Last weekend I attended the inaugural Emerald Coast Con 2015 (ECC2K15), the all-generation gaming convention held in Fort Walton Beach, FL. From October 23-25, 2015, fans of retro, current-gen, next-gen, and indie gaming and computer science convened at the Emerald Coast Convention Center for a weekend full of multi-genre entertainment. ECC2K15 is one of a handful of conventions to pop up in the Florida panhandle as of late. Aside from the obvious games and technology, there was an assortment of pop-culture exhibits and fanfare, including cosplay, vendor hall, and even the debut of a crime scene themed escape room operated by Escape Zone 60 out of Destin.
ECC2K15’s primary mission was that of a video game fundraising initiative. Aside from promoting an appreciation for gaming and media arts entertainment, and advocating computer-science education and literacy, ECC2K15 built awareness and recognition for hunger-relief and disability efforts in NWFL. Destin Harvest and The Arc of The Emerald Coast, two local nonprofits, financed, organized, and benefited from ECC2K15.
Arriving at the front doors of the Emerald Coast Convention Center, and then entering the pre-function area, attendees were welcomed to massive foam fabrications by Fabadashery, creators of themed event and dimensional décor. Attendees were invited to pose with the master sword and shield from Legend of Zelda and huge mushroom and pipes from Super Mario Brothers.
ECC2K15 hosted ten competitive gaming tournaments for the Wii U, PS4, and Xbox One on the Gaming Expo Floor. Attendees competed in Super Smash Brothers 4, Mortal Kombat, Call of Duty: AW, Ultra Super Street Fighter 4, BlazBlue: Chrono Extend, Halo 4, Killer Instinct, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, and other games for prize packages.
The non-competitive gamers had casual gaming options in the retro console room and the retro arcade. The retro console room had 25 retro gaming stations including: NES, Super Nintendo, N64, GameCube, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, Playstation 1 and 2, Xbox, NeoGeo, and Turbo Duo consoles. Volunteer technicians and arcade sponsors worked months in advance to restore and maintain 16 retro arcade games for the retro arcade. No quarters were required for attendees, who could spend hours on end playing free rounds of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, Street Fighter, NFL Blitz, The Simpsons, and Ms. Pacman.
Guest panels included internet personality Toby Turner (a.k.a. Tobuscus), Billy and Jay – The Game Chasers, Tom Fulp (co-Founder of the Behemoth and creator of Newgrounds.com), and Norman Caruso, the creator of Gaming Historian. There was also a performance by The Super Guitar Bros, an acoustic/classical guitar duo creating covers of their favorite video game songs.
There were adult and child cosplay contests on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, bringing out costumes from all genres, from gaming, comic books, anime and TV and movies.
The ECC2K15 Facebook page had this to say regarding the future of ECC2k15:
“The support received was amazing. To see the lines Friday morning was surreal. We hope everyone had as good of a time as we did putting this event on. We are definitely planning a year two!”