Amecon 2018 – Joel’s Summary & Gallery

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.

AmeCon 2018: Let’s Get Hyped!

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.

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.

Continue reading “AmeCon 2018: Let’s Get Hyped!”

Kitacon Quest 2017 Roundup

This is the last big post on Kitacon Quest, however this was a good excuse to show off all the random pictures we took at the event. So, thank you everyone for reading through our weeks worth of Kitacon content – We hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have. Seriously, we love Kitacon – We go back every time it’s on and whilst there may be the occasional hiccup, the people behind the event pour their hearts into the event… and it shows. So, come and have a look at a few more images I took of the amazing Kitacon Quest 2017!

WARNING: Gosh, this is another big gallery post..!

This is the last big post on Kitacon Quest, however this was a good excuse to show off all the random pictures we took at the event. So, thank you everyone for reading through our weeks worth of Kitacon content – We hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have. Seriously, we love Kitacon – We go back every time it’s on and whilst there may be the occasional hiccup, the people behind the event pour their hearts into the event… and it shows. So, come and have a look at a few more images I took of the amazing Kitacon Quest 2017!

Continue reading “Kitacon Quest 2017 Roundup”

Joel’s Kitacon Quest in Review

Dammit Kitacon, you’ve destroyed me again. I got back a few hours ago, washed away a few days of hard work and high energy, and collapsed in my chair from whence I have not moved and will be going no further than my own bed – the one in Jack Martin wasn’t bad but the pillows tried to kill me.

There’s a lot of work to be done now that I’m back, but we’ll get to that later. For now I have time enough to briefly discuss the activities of the long weekend at Warwick Arts Centre. Continue reading “Joel’s Kitacon Quest in Review”

Kitacon Quest: 1 Month To Go

Kitacon is well on it’s way to coming round once again, so I sit here and think to myself ‘Damn, I really need to get on with my costumes’. Fortunately, I have been working on my cosplays (slowly), as I make my pieces in preparation for this year’s convention. But cosplay isn’t the only thing we’re all looking forward to. Here’s a look at what activities are on at the party convention of the summer.

Kitacon is well on it’s way to coming round once again, so I sit here and think to myself ‘Damn, I really need to get on with my costumes’. Fortunately, I have been working on my cosplays (slowly), as I make my pieces in preparation for this year’s convention. But cosplay isn’t the only thing we’re all looking forward to. Here’s a look at what activities are on at the party convention of the summer.

Continue reading “Kitacon Quest: 1 Month To Go”

Kitacon – What Timlah’s Looking Forward To

Ah yes, it was last year that I was introduced to the hilarious antics of Kitacon. This year however, Joel and I will be attending the convention as members of press. We’ve checked out our hotels, we’ve seen the schedule of activities and we’ve been following the Facebook and Twitter feeds closely. Today, I’m going to look through the events that excite me the most and perhaps you’ll join in with my excitement!

Ah yes, it was last year that I was introduced to the hilarious antics of Kitacon. This year however, Joel and I will be attending the convention as members of press. We’ve checked out our hotels, we’ve seen the schedule of activities and we’ve been following the Facebook and Twitter feeds closely. Today, I’m going to look through the events that excite me the most and perhaps you’ll join in with my excitement!

This marks my tenth convention since I started attending conventions in 2013. Those who don’t know the history of this site may be surprised that the very first convention I went to was the motivation for making GeekOut South-West. The community was such a diverse, embracing spirit that I knew I needed future fixes of convention goodness, as well as an escape from the monotony of life when I’m back in Bristol, through the working weeks. Basically, without attending conventions, I’d probably still be working towards a career. Umm…

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Friday

Getting there

This’ll seem like a really bizarre thing to actually look forward to, but I’m really excited about travelling to the convention. There’s something so pleasing about leaving your home, with your bags and your costumes in hand, then making that long journey to wherever your convention is. I’m driving to this convention, as I drive to many of them, with my friend and fellow Kitacon goer Dave who has helped us write on our Top 10’s in the past.

I’ll be leaving my house at around 7am so we can get there nice and early. Dave is looking to play a few games of Magic: the Gathering with me whilst we wait, so it’ll be a good way to refine our decks and how we play as we wait for the event to start. This time, we’re not going to be about 2 hours later than expected. We’re going to be at the event way before it starts so we can get our passes and get the event off to a great start (including Joel and I having to sign the waiver to explain we’re acting as press).

Make, Code, Glow: Microcontrollers 101

Something about making things glow is just damn fascinating to me. Whether it’s rather simple programming that does it, such as the little LED USB connected microcontroller we backed on Kickstarter, mBuino, or it’s a full scale Arduino board – Whatever it is, it’s fun and it’s exciting. It’s time to light ’em up!

mBuino

Opening Ceremony

Yes, the opening ceremony of a convention is really a rite of passage. If you don’t sit through one of these, you lose a fair bit of context for what’s going down at the convention. From Charity Auctions, to Cosplay Competitions and even the Video Game Competitions, the opening ceremony covers them all. It also introduces you to the guests for the convention and allows you to just have a bit of a laugh from the very start of the event.

Quantum [BLEEP]

I’m taking part in Quantum [BLEEP] so I’m excited to see what this is all about. It’s going to be an improvised RPG session – But that’s about as much as I know about it. I’m excited to play the game and find out what mysteries are in store! Hosted by the brilliant Mr Purple who attends many of the UK’s conventions, Joel and I are looking forward to this introduction to Kitacon 2015.

Saturday

Prop Making For Beginners

Okay, so I’ve made a scythe. It’s not great, but it’s a scythe. I’ve also made a large mask. It’s not great, but it’s a large mask. I’m hoping that by attending this panel, there’s going to be a few tips and tricks I can pick up to make prop making easier and all around better.

Cosplay Masquerade

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Who doesn’t love to watch all of the wonderful costumes come to the stage and show their stuff? It’s part of what makes these conventions so damn fun to go to. The effort a lot of people put into their costumes is simply staggering. More than I can ever say for my costumes! Still, I’m hoping to check this out!

Dealers Hall

Another great element of conventions are the awesome selection of dealers you get access to. It usually works out cheaper to buy things at conventions than it does in the shops, as it’s a chance for the dealers to showcase themselves. Perhaps one day, we’ll be able to set up in a Dealers Hall for ourselves? Hey, take note Joel!

Sunday

Speed Cosplay

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Build a cosplay costume in a short amount of time, using limited resources? Sounds like my idea of heaven! I’m all about making cheap and easy costumes and on Sunday, I’ll be running around as Oskar! Muwahaha, let’s see if I can make something great in a short amount of time!

These Boots Were Made For Walking OR Intro To Mold Making

Both of these panels are taking place at the same time, so I’d ideally like to go to one of them… I’m just uncertain as to which one I should attend! Both would be incredibly useful for me, but we’ll see when I get there, I guess..!

Kita’s Got Talent?!/Closing Ceremony

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Who doesn’t love a good talent competition? These are usually great fun events and I remember some of the skits fondly from last year. I wonder if there’ll be anyone who can truly take everyone’s breaths away like last year?

This then leads into the very sad closing ceremony, when it’s all over and it’s time to wind down the activities. Having seen what goes on behind the scenes after a closing ceremony, I can tell you now that the staff will be working their behinds off during and after this to make sure everything gets packed away properly. Not all events close after this mind, as we’ll then be led into…

Professor Elemental and Mr. B live set

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I think enough said here, Professor Elemental makes his return and Mr. B makes his debut at Kitacon. I’m hoping for a jolly good rap off between these two gents of ‘chap hop’! Bitter rivals, yet also great friends, these two will put on one hell of a show!

 

And of course the most important things to Kitacon – The parties and the people! Also, this year, Karaoke! Hopefully Joel and I will be hitting up the Karaoke and embarrassing ourselves. If it happens, expect a bonus video to be recorded of my ‘particularly drunk antics‘ here on GeekOut… or Joel’s so say masterful singing. I think I can see the glass shattering now.

That’s it. That’s what I’m looking forward to most at this years’ Kitacon. I’m really looking forward to it and it’s only 3 working days left as of the time of writing this. Hopefully you’ll not mind seeing all of the posts we do during the event, as we’re all eager for it. My body is ready, my wallet is not… and my cosplays… Well, there’s still time! Buckle up everyone, it’s time to go Back to the Kitacon!

Kitacon is approaching – Come say hi!

Yes, it’s now close enough to the time that Joel and myself travel across the land, searching far and wide for fellow geeks. We will be going back to Kitacon, which takes place in the Hilton Metropole, right next to the NEC. Here’s a look at what’s going down!

KitaconlogoThe guests this year are largely the same as last year. We’re going to have Professor Elemental giving another spectacular live performance, but as well as the very British professor, we’ve got his rival: Mr.B, the Gentleman Rhymer. Click here for an example of his music. Joel’s secured himself an interview with Professor Elemental, so hopefully we’ll be able to have a word with Mr.B as well. As well as the two musical guests, Kitacon is host to even more guests, such as voice actress and YouTuber Ashly Burch and the Cosplay guest Naraku Brock. With such varied guests at this years Kitacon, I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what each of them have to bring to the event.

This year, Kitacon is supporting three amazing charities that you should go and look up if you’ve never heard of them before. Attitude is Everything, a charity that is looking to help improve deaf and disabled peoples access to live music by working closely with the music industry. Next up is Marie Curie Cancer Care, a charity group who support terminal ill patients pass on in either an environment they feel most comfortable in. Finally we have Special Effect, a charity made to support anyone have access to video games, regardless of their disability. They use video games not just for entertainment, but rehabilitation and boosting self-esteem. Click one of these images to be taken to the respective charities.

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Whilst these conventions are always fun, they usually do work towards a good cause. I hope we can raise a lot of money for the three charities this year. As well as guests and charities, there will be the usual gaming rooms, one for traditional games and one for video games. There will also be a dealers hall, where people (like me), can splash out and buy as much geeky swag as they want. Finally, there’s a huge range of panels and of course, the famous Kitacon parties. Since I’ve now got my camera, expect to see some from the party videos!

I may or may not have trash talked Joel on Facebook. So we’re going to have to lay the smack down on one another, as we will be bringing our very best Magic: the Gathering decks. Last time we played against one another, I was triumphant. Many times. Joel, mark my words – Nothing will change. My deck will still trounce yours! But now that I’ve been so brash and bold, here’s where my decks just cannot perform against his. If you’re coming to Kitacon and you’re looking for some friendly competition, come bring your decks and play with us. Alternatively, I usually have a few decks, so we would gladly show you how to play!

Joel Learns

Last year, we made some brilliant friends thanks to the amazing Kitacon. It’s a convention that seems to bring together some really good people and it helped last year that EGX Rezzed (which I saw for myself this year), was literally right next door. Because of that, we bumped into Kim and Phil of 1001Up, so go check out their works if you get a chance. We also did a rather funky game of that terribly card game I cannot post results of on this website… Because we keep it PG here on GeekOut South-West. So there. We’re spoil sports.

Last time at Kitacon, we first met 1001Up
Last time at Kitacon, we first met 1001Up

 

With this in mind, Joel and I are going to be attending Kitacon for all three days. If you’re going to be at this awesome event, please come grab us – We’d love to just chat about whatever! Also, I am working on some masks currently which I plan to be taking to Kitacon. I’ll be giving some updates about the masks throughout the coming weeks, but I’ve got several different ones planned. So if you’re a fan of Assassination Classroom… Or you really like my Oskar mask… Keep your eyes peeled for future mask pictures along with the creation process and the likes. I’m excited to be able to work on these and I will be taking them to the Bring & Buy.

That’s it – Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this little look at Kitacon in a nutshell for me. I’m excited to be going Back to the Kitacon and I hope all of you are excited to see this years festivities in quality much higher than my silly camera phone. I’ve not mentioned this before, but I’ve now got me a second hand laptop. This means I will be able to provide articles during the day time events too. I hope to share some awesome content throughout the days so keep your eyes peeled. Until next time – Leave us a comment!

Timlah’s Convention Preparation Guide

Are you stuck trying to suss out what you should take to, or be prepared for, at a convention? Look no further, today I am listing some of the things you should expect to see and some of the things you really should take with you… And believe me: There’s a lot more than you might immediately think.

It’s that time of year, where we’re getting through the Spring time and we’ll be looking towards the bright summer sun. Whilst many people opt to go to the beach, or they go on a big vacation somewhere, thousands of people across the UK will be going to an entirely different kind of holiday: A convention. Be it an anime convention, a video games convention, a Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention – No matter what it is, people will start making their way to these spectacles.

For those who have never attended one though, it can be a little bit daunting. People with incredible costumes are going to be strutting their stuff around the place, showing off the creative crafts they’ve poured hours and days over. As I look forward to a week off my day job, I will be spending my time off working on one of my impending cosplay costumes: Deku Link. Before then however, let’s look at what you need to know about the convention scene and the sorts of things you will need to take with you.

List – What to take with you

  • ID
  • Lods of emone
  • Phone & Charger *
  • Laptop/Tablet & Chargers (If you’re bringing these!)
  • Camera
    • If you’re keen on taking high quality pictures, I’d recommend a good standalone camera. Check out my Panasonic DMC-G5 review, which cost less than £250!
  • Costumes (If going in costume! I once forgot half of my costume pieces and had to make costumes up as I went along. It went well, weirdly.)
  • 3DS – If you have one, take it with you. Trust me: You’ll be Street Passed like there’s no tomorrow!
  • Clothes – Or just costumes if you’re doing costumes for the whole event…  But it’s better to be safe than sorry and take actual clothes with you!
  • Toiletries – Because not all places you stay at will provide these, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • A towel.

Isn’t a lot of this common sense?

Of course it is.

Ultimately, when you go to a convention, a lot of book-smarts will kind of fly out of the window. It’s an exciting time and if you’re going alone, it’s really daunting. When I went to EGX Rezzed in March, I had to travel to London on the Wednesday night after work. I was on a coach to London by myself and got to my room at 10:00pm! Whilst I wanted to go and par-tay in the local pubs, I decided to remain good and get myself ready for the upcoming days.

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Whilst Rezzed is more like an expo than it is a convention, let me assure you the above list still came in handy. In some cases, once you were there, getting money out was actually pretty awkward… So most things I bought remained on card payments. Not the best way to keep track of your expenditure, I have to admit. By having my plan and taking only what was needed with me, I was able to keep on top of everything and yes: It kind of helps having a plan.

Speaking of plans…

Do I need to do anything beforehand?

Research the venue you’re going to. Ayacon Apocalypse and Alcon 2014 were both on university campuses. This meant there was a lot of walking between venues. Our dorms for Ayacon & Alcon were quite far away from the main buildings where events and the clubbing happened. So wear sensible shoes for those.

Conversely, Kitacon last year I stayed in the Hilton itself. This meant I was just going on an elevator then around a corner to go to bed. Seriously, I lucked out! For this years Kitacon, I am going to be staying in a nearby hotel, which is a good 15 minutes walk away from the venue. That’s long enough, so again sensible footwear will make all the difference in the world here.

My cosplay boots were pretty comfy at last years Kitacon!
My cosplay boots were pretty comfy at last years Kitacon!

Also be sure you know about what facilities are nearby. Chances are you won’t actually live inside of the venue the whole time, but in some cases you could luck out and get a venue that covers everything. With Kitacon, although we had food and drink on site, it was expensive. As such we often went to restaurants and shops off site, such as a nearby Frankie & Benny’s and the budget saviour that was the nearby Spar.

Once you know what’s nearby, you can decide: Do you need to take anything food and drink related with you to your venue? Do you need to be weary of your costumes at all? For example, if you have a costume that’s long and flowing, is standing outside all day a good idea? If there are a lot of steps, are robes really such a good idea? I should ask myself those questions in future.

And don't be afraid to ask members of convention staff for any extra help!
And don’t be afraid to ask members of convention staff for any extra help!

Is there anything to be wary of?

Other than people being into the same things as you, be prepared to be surprised by everyone else’s knowledge. A lot of people will have been to many conventions, so a new face in the scene can be particularly exciting to them! They might want to discuss and find out what you know about certain topics or fandoms.

If you see a cosplay that you really like, be respectful. I cannot stress this enough, be damned respectful. Do not jump at them even if it’s for a hug. “Glomps”, hugs and the likes are all around the place at conventions – But you need to be wary of other people and not be a total jerk to others. Not everyone wants your body touching theirs in any way – That can be quite off putting. Some cosplayers don costumes to gain confidence and trust me, it is a liberating experience. Be wary of others and let others be wary of you…

But most important of all: Have fun.

The Team

Hopefully this little guide gives you some ideas as to what to look out for and what to take with you to conventions. Do you have anything to add to the list? Anything about research you’d like to add to the guidance here? As always, comments below, over on Facebook or Twitter and we’ll see what helpful hints and tips you all have to share!

Kitacon Registrations

On the build-up towards one of the most highly anticipated conventions in the UK convention scene today, Kitacon announced that they had to delay their scheduled registration date from the 1st of January at midday until the 8th of January at 6pm.

If you expected this to hold back the fans of Kitacon, Joel and myself included, then you would be wrong. You would be very wrong, indeed. We received a statement from Joseph from Kitacons’ committee with regards to the phenomenal turn around this year. Check this post to find out more.

On the build-up towards one of the most highly anticipated conventions in the UK convention scene today, Kitacon announced that they had to delay their scheduled registration date from the 1st of January at midday until the 8th of January at 6pm.

If you expected this to hold back the fans of Kitacon, Joel and myself included, then you would be wrong. You would be very wrong, indeed. We received a statement from Joseph from Kitacons’ committee with regards to the phenomenal turn around this year:

Kitaconlogo

Continue reading “Kitacon Registrations”