Being fairly new to conventions like Armageddon and Manifest, each one brings experiences and lessons about this culture that I’ve never really been privy to. I mean, I generally consider myself a nerd, but the level of nerdiness I’ve encountered at these things makes me feel very normal. So, my fellow uninitiated geeks, here’s Ten Things I Learned at Armageddon Expo 2011.
1. Convention-goers are the friendliest people ever, and have an extremely high tolerance for weirdness in each other.
Although I don’t know a lot about what’s going on at these things, people are always ridiculously happy to stop and talk, and can make everyone feel welcome. This is great when you happen upon someone with similar interests or is just entertaining to talk to, but not so great when you get caught up in an excruciatingly-detailed retelling of the fifth time Goku died, or a heated debate over who is the best Doctor Who actor, with someone who is apparently unable to detect strong disinterest in the other person.
2. Conventions are designed to drain every last cent from rabid fans, and make nearby businesses very happy.
“Ten bucks for a tiny little figurine? No problem!” says the diehard fan. I myself am guilty of this when it comes to feeding my habit for The Simpsons merchandise, and the organizers of these events know this full well. For one weekend, everybody ignores the value of money and forgets that most of this stuff is available online for a fraction of the cost, and goes crazy. It’s the atmosphere! It’s just so intoxicating.
Any nearby coffee shops, fast food joints and bars also benefit greatly – to the chagrin of their regular patronage, when a swarm of Pikachus, Batmen and Spocks descend upon the venue.
3. Convention attendees are easily recognized from blocks away.
These swarms of Pokemon and superheroes also act as a breadcrumb-trail back to the convention venue. The few blocks between Southern Cross station and the Melbourne Exhibition Centre were populated by all sorts of characters coming and going, and must have kept the local office workers in a state of constant entertainment/confusion/terror.
4. Cosplay is simultaneously the greatest and most terrifying thing in the world.
Games, sci-fi and anime always have to include a token hot chick, so it comes as no surprise to find no shortage of overly-sexualized Officer Jennys, Harley Quinns and Sailor Moons. Whether or not you enjoy the source material, everybody can appreciate Lara Crofts competing to see who can wear the shortest shorts before they are more likely to be classed as underpants.
On the other hand, nobody wants to see huge Trekkie dudes strutting their stuff. Seriously, Star Trek is over. For a fair while now. Go enjoy something else.
5. You can spend the whole weekend trying to find your friends. And failing.
Amongst these bizarre crowds, it can be very easy to lose everyone you came to the convention with. Within seconds of entering the showroom – literally seconds – my girlfriend had vanished. I found her more than an hour later, but by then everyone else we came with had also disappeared. It became easier to just not look for people.
6. You will spend most of your time riding the Line Ride.
Of course, when someone disappears, most of the time they’re in a line somewhere. In line waiting to meet a semi-famous person, in line for food, or the toilets, or to get into a panel. My brother was addicted to playing the Line Game, to the point where he all but hired the rest of us to stand in lines for him while he stood in other lines.
When you’re not in a line, it can be fun to get your group to stand in a line formation to nowhere, and see how many random people you can get to line up behind you.
7. Streetpassing on your 3DS is very, very time-consuming.
With all this waiting, there was ample time to regularly whip out my recently-acquired Nintendo 3DS and collect any new Streetpasses. Seriously, there were new Miis waiting at your virtual gate every few minutes, and with three of us in our group owning a 3DS, a lot of our communication involved swapping virtual versions of ourselves. Those 3DSless members of our party looked on in frustration at how often we had to usher our new Miis in, steal puzzle pieces from them and send them off into dungeons to fight ghosts. But we had to! Those hats don’t unlock themselves.
Having just gotten my 3DS a few days earlier, these were my stats:
Friday: StreetPass Hits: 4
Plaza Population: 3
Sunday: StreetPass Hits: 93
Plaza Population: 71
8. Special guests would much rather be somewhere else.
Once you get to the head of a line to meet a celebrity or watch a panel discussion, if you’re not blinded by the excitement of meeting said person, you can see the weary looks on their faces. Not being super invested in any of the guests, it was easy to see how tired they must be of the whole ordeal, repeated in every city with a fresh group of crazy fans. You’d feel the same if you were constantly asked about the minutiae of every aspect of every episode, worded like the asker had spent hours preparing it.
“Sorry, I don’t know why my shoes were blue that episode.”
“No, my character was not adopted. There was no hidden meaning when they referred to my father as Herbert instead of Hubert. Just a typo.”
“No, we were not high on glucose when we wrote that season.” (This question was ACTUALLY asked, repeatedly, honestly, of the Rooster Teeth guys.)
9. Conventions are a great way for indies to get their work known.
While the big names may be sick of the convention run, it’s a great way for indies in any relevant field to get their name out there and find an audience. We sat in on a gig by emerging Melbourne band TechnoDrome, who performed some awesome covers of classic video game tunes; we got a look at the game in progress from Swing Interactive, an independent studio fresh out of Qantm College; and of course, there’s the guy who built, from scratch, the iconic Delorean from the Back to the Future trilogy.
All these people deserve recognition for their hard work and passion, so keep an eye out for our interviews with them all this week!
10. Wrestling is gayer than two gay men having gay sex.
My final thought: wrestling really is terrible. I mean, this wasn’t a revelation to me on the weekend, but seeing it live invokes a whole new level of distaste.
We all know it’s fake, and some people don’t care. Each to their own. I can kinda understand why people might watch it if it was real – the appeal is like boxing or similar sports, where it might release pent up aggression or something. I dunno.
But if it’s common knowledge that it’s staged, I don’t see the point of watching two guys strip off to their underpants, climb into a ring and unconvincingly act like they’re wailing on each other. Since they’re trying not to actually hurt each other, all they really end up doing is cuddling until they fall on top of each other.
Ironically, the bogans who do enjoy it would probably call theatre gay. Any of Shakespeare’s work is much less gay. At least plays have far less extended scenes of man-on-man action.
That episode of South Park was dead right – wrestling popularized by the WWE and the like is just a soap opera for rednecks, and the real thing is quite gay.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.