Sunday, March 20, 2011
Zenkaikon 2011 & Photos
Vally Forge Convention Center, King of Prussia, PA
Zenkaikon is a newer con, that's still slowly sort of growing. It seems to be one of those cons that do seem to get better with every year. They learn from their previous mistakes. I've attended for three years so far, and I've seen a lot of improvements from year to year.
First off the space. The space has been improved SO much. Last year they weren't in the Scanticon but the area next to it, the hotel area. It was so awfully cramped. There was no place to really stand around and hang out, or get photos if you needed to. But this year they got several floors of the Scanitcon center and it was a huge sigh of relief. There was several floors to walk around in, a nice big area for people to hang around in on the bottom floor, while all the panals were held at the top floor. There was a second floor between but I guess they weren't able to get that for the con, since it was blocked off the whole time. But it was a HUGE improvement over last year. There was a small place selling food (rather expensive food, but they did give you a lot of it, between $6-8) but it was convenient. I seriously can't tell you how happy I was about the space, because of how bad it was last year.
This con I'm never really focused on my own cosplay quite so much, I'll wear a costume but I don't care for the meetup quite so much so I got the chance to see a few panels. Now I can't really judge all of them, only the ones I went to. Also I was only there on Saturday so I can't speak for anything else that happened, only for what happened on Saturday. And it was a 50/50 experience. The first panel we went to was something on Lovecraft and it was...pretty terrible to be honest. The idea behind the panel and the information that could have been presented would have been great. An information panel on Lovecraft and his universe. What it ended up being was a slightly unorganized, book pimping panel. The author there seemed to know what he was talking about, but he spent the entire time talking about himself as an author and talking about all of his books (within ten mins of the panel he had all of his books on him and he pulled them out to show everyone). If you're running a panel, I don't have a problem with your pimping your merchandise. I have a problem with you doing it throughout the whole presentation. If you're going to do it, do it after the panel. As your ending it, make a mention of it and where they can buy it. It's annoying and rather eye rolling to watch you do it throughout the whole panel.
The panel I did really liked was the Square to Bioware panel, the one on American and Japanese RPGs. It started with a quick sort of information part, but included a huge audience participation and discussion. It partly plays into my interests, since I like discussion, but I think the guys did a good job putting it together and kept on topic, but still allowed people to talk and share their opinions. They were overall really enjoyable. The guys who ran it were g33kWatch so check out their website.
The last event I got to see was the masquerade. And this was a pretty vast improvement from last year. Last year was in a really small room, and there was only a few people really interested in it. This year they had a whole stage set up and two large screens. The way the seating was set up was around the stage, but for whatever reason the two large screens set up along the sides weren't playing the masquerade, they were just showing the logo. So the people who were sitting along the sides were pretty much missing out on about everything. Maybe the cameras weren’t working? But if you have an area set up that large then they really, really needed to get the screens working. But they seemed to be taking a step towards making the masquerade more legitimate with the stage and giving more people the chance to actually see it. Zenkaikon is the con that tends to give out a lot of awards, but with a con as small as it is, it’s not really surprising.
Another big change was the dealer’s room and artist alley. With the growing interest in the con I suppose they were able to get more dealers interested in selling. The dealer’s room was pretty big, with varied types of booths. The artist ally was mixed in there, which wasn’t unusual. But what was strange was that they had a different hallway for ore of the artist ally. There was an artist alley B section with like maybe 5-6 artists there. I have no idea why they did that. The B section was upstairs and far away from the main dealers room/artist alley. We found it by accident, maybe they ran out of room in the main area, but with how big it was, they probably could have easily fit them in.
I think that’s about all I can say for the con. I’m happy to see the con starting to grow and improve. I think there’s still little stuff they can improve on, but I’m glad to see them better and better with each year. I’ll be curious to see what they’re like next year.
Unlike most posts, I tend to make two separate ones for photos and con reports. But I really didn’t take that much photos, so I’m tacking them on at the end of this post. Enjoy!