Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Hilton Alexandria Mark Center; Alexandria, Virginia.
Jan 13 - 16, 2011 (Thu - Sun)
When I initially agreed to come to this con I really didn't know much about it. A friend invited me and I invited someone else, so I was a bit surprised it was a 4 day con (my thought being only the biggest cons would have the extra day, like Otakon this year). For anyone that doesn't really know what Magfest is, it's basically a video game/music con. It's devoted to anything video game and music to video games. So there was a ton of bands there that played video game related music.
We arrived a bit late on Thursday so we missed almost all the panels. But we took care of getting our badges, which brings me to my first issue.
What surprised me was that the con sold out of badges in the pre-reg phase. Of all the cons I've been to I've never really seen that happen before. A lot of times cons have a pre-reg cap at a certain date and allow walk-ins to pick up their tickets at the door (which usually tend to cost a bit extra since you didn't pre-reg). But this is the first time I've had a con sell all of their tickets in pre-reg and I'm not entirely sure what to say about it. I guess on one hand you don't have to deal with the two lines, so maybe it would be easier to deal with? That and you guarantee that you sell out all your tickets. But with a con like Magfest I doubt there would have been any issue with selling their tickets without a pre-reg.
But other then that oddity, what I can really compliment is the price. For a 4 day con it was $40. Last year Otakon was a 3 day con and cost about $60. I wouldn't be entirely surprised if Magfest raised their price next year, but I was extremely happy to pay so little for a 4 day con.
Now I must go back to complaining. Actually being in line for picking up the badge was bad. I've been in much worse lines (AX 09) but this was kind of ridiculous how unorganized it was. I waited for about 2 and half hours, but I heard people waiting much longer. And the process itself was fairly simple, you show your ID and they look you up and give you a badge. So I'm sort of wondering what the holdup really was. It could have been a mix between the staffers and the people in line themselves (I'm certainly not one to immediately blame the staffers). Either way I think what might have helped if they had someone standing by the line and directing people where to go. It seems like a bit micromanaging, but with a line as big as it was, its easier and more efficient.
NOW getting past registration. This con was a bit different then most cons I go to. I tend to go to mostly Anime Conventions. So there's a far bigger focus on cosplay, at least more people cospay at an anime convention. Here it was pretty low key, there was a few cosplayers that wandered around and I tried to get photos of whoever I saw.
This was the first time I ever really took the time to go to panels. My big focus on cons normally is to; see friends, do cosplay stuff (gatherings and what not) and spend time in the dealers room. But since I really wasn't doing a lot of cosplay stuff I spent time trying to get to panels.
There was a lot I had a lot of fun with, but I think one of the biggest issues with the panels was the rooms themselves. The con was held mostly within a hotel and it wasn't really big. So the panel rooms were smaller and made it harder to get into. For some of the more popular panels you had to go and wait at least an hour ahead of time to make sure you'd get in, otherwise you'd get left in the dust. Someone pointed out that it would have been nice if they put a line cap so that people wouldn't waist their time in line, not able to get in. But I doubt the con really would have the man power to really deal with that. I think by this point, what with how big the con is getting I heard rumors they were going to move to a new location.
I think all the panels that I attended I had a great time during, even the ones I sort of wandered into unintentionally. One of the best panels was the art fight. Where two artist are given a new topic to draw every five minuets and they have to draw it. So eventually it started to devolve into something utterly insane. But watching it evolve slowly was a fun process.
The other fun panel was getting to see Spoony's. It was mostly him showing some of his videos (including a short new one) but he did take the time to answer some questions and talk to the audience. It was the last panel we went to and I had a really good time. But this sort of leads me into my next part.
There was a big, big focus on the people from thatguywiththeglasses.com, all of which are internet reviewers in some fashion. Some review games, other review nostalgic tvshows, movies, music and comics. The people who do review games do relate to the con, I guess even the music people might (they don't make music, they just review general pop songs, so maybe even that's a bit of a stretch). But people like the Nostalgia Critic or Linkara don't really relate so much and Linkara had a panel. This isn't trying to bash either of those people, I actually love their reviews. I was mad disappointed I couldn't make it to Linkara's panel, but it does make me question a bit. Maybe this just goes to show how the con is evolving. Much like Anime cons really aren't just about Anime, but delve into Japanese culture. Maybe this shows the nature progression of this con. What was sort of mind blowing was to see the sheer amount of fans for a lot of internet guests. It's not too surprising I guess, but you don't tend to think of people on the internet as celebrities. It's the same sort of odd feeling when you see a celebrity. You know them, you've seen their work and you know who they are, but they don't know you, so when you go up and speak to someone all you can do is compliment their work, which isn't a terrible thing, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
All of the people I managed to snag photos with or just spoke to were all wonderfully nice and it was awesome getting the chance to see the people whos videos I enjoy watching.
The Con Itself
Pretty much anything I couldn't think to add in the previous parts. The people at the con, the guests and con goers were all really nice. I think the best part was the game room. There was a TON of games, unlike an Anime Con where there are little to no options of what to play (granted this con is dedicated to video-games, it better have a good game room). But the people were pretty polite, if people were waiting for a game, then they'd finish up their game and let the next person on, so I got the chance to try the different games there (and now starting to become a fan of King of Fighters). I think the only thing I wish I could have tried is the Dance Central game they had set up, but there was generally a lot of people around it and I really didn't feel like waiting in line for it.
Overall it was a really good con. I had a great time, I would probably go again. In the second post I'll post more photos, mostly of cosplayers.