Toronto Comic-Con 2023

The Wrath Of Comic-Con And The Lack Of Video Games

Comic-Con wasn't for the gamers this year

Walking into the North Hall of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for Comic Con 2023, it hit me. This year’s convention was a much smaller affair with much more focus on the event’s comics and graphic novel background and a little dash of various other nerdoms scattered around the show floor.

There were hardly any celebrity guests outside of comics this year, aside from a few TV shows and The Boyswhich are basically top of the Toronto talent pool since the show started filming in Toronto and the GTHA.

Don’t get me wrong, I am so glad that comic book fans have a place that is uniquely their own, and gamers can still find collectables and the lot on the show floor that appeals to them. But I sorely think that Comic-Con needs more gaming!

I’ve been thinking for the past couple of weeks about the humble convention, and how they appear to be morphing into events more of community and less promotion.

To be fair to event organizers of Comic Con and Fan Expo, the latter has always been the one where gaming has most found itself. And with the first guests announced, there’s lots of time for gaming guests, exhibitors, and companies to be announced, find myself wondering what this year will look like.

Ready Player None

This year’s convention featured a couple of booths for local gaming charity organizations as well as a central row of claw machine games but with no other interactive play areas and no big-name video game exhibitors. I will note that with PAX East happening the same weekend in Boston, you could argue that is where the party was.

But there have to be things easy to add to a show floor to attract more gamers. A classic arcade or a streamers zone, the latter being something that Fan Expo has made strides in providing over the past few years.

Nintendo, Sony and Xbox usually have a presence at Fan Expo, and they don’t need one at Comic-Con. But having room to meet up with other gamers and play sponsored by one or all of these companies in the way there were sponsored game rooms for card and board game players would go a long way to getting gamers.

Sunday had a Pokémon theme, which gave the guest a chance to partake in a Pikachu scavenger hunt, pokéball and a craft, which was great for families but felt awkward to be a part of as a 30-year-old dude on his own. There was trivia, though. And that’s always fun!

The voices of gamers were there

Let’s celebrate one more victory, if you’re the type of gamer that wants to meet the voice behind your favourite character, this was still a golden opportunity for you.

While video games may not have been on display, there were some vocal talents from gaming to interact with.

Emily Swallow currently spends most of the time behind The Mandalorian’s Forge, but she did creep the heck out of Us in The Last of Us Part II as the Seraphite Emily.

And Matt Ryan still has one of the most memorable Assassin’s Creed performances as Captain Edward Kenway in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

Hometown talent Eric Bauza has done a lot of video game voice stuff for Nickelodeon and Disney, but nothing is ever going to top his work on the Battletoads re-release… nothing!

Oh… and Sean Gunn was in Lollipop ChainsawI almost forgot that work of art.

Comic-Con, Put us back into the Game

Look, I’m glad that Comic-Con is thriving post-COVID. I am glad that comic fans and TV fans get so much to enjoy during Comic Con.

All I am saying is that the Toronto video game scene doesn’t get much aside from Fan Expo these days, and it would be nice to see Comic-Con give us something to keep us going until then.

Perhaps PAX North?