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Here’s to 10 Years of 2D Con

On this day in 2015, the very first 2D Con became a reality. This year, we celebrate 10 years of coming together as a community and celebrating our love for all things gaming.

About the Founder

I’m Joe, the founder and lead organizer of 2D Con. If you’ve attended 2D Con you have probably seen me running around with my dogs Miku and Taiyo. Since we are celebrating our 10th year I was encouraged to write some history on why 2D Con exists, how it came to be, and to share our vision and goals. I may be talking about myself, but 2D Con is more than me, it’s the attendees, the volunteers, the guests, the vendors, the artists and the gaming industry itself.

Finding Purpose

In 2003 I attended my first convention in Minneapolis. I had no idea what a convention really was. This was the early days of the internet and the only marketing for this convention was in a local newspaper. I never expected that attending would change my life, but It did. I had an absolute blast. I spent three days unwinding from the normal stress of being a teenager that didn’t really fit in at school. Three days of uninterrupted enjoyment with my closest friends. Three days of meeting people with the same interests as me and making lifelong connections.

The next year I started running parties leading up to the convention as well as one big party the weekend after the convention. This was before the wide use of cell phones and social media, staying connected was work especially for younger people who didn’t have steady transportation. Texting was just becoming a thing. We relied heavily on early instant messengers and getting together in person wasn’t a common occurrence. These parties aimed to bring people together in a comfortable and fun environment.

Every party was centered around gaming. There were always gaming tournaments, cosplayers, giveaways and themed snacks. At the time there weren’t many conventions in the Twin Cities area that catered to hardcore gaming fans. The parties evolved into mini-conventions of their own continually bringing together around 100 people.

Hosting these events helped me realize that aside from gaming, my main source of enjoyment in life was seeing others enjoy themselves.

Growing into adulthood and the responsibilities that come with it as well as the shift in the way we communicate the parties slowed down and the group we built shifted into an online gaming community and started hosting small LAN parties (remember those?).

LAN Party – 2011

Those small LAN parties started to evolve and we started the first organized League of Legends tournament in Minnesota in 2009, shortly after the game was officially released. We continued to host these events until 2012 when we outgrew the only venue we could afford.

The Birth of 2D Con

2D Con 2015 – Press Start to Begin

In 2015 we decided to revive the League of Legends tournament and large scale LAN parties. We reserved a space at the Ramada hotel near the Mall of America and started promoting. The event was going to be a free to attend LAN party with multiple tournaments and tabletop gaming called Digital Destruction.

Shortly before the event the venue notified me that they were not going to have internet during the week of the event. This was a devastating blow as the main focus of the event was the League of Legends tournament and no internet, meant no League of Legends.

I panicked. I started contacting vendors, sending out emails to indie game companies and organizations, podcasters, publishers, everyone… and it worked.

Digital Destruction was quickly rebranded as 2D Con a free to attend two day long video gaming convention. The first year we had 750 attendees, multiple tournaments, presence from Nintendo of America, and a live band playing the most amazing video game music covers I had ever heard (Do a Barrel Roll). The feedback was amazing and we quickly realized how desperately the gaming community needed a dedicated convention for them.

Do a Barrel Roll – 2D Con 2015

The last day of the convention we reserved the entire venue for June 3-5, 2016 and got to planning. It was time to make 2D Con an annual event. We spent the next 10 months booking guests, renting games, purchasing inventory, and doing everything we could to make the event the best it could be.

Then, One morning I woke up to a phone call and received another piece of devastating news. Just two months before the convention the venue was sold and scheduled for demolition. This venue was the only one we could reasonably afford as they were cutting us a great deal. Every other venue we had spoken to was at minimum 5 times more expensive. We weren’t going to give up.

I took the day off work and started calling every venue I could think of. I drove all over the Twin Cities in search of a new home, eventually signing with the DoubleTree in Bloomington for the same weekend.

Every year since 2D Con has continued to grow, and evolve. We have become the largest gaming event in the state and have grown an amazing community through the events we host and on our Discord.

The Goal of 2D Con

The goal of 2D Con has always been to be an affordable escape for gamers. A place where they could be comfortable and feel at home. Where they could build life long connections, like I did back in 2003. To build a community of gaming fans that expands beyond the event.

Our secondary goal is to raise money for charitable causes that are dear to us. This year we are partnered with Guild Services. Guild services goal is to empower change through engaging individuals and communities, embracing their needs and elevating their voices. They do this work with a spectrum of services because mental illness is different for everyone, and everyone is worthy of shelter, connection, and stability. 

While 2D Con has evolved into the largest gaming event in the state, that goal hasn’t changed. Every penny that goes into 2D Con goes directly back to the event so we can keep prices low while still providing a high quality event. We believe that a weekend escape should be affordable, because affordability is an often overlooked part of accessibility.

I couldn’t have started 2D Con without the amazing people in my life. Kyle, Sam and Hawn who were there from the beginning brainstorming and helping organize. Kiki, who was one of the first people to respond to my panicked email and has continued to support 2D Con for the last ten years. The 100+ volunteer staff that work tirelessly all year long. I couldn’t begin to list all of the people who help make this dream a reality, just know that if you’ve ever attended 2D Con, volunteered, shared a post, put up flyers, chatted with us in our Discord, or just followed us on social media I am eternally grateful.

Here’s to ten more years.

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