Seeing as how I just managed to get myself back into order, I think its time for my Otakon report. Im taking a page this time from AnimeAlmanac and Reversethieves, and instead of writing a full report, which would take far too long and not do the con the proper justice, I’ve collected all my twitter posts from the long weekend, added in some color commentary and extrapolations, and will be posting it in a day-by-day basis, so as not to clog up the site with an extra huge post.
This was my second Otakon. I went last year for the first time, since it was a great place to toss around surveys and mingle with the fandom masses. In hindsight, I think I went about it the wrong way at the time. Since I am very used to smaller cons, I approached Otakon the same way I would have approached Anime Next or Connecticon, with the same mindset and same expectations. That was a grave error on my part. Otakon is not like smaller cons at all. To use an analogy, think of trying to cross a stream versus crossing a river: both are flowing bodies of water, both have the same denizens for the most part, but the river is deeper, faster and much more challenging to ford than any stream. The same holds true when dealing with Otakon: the same fans, interests, culture and assorted quirks are there, but the sheer volume of the con amplifies them to no end. If someone goes expecting to find just a larger version of the local con, they will easily be overwhelmed.
While I did not have a particularly great experience at Otakon last year, it did prepare me for what to expect this year, and going in with that mindset, my experiences were much more fulfilling and enjoyable. I hope I can go back next year, time permitting.
First off, some general reviews regarding the policies of this year’s Otakon: in light of the introduction of the vuvuzela during the 2010 World Cup, and it’s potential to become the single most annoying instrument on the face of the Earth, Otakon took the wise decision of banning them outright from the con floor. A giant sign greeted everyone entering the BCC reminding them that these instruments if sheer annoyance were banned, subject to confiscation and ejection. For someone looking to cause mischief, this must have been a huge blow. To one such as myself, who likes to enjoy the con, it was a blessing. Added to this ban was the Otakon crackdown on meme’s, shouting and other “disruptive behaviours” during the duration of the con. This also meant that resounding choruses of saying like “Marco/Polo,” “I just lost the game,” “The cake is a lie” and my most hated enemy, “Buttscratcha,” were nowhere to be heard. While some might say this infringes on free speech (someone did) or detracts from the “flavor of the con,” I am pleased to say that it actually made Otakon that much more enjoyable, since I didn’t need to hear people screaming saying every 5 seconds for the entire weekend, like last year.
Also, the line policy was thankfully revised. Last year, I waited in line over 2 hours, snaking around the BCC building before ending up in another shake inside. This year, the only wait was from the door to the booth for pickup. Part of the reason was they started pre-reg pickup at around 2:30 instead of 5 or 6, they had twice the number of open windows, and were using barcodes to distribute badges, much like Anime Boston. This kept the line waiting for Thursday reg to a minimum, and gave me three extra hours to wander around Baltimore, meet up with friends and throw around surveys. I hope they continue with this policy every year, it makes Thursday arrival much less painful.
Finally, even though they have a strict “no signs” policy, it was interesting to see how many were still present. I don’t know if security cracked down on it later on, or when I wasn’t around, but I saw the same plethora of “Free Hugs” shirts, random signs advertising whatever congoers wanted to say, and the obligatory Genma Saotome expressions, regardless of whether the person was actually playing Genma or not. I’ve always had mixed views on the sign ban, as it as a huge part of my early research, so I was both pleased to see so many, but also concerned about the content. I didn’t see anything offensive, but some were just plain questionable.
And now, the tweets. I will be posting this in spurts, today being the overview and Thursday posts. Next up will be Friday, then Weekend.
Please keep in mind that these tweets are all an hour behind. I don’t know why, but twitter has my location wrong, so my time zone is always off.
-My #Otakon2010 panel schedule is here. Along with some updates. I will RT this every day until the con. http://bit.ly/bN52pt
-Is there an "official" #otakon hash tag?
-Bag is packed, now I play the waiting game. My bus is at 11:45 tomorrow morning.
-One giant bag with surveys, 2 Doctor Who costumes, clothes and con-corder. And my Mac. Can't leave that behind.
This year I elected to hop a bus to Philly and ride down with Soo Nam, of Otaku Social Network. I wanted to avoid the long ride alone, plus accrued parking charges, gas and tolls, so it made sense to hit the road with a friend. I figured two hours on the Megabus followed by two hours in the car would be a perfect trip. Turns out it was closer to three hours on the bus and four in the car- we made it there closer to 7 PM than 5. Still, it was a good ride.
-On the bus. And my #otakon journey begins...last year I drove, so this should be interesting.
-Random music playlists and Dragonquest IX on my XL. #otakon awaits my geeky behind.
-Random playlist just clicked to "Im Gonna Be (500 Miles)". Fitting. 11:47 AM Jul 29th
You be the judge: fitting because its 200 miles to Otakon, or because this is Ryoga Hibiki’s (of Ranma 1/2 fame) unofficial theme song.
-@edsizemore I wouldn't expect anything less from such devoted fans. 12:37 PM Jul 29th
This is in response to Ed tweeting about the Otakon faithful, in full costume, no less, gathering around the BCC waiting for pre-reg pickup to begin. At around that time, Baltimore came under siege by a vicious thunderstorm that soaked the area for about a half hour. Otaku everywhere were being soaked through, but they refused to take shelter and leave the BCC.
-Am I in Philly yet? Am I even in PA? I have no idea, but the bus is sposed to stop in 8 minutes. 12:38 PM Jul 29th
-Wow, apparently my bus driver has no idea how to get to the bus stop...he's asking directions from a passenger. 1:09 PM Jul 29th
He ended up driving us around Philly for about 45 minutes, trying to find the bus station. I have no idea if he was new or not, but a two hour trip took far longer than it should have.
-11 surveys on Thursday alone. Now im relaxing. Goodnight #otakon. 7:55 PM Jul 29th
I don't want to compare this to last year, partly because I don't remember how many I threw around on Thursday in line. But since I have an improved method of tossing around surveys now (I use my panels, nothing like a captive audience to do your bidding), this was more of a...I suppose you could say formality. Still, 11 isn't a bad number.
-Just checked the schedule..and my weekend is wider open than I thought. 8:48 PM Jul 29th
And it was. Thanks to rescheduling and panel cancellation, I had huge chunks of free time every day. I filled them up trying to be productive, but the fire alarm got a lot of Saturday.
Next Up: Friday.
I don't know how I feel about Otakon's crackdown on having fun. On one hand, there is less annoyance to people who don't want to be involved in signs, catchphrases, etc. But on the other hand it completely subdues the atmosphere of the convention. Seems like this year's con was a bit less energetic and last year's.ReplyDelete
I did notice a bit more subdued atmosphere this year than last. I also understand how things like memes and signs add to the experience, but sometimes it goes too far. I don't mind certain memes, but the entire Buttscratcha thing last year killed the con for me. I dont need to hear that every 5 seconds for 3 hours...it went from hilarious to grating way too fast.ReplyDelete
As with all things, memes should be in moderation.
And I never agreed with their signs policy. Offensive content should be banned, not the medium itself.