I have never been to a convention before. Some of you may have already stopped reading asking ‘How could I possibly understand truly appreciate a convention if I’ve never been before?’. Well the truth is I probably can’t, but I’ll bloody well try.
The event itself was split in to 3 days, Friday the 5th of April to Sunday the 7th, with fringe events such as meet-ups happening on the Thursday night. The city of Nottingham, in which it was held, was ideal for those to come from afar due to its central location. I can’t really compliment much else about the city; I’ve heard it has some good galleries but some pretty appalling theft rates, mainly affecting the rich. The poor seem well off.
The convention itself was situated at the large Britannia hotel, the type of place you’d organise a cheap Christmas party, but for the purpose of a convention I’ll let that slide. I will criticise the lifts, as whoever of you attended will understand the anguish of waiting upwards of 20 minutes to get a lift to the top floor. I would have taken the stairs if they would’ve been signposted at all. I had to eventually rely on the fire escape, which was hidden. Brilliant.
Whilst the convention hall itself wasn’t the greatest, such as the inability to find certain areas of interest and the lift issue, I found the atmosphere to be a lot more relaxed than I anticipated, believing that it’d be similar to that of the intensity of PAX. Granted, it’s a new and small convention but I expected everyone to be in full on hardcore convention mode. There were plenty of places to relax and I won’t complain about the bar.
Now, for the rest of the article I’m going to discuss the main attractions of the convention under subheadings, making it easier to digest and obviously easier for me to write. It’s a win-win situation.
No, not the ‘Gangsta r u reppin yo swag or r u swaggy-lackin’, but the free shit that we received on arrival and all that we could ‘legally’ take from the stalls. The bag swag was fairly decent with a few bags of sweets and the general knickknacks with a t-shirt and tote bag thrown in for good measure. I couldn’t find any things to take from the stalls, but at least getting autographs from the guests were free. Take that most signings I’ve ever been to. Apart from that, there was little else, which was a shame.
I prefer to call it fancy dress, but I’d be lynched if I were ever to mention that to a group of cosplayers. It’s a serious and quite respectable craft that a lot of the attendees at Gemucon participated in, with panels devoted to the art of cosplay, with guests such as Belgian cosplayers Saya Shinigami (hyuk, hyuk, hyuk) and Eri Senpai. I never thought the act of dressing as a character would be so appealing, but apparently it is. It’s a business.
The quality of some of the cosplayers were outstanding, especially the group who dressed up as the red team from Team Fortress 2. But there were a few on the poorer side, such as simply wearing a red hat and claiming to be Ash Ketchum, but it’s an effort..!
One of the main reasons I attended was due to the presence of TGS or ‘The Game Station’ at Gemucon. I’ve been an avid fan of the network for about a year and was truly excited to see members such as Jesse Cox (Let’s Player and Podcaster), Dodger Leigh (Gaming News presenter and Vlogger), Dave Chaos (Let’s Player), Rosanna Pansino (Host of the popular baking show ‘Nerdy Nummies’) and Mike ‘Husky’ Lamond (Star Craft 2 commentator and ‘musician’). It was unfortunate to hear that neither Husky nor Rosanna were able to attend, but in their stead Martin ‘Inthelittlewood’ and KaeyiDream would be attending. It was a shame as I am a huge fan of Starcraft and was unable to meet one of my favourite YouTubers, but none the less, Coxbonus and InthelittleDream would suffice – Not that I’d want to forget about Matt Lobster and TomSka who were the other guests attending. They held a panel in a tiny room for some reason and therefore I was unable to see what they were doing at the convention.
This brings me on to a touchy point. I’m a big fan of these people and during the convention saw them numerous times around the halls… followed by an entourage of around 100 people. Now, If I were in their situation I’d get incredibly tired of people coming up to me and asking me for photographs or signatures, so naturally if I saw them I’d just walk on by to prevent them being bogged down, and also I’m shy as hell. I respect these people very much, but perhaps I put too much of my own perspective on their situation, as I’ve been assured numerous times by Jesse Cox and others to come up and talk to them. By the looks on their faces I believe that they’re thrilled by all the attention their getting, but no one can read minds. The size of the convention also makes this a bigger issue. If we were at PAX for example the amount of fans seeing them would increase, but the entourage might decrease, as it’s a large convention with people not necessarily going to see these Youtubers. It felt that they were unable to flee from the entourage of people as the convention hall was so small, but again I cannot speak for them.
Their main contribution to the event was to host the TGS panels, one from 1pm-3pm and the other 8 until 10. Jesse practically stole the show, as is to be expected being the sexy butterfly he is, but each member of the panel gave out great answers to all questions asked and tried to make it as entertaining as possible. As with all things, in jokes were the main sources of humour, therefore outside onlookers may have been confused. A slight criticism from my perspective was the fact that it was a whole two sessions of 2 hour Q&A, which is great for fan interaction, but you must recognise that a large portion of the crowd might not have had questions. There were a few recurrences of the same people or questions being too similar, therefore a ‘podcast’ format would have been much better as the panel would have had more to discuss from their behalf rather than totally rely on the audience. If only TotalBiscuit were there.
Their second panel was more of the same, but with more alcohol in a cramped room. You get the picture. Regardless, it was great fun and truly hope to see them at conventions in future.
Well, I had to come to this at some point. Being someone who enjoys video games I was looking forward to see what was on offer. Some of my earliest doubts came when I saw their website was declaring that ‘Sonic 2’ and other gems would be on offer to play. Okay, how about some new or indie developed games that could be shown? Yeah… Well, they did have Play Station All-Stars (mhm).
For a gaming convention I was seriously disappointed at what was on offer. Sure it’s great to have retro games on display, hell it was fun playing Super Mario on the NES for the first time, but no way should that be the main course. It’s hard to put in to words the ‘Is that it?’ feeling when I walked up 10 flights of stairs to the gaming rooms to see a few small rooms filled with old consoles and not much else. Really? I understand that this is a new convention and all but they’re not going to win any awards for services to gaming, that’s for sure.
That brings me to the name of the convention, ‘Gemucon’. Why have a title like that when there is little ‘Gemu’ going on. Perhaps I had too high hopes, it is new after all, and all things have teething pains, but refrain from calling it ‘Gemucon’ in future, as I believe many like myself may have been suckered in by the title and given a platter of anime and cosplay. And come on guys, no Starcraft and you were going to have Husky as a guest? For shame.
There was a long hallway towards the main auditorium with practically little going on except for the occasional queue. This made me think why were all the merchandise stands in a cramped few rooms on the top floor when they could have been in the queuing area for everyone to see on their way to the auditorium. There was even a whole empty floor underneath the bar area where they could’ve put stands. In my opinion it was a wasted opportunity.
Then again, I can’t really say that there was much to look at. There was one stall selling anime dvds, another selling knickknacks, one selling Gundam and one selling t-shirts. That was pretty much the extent on what was to offer. I can’t complain much, as it must have been difficult for the planners to get recognisable names to sell their merchandise at a new convention, but then again I would’ve liked to have seen more.
The artists however were fantastic, but only gained little attention on the times that I visited them, which was a shame as some of their art was great.
Whilst talking to two lovely gentlemen over a game of Magic they explained to me that they felt the convention as a whole was fun but on a whole slightly underwhelming. I feel that that’s probably the best way to describe the event, ever so slightly underwhelming. Not that I want to bash the whole event and call it a disaster by any means, but much more could have been done in the preliminary stages to prevent overcrowding of rooms or better floor planning. Saying that, I will commend the committee for doing the best that they could with the resources on offer and getting guests of such high calibre to attend, so for that I salute you.
But their mediocre gaming room deducted a lot from the experience as I caught myself on numerous occasions feeling quite bored. But, in a positive light the guests and panels were a success and I wish the very best for the convention in future.
p.s. No Gemu babies and cupcakes etc. etc.