Ships, stars and swag

by Caitlin Johnson

It’s interesting what you can discover if you let yourself go with the flow at Comic-Con. I had little planned for today, yet it still turned out to be one of the best days I’ve had in all my years of attendance.

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San Diego’s own Star of India has been transformed for the weekend to promote Ubisoft’s upcoming “Assassin’s Creed” title. Photo by Caitlin Johnson

The morning began early enough at the harbor behind the convention center. For Friday and Saturday, game developer Ubisoft had commandeered the Star of India and transformed it into the “Jackdaw” to promote the upcoming release of “Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.” They spared no expense at bringing the daunting pirate ship to life. Costumed crew roamed the deck, and if you were lucky enough you could spot Edward Kenway, lead character of the new title, or the fearsome Blackbeard himself. Demo kiosks were set up below deck, and for a while fans could meet with Todd McFarlane, who contributed to the art and design of the game. Most may know him better as the creator of the “Spawn” comic series.

Photo by Caitlin Johnson
Photo by Caitlin Johnson

While waiting in line to board the ship, I heard commotion just ahead. People were rushing and fumbling with cameras–I knew something or someone incredible was close by. Sure enough, it was Norman Reedus, the talented actor known for his roles such as Murphy MacManus in “The Boondock Saints” and Daryl Dixon in AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” I’ll be the first to admit I squealed like a little fangirl. I had always hoped to someday meet the man, and here he was, right in front of me! He took his time snapping quick photos with the swarm of surrounding fans until he was ushered off by his security team.

The rest of the day passed by rather uneventfully, and before I knew it the floor had closed on the third day of San Diego’s biggest event of the year. The night had just begun, however. As incentive to encourage fans to pre-order copies of the new “Assassin’s Creed” video game, Ubisoft partnered with to provide free VIP concert tickets to the Video Games Live perfomance held at the Civic Theater downtown.

Free or not, the show did not disappoint. A full orchestra and choir blended with visuals of some of the most coveted video game franchises in entertainment history, something Video Games Live creator Tommy Tallarico hoped would show the world how video games can also be works of art. Fans were encouraged to cheer and sing along, breaking the tradition of a typical symphony performance. Many big-name composers made appearances as well, proudly conducting and performing the songs they had worked hard for the years to create.

Photo by Caitlin Johnson
Photo by Caitlin Johnson

The close of the concert marked the true end of the day as I gear up for one final round of convention excitement. I anticipate Sunday being a lazy day for most con-goers. In previous years it was never uncommon to see my fellow attendees passed out wherever they could find a space on the floor, exhausted and most likely broke but still loving every second.