ComiCon: Tunisia – Day 1

Tunisia ComiCon 2016
Tunisia ComiCon 2016

ComiCon: Tunisia – Day 1

It’s always special to be in attendance and to witness the birth of something that you hold so dear in your heart.  I have been afforded this luxury by being in Tunisia and blessed enough to be able to attend a ComiCon in a country that is the setting of pretty much everyone’s first introduction to geekery; Star Wars.  Today marked the first day of the very first ComiCon for Tunisia and for weeks I, and thousands of Tunisians, have been pumped and excited for this DSC_0042day to finally come.  Though the event started an hour late, lots of people outside gathered together and talked, danced to music, and sung to pass the time waiting for the doors to finally open and you couldn’t swing a dead Catwoman by the tail and not hit someone clad in nerdy and geeky attire.  Most Cos Players hadn’t arrived yet but you could stand there and see the influence that the US Geekery has had on the world.  There were shirts with Star Wars, Batman, Action Comics #1 Shirt, Guns ‘N Roses shirt, and even one with a marijuana leaf that said “Legalize it”.  The last one not so geeky but it was great to see such a great influence of US Culture so far from home.

There were at least 600 people waiting outside when the gates finally opened and when they did, you could hear the cheers and the excitement jump to 11.  I quickly hurried in, past security and into the large expo center.  It was like being home.  Lots of music, lights, anime blasting, and event organizers running around to put last minute touches on behind the scenes stuff.  The 3 day event has a theme for each day and todays was Video Games and Video Game Development.  There was a whole section dedicated to the Tunisian group of retro Gamer’s that had consoles from the Atari 2600 to the Jaguar and Game Cube on display with information on each one.  The people from the group were there to all answer questions and greet people as well.  Along with the Retro Gamer’s Group, there were Indy Game Developers.  Small programming and development groups based in Tunisia and their games.  I talked to a few and many were excited that they were on the ground floor of another revolution in their country, the Tech Revolution.DSC_0041

Competitive Gaming

No ComiCon would be complete if it didn’t have live competitive gaming events and this one, was no different.  E-Sports is an extremely fast growing activity here in Tunisia and they have sent several League of Legends groups to compete in world wide events.  Today’s competition was with CS:GO between two teams that recently faced off to go to one of the global events.  It was very hard to actually get in to see this happen and watching them compete, you could see the strategy and competitiveness.  Not only in the players but in the crowd.  There were easily 350 people there to watch and only because they ran out of seats and people had to stand and they simply ran out of room or more would have been in there.  I did leave this event early (Sorry, not sure who won) because I wanted to catch the next event that I was excited about.

Today’s Guest Panel

If ComiCon is known for anything, it’s for their Guest Panels and this one, I was super excited about.   Aleissia Laidacker was the lead programmer for AI and Gameplay on Assassin’s Creed III at Ubisoft Montreal. She is also the host of She discussed many topic including how she got into game development.  She fell in love with programming after watching Hackers (who didn’t right?) and wanted to be the bad ass woman like Angelina Jolie was in the movie.  She started working at Ubisoft as an intern then worked her way up until there was an opening on ACII and she got on the development team.  She helped with coding then but then was given the chance toDSC_0060 be a program lead with the AI and Gameplay for ACIII and jumped at the opportunity.  She went through months of training to really get into the feel of what it was like to have to do all these jumps and combat moves and after the training said to herself “Am I really me or am I an Assassain”?  A great video was shown that went over how they were meticulous about even the small things like foot placement when on a rooftop and how they had to change movements and programming so that it could be adapted to the point that the player could scale mountains, rocks, trees, houses, or towers and still look realistic.

She touched on diversity in gaming too with it being predominantly lead with white males but that she was able to break into the ranks and there are many more doing the same from across the globe with games like Papers, PleaseFragments of HimBroforce, Life is Strange, Unravel, and Undertale.  Games developed from Men and Women across the world in many countries that have gone on to be huge hits.  She discussed that the future of gaming holds a lot of potential as there can be games for social change, in education, e-sports, medicine, VR, and more and said “I’m excited to see where we go”.

Wrap up

All in all, it was a very exciting day for myself and for Tunisia in general.  It was the start of something big and the start of something that is going to grow huge quickly I feel.  There is already plans for a Tunisia ComiCon 2017 and I’m already excited about that.  All told there were about 2500 people who showed up for an early day Friday ComiCon and I think there will be thousands more tomorrow when the days theme will be Anime.  I will be posting some pictures here in the articles but I will be doing a 3 day write up of each day and a final post that will have links to some videos lots more pictures and even more details about all the activities.

Tune in tomorrow for Day 2!