WARNING: This article is incredibly image and video heavy!
AmeCon 2018 was a roaring success in my personal opinion, however the event started off with a few technical issues. Having said that, the crew battled on through those issues to be met with a weekend that had both roaring heat and ridiculous rainfall. The parties were fun, the cosplays were incredible, the guests were wonderful and the panels were all in all great fun (at least the ones I saw). Usually at these events, I don’t spend enough time going to events, usually because I’m in costume myself. For the first time ever, I went to an event with no cosplays, which felt strange, but seriously, it was rewarding to be able to look and appreciate the craft of Cosplay and Japanese fandom as someone looking in again. Read on for more on this year’s experience.
I have mentioned in the past that I do not Cosplay, and I made mention of it as part of my panel on confidence building, that I have accepted that it is something I am not tempted by, and that there is nothing wrong with that. I suppose now i have to rephrase that, I have a selection of options on how to update my status, all of which are true:
I don’t cosplay very often
I don’t cosplay very well
I don’t usually cosplay, but every now and then, with the right fandom, and the right crowd to tempt me in, I’ll throw something quick together.
In the build up to Amecon I’d spotted a couple of folks planning on putting together a Critical Role cosplay, and a group-meet planned for the Saturday. It was short notice, but one quick glance around my room and I realise that… actually, I had the pieces to put together a rather hasty Caleb Widogast. (more…)
Oh man am I tired. Well done Amecon, I am mentally and bodily drained. What a wonderful and weird weekend, and surprisingly well managed in the face of the adverse conditions.
I am not a hot-weather person, so the forecast of overwhelming heat was daunting in its own right, especially as I’d already resolved to cosplay (more on that later in the week) the concept of layering up beyond the basics of shorts and t-shirt was nightmarish, but I’d already made my decision. A lot of construction being done at Warwick meant some chronic reshuffling of the venue to allow space for all of the events taking place throughout the con, which meant a few insufficiently air-conditioned rooms. In many ways the weather turning on Sunday was a blessing, but I’m already getting ahead of myself.
I’m getting used to arriving on a Thursday to a convention. It usually offers an opportunity to socialise but this year, perhaps because we were not staying on-site (due in no small part to this year’s accommodation issues) we encountered very few people. We instead resolved to return to the hotel early, get a nice meal at the hotel, and kill the evening with some Magic.
Friday! The queue for registration was long and warm, we got a head start on making new friends (hello queue-friend, see you some other time) while the big monitor over the circle gave us an exciting countdown to an animated dance routine by AmeChan that made several reappearances during the weekend – why not, if you’ve put the effort into something like that then get your worth out of it. There were some organisational issues, not so much with managing reg itself, but managing the queue itself, but everyone managed to get through with little enough fuss before opening ceremonies.
Two complaints of my own for the day, apparently as a VIP (or premiere member, whichever) I did not get the traditional box of Pocky in my con-bag, does put a crimp in the start of ones convention, but I was more upset that I was barely boo’d at as I walked past the rest of the queue! Last year was such a delight, I was vilified, hated! None of that this year, shame on all of you.
I attended a handful of panels during the day, starting with an intro to Bunkazilla: a geek culture radio channel hosted online and created by Iain Boulton, his post-convention retirement project. A mech panel with a particularly dirty minded slant that proved as enlightening as it was entertaining, I suddenly understand far more of the jokes in Gurren Lagann. Then onwards to take, what would be a regular post in the traditional games room to prepare for the evening.
Now, Tim may have more pictures than I, but the end of my Friday was the GM’s Round Table panel, and I know I’ve said this to you both already but Chris and Lynsey, thank you both so much for making that panel what it was. While I enjoy hosting panels on my own, it was a much warmer affair to have you both on hand to answer those questions I could not, to really keep the conversation flowing, and turn the hour into an hour and a half.
In the panel we swapped stories, many of which not safe for this website, but tales of character ingenuity turned games master’s despair, conversations on the matters of player management, inter-personal disputes at the table, and some of our proudest and most embarrassing role-play moments. You – the audience – were fantastic, thank you all for the feedback, both positive and negative, it all helps make us better. See you in the future with something bigger and better than before.
There’s a lot of my Saturday I’ll need to circle around to in a day or two, suffice to say that I got an early peek into the dealers room and landed a harvest of dice and materials for a project that’s been in the works for some time. A panel about coffee in anime and gaming proved interesting, delving into how coffee has taken hold as a culture in Japan, although walking in to the gentle smell of a fresh brew was both tantalising, and a cheap trick to buy my affections, bravo. Thank you to those of you who joined the game of Dungeons & Dragons that evening, I shall say nothing about what took place, but those of you who played or witnessed were fantastic, and to you, my table is always open.
It is currently two in the morning, you’ll pardon me if I do not go overly in-depth on the subject of Sunday. I attended a variety of panels, saw some more friends, attempted to actually spend some time catching up with them, all of which felt inadequate, and so many of you I never even got to talk to beyond a quick “Hi, how was your weekend?” Let’s address some of the serious news of the day…
ChairChan is back.
It’s a convention meme that predates my time being involved with conventions, a chair, a magnificent chair, made wondrous by the adoration of its hoard of adoring fans, and the props that get left on it….
Y’know what, that’s not it.
My first convention was at Ayacon Apocalypse in 2013, and in the five years that followed I have learned and done a great deal, and consider myself to be experienced enough to know that I was spoiled, and that the venue may very well be the single greatest venue for an event of this kind, with rooms for panels and events, an enormous live-stage, party rooms, amenities, and on-site accommodation at reasonable rates, the Warwick Art Centre has it all. So the renovations taking place there now can only improve matters, right?
For now, they are a hindrance, an impediment that has caused something of a pall to be cast over next year’s Kitacon, and its bearers are the titans of the committee vacating their posts, and passing the baton down to a new generation of inveterate con-goers, event managers, and dyed-in-the-wool nerds. Their rest is well earned, but the duty of finding a new venue, even a temporary one for Kita 2019 is an uphill battle for anyone. Just don’t take us back to Nottingham guys.
Ame, we will see you again in 2020.
Apologies for the late and short article, but between the recent heatwave and the workload I’ve taken on, it’s occasionally a struggle to keep up with everything, but here’s a short list of excuses.
19th July: GeekOut Shrewsbury Steampunk’d – Next Thursday, the poll for the premeet will be up shortly, there will be TWO COMPETITIONS! in case you already missed that announcement. Part of today’s job will be hastily throwing a pub quiz together, or at least starting the process. The other competition will be the “Stick Some Gears On It” Inventors Fair, present an object that has been adorned with Steampunk paraphernalia, cogs, gears, vents, pipes, and valves, then justify your invention to our panel of judges (me in different hats). (more…)
So Monday was a bit mad.
For Amecon attendees it was something of a farce, and perhaps we’ve grown accustomed to a slightly easier ride when it comes to the Warwick Art’s Centre, especially when held against the obstinacy and awkwardness of “other” venues when it comes to handling the convention crowd. We may be used to the tense dash for registration, the gone-in-a-flash stock of tickets and the terse F5 mashing, but this year’s Amecon we suffered the same fate when it came to booking rooms, and far worse besides.
The grievances thusfar have been a slow performance from the accommodation site, maddeningly ambiguous emails, slow responses from all parties, and one hell of a scarcity problem. Those few who managed to land the cheaper student rooms were lucky, and even then some were uncertain as to whether or not they’d actually done it, the rooms in the on-site hotel were expensive to say the least, and many panic-booked hotels off site. Some rooms have been released in batches, but by the time they began the social groups were already awash with combined panic and despondency.
A quick note before I go any further, I am in no way attempting to partition blame, in fact I get the feeling that this has been something of a failed experiment; this is the first time I’ve seen accommodation staggered several months from convention registration, and perhaps it allowed the attendees to have sufficient breather, organisationally and financially. I also find myself wandering what kind of allotment of rooms the committee were given, although I feel like it would be foolish of Warwick to short-change them, and us in the process?
Perhaps the scene is victim to its own popularity. Kita and Ame have soaked up the Ayacon crowd like bicarb in vinegar, and the metaphorical bottle may have burst. A paid team of event organisers would struggle to manage the leviathan nature of the conventions they run, the fact that these guys are volunteers makes the end result nothing short of impressive – nay incredible. Since I joined the throngs about five years ago, even I have noticed how much harder it’s become to grab tickets and how fast they can vanish, even amongst smaller cons, or professionally run expos and events around the country.
The Ame committee have been juggling handling our issues on social media and passing on information from Warwick, who have been slow to deal with their besieged website but are answering emails and calling attendees to handle the matter. While I understand some of those people who have openly considered cancelling their tickets for financial reasons, to a lesser extent I think I understand cancelling on the basis of disappointment, but their seems to have been more than necessary, or maybe it’s that those who’d council patience have been generally quiet.
I will be staying in a Premiere Inn twelve minutes down the road, Tim has opted for Scarman – the hotel accommodation, we’ve each made compromises that don’t entirely satisfy, and might sour our experience but the only way to know for sure is to attend, and to enjoy as best we can. Certainly neither one of us could claim to be entirely satisfied, but we’re far from deterred.
See you at Amecon.
With the start of a new year comes the start of a new set of conventions, of which we currently only have one planned, but many more will pop up throughout the year no doubt. We adore anime conventions and we believe it should be accessible to everyone, too. In this article, we’ll look at what etiquette you really should take with you to a convention, no matter the size – then we’ll look at some anime conventions coming up in the UK in 2018.
2017? So that happened. Moving on.
As we continue our inexorable march forwards through time, unable to alter what was to repair what is and improve what will be, we can only look to what approaches with hope. So far we appear to have something to be optimistic about, and here we’ve chosen some of our geeky favourites.
Here’s our Top 10 of the Best Things to Come in 2018! Happy New Year everyone.
Aah, Amecon! This will mark Joel’s third time at the event and Timlah’s second – and both of us are equally excited to be going back to Amecon, as the last one was so damn good! With the nicest venue in the UK for anime conventions, Amecon 2018 is set to be another exciting and extraordinary event. Whilst it doesn’t call itself a party convention like Kitacon does, it certainly knows how to make you get in the mood for a great cheesy rave!
Ah, but that’s not all Amecon does! The focus is purely on the fans, with a great emphasis on cosplay itself. Amecon is an interesting event for every Otaku out there; but it’s also a great convention in general. Slipping in at number 10, as we know we’re being heavily biased, but hey, it’s our list and we will add Amecon, because for us, it’s the convention we’re all looking forward to the most.
9) Agony (Video Game)
It is very difficult to keep the conversation about this game family friendly. Agony is a survival horror set in the depths of hell, in which you play a damned soul desperately seeking a way out. Every glimpse of footage we’ve seen so far is a depiction of rot, decay, torture, gore,viscera, and … shall we say “adult themes”.
Will Agony bring anything new to the table so far as revolutionary mechanics or incredibly inventive gameplay? I doubt it. As for narrative, I don’t know that that’s necessarily the point either. What we’re seeing is a gruesomely creative art piece that will get intentionally provocative and inventive in its depictions of suffering and despair. I am deeply curious as to what lies beneath that slick sheen of blood and between the trees of twisted limbs when Agony gets released this year.
8) Pacific Rim Uprising
Following the breakout hit of Guillermo Del Torro’s love letter to anime, Pacific Rim, buzz was high for a sequel with more giant robot vs giant monster action. It took a couple of tries but we are now going to see Pacific Rim 2, Uprising, picking up the story with the son of Stacker Pentecost, John Boyega, against the second wave of apocalyptic kaiju bent on our demise. The trailer we’ve seen so far seems to suggest that there aren’t many Jaeger’s left after the countries of the Rim turned on one another.
I have some concerns, I’ll be honest. The trailers seem to imply a more light-hearted approach, gone is any trace of the dark and gritty so far as the visuals go, but I’m remaining hopeful. New Jaegers look pretty, new kaiju look big and scary, and we still have the important parts for me: Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, and Ellen McLain (at least she’s in the promo material). If nothing else this will be a big, glorious spectacle… and that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?
7) Nvidia ‘Volta’
Remember when everyone was ranting and raving about how crazy good the GeForce 1080 was going to be? They were proven to be right; reliable beasts of a GPU, which seemingly upped the game of the developers looking to push the limits of graphics in PC based video games. But the 1080 board wouldn’t be around for too long, before a successive technology would be developed by the team at Nvidia.
Volta isn’t a whole new board, per se, but instead it appears to be a whole new GPU architecture. One of the interesting points is the extreme attention it’s bringing to Artificial Intelligence; citing that AI should be available in every industry. They go so far and talk so bold as to saying that Volta will bring breakthroughs in every industry. Now, if that’s not talking big, I don’t know what is..!
6) Altered Carbon
Netflix continues its trend of bringing increasingly cool TV to the internet addicted masses. In this adaption of the Richard K. Morgan novel, the human mind can live forever by passing from body to body, resulting in minds that are centuries old being piled into young and healthy new flesh whenever the old carcass wears out.
So how do you pitch a murder mystery in a world that fears no death? By having the victim hire the man to find his killer. For me it looks like it’s got it all! Neonoir setting, creepy premise with political and ethical ramifications, and the occasional dose of action to change up the pace every now and again. The original novel was awarded the Philip K. Dick award in 2003, which is a nice little segue to…
5) Electric Dreams – Philip K. Dick
This one’s for you America, because we’ve already seen it! Well I haven’t, but the point is I can watch it whenever I like, because I’m British and we got it first! Anyway, if you’re a fan of Black Mirror, or just a fan of Philip K. Dick in general then this series is going to be worth a watch. The mind that brought you A Scanner Darkly, The Man in The High Castle, and of course the precursor novels to Bladerunner, Total Recall, Minority Report, Paycheck, and Screamers, remains a goldmine for ideas in modern sci-fi.
The series of short stories explores the nature of consciousness, politics, and society through the lens of dystopian future societies, space faring humanity, and advanced technologies. More episodes are due to release in the UK in 2018, along with a full release across the Atlantic. I may even have caught up to it and Black Mirror by then.
4) Moon Express
No, I’m not making this up – This is a crowdsourced venture which is promising that we will be reaching the moon in 2018. Okay, humankind has reached the moon before, but this time around, a private company which was brought to life via Kickstarter, along with strategic links to NASA, wishes to be the first to the moon.
They have a few goals on the moon; they wish to mine it for valuable resources to bring back to Earth. They also wish to eventually create human colonies on the moon, which is definitely a first thought of its kind. Whatever you think about this as a concept, it’s a very niche, very interesting idea and I’m excited to see what this brings about.
Perhaps “The Man on the Moon” will stop being a myth and start becoming a reality.
I’m not going to lie to you all and say that this will be video game of 2018, because I genuinely don’t know. I don’t know if the team making Vampyr are going to handle such a hard to master genre, or if they’ll flop. However, Vampyr is similar in concept to one of my favourite, incredibly rough RPGs – Vampire: the Masquerade: Bloodlines.
In Vampyr, you play as a recently turned a Vampyr, who is also a doctor. Your whole life has been devoted to saving people; but now people are the very thing you need to feed off in order to survive. As such, you have a moral dilemma – Do you end up feasting on those you were meant to save, or do you find another way to survive?
Vampire games are hugely uncommon these days, which always annoys me. It’s such a great genre that needs further exploration, that I can only wish good things for this title.
2) The Incredibles 2
This may never have been the plan, and we’ve waited thirteen years to hear the words Incredibles 2, which once again sparks hope for a Dredd sequel but that’s not what we’re here for. The story will pick up right where we left it, with the family discovering that little baby Jack-Jack not only has super-powers, but apparently has all of them. No surprises given that their other two children are immensely powerful in their own right, but they appear to have given birth to a Kal-El like godling.
The main question left is who our new villain will be. Current theory remains that the Underminer will make a reappearance, but comparing a guy with a drill to Syndrome? No, he’s got to have some deep underlying message to compete with the original! Let’s never forget that this was the film that gave us hope for a good Fantastic Four film… we need that hope again, and once again we must turn to Disney for it.
1) Avengers Infinity Wars
There will come a time when we all grow tired of the endless tide of Marvel films, some of us are already there, and with the acquisition of Fox and its constituent Marvel properties that day may arrive sooner than later. Personally I’m expecting saturation after the Infinity Wars are over, but until then OH MY GOD IT’S GONNA BE SO AWESOME! Next year there’ll be Black Panther, more Deadpool, more X-Men, more Ant Man, and so much more everything. And yet there’s only one thing on my mind.
I made my feelings clear in my extended dissection of Thanos’ line in the trailer, but this is a cinematic event ten years and twenty films in the making, all of it building to this moment. Thanos made his first over-the-shoulder post-credits appearance back in 2012, and didn’t get a line of dialogue until Josh Brolin took the Mad Titan’s voice in Guardians of the Galaxy. Someone’s going to die. Probably me. Of excitement.
See? It’s not all doom and gloom! And that’s only the best of what’s confirmed. There are rumours and hints at other plans from some our favourite creators and properties, and while they can’t exactly be put officially into the list, the very least we can do is offer them a nod in the honourable mentions.
Game of Thrones: Winds of Winter?
A new Games of Thrones book, like a recurring character in the series, is quite an uncommon thing. Sure, there are enough of them, but it’s always a case of when George R. R. Martin decides it’s time to finish and release that new book – and there are fans out there who seem to ask him on an almost daily basis the six words: ‘When’s the next book being released?’
Now, it’s not up to a fan to decide when an author releases a book – After all, it’s the authors livelihood, so it’s up to George himself to make the final decision. However, when all is said and done, there wasn’t a release last year – So perhaps Winds of Winter will finally come out in 2018? This is pure speculation, so here’s hoping we get to continue the epic franchise before TV decides to run ahead of itself.
The Return of Epic Rap Battles of History?
Joel and I have both been pretty upfront and honest in the past; We really enjoy the Epic Rap Battles of History YouTube channel. So much so, we once dedicated a whole Top 10 to their best songs. With this in mind, we’ve been keeping up to date, watching out for anything their channel puts out – and not too long ago, we got a new video which spoke about the possible return of their videos.
Now, don’t get me wrong, similarly to AmeCon, this gets into the list purely because we love this and we both have a joint interest in the channel. Here’s hoping that they come back this year and they’re as strong as ever, but as their video shows, there’s a little bit more going on behind the scenes right now – So all the best to NicePeter and their soon to be baby girl! Aww, what a nice way to go into 2018.
Extra Honourable Mention
Of course, 2017 was an exciting year for us here at GeekOut Media! We worked our butts off and we did a lot of interesting things – But, as an extra honourable mention, we thought we’d give you a bit of a glimpse into…
Another Year of GeekOut Media
Joel – It’s been about four years since I started writing for GeekOut, give or take a month or three, and it won’t be long before I’ll have been running the Shrewsbury Meets for a full year. In doing this job I have earned not a single penny, but there have been many achievements born of this little project of ours. Another year of Meetups, ebooks, events, and hopefully my new undertaking as a DM for hire. And it’s all thanks to you guys.
Timlah – Well, when we hit September 2018, it’ll have been half a decade of this website. What a crazy realisation..! With this said, we’ve been such a busy team over these years, that we hope that we’ll get more people to join our cause in the coming year. We’re looking forward to meeting many new, cool geeks, like you! Come join us for a meetup; or join us in our online ventures, as we get ready to embrace the new year!
Let us look back fondly upon 2017, after all it’s just another arbitrary number applied to an elliptical orbit without a fixed line along its circumference to officially mark the passage of time. Technically it’s the wrong number, and it’s even more wrong if you mark it by the Human Era calendar…
Help us get 12,018 HE/2018 AD kicked off right with another geeky Top 10 by voting down below.
Happy New Year from everyone here at GeekOut South-West!
I’m writing this on Christmas evening, slumped in my chair in a new hoodie, overstuffed with food and casting an eye over my haul for the year, watching some good quality entertainment, half working a short campaign, half writing this article. It’s been a big, weird year. It started with a Charizard… (more…)
Once a year, I go to meet up with Joel and a bunch of our friends at one of the large two conventions we attend annually. This year was Kitacon, where we did some relatively ambitious stuff, such as an in-convention podcast for a Top 10. Next year, we’re going to be attending AmeCon as we all managed to get ahold of tickets.
Anime Music Videos, yes, these are still a thing in 2016 and they’re going strong. You might have seen one or two whilst browsing YouTube, but if you’re unaware of what they are, or just want to see some great ones, join me as I look through some and explain why on earth I’m suddenly interested in them again.