Lvl Up “Leveled Up” at First Convention Back After Pandemic

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Hundreds of people stood in lines outside the Las Vegas Convention center this past weekend for the return of one of entertainment’s biggest Nevada-based conventions, the Lvl Up Expo. Fans from all around Nevada and surrounding states arrived at the South Hall ready to meet some of their favorite voice actors, buy merchandise and artwork, and dress in their favorite cosplays. 

“I go to Lvl Up every year I can. I enjoy anime and I love seeing artwork from small businesses,” said Jorden Nelson, a senior journalism student at UNLV. 

Nelson only attended the convention on Saturday, and spent a lot of her time there talking with other cosplayers and looking at merchant tables. Her favorite part of conventions like this one is getting to see all of the creative cosplays that people put together, sometimes completely from scratch. 

Another student from UNLV who attended the convention as a return guest was Breanna Brown. Brown is a fan of anime and said it was very fun to get to see a lot of cool cosplays and vendors. She claims the event is perfect for people watching and finding unique small businesses. 

The Lvl Up Expo was a host to many events. There were both casual and competitive gaming events for almost every gaming platform, including console, PC, and some retro consoles. The Expo also hosted a cosplay contest, a competitive event bringing local and state cosplayers out to showcase their costumes.

Returning to the convention this year is the popular “Side Quest” interactive event. The “Side Quests” are designed like a scavenger hunt. Convention attendees will get a card with a task, a side quest if you will, that they must complete. For example, one of the side quests was “take a photo of a character that uses magic.”

Once the task is completed, you would bring the proof back to the booth to get the next quest to complete. Completing quests can help you win prizes and “level up” throughout the weekend.

Grinese Bajrami, another student at UNLV, said that this was her first ever convention of any kind. Her favorite parts were the games and booths. She was able to play Dance Dance Revolution with her friends as well as help support local artists. 

This year’s convention marks the 8th annual Lvl Up Expo of their 9 years here in Las Vegas. The last time the convention was held was in Feb. of 2020, a month before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This year, despite the mask mandate being lifted in Nevada, the show-runners of the Lvl Up Expo required that all guests, volunteers, vendors, and attendees wear masks while in the convention center.

Showrunners estimate that the show will have seen 25,000 fans, a number 5,000 more than the number of attendees in Feb. 2020. The show this year was sponsored by GFuel Energy, the official energy drink of Esports. GFuel had a booth at the convention where attendees could purchase the company’s new flavors. 

“Overall, the convention was really fun and relaxed. It was the first big convention since COVID and you could tell everyone was so excited. It was full of great energy and great people. It was an amazing first convention for me and I’ll definitely be going again,” Bajrami said.

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