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Not All Heroes Wear Masks, but They Did at 2D Con

2D Con made its triumphant in-person return at the Hyatt Regency for three days packed with retro video games, cosplay contests, live concerts, and a whole bunch more.

All photos by Patrick Strait

Gamers, cosplayers, crafters, and people of all ages came together in downtown Minneapolis this weekend to hang out and wear a different sort of mask. (But they wore regular masks, too. Nerds know how to party safely). 

The lobby of the Hyatt was packed on Friday afternoon with sword-wielding, cattail-wearing, fake blood-covered attendees excitedly waiting to get inside the main convention area. Non-attendees who happened to be staying at the hotel walked around the lobby staring like they’d never seen a grown man dressed as sexy Bowser from Super Mario Bros. before. 

Now in its seventh year, 2D Con took extra precautions this weekend, requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, and masks were to be worn at all times. Even with the added safety measures, people were as stoked as ever to get back to doing what they love: nerd stuff. 

“This is my element. This is where I feel comfortable, hanging out with all of my nerdy friends,” said Kiki Snell, a featured cosplayer for the con who was busy selling handmade crafts and signing people up for the Saturday cosplay contest. 

Meanwhile, over in the table top trading card game and pathfinder society room, Cory Kabrud admitted he was still trying to re-acclimate to being in a massive crowd. 

“It’s a little overwhelming,” he said. “I’m just trying to take everything in and get back to socializing again.” 

Having been a part of countless cons over the past decade, Kabrud said a year without in-person gatherings was a bummer, but people found other ways to keep in touch.

“There are a lot of innovative people at these cons who pulled together to do virtual cons [during the quarantine] and found other ways to stay connected.” 

Over in the video game room, gamers of all ages huddled around old-school arcade games, first-person shooters, and more pinball machines than you’ve ever seen in your life, except for maybe Caffetto Coffee Shop in Uptown. 

We tried to chat with a couple of gamers, but quickly realized we were playing with fire trying to interrupt an extremely intense showdown of Super Smash Bros Ultimate. 

Aside from the games and the costumes, dozens of artists and crafters set up shop in the market, selling homemade masks, plush creatures, and fingerless gloves (a gamer/cosplay essential). 

Katherine Luers, otherwise known as Deia Vengen, was excited to be exhibiting for the first time at 2D Con, though she admitted it felt a little weird seeing people in person (and not just because there was a dude dressed as an extremely convincing Princess Toadstool shopping nearby). 

“It’s good, but it’s weird,” she said of being face-to-face with people. “It’s nice to be in person, and everyone is doing a really good job being safe and doing a lot of sanitizing, so it’s been good. People are excited to be out doing things and seeing each other.” 

Before leaving for the day, we ran into Kenny Simon. He drove down from St. Cloud for his very first 2D Con and gave us an extremely detailed history of his cosplay (Ace from the game Nine Hours, Nine Persons, 9 Doors). Standing in middle of the gamers’ paradise, he was overcome with a wave of emotions. 

“I saw a meme about being able to walk down the aisle again,” he said, pointing to the aisles of the craft market. “I’m feeling elated and joyful. It’s good to be back in the swing of things with these other nerds who share my common interests.” 

Us too Kenny–sorry, Ace. Us too.

Credit: All photos by Patrick Strait