Simply put, Cons are a little busy and a lot of fun.
They bring together an incredibly wide variety of people from different walks of life and interests that find commonality in favorite fandoms. This was actually our first time attending the Motor City Comic Con, but it was impossible not to come away impressed for multiple reasons during this, their 30th year.
The first thing that stood out to me upon entering the venue was the wide open space. I have seen some Cons where things just feel cramped, with narrow hallways and lots of walking from one room or remote location to another. Here, the location made great use of its provided space. The vast majority of what was taking place was in a single large (if not perfectly square) room that had artists, shops, food stands and more. This large region connected to a hallways, which then lead to a handful of fairly large conference rooms. Given the quality of the guests (David Tenant, Felicia Day, Charlie Hunnam and plenty more), I was surprised that the lines were not longer and that the waiting spaces did not feel more cramped than they were.
Speaking of the artists and shops, these were plentiful. Everything from local artists making high quality prints to producing their own board games and comic books to shops that were selling all of the Pop Funkos a person could ever want to see. These shops often had things like Harry Potter themed candles, popular comic book heroes printed on metal plates, carefully crafted woodworking images and a great deal more.
Despite the conference rooms being fairly similar in size and configuration, there was definitely a different vibe to each one. Some sessions were wide-open, encouraging photos while others leaned towards not actually recording what was being said and keeping things somewhat more intimate. I’ll touch on two very different, but both very entertaining question and answer sessions in later articles this week (Felicia Day and Pom Klementieff). There was also a great deal to do between celebrity autographing sessions, cosplay photography, numerous booths to look at and more.
If there was one element where I could see the experience being expanded upon, it would be in providing public video game rooms. What I have seen at other Cons is that they make available a variety of free to play arcade machines, PCs / consoles / VR rigs where people can sit down and play for free as well, as well as some paid machines like unique pinball tables and prize machines. There was a location here at Motor City Comic Con where a handful of really nice pinball machines could be played for a dollar apiece, but I did not see a lot of people making use of these. I’m sure that setting a section like I am proposing is pretty costly, but in my other experiences these serve as really great, organic areas for people to meet and converse. There would need to be another space rented out in the current venue to accommodate this, and admittedly I have a game bias (that is the focus of Chalgyr’s Game Room after all), but a little friendly competition can go a long ways when strangers are looking for a way to pass the time and maybe get off of their feet for a bit.
A low-tech example of this was fully on display at Motor City Comic Con, however – and it was great to see. The area looked to be just about the right size (perhaps it could have used just a bit more space to breathe, but it was far from standing-room-only) was the tabletop gaming area. What we got to see here was a solid selection of board games (including everything from themed family favorites such as Game of Thrones Monopoly and Clue to more strategic games like the popular ‘Legendary Encounters” series to Dominion (a personal favorite of mine) and Splendor – a favorite of Felicia Day’s). Here there were several tables set up, where I saw everything from two guys competitively playing their game, to families gathered around the table just having fun. Both sides of that particular coin appeals to me, as I tend to be a pretty competitive guy, but at the same time used to have ‘Sunday Game Day’ with a couple of my kids as we played everything from themed versions to Risk to Artificium and Munchkin Zombie Deluxe).
One interesting observation I had was the large number of children in attendance, something I had not seen nearly as much of in the more anime-themed Cons I have previous attended. Of course, ‘comic books’ have often been a favorite of children, so this trend makes sense. As I told my wife recently: This has been a really good time for geeks. Being in my 40’s, opportunities to gather with like-minded fans of fantasy, comic books, science fiction and video games were not always readily available to me. This age of social media and cons provide more networking opportunities than ever before. They also provide unique opportunities for people to meet celebrities than we saw a decade or three ago. Add to this the popularity of comic book movies, video game streaming, YouTube videos about roleplaying, Kickstarters that heavily support tabletop gaming and the emergence of the fantasy genre in mainstream media over the last several years (Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, the upcoming Witcher series, etc) – and we have the perfect recipe for people such as myself to come together and express themselves.
|One of the many staff that was outgoing, friendly and kept things moving along in smooth fashion. His name is “Roger” if the police are asking.|
I believe at the heart of things, that is the primary appeal of conversions such as this one. People get to express themselves – often through cosplay. There are ample opportunities to meet celebrities who make themselves available both at the convention itself, but also in unexpected venues (credit Detroit Free Press). There are numerous more personal moments of interest as well, such as this engagement (again, credit to Detroit Free Press). This was an incredibly friendly bunch, from the majority of the staff to the vendors to the general crowds. Exiting rooms was done in an orderly fashion, I did not see any of the drama that sometimes pops up in other cons, and by and large I would have to say that this was just an awesome group of people in attendance.
In the coming days, we’ll touch on a couple of our favorite Q and A sessions, as well as some of our cosplay photography – both on the floor and during the contest on Saturday evening. Until then, I am happy to say that this convention was a success on almost all fronts.