment technology - he taught over 31 years countless students who would go on to work with industry-leading organizations such as EA, Ubisoft, and Disney.

Since leaving CMU ETC in 2012, Donald Marinelli has gone on to expand his influence on the American digital entertainment industry by co-founding SD Technologies, delivering lectures as a Visiting Senior Professor at Arizona State, and serving as the Academic Director for Columbia University's Entertainment Technology Management program.

With his wealth of experience and contacts in the gaming and entertainment industries, Donald Marinelli will help Inven Global effectively connect with the North American market.


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