Daredevil and True Blood star Deborah Ann Woll to get her game on at Game Con

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She’s played Jessica Hamby on True Blood, portrayed Karen Page in multiple Marvel series and was the voice of Laufey in God of War Ragnarök, but Deborah Ann Woll will be coming to Edmonton to tell her own stories.

The famed actor will be leading brave travellers through Dungeons and Dragons adventures at next weekend’s Game Con Canada, one of the largest gaming conventions in the country. From video games to board and card games, the whole gamut of gaming will be covered, June 14 to 16 at the Edmonton Expo Centre.

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Woll will be signing autographs and participating in gaming, but her big draw for the weekend is leading groups through Of Blood and Sand, a one-shot adventure she has written. It’s part of an upcoming campaign book she’s in the middle of writing, giving Edmonton players the first look at the new content.

“I love problem solving. Even as a storyteller, that’s my in, how do I solve problems,” says Woll. “What I love to do as a DM is to set up a problem, throw it at players. I love to see players use their brains and tools and wits to solve that problem.”

Woll has parlayed her interest in RPGs into a second career, becoming a big name in the role-playing and gaming scene in recent years. Wizard of the Coast, creators of Dungeons and Dragons, consulted with her on their updated ruleset and she wrote an adventure for the Flavors of the Multiverse, released late last year.

Woll had a lifelong fascination with the hobby and Dungeons and Dragons, a “science and math geek” who couldn’t get into the game.

“The joke I tell about Dungeons and Dragons is it’s the nerdiest game ever created but requires friends and I was wildly unpopular as a child,” says Woll with a laugh.

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Years later, a manager introduced her and a group of friends to the game and they fell in love with the experience. Woll got her first taste of running the game when her manager needed a break, getting to slip into the role of dungeon master. It was the start of a passion in role-playing, one that supplements and dovetails with her work as an actor.

Woll won’t be the only celebrity in attendance over the weekend. Rahul Kohli, from Netflix’s The Fall of the House of Usher and Midnight Mass, will be signing autographs and playing games on the mainstage, while the convention will be hosted by Noura Ibrahim, who performs on several Dungeons and Dragons shows online. Of course, there’s a long list of other special guests, from streamers to game creators, who will be making appearances.

Game Con Canada
Video gaming, role-playing games and more will be on hand at Game Con Canada, June 14-16 in Edmonton. edm

Attendees will get to experience everything from role-playing to board games and video games. Big companies such as gaming and peripheral makers Asus, Samsung and Razer will be showing off their newest wares on the convention floor. Focus Entertainment, a French video game developer, will have a demo of Space Marine 2 game at the convention, one of the first places where fans can get their hands on the much-anticipated game. Organizers have also released a new gaming PC based on the Warhammer 40K franchise, designed and built by Memory Express.

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The convention will feature not only demos and technology but also after-hours gaming and tournaments of all kinds. Warhammer 40K miniatures tournaments, Magic: The Gathering and Lorcana are all on the docket. Esports fans can get their fill with tournaments for Super Smash Brothers, Tekken 8, Street Fighter 6, Fortnite and Valorant.

Game Con Canada is the brainchild of Chris Meilleur and Marc Belisle, a pair of event organizers from Lethbridge. The inaugural Game Con Canada was held in Calgary last year, but the roots of the show go back more than two and a half years, to the beginning of the pandemic.

Meilleur is the CEO and Belisle the vice president of Meibel Consulting, an event-planning company. Their business suffered when in-person events were cancelled and business dried up. They turned to their shared hobby, looking at what gaming conventions were already happening in Canada.

game con canada
Game Con Canada co-founder Marc Belisle poses for a photo after unveiling the Space Marine 2, Game Con Canada MEPC Signature Edition during a press conference for the upcoming convention, in Edmonton Monday June 3, 2024. Game Con Canada runs June 14 to 16 at the Edmonton Expo Centre. Photo by David Bloom /Postmedia

“We were thinking there has to be a gaming conference of note in Canada. There just wasn’t,” says Belisle. “I said I think we can bring this to market.”
In their first year they had 34,000 attendees and are hoping to almost double that this year, hoping to bring in somewhere between 40,000 and 60,000 people to make their way through the Expo Centre, the home of the convention for the next three years.

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They are looking to their fans for inspiration as they take on larger conventions. The pair see their biggest competitor as the Penny Arcade Expo, a series of international gaming conventions that attract major crowds and big names in the space.

“Last year, tabletop gaming was huge too, we had some fans come up and say miniature war gaming was amazing,” says Meilleur. “Do you have more TTRPG coming next year?”

That feedback turned into celebrity-run RPG adventures, including Woll and Edmonton’s own Mark Meer, the voice of Mass Effect’s Commander Shepard, who will also be running his own Dungeons and Dragons Groups. Jason Azevedo, a streamer from Toronto who also runs role-playing content online, will be running the fan favourite Curse of Strahd over the weekend.

The success of the show will also help charity. Meilleur and Belisle have made Make-a-Wish Canada their official charity. They said 80 per cent of the organization’s wishes involve games, so it just made sense.

Game Con Canada

Where: Edmonton Expo Centre, 7515 118 Ave.
When: June 14 to 16, expo floor 10 a.m to 6 p.m., after-hours gaming until midnight
How much: Tickets start at $15.50 for a day pass, at gameconcanada.com

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