This past weekend was the third annual Indy PopCon in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. It was my first time attending this particular con, which is has humble beginnings as a Kickstarter campaign. A true fan convention, there is professional event planning or entertainment business running the event behind the scenes. Still in its infancy, PopCon is a fun event that can only to continue to grow and get better as the years go by.
As I’ve more or less banned myself from going to Wizard World Chicago (oh man, it still pains me to say that), PopCon will be the only “regular” con that I’m attending in 2016. While I was looking forward to not having to contend with a huge crowd, I knew the experience would be different compared to the more prominent cons but I was excited all the same.
The reason behind most of my excitement was that fact that it was my youngest nephew’s first time going to anything like this. JA (I’m using since his initials) is 13 and is still figuring out what he likes and doesn’t like. He loves to game (Call of Duty), fish, and he may have a slight addiction to YouTube. He likes to watch superhero movies with me but at this point he’s not so much into the nitty gritty of background and character development. Which is fine with me, as long as he enjoys it, I’m happy to explain what’s going on and what that means (hell, let’s be honest, geeksplaining is a joy for us). Nevertheless, I thought that PopCon would be something J.A. would have fun at and would broaden his horizons a little.
I decided to only get Saturday passes because while I knew JA would have fun, keeping a 13 year old entertained for an extended amount of time is not always the easiest thing to do. Case in point, as we walked back to the hotel to get the car, he asked how long we ended up being at the con (6 hours); he asked how long I was at the con in Chicago (2.5 days). He then paused, his eyes got big, and he looked a little intimidated at the thought of attending a bigger con with me. He’s got 10 months to work on that, he’ll be ready.
You had an average selection of vendors. There weren’t many comic book sellers as I thought there would be, which I found surprising. If you’re a Funko collector this was the place to be, I think that every other booth was selling them! I’ve been on the hunt for a Captain America keychain Funko but alas he still evades me. I look forward to seeing the number of vendors grow as PopCon continues to grow.
There were some absolutely amazing cosplays on Saturday. I cannot give enough praise to those dedicated individuals; I am always in awe of their creativity and talent. Cosplay is such an amazing way to pay homage to the things you love while expressing your skill and imagination. Something new for me this time is that I asked a few for pictures, always making sure to thank them and compliment on how great they looked. JA really enjoyed the cosplays as well, which I didn’t know how he would take, so I was secretly thrilled to hear that.
Another feature of the con was that across the street was the G-Fuel eSports Arena, a 60,000 square foot venue dedicated to gaming. There were multiple tournaments going on all weekend that I was sure JA would enjoy. However, I found this area a bit unorganized. You could pay $5 for an hour of gameplay but it was very hit or miss on the availability (depending on what you were looking to play on). There was no available schedule to show what was going on, so even if you just watched to watch, it was hard to do that. I got the impression from the website that there would be plenty spectating to do but didn’t find that to be the case (at least for while we were there), which was a bit disappointing. The guys working the venue were super nice but at the end of it all, I thought there was room for improvement if they want to make this a big draw for crowds.
As fun of a time as we had, I did walk away with one regret- not talking to more people. This is something that I’ve been pushing myself to do but am continuing to struggle with. I know it’s not always easy to do in the chaos of a con but there’s also no better arena for it. Sure, I exchanged a few sentences with some of the cosplayers or vendors, but nothing substantial or that would set me apart from the hundreds of other con-goers. You’re not going to make an impression or promote your blog if you can’t sell yourself in the flash of a moment. And that’s exactly what it is, selling yourself, promoting the brand of ‘you’. But I’m not in sales or marketing for a reason. I have to learn to be better at striking up conversations, to be more confident at saying hey here’s my card, let’s be mutuals on Twitter. Acknowledging the shortcomings is one thing, improving on them another. As W.E. Hickson said, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.
Beyond the fun had and time spent with my nephew, the greatest thing to come from this weekend is that JA found a new thing that he enjoys. Conventions are amazing things, but seeing someone experience it for the first is even better.
Did you attend PopCon? Or do you have a story about introducing someone to cons? If so, let me know in the comments, I’d love hear from you!