Most of you may have only read my articles on here, and if not, that’s fine. But you know that here at Hackinformer we cover the biggest gaming events and try to bring you information from the show floor. But I thought today, I would tell you about my time at Sausomecon 2017 and how it’s still starting off, but is most likely destined to be one of the larger conventions in the Midwest.
So as I was mentioning, this article will have a different tone. Yes, we will keep reporting on the bigger conventions, but with them, we rarely talk about the convention itself and more about the content. In this article, I really want to focus on the editorial being about what makes a convention good or bad (through my eyes) anyhow. And even more than that, I want to focus on here in the Midwest, the flyover states, what a convention has to do to really stand out to make states further east or west take notice.
So the way that I break down cosplay isn’t necessarily meaning that the convention has to have cosplay. I mean they can’t force people to show up in costume. What I’m saying is that they encourage cosplay, foster cosplay, and have fair and respectable cosplay rules. You see some conventions outlaw costume weapons entirely, while others check weapons, while others don’t check anything, and others check everyone’s items upon entry. The latter was something that happened every time that you entered the vendor hall at C2E2 in Chicago. I think Sausomecon using the tried and true rule of telling people to check their obvious weapons before entering the convention is the logical thing with a smaller convention.
I think it keeps the line moving, but we also know that if there were someone to sneak in a real weapon, the lower amount of attendees at a smaller convention means a lower success rate for someone to be a threat, so I feel like we have less to worry about. C2E2 has over 50,000 on their slower day so to check every bag probably saves hundreds of lives. If Sausomecon becomes that big, I encourage that they have all bags checked before entering the building. But I digress. I think cosplay rules also can apply to how much skin is showing. Sausomecon didn’t really seem to restrict cleavage as it were, but in the fact that they didn’t deliberately state that you can’t come in a skimpy cosplay, people still used their best judgment and we all had respectable and well thought out cosplay to see.
Again, some places are outright banning cosplay which I think is a foolish thing to do. Sausomecon does everything right in terms of cosplay, they even have a cosplay competition the Saturday evening of the competition. I spent more time in panels and playing with people in video games, so it turns out that I didn’t get the amount of cosplay pictures that I intended to get. As I come across them on the internet, I can add them to this article.
This could be really anything that is separate from panels. I’m very much referring to things that do not cost extra money upon entry. This could be a scavenger hunt, a video/tabletop/3DS multiplayer gaming room, a musical concert, dances. It could just be anything that is extra, but not required. In this field, I do believe that Sausomecon really nailed it on the head. I feel as though they had everything that they needed to get people talking about the fun experiences that they had while attending the convention. And what’s more than that, the convention has been able to do it year after year now.
The concert featuring Japan’s Kazha, a massive gaming room featuring CRT’s with various current and retro games as well as arcade machines, a library of manga, Mary the Impala, VR gaming and just a multitude of things. Certainly, I’m sure they had even more than what I could attend this year. But the point still stands, I have to give the convention “mad props” for listening to congoers and really honing in on what we what in terms of content and experiences. I have some pictures that were taken from the convention just below this of the events that they had going on (sorry for the double face on the panorama).
In terms of panels I think a convention needs to have a variety of topics, needs to be run by a variety of people, has to be plenty of them and I mean around the clock, and there needs to be a variety of formats. I’m just going to break down what Sausomecon offered. In terms of variety of topics, I was surprisingly impressed this year. They ranged from cosplay creation, to video game rendering, to voice over, to disturbing YouTube videos, to comic book art, to story crafting, just so many more things than other conventions I’ve gone to so far in 2017. With regards to being run by a variety of people, I would say that they did a decent enough job finding various people to talk about the different topics.
It wasn’t like I saw the same faces over and over again across the panels, but there were some repeats. Having panels around the clock is something that Sausomecon had too. I even found myself being bummed out that I had to choose between two panels. Last of all, the variety of formats matter too, as I said. But I mean, for example. some panels are instructive, some are Q&A’s, some are game shows, some are podcasts. And in these terms, I genuinely feel as though Sausomecon did the best with what they had and so all in all, I was very amazed. I was surprised because in 2016 I thought it was rather disappointing. They did a really good job this year. I have some pictures below of panels.
This is a field that doesn’t take much explaining. You either have a lot of special guests or you don’t. And I don’t mean guests that simply come and answer some questions and bail. But I mean special guests that do multiple panels and also do signings and just do more than show their face. This year I think that the nice mix of voice actors, artists, and musicians was pleasant. However, I do feel that there is room for growth. I don’t know if there is much more that I would say conventions in general need. If you get a guest to commit to coming, just get the most bang for your buck out of them. Below I have a picture of my favorite panel which was the group of voice actors just fielding questions and talking about their experiences. They were a good group of people because they all seemed so honest and genuine.
This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. It breaks down easily, but it is something that most conventions neglect which is free food and drink. I know, I know, a smaller convention cannot handle that. Or some conventions are in a space that has a built-in concession stand run by the building owners themselves. But have water fountains at the very least and have a free snack table too. Sausomecon had water fountains accessible, this helps keep those in furry costumes or playing DDR, or just plain hot from the summertime heat; cool. The snack table would be ultra useful. I’ve seen cons where they have a ramen room where it’s unlimited free ramen. That’s obviously good sponsorship. But what I’m saying is that cons in the area recommend on their page to eat so that you don’t faint, but then they do not have readily accessible food or the costs are far too high and on top of that they won’t allow outside food or drink. So where Sausomecon has had access to water fountains, they do not allow outside food, but also have $10 meals. And since they’re pretty far out, it may leave teenage congoers who get dropped off, in a tight spot. I think that they should allow outside food/drink inside the convention or at the very least state that you can only eat food in the cafeteria.
Space is the final frontier, we all know that. And that goofy Star Trek slogan also applies here. If you have far too many vendors, far too few rooms, too little standing/sitting/walking area, then you run the risk of people leaving. I’ve been in overcrowded conventions before. Conventions that have clearly outgrown their locations but are too cheap to want to foot the bill to move it elsewhere. I think that we’ve all been there really. I can commend Sausomecon on size of their space more than I can commend them on the location. I love the size, I love the layout, I think it is perfect for the amount of content they have, the amount of attendees that they have and still room for people to sit comfortably if they have to calm down or cool off. This is the same for the cafeteria space, I felt as though it was perfect and was never too overloaded with people. Furthermore, at other conventions I find that people sit and game in the food area when I just want to sit down and eat and cannot do that. Sausomecon having a dedicated gaming room and a separate tabletop gaming section resolved the issue that other cons have. Below is a panorama that I took of the lobby area that is like a hub that branches out to all of the different areas of the convention.
Something that nobody thinks about except for when they arrive and leave is parking. This also directly correlates with space. But I believe that if the parking lot doesn’t allow for a mass amount of people it hurts the con. Now what I mean by that is simply that it cannot grow in size if the lot is restrictive. So let’s say you have a convention, sure a fair amount of people can be there the first hour of the day and get a good spot. But later on in the day, other people that are at work or school or wherever else finally have a chance to attend said convention. They drive over and to their dismay, they find a full lot. There may be additional parking elsewhere, but it could be far away or cost far too much. If these people have yet to buy their tickets, they’re now much more inclined to say nevermind and drive off and do something else. That may be a fickle person, but now you lost a chance for your con to make money, the vendors to make money, the guests to make money, and ultimately an opportunity for those people in the car to experience and give opinions on how to make the con better. My point? I’m not entirely certain that Sausomecon’s low visitor numbers weren’t directly in correlation with the fact that they share a parking lot with a well-known hotel chain and their high number of guests staying in the hotel over a weekend.
The convention that I like the most is the convention with a fair amount of vendors. I don’t want vendors everywhere I turn of course because I need to know that I’m not going to bump into people that are looking at stuff. I find in giant conventions that happens. And while I like the sheer volume of content that is available to purchase, I hate how many people huddle around said things. I think what Sausomecon did makes the most sense. They utilized a smaller room for a clean circular walk (like a roundabout to keep things moving), but for vendors with taller or wider displays they capitalized on the space out in the showfloor. This kept so many things that could’ve been cramped; uncramped. I tip my hat to them because you can have a lot of vendors and keep people from bumping into each other or having to reach over each other, etc.
So do I think that Sausomecon stands out? Absolutely, it’s a convention that we definitely need. Do I think that it’s perfect? No, I really don’t, but firstly that’s part of its charm and also they’re constantly looking for constructive criticism to make their convention better for next year. They know that it could be someone’s first convention and they want to take it as far as they can to make that person have fun and be mystified. Do I think that it will every grow to surpass our local giants like Naka-Kon, Planet Comicon, or the Kansas City Comic Con? I definitely think it can pass up Naka-Kon. It’s a convention that has outgrown its space, rarely has stuff to do anymore, and is overcrowded due to its long legacy of being good. But I think their time in the sun has passed. I’m not saying that Naka should go away, just that it will be surpassed by Sausomecon some day soon.
Lastly, I would say that if you feel that you can’t relate to this article, then that’s fine. I do believe personally that conventions are part of the nerddom that we here at Hackinformer try to cultivate. Obviously, my ultimate goal was to write it from the perspective that we should have standards and feelings towards what a convention should be, especially when it’s starting out. I was trying to write it in a way that you should view any convention from and maybe you yourself could hold your local conventions to a certain level of standard even if they’re small. Sausomecon shows that you can be dignified while being small. I recommend that you don’t just go into a small convention and be forgiving, because if it sucks then it sucks. But tell them, so they can improve, and I bet they’ll listen. That way they improve for their benefit and yours alike.
If you want to see all of my pictures/video from Sausomecon 2017, click here to download the zip file (there’s plenty to see).
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