There’s a truism connected to working in or exploring the entertainment industry. For all the positive feedback and experiences you may have, one bad experience or comment can ruin your mindset for a long time. That kind of experience cuts like a knife, making you think that everything you experience from that point on will be that bad or worse.
This definitely holds true for conventions. I’ve been terrified that every event, con, screening, etc. I’ve gone to since AnimeNEXT will be a colossal disaster that puts me off real world fan culture for good.ConnectiCon quickly turned into the positive experience to balance out all the negativity of that one bad experience. Even after sitting in traffic for three hours and getting bumped to a significantly worse hotel room than I booked, I knew something magic was happening when I began to walk to the Hartford Convention Center. Dozens of attendees in cosplay and regular street clothes were walking from all the different convention hotels. They flagged people down who seemed lost and helped them find their way to the central hub of the con. Fans tend to take care of each other as a rule, but this was a far more open crowd than I’ve grown accustomed to. Sure, they still bottlenecked down the narrowest aisle in the dealers’ room. They jumped on the bandwagon for cosplay photo opportunities and lined up as early as allowed for events and panels.
They just did it with a lot of consideration and enthusiasm for preserving the fan experience for everyone.
The attendees at ConnectiCon were–dare I say?–nice. They waved hi and complimented people on t-shirts, merchandise purchases, and cosplay. They high fived each other on the escalators and asked for permission before taking any photos or stepping around people. In a miraculous act I still can’t believe I witnessed, they even asked if they were standing in the right line for a panel rather than forming their own and fighting with the volunteer staff later.
The culture of ConnectiCon isn’t just limited to the fans. The staff and entire organization of the convention enhance the experience. ConnectiCon is designed to create the best experience possible for all attendees.
The layout this year was really well done. The huge and clearly labeled tabletop and video game arena was appreciated. I wasn’t afraid to walk up and ask to learn to play a new or old tabletop game at a demo station because I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. The Bemani music arcade was a genius choice, especially with one domestic and one Japanese DDR machine to satisfy all the needs of the surviving DDR freaks. I couldn’t even wait to see how well they played. One of the first things I did after check-in was play a round with a My Little Pony cosplayer. We both full combo’d our two songs on Heavy/Expert mode with less than ideal footwear for playing.ConnectiCon also cared for the smaller vendors trying to connect with fans on a more personal level. The artist colony was at the front of the massive dealer room. This was a huge and welcome break from the norm. While most conventions separate them entirely or shove them against the back wall, ConnectiCon proudly put them on display. Attendees would have to actively try to avoid seeing all the great smaller artists and creators peddling their wares to miss out on great books, craft, cosplay, and commissions.
The staff definitely deserve special mention. They were nothing but courteous and accommodating. They answered all questions as clearly as they could. They regulated safety and line-spacing with a smile, not a threat. They were all trained to handle the demands of a large convention with grace and respect. The staff knew the policies and they were sticking to them without turning against any of the attendees for frivolous things.
If a panel room filled up really early, they were genuinely apologetic. If they had to correct a clearance issue (like missing the 18+ check-in station), they did it without embarrassing the con-goer. And if there were no programs out on the table, they would grab boxes of them to layout within a minute or two.It’s rare to go to a convention this large and feel like the experience is so intimate and personal. ConnectiCon managed to have a huge variety of programming in a large space without losing sight of the fans. A convention like this cannot exist without dedicated fans, but dedicated fans don’t come back to conventions if they focus exclusively on programming/guests over the fans themselves. ConnectiCon found the right balance.
Anyone in the Northeast interested in a fan convention should look at picking up a membership for ConnectiCon in the future. They really do have something for everyone. The panels and events ranged from panels about making panels for conventions to Creepypasta memes and other internet fandoms to shadowcasts of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and Repo! The Genetic Opera. It’s an experience unlike any other I’ve had in over 15 years of con-going.
Were you at ConnectiCon 2013? What did you think? Share your experience below.