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Teen Spotlight: Gamers Universe Edition

Back in its second year, Gamers Universe is bigger and better than ever with 550+ enthusiasts enjoying a day of games and fun. At the helm of this successful convention? Teens! Meet one of the masterminds behind the event.

Harold Washington Library Center is usually buzzing with excitement. This past June was no exception. With a record 550+ participants, Gamers Universe, CPL’s gaming convention for all ages and levels of gamers, had cosplayers, adults, families, and teens roaming around each floor of the central library with excitement.

And in true YOUmedia fashion, the all-day and intergenerational gaming convention was planned by teens and teen librarians.

Some events include a Mario Kart 8 Tournament, a cosplay competition, a board game lounge, hands-on workshops, panels with professional game developers and more.

Meet Glenn Robles, 18, a YOUmedia alumnus and one of five cosplay interns’ part of the Chicago Teen’s Gamers Guild who helped program four events, cosplay activities, including a cosplay competition, for Gamers Universe.

What drew you to Gamers Universe and what made you want to join the Teen Gamers Guild?

Last year, I couldn’t join Gamers Universe due to a schedule conflict, so I was excited to participate this year. I wanted to be a part of the planning process, too. When I heard more about the Gamers Guild, I thought to myself, “Wait, instead of having only adults deciding what the event should look like, we can plan alongside them and make decisions ourselves?”

There are a lot of things the Teen Gamers Guild wanted that made it into the final run of show that make it feel more personal and inviting.

Tell me more about the Teen Gamers Guild and your role in the Cosplay guild.

We have the general Gamers Guild, along with a few sub guilds that assist with specific areas of planning. As the cosplay sub guild, we would meet up, plan cosplay activities and plan or create our own cosplays.

The cosplay contest was, of course, a given. It wouldn’t be cosplay without a friendly competition! We wrote the agenda for the day and the scripts. We were given a basic theme or concept and ran with it. We were given a lot of creative freedom throughout the whole process.

Cosplay costumes designed by teens.
Cosplay costumes designed by YOumedia teens.

Cosplay is getting increasingly popular these days. Why do you think that is?

Right now, we are absorbing so many media and artistic forms. Cosplay is big right now because there are so many fandoms—you can find a fandom for anything—so there are a lot of people showing their appreciation for different characters, films, comics. A lot of people do cosplay by the book (meaning they don’t alter the character’s costume), but other people modify a character to be more like them, which is why I feel like cosplay is resonating with the youth so much. It gives you a chance to recreate your favorite character but make it your own.

What do you like to cosplay as?

I love to cosplay as characters I find really cool. I made one of Q from Street Fighter. I loved his solemn aesthetic. The next one I’m doing is David Martinez from Cyber Punk. I thought that character was really cool—we share a lot of traits. Through cosplay, I’m able to find characters that I not only think are cool but I can aspire to be like. I project my own personality onto them.

What were the cosplay events people enjoyed?

The cosplay floor doubled as an event soiree where cosplayers could meet and talk to fellow cosplayers. Then we had professional photos taken which is often a barrier to entry in the cosplay world when trying to post yourself online. We really wanted this to be a great day for entry level cosplayers like me. Then, of course, we had the competition.

What were some highlights of your internship? What did you learn?

Aside from my love of cosplay, my favorite thing was meeting different people in my sub guild and others within Gamers Universe. I felt like I built a lot of interpersonal relationships here. I will be taking up business and I know that networking and connecting is a really big thing, so this helped me network and make friends at the same time.

If I were to put this on my resume, I’d say I coordinated with a small group to create a city-wide convention, planned smaller events for the theme, and generated awareness for the convention with advertising and word-of-mouth marketing.

What was it like working with adults during your internship?

The adults I worked with didn’t make us feel like children. They understood that we have our own agency and it felt like they trusted us with our ideas. It was great working with Jaime, Amy and Ren. They understood what we wanted and helped us accomplish things but also gave us the freedom to do things on our own. It was a supportive environment.

Ok, last question. What’s next for you?

I just graduated high school and got my associate degree. I’m going to Northwestern University in the Fall and will be studying economics with a focus in finance. I’ll definitely find ways to use this experience throughout my career—and maintain cosplay as a great passion of mine.

Way to go, Glenn! Thank you to Allstate, Comcast, Peoples Gas, and donors like you for helping make this convention possible for gamers of all ages.

Become a member of our monthly giving community today. A gift of $25/month helps fund year-round dynamic digital media and creative experience for 25 teens.