written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
Something about a convention's first year, all those jitters and all the kinks that need to get worked out. It's safe to say that a first year convention generally never runs as smoothly as planned. There's always something disastrous that happens and more than likely something doesn't go as you expect. So you might be wondering... why did you bothered going to a first year convention? GAMCon kinda fell into my lap, I was just browsing Facebook one day and saw that some of my friends were interested in this new con, happening across the Sound in a little Naval town called Bremerton. Seattle already has its fair share of geek centric conventions, with huge shows like Emerald City Comicon and PAX Prime, to more niche conventions like Sakura Con and Everfree NW... it's safe to say that the Two-Oh-Six is far from lacking when it comes to the convention circuit.
Honestly, the main reason I came out was because I was bored and figured "why not?" I was already sending a team down to Everfree NW and my plans to go to Anime Expo fell through (had to save that cash-money for SDCC), so I figured why not give em a shot? Gotta support the little guys right?
Held at the Kitsap Conference Center in Bremerton, WA. According to their website, GAMCon stands for Gaming, Anime, and Music Convention. Featuring exhibitors selling all manner of geeky wares, a well supplied table top gaming room, and some live musical performances; from the get-go the con looked to be on the right track. The concept is great and while I can't say the event was perfect, I've seen much worse happen at more established cons... like a certain Anime con that happens in the Fall... than I saw here.
My biggest complaint was the issue with panels and events. There wasn't a lot of space to utilize, they held events like the Cosplay Contest along the main hallway of the convention center, and some events were held at the museum which ended up being a bit of a walk away. Overall the way they utilized the space could have been better. Badge pickup was a bit jumbled, the list of names of my team weren't at the table they had the badges and the folks there pretty much just handed me my press badge. While I do appreciate that it went quickly, this does raise the concern of people who were NOT approved for press badges being given press badge access to the event. One such person was this homeless dude I saw just hanging out in the square, one second he's talking to me about walking drunk girls home from a bar... the next I see him in the convention taking photos with a broken iPod Touch. While I understand that for a first year con, you want as much press as possible... but being more stringent with the standards of those who attain press credentials should be heeded.
The exhibitor hall was fairly well stocked. Everything from artist to geeky podcasters were present. Overall it was pretty nice, I spent quite a bit of time in the exhibitor hall just hanging out with new friends while snapping photos whenever I could.
My highlight of the weekend was the performance from the D20 Brass Band, this awesome troupe of nerdy musicals playing big-band renditions of popular game theme songs. They were an absolute delight and watching their performance was such a treat. Giving music a headlining spot with the convention made this feel quite unique. Perhaps next year they can dedicated a "main-stage" for performers throughout the entire con. If they can book more bands to come, I think this convention can really become something unique.
Overall, there's quite a bit they can do to improve the convention. There's always next year and honestly I think of they really take into account any constructive criticism, they can really do something great with this event. Give it time, first year jitters are always expected... now, you just gotta deliver on an even better second year. While there were some serious aspects of the event the organizers should work on, I've seen much worse happen at more established conventions... and hey... at least it wasn't DashCon* right? So until next near, Stay Frosty Bremerton... and Get Lifted.
*for context, Google "Dash Con" to find out about the whole W-T-Fuckery of that event...