“You’ve never been to a convention as a guest, have you?” Kana asked me as she gave me my guest pass to Youmacon. While I may be no veteran, I’ve have been around the proverbial block a few times. However, I was partially excited for Youmacon because I would experience a convention in a whole new way. While I’ve seen most of it before, I do know that there’s always the potential for things to go awry.
The first new experience I had was getting to the convention. Youmacon was a thousand miles away from me, making getting there a challenge in itself. While I was planning on driving, I was persuaded to go on a plane instead. Flying can be a hassle, especially if you’ve never done it before. However, thanks to public transportation, abundant online information, and some advice from friends and family, flying to Detroit was hardly a problem at all. I even had time to donate blood before I got on my plane.
Getting to the city of Detroit from the Detroit airport was more of a challenge. If you don’t have someone to drive you from the airport, you’re left to fend for yourself. While there are chauffeurs for hire, I refuse to pay forty five dollars for a ride solely on principle. It turns out the Smart Bus service does offer rides from the airport to downtown Detroit for a wallet friendly price of two dollars. While it operates on a limited time frame and requires a long wait, it suited my purposes perfectly.
Everything was going swimmingly until the bus got stuck in the mud. While in a large lot, my driver decided to make a short detour to pick up additional customers. However, certain parts of the lot were not paved, and when she drove over those unpaved sections, she quickly discovered her paced slowed to the rate of the Goku/Frieza fight. I found it quite hilarious and took the time to enjoy the comedy of errors. However, I had a convention to get to so I eventually jumped on another bus and made my way downtown. After some wait, I finally got to meet my fellow Fan staff members.
If I simply wanted to go to a convention, I have a breadth of choices. The reason I traveled a thousand miles was to finally in see in person the people I converse with on a near daily basis online. They are my friends, and I would like to see them at least once in the flesh. As always, it was a pleasure to be able to partake in Maki’s wisdom. It saddens me to think that he never was able to get to talk on the radio and express his opinions live on air. Aero, whom I had the honor of sharing a hotel room with, is a quiet unassuming person with a rock hard current underneath. I can see why Kana and he are such good friends. While Christmas may come off as a jerkhole online, in real life he is actually a very nice laid back person. Kana was completely right about that! While he can make play lists with the best of them, his true strength is socializing and networking. Kana, perhaps, is the most unusual person within our group. While everyone at The Fan strives to work during a convention, no one does so as much as Kana. To her, a convention is a business trip first, a party second. Contrasting that attitude is her cousin, Cheshy, who is new enough to conventions to fangirl over a favorite cosplay.
Last and not least is Bobby Henshin. I have to admire his ability to push himself for the sake of the organization. Despite a complete lack of sleep, he poured himself into hyping up the crowd. You could power a EVA unit with the energy he was putting out! I also got the impression that he doesn’t have the faintest idea about what I do; so let’s see if he reads this, eh? Bobby, if anyone in our group was the Bidoof, it would be you. You are a Baka of the highest order. You’re just a dung beetle! No, you’re the dung that is being rolled by the dung beetle! AND YOU SMELL! Now back to our regularly scheduled article.
While hanging out is always cool, there was a convention to work. Youmacon is one of the many conventions that has invited 91.8 The Fan as guests, and we intended to give people a good time. For me, working the convention consisted largely of manning our table. In many ways, it was like being a dealer. You would sit around and attempt to entice people to purchase your wares (speaking of wares, you don’t have to go to a convention to get ours! You can browse from the comfort of your own home! Check out our online store and buy something, why don’t cha?). When night came about, the mood changed from selling wares to rocking out. We were more or less running a mini rave in our location, playing awesome tunes and hyping up people to dance the night away. For those who find raves too impersonal and dark, we provide an excellent alternative. I recorded the affair, but sadly you won’t be able to watch most of what I taped because you can’t use footage from a sideways camera. Live and learn, I guess!
I also was called upon to attend a panel with Kana and Maki. I had never done a panel before and didn’t know what to expect. Luckily, Kana did most of the work and I merely interjected with color commentary and a few surprises. She and Maki were really scared when I wanted to share something to the audience, but I just had to show off my copy of Tenra Bansho Zero! Expect a full review some time in the future.
While most of my time was spent working the table and crowds that gathered there, I did find time to check out the gaming sections of Youmacon. Upon reflection, Youmacon may have the most advanced table top gaming section I have ever seen at a convention. Instead of being a pit for collectable card gamers only, there was a wide verity of games being played by all sorts of people. There was Pathfinder Society and even a game of Tenra Bansho Zero that I managed to hop into. While it quickly fell apart, I could see that the basic resolution mechanic works and the emotion matrix really is fun to use.
The video gaming section was also impressive. Besides the arcade machines and such, there were at least twenty computers dedicated to League of Legends. Playing with a team in the same space would be quite fun. There were also giant Mechwarrior cockpits and even Artemis lans running! I just had to try Artemis and it really is an experience! Running your own unique interface as part of a greater whole is something you don’t see everyday, and I really did like it.
While working as a guest was a good deal of work, it also came with many benefits. While the free food, hotel room, shuttle service, and open bar are wonderful things I will always be grateful for, the true benefit is close proximity to all the other guests. I waited in the same breakfast line as Kyle Hebert! I shook hands with Todd Haberkorn! I even had my luggage sit next to the luggage of Jon St. John! It was an honor and privilege to even be in the same room as these people! However, nothing could compare to finally seeing KROZE in person again! I hugged him and even sat on his lap! What could top that? Nothing! My only regret is that I didn’t take any pictures of him…
While attending Youmacon was an experience I’ll never forget, I don’t think I’ll be going back. During the panel, I introduced myself as a combination of the Red Mage, Solid Snake, and Derpy Hooves. That is more accurate then even I thought it would be. While being in a group is fun, I work best alone. Without having to manage a group dynamic, I am free to stalk the con halls in search of fine pics and scoops. I also must consider my fellow staff members. Everyone deserves a chance to go to Youmacon, and by me not going, it frees up a slot for someone else. Elk is eagerly awaiting a chance to attend! While it’s a long time, it is worth the wait. If you want to see us at the next Youmacon, be sure to let them know in their forums!