One of the things that I have found most fascinating about New York Comic-Con in recent years has been the various “experiences” offered by companies to promote a game or a movie or a TV show. These are events of different sizes and scopes all of which exist to allow a person to do something fun that promotes a product. This year, I participated in four different ones. Although more were certainly available, my time was, sadly, finite.

Depending on exactly how one entered the Javits Center, the first thing visible may have been the installation for Amazon’s Lore, an upcoming TV series based upon a podcast. The Lore experience ushered visitors into three separate rooms, combined referred to as The Museum of Lore. These rooms offered scenes from, presumably, some of the podcast stories and/or upcoming episodes of the TV show. Each room featured an actor, in costume, offering up a portion of a different story – there was one about a creepy doll, another about mirrors, and a third about werewolves and (maybe) the hunger for human flesh.

While each room was well put together and the costumes and makeup were great, the group with which I entered each room was a little confused by it all. There was no introduction, there was no explanation – it was simply entering a room and being dropped into part of a story, and it was difficult to work out the specifics of the tale without outside information. That is, I felt as though I needed to know more about Lore before participating in the experience. I loved what I saw, but I didn’t understand it as much as I was sure I was supposed to.

Requiring far less knowledge of the story, was the Hang Like Spidey experience. Here, while on line, an upside down window and fire escape were visible. Upon reaching them, instructions were given about how to crawl into the room and what to do once inside (look at a camera and give a Spidey web-shooter sort of move). The room crawled into was upside down so that the video taken of people crawling made it appear as though the individual was on the ceiling. This video was then inserted into a brief teaser for the upcoming home video release of the film.

While I did the Lore experience by myself, my whole family participated in the Spidey one, and everyone got their own video made. These videos were undeniably amusing and my daughter’s turned out the best of the four. She dressed as Wonder Woman for the day and in addition to doing a Spidey pose offered a Wonder Woman one as well.

This might be a lot of effort for a few seconds of video, but it also fit wonderfully into the ethos of that film as a whole. As for me, I wish I’d had another go at it knowing how the video being taken in the room fit into the teaser, I feel like I could have done it better.

In similar fashion to last year’s Star Trek Beyond experience, part of the Middle-Earth: Shadow of War booth offered up the chance for individuals to have their pictures taken of them in various poses. Star Trek, naturally, did this in a captain’s chair, while Shadow of War sat people on the back of a dragon. Over the course of the four day event, the dragon picture had a consistent and lengthy line. We only participated in the photo op. because on Sunday morning we made a beeline for it at 9:55am, before the event was fully open.

While on the line, we had a discussion about how great it would be if the dragon actually breathed fire because, you know, it was a dragon. So, we were pleasantly surprised when dragon fire was digitally added to the final images (and the Javits convention floor background removed). The whole thing came out rather brilliantly and while I couldn’t imagine spending the hour-plus some did on that line, I was happy with the pictures.

Finally, off-site, a new, immersive Westworld experience was available and it was quite different from last year’s VR trip which involved a brief, but memorable, sojourn to the fictional world via a headset. This year, no headset was necessary. Visitors entered the Delos (the company in the series that manages the park) NY offices, got a quick video about Westworld and then, privately, answered a series of questions designed to determine whether the visitor should enter Westworld as a black hat or a white one (good guy or bad). Finally, an elevator ride brought individuals to the actual land. Sort of. An old west saloon was setup offering drinks and the chance to talk to a few Westworld hosts. There was a player piano and, generally, the sense that something unfortunate might happen (the hint of blood as well as “glitches” in the video made that clear).

Without a doubt, the Westworld experience was the most involved, and it was the most enjoyable as well. It was the Lore event, but with explanation and writ large. It took what HBO offered last year, but deepened and expanded it.

For me, these experiences are one of the main reasons to visit any event such as New York Comic-Con. They offer a chance for not just admiration, but participation whether on a large or small scale. In my brief, four year, experience there seem to be more of them every year and they seem to get more involved. Who knows what next year will offer, but I can’t wait to find out.

 

photo/video credit: NVE The Experience Agency, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, WB