Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Indy PopCon Review

Good Evening All!

It's been a few days since the doors to the first year of PopCon have closed and I can easily say I had one hell of weekend with new experiences, new friends, and lack of precious sleep. I hope everyone had the same experience! I know I know, you may be in a state of depression, especially after the double whammy of PopCon being over and the recent the episode of Game of Thrones, but alas do not fear.....GEN CON will soon be at our doorstep.

For now though, I'd like to do a review  to recap all the amazing aspects of the first annual PopCon and areas where improvement is needed.

As a disclaimer, I did attend the panel at the end of the convention where the PopCon team did meet to answer questions and accept feedback from attendees. You will notice that during the review I will mention answers that were given during this panel.

The Good:

Organization of the Convention: You would hear constantly by attendees and guests that they were shocked that this was the first PopCon. The organizers had detailed the event to the very last hour, made sure guests were taken care of, and ensured adequate space for attendees. The list could honestly go on and on. The PopCon team took note of failures at other conventions and favored the positives that would allow them to succeed. A few slip ups here and there were noticed, but will be mentioned later in the review, but seriously come on.....who doesn't make mistakes? Well besides steam punk Chuck Norris.....see what I did there?

Fully Maxed out Schedule: If you had said there was not enough to do at PopCon then you are mistaken......or just not easily entertained. During my initial preview, I was concerned about the convention lacking on quality panels, but I must admit I think I was just closed minded. One of my absolutely favorite panels that I randomly decided to sit on was the Nicholas Brandon Q&A. I am not a Buffy fan, never have even seen one episode of the show....but I still decided to sit on the panel. This was quite honestly one of the funniest panels I have ever seen. My favorite quote...."I think I have even read fan fiction where Xander has butt sex". I was glad to step out of my comfort zone and realized that even a panel where my interests may not totally fit, may not be a total bust. The schedule was filled with other great Q&A's, live podcasts from local groups, and even panels for those inspiring to be the next big youtuber or cosplayer.

Food Trucks: After walking all morning, the possibility of eating food from the likes of Mac Genie to a ice slush dessert from Scouts. My wife and I love the food trucks that populate Indy and were elated that the trucks were lined up for lunch on Georgia much better than an overcooked hotdog or a soft pretzel that "tastes like cardboard" according to my wife. *Note: Although my wife and I knew where the food trucks were located, I believe many of the visitors from outside the city had no idea where to go. The only indication was a small arrow on the convention map that pointed and said "Food Trucks on Georgia Street". No times seem to be available or Twitter account to see a list of food trucks available. Picture of map below.

Cosplay: Although I am not a cosplayer, I enjoyed the abundance of people who participated. Not only did I see so many in costume, but there were so many that were just outstanding! This made for a fantastic selection of cosplay finalists during the cosplay contest. I also heard praises for the creation of the Cosplay lounge that gave those who needed a break a place to  rest and even had volunteers to help fix costume issues.

Who's Yer Gaming Area: I enjoyed this area of the convention greatly. It was like having a small GenCon within PopCon. Although at times underutilized, Who's Yer Gaming offered free games for attendees to use. With a massive amount of gaming space, you could see good friends playing PatherFinder, independent companies demoing games, and even my wife and I sat for awhile enjoying our new purchase (Forbidden Island). This is a must for next year and hope to see more attendees visit.

Paul and Storm FREE Concert: Simply put, Paul and Storm were amazing. A hilarious concert with great opening acts as well. Priceless moments such as a pair of panties thrown on stage, Joel Hodgson rubbing his face with said panties, and the 10 minute pirate song that confused the hell out of the audience.Sadly the audience size was very small for the concert....I hope this changes next year.

The Bad: Not necessarily an issue that ruined the convention, but did bother me.

1. No Seating (Sam Ash Stage): At the first Podcast live event with Crit Confirm, no chairs were available for sitting, so for a full hour I had to stand and listen to a fantastic podcast.....while all I wanted to do was sit and give my feet a break. After the podcast though, the issue was taken care of and seats were available the rest of the convention. Note: The organizers also admitted the stage was blocked by the Bat Tumbler backdrop by mistake and will make sure the stage is more visible next year.

2. No live video of the main stage: During most Q&A's and also during the Cosplay event, I would have loved to see a closer view of the main stage by having a live video feed projected on the already displayed projection screen. PopCon organizers agreed this would have been great and was looked into....but it was just to expensive at the time.

3.Pre-Purchase Line: On Friday morning, the line for pre-purchased tickets was long. I can't complain though, the convention made sure we all had our badges still prior to the convention opening....just was not expecting the long line.

4.Panels not having Subject Matter Experts: One in particular panel was the Star Wars episode seven predictions panel. The two men conducting the panel were constantly looking at their phones to strike up conversation and for research purposes. It seemed like they were not prepared and gave a feeling of teenagers arguing at the Burger King late on a Friday night about what will happen in the new Star Wars. It would be nice if panel members would be screened by maybe giving material that will be used and having it screened by organizers to ensure they are prepared. They might do this already, but never hurts to suggest.

The Ugly: A area that hurt the Con and my Enjoyment.

1. Ebash:I don't even know where to start. I don't know if there was miscommunication or I just didn't read well enough into the advertisement, but from the get go I believed the Ebash was going to be a"free" event area for attendees to go play games. Instead I come to find out that attendees must pay money for credits that can go to playing said games. 1 credit to play one round of fighting, 2 credits to play league of legends and so forth. For a full card, I believe roughly 8 credits maybe, was 20 dollars. This area seemed dead every time I entered the gaming hall. This was suppose to be a 24 hours gaming arena where people stayed up and enjoyed the convention late into the evening. By Sunday, the price had dropped to 5 dollars.....unlimited play. This was a fancy carnival.....seriously.....they would only take cash during the time I spoke with them.....the artists in the other room would take a card, but no not the Ebash carnies! Make this a free or event or get rid of it. I would of rather seen the space used for more exhibitors and vendors.

2. VIP Tickets: In March, I prepurchased a VIP pass for 100 dollars. In April PopCon came out with the VIP experience tickets that cost an additional 30-80 dollars which included VIP experiences with special guests. I decided opting out on the experiences since none interested me very much. This is what perks I saw while at the convention:
             A. 30 minute early access to floor
             B. VIP seating at the main stage, which didn't matter for most events due to small crowds.
                  Most guests asked nonVIP members to move forward so they would not have to speak up.
             C. VIP lounge. I heard through gossip it was originally bare and upstairs out of the way.
                  During the end panel I was told that they did bring water and comfy bean bag type chairs.

That is all I saw. So in theory. I paid an additional 55 dollars to get onto the main floor 30 minutes early. They admit poor communication caused confusion on what perks were available, but still what other perks would justify a 55 dollar spike? A three day pass was a much better deal.

Final Grade:

With all in mind, with the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. I can easily give Indy Pop Con a grade of


Although I had my issues, I enjoyed an organized, clean, fun, exciting, and spacious convention, which I can't wait to attend next year. 

Shout outs to LM Studios for great demoing. To Crit Confirm and Obessevie viewer for great podcasting. To Hero's Emporium for a live interview. And a shout out to all other artists, bloggers, and youtubers I met!

If you have your own opinion on what you liked and dislike about PopCon, post on the blog or Twitter @Shwoodylove. Also make sure to let PopCon know your thoughts as well. They won't get better until the people tell them what they like!

Until next time!



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