Amecon 2016 – Joel
It has been a long time since I experienced a weekend go by so fast.
Amecon returned, but in a new and improved venue, and it’s a place that means a lot to us here because the Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry is where Tim and I first met three years ago at Ayacon Apocalypse, the end of an era that left a vacuum of power for the other titans of the community to occupy, and occupy they have.
It’s a far cry from the abysmal performance from the Nottingham Britannia, still mocked and derided by all present. The Art Centre has everything a good con could ever want, an amphitheatre, lecture halls, on-site accommodation, various sources for food and what necessities we forget to pack (toothpaste of all bloody things), space for dealers, screenings, games of all kinds and all of the above at respectable prices. We filled the place, crammed every moment with things to do for all tastes and still found time to party like only nerds can.
I have a lot to get through, so I’m going to try and keep it all fairly brief.
Having arrived, registered, thrown bags into the room and having not managed to make it to the How to Make a Good AMV panel, a few of us launched straight in with a game of Say Anything “anime edition”, and I say that in quotations because the main thing that gave it an anime feel was the audience. Quite a few of the questions we randomly picked out of an admittedly long list were given a geeky slant, but honestly it was the teams and the answers they gave that really made the game feel right for the event. But it’s thanks to us that girl scouts can now earn their Tentacle Awareness Badge.
Opening ceremonies were what they ever were, enough information to get us kicked off, an introduction to the guests, rules, advice and directions, not to mention a polite request to everyone to leave the “normal people” alone.
Slight tangent: kudos to the opportunistic ice-cream van who hung around the quad in the centre of the con. Smart move, especially in that weather with so many attendees roasting alive in their costumes.
Some socialising, some food from the student bar Fusion – who put on a special menu for us, although how different it was from the regular menu I couldn’t say – I attended a panel held by a lovely woman whom I’ve had the pleasure of gaming with in the past: Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies. An hour of advice for would-be Dungeon and Game Masters followed by half an hour of mixed Q&A and role-play story swapping, granted I didn’t learn much (after nine years of DMing, I wouldn’t expect to learn much in a beginners guide) but it was a thoroughly enjoyable panel and I hope the future DMs and GMs in the room took in every word.
I skipped the party but spent my evening playing more games, chatting and getting back in touch with old friends before retiring to my room, typical student rooms with lumpy beds but good enough to sleep in.
One delicious breakfast later and another early-morning panel missed, I went to watch another RP panel, Adventure Bastards Live. A gang of well dressed lads sat down to an overly-comedic game of Call of Cthulhu and some late-morning drinks being served by a couple of girls in maid outfits, which was a good laugh for sure, but I couldn’t help but grin when it turned out the maids were secretly cultists, and the party were forced to enact their ridiculous plans to deal with them on stage, dancing, wooing, fumbling through “charming” conversation, and they were all sufficiently tipsy enough to do it, and sober enough to be embarrassed at the same time. That’s one hell of a punchline. And they have a back-catalogue of adventures for me to sit through on YouTube…
I missed the Untitled Discussion, a panel of committee members and regulars talking about con life that I really enjoyed when they tried it out at Kitacon. I arrived in time to catch the last few minutes, and it seems like things got a little too serious, which in a way I’m a little sad to have missed, but I had to eat, and there was a dealers room to explore.
The panel that followed gripped me from the title “Never Ending In The End” and the fact that it was being held twice made me curious. Did you ever notice the sheer volume of Anime Music Videos set to the quintessential Linkin Park track In The End? It’s one of those things you don’t necessarily pick up on unless someone points it out. Thanks Brack, I can never un-notice that. I followed that insightful and hilarious observation with his next panel of the day and my first MADstravaganza…
I cannot explain MADstravaganza. You sit and watch through some of the weirdest videos that anime and Japanese culture and twisted genius fans have conjured that Brack has somehow uncovered and assembled for your viewing disbelief. This is the same guy who ran the first panel I attended at any convention ever, a history of animated penguins. He also ran a similar thing on pigs, and when I found out he’d be doing something very similar on cats on Sunday I was all kinds of sold.
Saturday night is rock night, but sadly I had to bale some time around the metal set because that bar is seriously hot, it had been a long day, and I had work to do in the morning…
I may have mentioned from time to time that I had a panel to run myself. Finding Confidence! First time speaking in public, stage fright a real concern, poorly prepared and unrehearsed, and a wall of doubt to fight my way through.
If you were a friend, a fan, or someone who showed up to watch and have come here for the first time, thank you so much because while you may have been the ones looking for confidence I at least left with more than I showed up with. I’d like to say again that I am not a professional, not an expert, just a guy who’s learnt the hard way how to fake a brave face until even I believe it. The conversation got very heavy duty, and I was not equipped for the questions levelled at me but after speaking to a few people afterwards I really feel like I could really have helped a few people, and at least entertained most of them. I ran out of material after half an hour, but wow did we talk afterwards.
There will be video to follow, kind of. Tim rather kindly got the whole thing, set the camera up on a table next to me, used his cinematographic talents to frame me elegantly against the black backdrop as I took my place behind the desk. I promptly stood up. Enjoy an hour of my upper torso to knees while I wander back and forth giving a haphazard but emotional talk once we’ve edited the footage enough to look almost usable.
Brack’s rundown of the best cats in anime was as enjoyable as every other panel of his I’ve seen. I’m to the point now where if I see his name on a panel, it’ll be one hell of an event that can drag me away from it.
I missed the Omake (talent show) to watch Amateur Voice Acting which I enjoyed well enough but learned more from than I have any other panel this weekend. It might finally be time for me to give another pipe-dream a fair shot.
The Closing Ceremonies were a parade of awards, and here I admit my lack of a press pass made me relax somewhat, and I was somewhat less scrutinous in my note taking as to who won what but well done everyone. Two VIP tickets for next years Kita were won for £650 by one of the young ladies in my panel so a big congratulations to her.
To the big news of the closing ceremonies then. No Amechibi next year. No Hilton for Kitacon.
The Ame committee have tried and failed to replace the Britannia in Nottingham for a venue that’s small enough to afford for the nature of the event they want to hold, so rather than lead us back into a deathtrap and watch Amechibi die screaming for the sake of the few willing to take their lives in hand to attend, they have decided it’s better to simply not bother, sit on the money and simply keep trying to find somewhere better and run a convention that they can be proud of. Ame will return in 2018, and I shall seek out a different convention to sample in the mean time.
Kita attendees are growing to resent the Hilton’s restrictions, despite the fact that they’re put in place for good reason. The problem is that the Hilton rather dug their own grave on that score, with high prices on food, drink and rooms, ever mounting regulation on our behaviour, and putting us together with events they’d rather give space to. Kita committee members have sat up and taken notice, so next year we’re going BACK TO THE ART CENTRE!!! Kitacon Quest! I will miss the Frankie and Benny’s at the airport. Not much though.
Amecon In Summary
What a weekend, and what a genuine pleasure. It’s all been over too soon but to be completely honest I’m looking forward to a night in my own bed. Big thanks to the Amecon staff, see you 2018, and you can expect an email from me soon enough. I got a taste for the crowd.