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Anime Expo. NASL. Comic-Con. MLG. This summer has been a spectacular blur of conventions and tournaments. Long lines have been conquered. Aches have been marched through. Exhaustion has served as a road map to another second wind, and I will gladly do it all again.

Why, you ask? I love conventions. I love tournaments. I love 1 to 100 thousand nerds poured into a finite area. I love the concentration of self-indulgent glee. I love the thrill of watching OGSMC fight PUMA at NASL and the satisfaction of scoring a Sode no Shirayuki replica sword at Comic-Con.

Most of all, though, I love the sense of comfort that permeates every last booth and seat. Yes, the sea of 125,000 people at Comic-Con seems unnerving to those who have never been in it much as a tidal wave would scare the coast. However, for those in that wave, for those who are in the swell of the moment, these conventions and tournaments are bliss.

It doesn’t matter if you are Protoss and the person sitting next to you is Zerg. It doesn’t matter what you’re standing in line for Hall H for. What matters is that you’re there and enjoying it completely, sincerely, and uncensored. What matters is that you’ve let go in an atmosphere that embraces you and accepts you without question. You are in a sea of friendly strangers.

Now, in a world where we often don’t talk to each other on the subway or in the grocery store out of an innate fear of strangers, submerging ourselves with friendly strangers is exactly what we need. It’s soothing. It’s calming. It’s invigorating. It breeds acceptance, tolerance, and lower blood pressure.

It also breeds friendship. The most amazing aspect of conventions and tournaments for me is sharing this surreal live experience with those closest to me: my friends. For friendships both new and old, conventions give you an opportunity to engross yourselves in common interests in the most uplifting environments possible. Conventions are miracle grow for friendships, plain and simple.

To the conventions of July: thank you. You have restored a bit of my soul, given me countless new friends, and have been a catalyst in much needed ways. It may have taken me a month to write this, but you did leave me a bit wrought for sleep whilst busy fostering the new friendships you have given me. Next up? Blizzcon.

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