Chris covered some of the RPGs on show in his article last week but while he covered what was on the shop floor, I wandered the Hilton, who had mostly filled their rooms with tables equipped with DMs, GMs, Storytellers, and enough rulebooks, character sheets, dice and assorted other accoutrements to keep dozens – maybe hundreds – of people entertained all weekend. As someone who is obsessive over tabletop roleplaying it was amazing to see so many games going off at once, I mean just look at this:
Most of these photos may look like identical rooms, honestly it’s just the decor and layout. People were flooding into the sign up room, and I had to edge my way around the queue to get a photo inside.
Competitions and Tournaments
One of the NEC main halls was given over fully to competitions for the more popular games, on a national and international level. Wandering that hall I think I heard as much German, French and Polish cast around as English. There were games I expected, like the Magic tournament, the Pokemon tournament, I even fully expected to see people competing in the X-Wing miniatures skirmish game, but I wasn’t expecting to see Infinity or Dropzone.
I already talked about what these guys got up to, here’s a few images from the guys over at the Living History Camp, and the time they went to war against a pillaging horde of small children:
Yeah, the best part is just wondering around wherever we pleased (up to a point at least). This has only been my second occasion as a member of the press so I’m still never certain what I can and cannot get away with, but dammit if I’m getting all-access I’m going to work hard for it.
It was incredible wandering the hall before and after the horde joined us. The difference was simply astounding, the freedom to walk the floor reduced to swimming through a crowd; strange echoing silence turned to a cacophony of voiceless sound. These events are made by hard working people who put their livelihoods out on trestle tables to be judged, exhausted staff and volunteers fighting to keep every moment organised and controlled for the good of everyone involved, and by the people who keep coming back year after year to make it all worthwhile.
Here’s what we saw:
Pictures will be on Facebook soon enough, if you see yourself, tag yourself. In the mean time, so long UKGE, see you next year.
I am exhausted, sore, ill (thanks for that Tim) and damn-near broke.
Worst of all it’s well over a year before we get to do it all again.
Kitacon Karnival is over, a smaller convention hastened together in only eight months, and for the time it took they didn’t do half bad. We were slotted into the Hilton alongside another event that took place over the weekend and took over a few of the rooms we typically occupy so we were also a little shy of space, so the dealers room occupied quite a chunk of the main events hall, and we still did alright. A lot of last year’s legacy stays with us, the good and the bad, so let us take a gander at what the week held.
One long walk from Birmingham International to the Holiday Inn I was already worn out for registration, but that barely took a moment, leaving more than enough time to chill in the Hilton bar before anything began. Frankly Tim and I were too busy catching up and gathering familiar faces to go to the pre-opening ceremony events, and believe it or not we do talk business from time to time. Rooting through the con-bag yielded a flashing foam baton for the parties, which may explain the absence of Pocky (I mean, c’mon guys, it’s not like we’re not going to buy more unless you leave it out of the bag), the map and timetable to sit and plan with, and the under-appreciated con-book.
The opening ceremony was interesting, especially when introduced by the creepiest circus-style music they could have found/created. First things first, the rule put in place about not hitting each other with the baton came a little too late for some but was generally respected for the rest of the weekend, but this was only the start. Because of a few rather dire incidents last year, some extra precautions had to be put in place, including a raised presence from St. Johns Ambulance, stricter rules on what is and is not allowed in the party hall, and a ban on outside food. That said all of the above was presented in a considerably less dire fashion than you’d expect, and spawned the motto for Kita-Karnival: Safe/Not Safe.
Street food and the milkshake bar were both back from last year, it was a sensible decision then, it was a sensible decision now, and to further the Hilton’s support they also offered us better rates for parking this weekend, not a bad apology for how over-stuffed they were. There was also high level of security around the airport, not for us, but for the EDL protest (for those of you outside the UK, they’re a group of… shall we say excessively patriotic English people) who we were advised to avoid, especially if we were planning to join the Gadget Show at the NEC next-door. At least two people would be attending, as a pair of tickets went up for auction to support this year’s charities: the Sophie Lancaster Foundation and Attitude is Everything, more about that later.
Friday also featured one hell of a burlesque show, The Cirque du Geek clever, tasteful, and unashamedly sexy, and opened with the host, Tab, putting clothes on… erotically, as well as a few nerdy parody songs. This was followed by one hell of a night in the bar relaxing with old and new friends.
But moving on…
Morning dawned without bacon thanks to some weird policy of the Holiday Inn, but not to worry, because there was a busy day ahead. The morning panel about getting into YouTube as a cosplayer (with thanks to xMoonLilyx) was followed by the Great Kita-panel game that combined a hodgepodge mix of rounds from some of the best panel comedy shows with a massively geeky edge. I was also duped into volunteering for Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes with an Abbot and Costello reference and given a team of engineers to work with who took me to the last challenge with ease, but let me die at the bitter end.
I sat out of the Masquerade, and waited instead for the Untitled Kita Discussion which was callously and maliciously (because a panellist lost his voice at the party on Friday) moved to Sunday. In the mean time I perused the games room and dealers room. Traditional games usually get their own set-up, but instead were merged with video games, it made the room a little noisy but not intolerable, and to be honest I found my attention too readily called elsewhere this year. The dealers also received less space, but there was a great spread anyway, including (shameless promotion of a friend) a demo stand for the upcoming game Dead Pixels 2.
After the traditional meal at Frankie and Benny’s in the International Airport we returned for rock night. This year I came to realise exactly how unfit I am, but gods help me I crammed party enough to cover me for a day or two at least into the hour I spent destroying my vertebrae to the rock-off and making a glorious fool of myself during the metal set. There may be video evidence.
At this point as well I would like to make a special mention to the crew member at Operations who not only took care of my bag, but took pains to make sure that I was going to be ok making the walk back to the Holiday Inn, stopping somewhere shy of actively forcing water down my throat or leaving me unconscious in a taxi with instructions and a fiver safety pinned to my chest. I did not get your name, but you were wonderful.
I took my time getting to panels on Sunday as the pain I am feeling in full force now had only just begun to sink in. I went to the Attitude is Everything panel entitled Getting Legless with the Legless, about experiencing the best of life when you have a disability, and huge credit to the charity’s representative Eileen, there’s an experience I won’t forget any time soon, especially not when I managed to make decent use of my sign language skills.
I had to skip the first panel hosted by guest Mr. B because I was determined to see the Untitled Kita Discussion, and I was so glad I did. The unstructured conversation with committee members and convention veterans discussed the convention life and labours that very nearly ran with a 1:1 panel to audience ratio until everyone else spotted the rescheduling, and those of us who made it were treated to an insight into the gears and cogs that spin behind the scenes, a little bit of con-history, and the community as a whole. Out of sixteen possible topics each with a selection of possible question we made it through three, so let’s hope for a repeat next year.
I managed to catch up to Mr. B after the Morsels and Moustaches panel, a follow up to My Favourite Nemesis, dinner and conversation between the Gentleman Rhymer and his greatest competition Professor Elemental. While the conversation with Kita committee legend Luke was fantastic, I think last year’s dinner date was a little more enjoyable, although lacking in fart jokes. Also, My Favourite Nemesis only spawned this panel, next year Mr. B may yet host a panel on gentlemanly trolling, and perhaps a gentle stroll and people watching, and a couple of quotes that I just can’t offer with context… they’re just better without.
“DOW is down, also Deadmau5 thinks you’re a bit of a prat.”
“This is the greatest thing I have ever been a part of, and I was in the scouts.”
Kita’s Got Talent was short. Could have been the eight month prep-time, the fairly short time between registration and the actual convention, or it could have been the reduced size of this years Kita, but it was a nice blend of acts, lead by Tab Kimpton who was forced to perform solo as his duet partner destroyed his voice. Got to give credit to the woman who wrote a song on Sunday morning complete with con-memes, that kind of creativity on the fly is not easy.
And finally, the closing ceremonies.
It was a Safe convention, the convention was officially rated Safe.
The charity auction raised (and I’m sure I heard this right) £1331 before the final three items were auctioned:
- A framed pixel art by Retro 8-Bit depicting Asgore from Undertale went for £100
- TT Games sent in a Homer Simpson trophy from Lego Dimensions, of which only fifty exist, mostly given to be employees of TT, who can potentially be fired if they’re found selling it. £170 more for the charities.
- Finally, a pair of VIP tickets to Kita ’17 complete with shirts and priority hotel booking! At £300 for the pair, someone did damn well for themselves.
Awards were given out for the Lip-Synch Battle, Sakura75 walked away with the belt, but honourable mentions went to a competitor who stepped in for a friend, Becderp. The AMV/CMV competition was won by Racerabbit, honourable mentions went to fan favourite Kaizen Kaos, Paineful Productions for best AMV, and Electrospectrum for best CMV. Cosplay honourable mentions went to Aaelic for Janna Victorious from League of Legends, and Hildaglitz for her Princess Fiona, and the winners were Pinnku, Miro and Jediknight for a Borderlands group cosplay. And well done to the Talent winners, Noodle Cup Cosplay for the solo acts, and Popcorn Suma, Solaria, and Silverwyn for the best group.
If any names were misspelt, I apologize, I can only write so fast.
And finally let me reiterate the final thanks to everyone involved, the staff, event runners, dealers, artists, contributors, tech team, guests, committee, attendees and I particularly want to emphasise the vigilance of the St. John’s Ambulance, and to Hugh the press officer. I know I texted you already, but seriously Hugh, it was great having you on hand.
Thanks to you, all of you. I’m getting a little misty, although that may be exhaustion. So many of you that I promise to stay in touch with, so many who I can’t wait to see next year assuming you’re not at Amecon at the end of July.
I have skipped over so many of the awesome little details that made this Kita incredible, but a lot of it are parts that you can only really experience in person. If you haven’t been to a convention, get on it, they’re amazing, they’re a joy and they’re all over the country.
See you soon everyone.
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…
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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
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
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!