BlizzCon at Anaheim Convention Center: A mecca for World of Warcraft and other Blizzard gaming fans

ANAHEIM – By day, Angel Buckley of Mission Viejo hands out food samples at Costco. But once her shift ends, the 25-year-old plops in front of a computer and becomes a ferocious troll that transforms into a feral druid attacking enemies in World of Warcraft with a couple of keyboard clicks.

On Friday, she joined other cosplayers, fans and gamers for Irvine-based Blizzard Entertainment’s ninth BlizzCon at the Anaheim Convention Center, which continues Saturday. She dressed as another of World of Warcraft’s characters, a Draenei Paladin, a knight-like character, with her face in full blue makeup and horns on her head.

Buckley is among the 5.5 million subscribers to Blizzard’s World of Warcraft, a massive multi-player, role-playing online game that – for $15 a month – puts people into a fantasy world of good versus evil among elves, humans, Taurens, Orcs and other races.

“I love the storyline,” said Buckley, who has been playing the game for five years. “It’s addicting and I’m also an achievement hunter. I want to complete everything.”

The $199-a-ticket BlizzCon is sold out and is expected to attract more than 25,000 people to Anaheim. Those shut out of the event can watch all the happenings online or on television for $40.

The two-day event kicked off on Friday with Blizzard’s release of a two-minute trailer for the much anticipated “Warcraft” movie based on the World of Warcraft video game, and an expansion to that game called Legion. Both are expected to come out the summer of 2016.

BlizzCon is considered the ultimate gaming convention for fans of Blizzard games. Fans get sneak peaks of Blizzard’s upcoming games, including Overwatch, listen to game developers and watch gamers from around the world compete for a share of the $1.2 million pool prize in the championships for World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm – all are Blizzard titles.

Cosplayers on Friday were competing for a $3,500 cash prize and immortality in the form of an in-game tribute. Last year’s winner dressed as an elaborate character in World of Warcraft, and the programmers rewarded her by putting her in the fantasy world as a non-playable character.

Walking in and around the convention center, there were people dressed as pandas, elves and trolls. Gerard Bogowith, 35, of St. Louis dressed as a drunk dwarf walking on two barrels, carrying in one hand a shotgun and in the other a a pint of brew. Married couple Matthew David and Ana Evans, 32 and 37, of Phoenix came dressed as a mage and hunter or Rhonin and Vereesa Windrunner from the game.

Contessa Dickson, 32, of Eureka, spent all year making her costume. Dickson, a mail carrier, dressed as a Troll Shaman and entered the cosplay contest.

“Getting immortalized as an in-game tribute would be pretty cool,” she said.

But there’s more to this convention than dressing up, she said.

“This is a lifestyle,” she said. “The game brings people together. Some people don’t understand how addicting the game is and fun. It’s a community.”

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