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Unread 07-13-2009, 06:48 AM   #1
Otaking97
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So NAF 09...what you think?

I had a pretty good time.....sorta...maybe....

I'll post more later. What did everyone else think?
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Unread 07-13-2009, 03:52 PM   #2
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For such a tiny con it was fun. XD I wish there was more to do than the two hallways though, but since it's so small, it's appropriate. Everyone was nice there other con goers and dealers/artists. I'm going again next year for sure.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 04:21 PM   #3
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NAF 2009 Review:


I will not be attending again.

The dealer's room was super small, no one seemed to know where any of the events were, and I attended TWO panels where nobody showed up, not even the panellists.

I cosplayed for less than 1 hour, and changed out of costume because it wasn't worth it.

$30 for admission was definitely not worth it. At least the dorms were very nice and the city of Oshawa had some interesting stores. I found myself hanging out away from the actual con, wondering around town and chilling in my hotel room with my friends much more entertaining.

Of course, this doesn't come without constructive criticism. Next year... you NEED to advertise this con better. Next year, please make actual way-finding signs instead of scribbling on paper with a marker. Make sure your panellists know their responsibilities. I wasted my time waking up from a nap so I could make it to a panel where nobody showed up (yes... I took a nap, that's how bored I was). Last but not least, find staff who know what they are doing (the dude we spoke to was totally clueless). For example, if you're going to have a gaming room, make sure the games are played on the console & controller that most people in the gaming community appreciate. The gaming room had Street Fighter IV playing on the XBOX 360 instead of a PS3, and Smash Bros. Brawl was played using the Wiimote instead of GameCube Controller. Very noob, which demonstrated that the people who ran the gaming room obviously didn't belong there. Plus, the projector was horrible. I understand that this was at a school, but really? Next time, don't use the projector at all.

And if I'm going to ask a staff member where the Masquerade is, I don't want to have to stand around for 15 minutes while he goes and manually looks for me.

For the love of God... DO NOT ask people to go around "fishing people" for events. I've had people come up BEGGING ME to check out the gaming room, panels and exhibit hall. It was very sad.

Now for some positive feedback: The location was great, the dorms were fantastic and was priced fairly. My friend also found 2 rare video games to purchase in the exhibit hall, so not all was lost.

Overall, I give this con a 2/10. This is in no way comparing it with other conventions. I am rating this with the unorganized quality of staff and the minimal amount of fun I had. Even the people working in the exhibit hall were making fun of just how lame this con was, and that says a lot when people with tables there are showing little to no excitement.

There's lots of work to be done here.

Thank you for reading.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 05:49 PM   #4
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I'm repying to a few of your points because I'm sure more people are thinking these same questions.

>> $30 for admission was definitely not worth it.

I'm Con Chair, and even I can agree with you there. However, most people feel that $25 for two days is fair, and that's why we try to encourage pre-registration.

>> Next year... you NEED to advertise this con better. Next year, please make actual way-finding signs instead of scribbling on paper with a marker.

Again, we know we need to do this, but we don't have the resources or manpower to to really promote ourselves.

>> Re: Panels

I have no idea why the panels were such a mess this year. I know were were struggling during the last week to try and FIND panelists, but I don't know why some didn't show up for their panels.

>> Last but not least, find staff who know what they are doing (the dude we spoke to was totally clueless).

There is a different between staff and volunteer. Every single one of our volunteers were working specifically for Spec Ops, which means their only duty was to sit around and watch over rooms. Without knowing the specifics of the situation, perhaps you just picked the wrong person for your question?

>> Re: Gaming

Gaming was run by the same guy who runs the the entire gaming section of Anime North. If you have any issues with gaming, I know he would like for you to direct any concerns towards him. Even if you never plans to ever return, at least your feedbaqck could improve things for others next year, right?

>> And if I'm going to ask a staff member where the Masquerade is, I don't want to have to stand around for 15 minutes while he goes and manually looks for me.

There are normally walkies for staff and volunteers to communite between each other, but there was an unforseen issue with them dying after only a few minutes even when we put new batteries in. We hope that next year we'll have enough volunteers to have a sinlge information desk for such inquiries, and I'll make sure they know EVERYTHING there is to know.

>> For the love of God... DO NOT ask people to go around "fishing people" for events. I've had people come up BEGGING ME to check out the gaming room, panels and exhibit hall. It was very sad.

These people were doing that on their own. None of our staff requested for them to go around fishing for people to come to certain events. If that is really something that bothers people, then next time we'll have them stop. However, at the feedback panels something like that was actually requested from some attendees, because many of them don't look to their schedules for any information and didn't know there were events on the Student Centre. >_>

I'm really sorry you had such a horrible time, SFDeviotion. All of those issues are have always known about, but we can't just magically fix things without the manpower and resources. We'll take your feedback and try to work on those things for next time.
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Unread 07-13-2009, 09:17 PM   #5
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I think the con only appeals to NAF regulars like myself. Me and a few friends go every year so naturally we can amuse ourselves in some way since we know people but you know...

Honnestly, I don't see the worth in someone journeying here from other city for it all.

I overheard some dealers complaining about the poor organization and some artists saying their friends were lucky they backed out in time etc.

I liked the old location of it better, things were not so spread out. The maid cafe was so far away! :O

I miss the 404's, a competitive masq, and just events/shows held by the convention staff and not individuals who brought us the awesome Ouran, and Cafe. The bands were nice though.

Although I feel obligued to attend and support such a local "homely" con, I don't feel the urge to go next year unless I decide to buy a table.

Very sorry to say it, but this con just gets less appealing each year...(I remember 2006 as the best.) I left 4 hours before when I planned to leave and came late on Sunday.


I understand the manpower and resources but still it was just...just the organization of it all. Train your volunteers? ^^
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Unread 07-13-2009, 09:32 PM   #6
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I miss all of those events too, and it really was hard to change the Masq into a non-competition event. However, I did bring in Hall Cosplay to make up for that, so people who wanted to win stuff could have something to enter.

Knowing what my staff had to go through in the weeks before the con, I can honestly say that I am happy with how things ended up. I apologize that we were extremely disorganized this year, but I don't think we could have done anything to fix it. There is only so much a single person can do when they have to run three separate departments all at the same time, which is pretty much the situation that all of our staff had to deal with this year.

I'm sure many will be surprised at us wanting to show our heads again next year, but we have written lists of our mistakes and we have people coming on board who will be able to aid us in fixing our issues.

I'm not asking anyone to come back if they don't want to. All I ask is that people not judge us by our mistakes, but by our willingness to fix them.
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Unread 07-14-2009, 08:29 AM   #7
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In my honest opinion, NAF every year is what you make of it. It is a very small con, and it has its good points and its bad points for sure.

I have been going for three years, and I've had a great time each year. I generally tell people going into the con, that after the first year, they will either hate it, or enjoy it. I've seen people go both ways. Usually the ones that enjoy it are the ones that actively take part in it.

The organization of this con is, I'll admit, pretty much horrible. This has been a bit of an issue since the con started, or at least since I started attending. The fact that it was understaffed this year, and half the location changed last minute... did not help the matter in the least. I applaud those who were on staff for the sheer amount of work they had to undertake this year. There still is a lot of work to be done to make NAF the best it can be, but you handled a lot more than your fair share as individuals this year. And that in and of itself makes you awesome.

On the flip side of the comment that someone showed up to panels and found not even the panelists there, my friends had two panels in which no one showed up to them. They stayed for about half the length of the panel each time before giving up, because there's no use giving a panel if there's no one there to have it with. (I almost had one as well, but a few people came in and we ended up having an hour talking... a bit about the series it was supposed to be on, and some random off-topic anime stuff too, which actually somewhat made sense knowing the series it was supposed to be on. XD) I heard that some people said they didn't know when they were, but in all fairness, it was on the schedule which I believe was handed out at reg, and also was by the doors. So there was a pretty fair amount of advertizing at-con for what was going on when. (the starting on 15s and 45s for a few things was a little odd though, please stick with 00s and 30s in the future!)

My friends and I loved doing the maid/butler cafe and hosting events. And bingo. And the Hetalia panel. And the myriad of other panels we had people attending. We hope you enjoyed coming to them as well. I apologise for the cafe being so far away, when we asked to have it, that was one of the only rooms (in the original setup at least, possibly not with the last-minute change of location, I'm not sure) that could... reasonably hold food.

I agree that I like the old location better, but the one this year wasn't bad at all, either. I mainly miss the dining room, in all honesty. That was a nice location to do stuff.

But going back to what I said at the beginning that NAF is what you make of it, I know some people who come down from London each year, which is a few hours away. And they love this con. They've been actively involved I believe since I first came to NAF, if not earlier. I know others from a lot closer who hate the con and... pretty much refuse to come.

I'm sorry for those in the artists alley/dealer's room that I bought nothing. I'm literally in broke student mode right now. (Which sucks because it's still summer, meaning I've got an entire YEAR of this ahead. Joy.) There was some very tempting stuff, too.... ToT *wants ribbons and gloves and buttons and parasols and games and other stuff!!!*

And I have to say, I love how the dance ever year turns into a game of passing some sort of glowing object for a while. (Though more people need to learn the yatta dance. *geek*)

I've missed competing in the masq for the past two years due to timing and plans falling through. My friends and I have some awesome plans though, so hopefully we'll be able to unleash them at a NAF soon.

Overall, yeah. This con is great for hanging out, and for doing some fun events that would be harder to do at bigger cons. If you want a big dealer's room, then you need a bigger event. If you want more to happen, volunteer to do it (or find someone who will). There are some fundamentals that still need to be improved upon, but overall, it's a fun experience that I hope I'll be able to keep enjoying for years to come.

Last edited by box of doom : 07-14-2009 at 09:53 AM.
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Unread 07-14-2009, 08:55 AM   #8
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I have to jump in here in RE to the location change. Just to verify, the change was NOT last minute. The floor plans of the new location and the announcement of the was on the site since july of last year, it was also announced at last years feedback panel. We scoped out this space two years prior to booking into it.
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Unread 07-14-2009, 09:43 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsukasa_1 View Post
I have to jump in here in RE to the location change. Just to verify, the change was NOT last minute. The floor plans of the new location and the announcement of the was on the site since july of last year, it was also announced at last years feedback panel. We scoped out this space two years prior to booking into it.

If memory serves me correct, however, it was supposed to be occupying some different rooms than it ended up being. The downstairs was not used at all, though the floor plans said it would be. I heard that this change was made rather close to the con due to the campus itself, not the NAF staff.
That's what I meant, and by all means correct me if I'm wrong.
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Unread 07-14-2009, 10:16 AM   #10
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Yeah, we lost the first floor because of the venue double booked. The only reason why I jumped to the conclusion you were refering to the old univeristy area was because we heard complaints that people didnt know we moved to the SW hallway... although the information was on our site for over a year of the change and was announced in a newsletter ontop of it in the feedback session from previous year. (was just a little annoyed at that lol)

Other then that, we are looking at other venues all together which will not be at the college. I personally will miss the cheap accomodations, however I won't miss the headaches I've ran into these past few years.

Last edited by Tsukasa_1 : 07-14-2009 at 10:23 AM. Reason: some updates
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Unread 07-14-2009, 02:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mekou View Post
I'm repying to a few of your points because I'm sure more people are thinking these same questions.

>> $30 for admission was definitely not worth it.

I'm Con Chair, and even I can agree with you there. However, most people feel that $25 for two days is fair, and that's why we try to encourage pre-registration.
I should clarify: I pre-registered. $25 was not a fair price for two days. With the minimal amount of events, I would suggest a pre-reg price of $15 a day or $20 for two days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mekou View Post
>> Next year... you NEED to advertise this con better. Next year, please make actual way-finding signs instead of scribbling on paper with a marker.

Again, we know we need to do this, but we don't have the resources or manpower to to really promote ourselves.
Then GET the man-power and resources. This is a convention. Be more professional. I know that sounds demanding, but even you agree that advertising is an essential asset. Besides, this is constructive criticism, and you needed a blunt reminder.

More advice in the next paragraph...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mekou View Post
>> Re: Panels

I have no idea why the panels were such a mess this year. I know were were struggling during the last week to try and FIND panelists, but I don't know why some didn't show up for their panels.
You shouldn't be doing things last-minute to find panallists. I'm not sure when the date for NAF 2009 was confirmed, but I am sure that you had over a month to find panallists and to advertise them better.

On that note, update your website. Hire a community developer who will go out and build fans to sign up and attend panels, events, etc. Have cheap but cool prizes. You need incentive for people to come. Think: SWAG.

Have staff go to Anime North, Fan Expo and other conventions. Book a table, and ADVERTISE. Please don't say you have limited man-power or funds to do this, because this is what makes a good turn-out. Advertising... ROI (Return of Investment).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mekou View Post
>> Last but not least, find staff who know what they are doing (the dude we spoke to was totally clueless).

There is a different between staff and volunteer. Every single one of our volunteers were working specifically for Spec Ops, which means their only duty was to sit around and watch over rooms. Without knowing the specifics of the situation, perhaps you just picked the wrong person for your question?
You have to understand that "titles" mean nothing to convention attendees. Staff and Volunteers make no difference to us. If they are sitting behind a convention table, they need to know what's going on. Train them. Period.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mekou View Post
>> Re: Gaming

Gaming was run by the same guy who runs the the entire gaming section of Anime North. If you have any issues with gaming, I know he would like for you to direct any concerns towards him. Even if you never plans to ever return, at least your feedbaqck could improve things for others next year, right?
There's not much for me to say to him other than what I can simply point out here:

1. Do your research and understand what consoles and controllers are best recognized by the community for a specific game. For example, when you play a First Person Shooter, make sure its on an XBOX 360. When you host a fighting game, make sure its on a PlayStation 3 (unless its exclusive to another console, like Brawl on Wii).

2. Loud sound makes a gaming room. Notice that arcades are full of sound, and people have to raise their voices to communicate to their friends. It all adds to the atmosphere of a gaming room. Blast the sound.

3. When your OFFICIAL SCHEDULE posts a specific game at a specific time... make sure it happens. I sat there waiting for my favourite game to be booted up. The players even started 2 new sessions of Halo while I was waiting, until I went up and asked about it. Not cool.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mekou View Post
>> And if I'm going to ask a staff member where the Masquerade is, I don't want to have to stand around for 15 minutes while he goes and manually looks for me.

There are normally walkies for staff and volunteers to communite between each other, but there was an unforseen issue with them dying after only a few minutes even when we put new batteries in. We hope that next year we'll have enough volunteers to have a sinlge information desk for such inquiries, and I'll make sure they know EVERYTHING there is to know.
Good to hear you are wanting to improve. You definately need to be more organized. Also, some added advice: I noticed there was a visible room across from the dealers room where the staff were sitting and hanging out. DO NOT have this "staff room" out in the open for the general public to see, especially when there's a huge window viewable by all. It looks really bad when a bunch of staff are lazying around with private food and beverage. My first thought was: "why don't these people walk around asking if people were having a good time and helping them?" Its YOUR JOB to make this convention work, and a convention will work when people have a great time. You'll notice that in every event (not just conventions) the Staff are in a private room, away from public eyes. Something to consider.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mekou View Post
>> For the love of God... DO NOT ask people to go around "fishing people" for events. I've had people come up BEGGING ME to check out the gaming room, panels and exhibit hall. It was very sad.

These people were doing that on their own. None of our staff requested for them to go around fishing for people to come to certain events. If that is really something that bothers people, then next time we'll have them stop. However, at the feedback panels something like that was actually requested from some attendees, because many of them don't look to their schedules for any information and didn't know there were events on the Student Centre. >_>
I'm not sure how you could have missed these people. They were everywhere, and sometimes even just outside the staff room. They need to be stopped. As for the feedback you got at the feedback panel, it wouldn't have been an issue if you had way-finding signs. I understand that people do not use schedules and maps, which is why signage is very important. You need to BRAND this convention. Have a recognizable logo on every sign/poster (the NAF logo you have on the website). I also understand you have a mascot contest going on. Whoever the winner is, I hope the art is pro. You may want to consider hiring a professional comicbook artist. Again, I know you are trying to go the cheap route with a contest, but thats why you need to plan an ROI.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mekou View Post
I'm really sorry you had such a horrible time, SFDeviotion. All of those issues are have always known about, but we can't just magically fix things without the manpower and resources. We'll take your feedback and try to work on those things for next time.
Get the man-power and resources. You really need it. As I said, hire a community developer. Generally, they are graphic designers or know people who do graphics. They can be done cheap and you definately need them as assets.

post edit:
I hope this has been insightful for you, as I'm trying to express my up-most respect and professional input for you to better this convention. I will most likely not attend again, but I may consider once I hear its gotten a lot better. I do wish you the best of luck. I sincerely do want this convention to perform well. If there is anything I can do to help, let me know by sending me a private message.

Last edited by SFDevotion : 07-14-2009 at 02:15 PM.
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Unread 07-14-2009, 07:18 PM   #12
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>> I should clarify: I pre-registered. $25 was not a fair price for two days. With the minimal amount of events, I would suggest a pre-reg price of $15 a day or $20 for two days.

Our prices are the minimum we can get by with. Actually, we had to sacrifice a lot of costs, and staff had to absorb their department budget to keep those prices. Otherwise we would have HAD to increase our prices, which I fought against but I didn't think it was fair. I understand that we need more programming and events to make the cost worth it, but that is something we will fix next year.

>> Then GET the man-power and resources. This is a convention. Be more professional. I know that sounds demanding, but even you agree that advertising is an essential asset. Besides, this is constructive criticism, and you needed a blunt reminder.

That's what people tell us all the time. Just find people. Throw money to hire people. We don't have those resources to toss around without it coming out of our own pockets.

>> You shouldn't be doing things last-minute to find panallists. I'm not sure when the date for NAF 2009 was confirmed, but I am sure that you had over a month to find panallists and to advertise them better.

We had no choice. Our Programming Director was not making any contact with us at all, and so Mark had to take over his job only to find that nothing had been done. So he did all the progrmaming, on top of being dealer's liaison, and guest liaison, and a number of other jobs.

>> On that note, update your website. Hire a community developer who will go out and build fans to sign up and attend panels, events, etc. Have cheap but cool prizes. You need incentive for people to come. Think: SWAG.

We now have someone who will be able to focus soley on the website. Things will be eaiser for the fans and for ourselves.

>> Have staff go to Anime North, Fan Expo and other conventions. Book a table, and ADVERTISE. Please don't say you have limited man-power or funds to do this, because this is what makes a good turn-out. Advertising... ROI (Return of Investment).

We do have tables at other conventions. We have a good partnership with AN and we have a table every year. Although, the table was off in a lonely corner where there was no traffic flow this year. o_O

>> You have to understand that "titles" mean nothing to convention attendees. Staff and Volunteers make no difference to us. If they are sitting behind a convention table, they need to know what's going on. Train them. Period.

It's like that at every single conventon I've ever gone to, and I don't think it's reasonable to expect that every volunteers and staff member know every little thing. We'll train people as best as we can.

>> Also, some added advice: I noticed there was a visible room across from the dealers room where the staff were sitting and hanging out. DO NOT have this "staff room" out in the open for the general public to see, especially when there's a huge window viewable by all.

That was not a staff room, it was the volunteer lounge, basically. All the food and water inside was for the volunteers. There was free water that everyone was welcome to take that came from a sponsor. People 'lounging' around were volunteers on break.

And I really don't care if people see it. It was either that, or have everyone in the actual con office on the other side of the college. At least that was a centralize l ocation that anyone was welcome to come by to if they needed help. That's why it was there.

>> I'm not sure how you could have missed these people. They were everywhere, and sometimes even just outside the staff room. They need to be stopped.

I didn't miss them. I know they were around, but again they weren't staff or volunteers. Unless they were physically dragging people to events, I didn't see the harm.

We're taking every piece of feedback to heart, and things WILL be 10 times better next year. If anyone wants to help out, even if it's just running a small events, you can always PM me and we'll discuss it.
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Unread 07-14-2009, 09:37 PM   #13
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I agree with box of doom,

NAF is just NAF, there are the people who just LOVE it, then those who just dislike it.
You just have to make it fun yourself. ^^

I always appreciate the participant-ran panels/events.
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Unread 07-14-2009, 10:49 PM   #14
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I did find the organization to be a little lacking this year but I'm sure it's due to Polaris being the same weekend and various last-minute changes to the venue.

Positive Notes:
- I liked the set-up of the dealer's room. Much improvement over past years and better flow. It was obvious there was thought of people's movement throughout the room and the flow of consumer traffic. I liked that artist's alley and the dealer's room were combined and I say that as someone who had an artist's alley table.
- I liked the new location, much closer to the residence. Maybe some signs at the front gates/stargate pointing in the direction to the con itself might be helpful.
- There were lots of great locations on campus to do photoshoots which was nice. I rather enjoyed that as I had the chance to steal some people away for photos.
- The weapons panel was nice though it'd be nice if the panelist did a seperate weapons panel like past years though I know that's not under your control.
- My group appreciates the housing options as it makes the con more affordable for those coming from out of town.
- I liked the staff was really nice. There was a slight bit of disorganization but they were fantastic to talk to and were great people in general! <3
- I loved the free Vitamin Water. It was a great pick-me-up!

Construstive Criticism
- Schedule should run on the hour or the half hour. Starting at quarter after was very confusing for con-goers especially with no sleep XD
- Better signage overall. Within the con and outside.
- Hint for the volunteers: Supply them with a schedule and a map. That way if they aren't sure about something, they can check.
- Try to get the maid cafe closer if at all possible. Or have signs to guide people there.
- More advertisement of prizes for masquerade and hall cosplay awards. People like prizes and free things and will do almost anything for said free things.


Overall I had a blast and will def. be coming back next year! Even if it is almost a 3 hour drive away XD
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Unread 07-14-2009, 11:52 PM   #15
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Quote:
NAF every year is what you make of it.
Quote:
You just have to make it fun yourself.
As much as I respect people for their opinions, I'm going to have to debate the above two statements in context to conventions. If this were true, then the same can be said about anything in life: hanging out at the mall, chilling in my room, even wondering in a dark alley. Anything can be fun if you make it out to be. But this is a convention, and if I had to entertain myself the entire time then I would have rather stayed at home with my friends (which I plan to do next year unless the con drastically improves on the following topics).

People go to conventions for an experience, not to do what they could have done elsewhere. They want to meet special guests, learn news of their favourite games/movies/shows/nerd topics, and pick up swag/spend cash on things they couldn't normally find elsewhere. As much as I tried to find something entertaining to do, I felt it wasn't worth the time. This convention offered me no special guests (I could have simply gone to the mall if I wanted to meet random people), learn no news about my favourite nerd topics (the panels were discussions I could have had with my friends when we hang out), and I got no swag at all.

I'm not trying to go out of my way to bash this convention; I'm actually trying to provide constructive feedback to the moderators. Fans want an experience, not an event that offers the same (or less) than what people can do elsewhere.

Again, at least my friend found 2 rare videogames in the dealers room. But then again, we pass by every EB Games and Microplay and stumble on rare games all the time.

Thanks for reading.

post edit:
Just to add to this... I understand this is a small convention, and we shouldn't be expecting a lot from it. However, I can honestly say I've been to an EVEN SMALLER convention, themed around Transformers. Now... I'm not a big Transformers fan. Heck, I don't even know more than 5 of the robot names. But the Transformers con I went to had a theme, they stuck to their theme, and the atmosphere was fantastic. They had an official Transformers artist, lots of Transformers toys and swag in the dealers room, and even announced a couple of new Transformers books that were coming out in the near future. Again, it was a much smaller convention but I got an experience I couldnt have gotten anywhere else. I walked out of there with a greater appreciation for Transformers. Something to think about.

Last edited by SFDevotion : 07-15-2009 at 12:11 AM.
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