Archive for the ‘Con Review’ Category

Convention Money Survival Guide!

Posted: April 5, 2011 by Mike in Con Review


Conventions are fun! Don’t break that bank!

Sad Otaku sad? Not enough money for the stuff you want at con because the Hotel Monster ate your money? Pesky friends asking for gas money? We’ve all been there. Anyone who has ever attended a convention knows how hard it is when you try to stick to a budget. When you run into the dealer’s hall and look at all the wonderful things on sale there, you loose your wit and your bank account loses its funds.

Ah,  I know that problem well. But fear not, trusted friends of ConGear. Let Uncle Mike impart some sweet knowledge in your mind tunnel!

So you want to plan a budget, but don’t know how or what to budget for? Here’s  a great guide that’ll help you plan for your next convention.

Whats that you say? You’re con isn’t too far away? That’s great! Good for you! I’ll show you what you should save for if you’re going to a con that’s super duper close! You’re planning on going to a super far away convention? I’ll help you plan for that budget too! So sit back, relax and let your self be taken in by my sweet, sweet knowledge.

Let’s start with the conventions closer to you that you love so much. A lot of newcomers to the anime convention circuit start off in these cons.

Now, if you’re smart, you’ve contacted your employer/parent and already have your time off needed for this three to four day adventure. Next, start looking at prices for the con. You notice a registration button. Awesome! Time to sign up! If you’re lucky, you’ll notice that there is still time to pre-register for the event, which is ideal.

What’s that you say? You’ve missed pre-reg? I’m sorry, that really sucks! I’ve goofed like that before, too. The benefit for planning in advance is the receiving a cheaper ticket. But worry not, all is not lost! You’ll still go; however the price will usually jump up a few bucks. It’s not the end of the world.

For example, for Akicon (a local northwest con), pre-registration runs about $35, but “at the  door” cost goes for about $45. See? Only a $10 difference!

Okay, great! You’ve got your badge. Now where do you sleep?  You’ll want to live it up in a BIG OLD HOTEL ROOM! You should ask your friends if they need crash space. The running rate for a hotel room in the city runs for about $125 a night according to the rough average on! However, hotels charge a 12% tax just to rent from them! So, for example if you look at a hotel for around $125 a night you’re looking at about $280 for the whole weekend! That’s a lot of money! What are you going to do?

Don’t worry, because you’re friends are awesome! They are such bros that they’d help you split that room because you were great enough to offer them to crash in your comfortable hotel room! That’ll cut that cost down by A LOT, lemme tell you. If you split that bill three to four ways, you’ll be sitting high and dry for that limited edition action figure you’ve had your eye on for the past year!

Fast forward a little bit, and you’re ready for con to happen. Your packed and ready to go! Your cosplays are finished and you’ve packed your footy pajamas! Great! Now, there are several ways to get to your con, but what do you care? This con is practically in your backyard! You’re driving! WOOHOO!

Oh, yeah. What does that contraption run on? Oh, that’s right! Gas! Worry not, as bad as gas prices are, you’ll probably shell out the least amount of money here! Let’s say your con is actually in the next town over, about an hours drive away to be exact. That’s about 100 miles away. If your car gets 25 miles per gallon, you’ll need 4 gallons each way. Multiplying that by about $4 a gallon (according to MSN Gas Pricer) is $16 total for gas.

Between all the fun times you’re having at the convention, your stomach will still serve as a reminder that you’re hungry. Thankfully, you’ve already budgeted for meals.

I suggest putting aside approximately $10 per meal, even if you don’t eat at a nice sit-down restaurant. The fast food shops in the area are well aware that a convention is occurring, and those closest to the convention will often jack up the prices to make more money. Depending on how many meals you’re thinking of eating in a day, you might budget anywhere from $20-90. However, a good tip to remember is that you don’t have to eat out for every meal. Bringing snacks and extra water bottles from home and keeping them in your room will help you survive the weekend without going bankrupt.

So you’ve set aside cash for transportation, your hotel room, and food. If we go by previous examples, you’ve already set aside:

Hotel/4 ways $70.63+Badge (pre-reg) $35+Gas $16+ $50 for food = $171.63

Next, you’re going to want to have some surplus for those things you’re going to want from the dealer’s hall. How much you want to spend here is completely up to you. However, keep in mind that anime items aren’t cheap, depending on the item you want to purchase. You may want to save over anywhere from $20-$50 at the very least, in the event you find something you simply have to have.

Congratulations! You were able to budget an entire weekend without breaking the bank!

So, you’ve braved your hometown convention and you’re ready for a convention farther away. In other words, you’re ready for the big leagues.

Again, you have your hotel room to plan for. This usually doesn’t differ too much from the hotel room(s) you’ve previously budgeted for, but check with the hotel to make sure, but keep in mind: the deadly sales tax will probably apply here, too!

Next up: your badge. Depending on the size of the convention, the price for your badge may rise or fall, or even stay the same. Remember: “at-the-door” tickets for the entire weekend are more expensive than pre-reg tickets, so try to pre-register! If it’s impossible to pre-register, it’s okay. Breathe, calm down, and be ready to shell out the extra cash.

Food costs will also probably stay relatively the same. Don’t forget those snacks and drinks from home, though, to help lower the price on this item!

These Guys Ain’t Messin’ Around! Anime Expo is SRS BSNS!

Next up, it’s time to think about transportation. Are you flying this time? Maybe taking a train? There are loads of options available to you, but you’re going to want to check out the price for each mode of transportation. Let’s say you’re trying to get to a convention about 200 to 300 miles away. You’ve found that it’ll cost you $157.00 round trip by train, $153.92 for gas if you’re driving with four people splitting the price up evenly, and $219.40 if you’re a diva and you go flying (Alaska Airlines). Those are your options. You may decide to go by car because it’s the cheapest. You might decide to go by train because no one wants to drive, or you’re going it alone. Maybe you’re simply willing to shell out the extra cash for the plane ride because it’s faster and more convenient for you. Take all those factors into account and be ready to spend on them!

It might sound like a lot of money to be shelling out just to get to a convention, but for many convention-goers, it’s worth it! You can spend time with old friends, make new ones, take photos, have photos taken of you, learn about new anime/manga/games, impart your knowledge of those things, meet the people that make the stuff you enjoy so much, etc.

So good luck to you my fellow Otaku! Take the knowledge that I’ve imparted unto you and I’ll see you at con!

– Mike


Who you gonna call?

Posted: March 28, 2011 by ConGear in Con Review

Tanis here!

I’d like to slide in a few words about a major no-no in conventions across the globe. In fact, it’s the biggest no-no of them all!  This particular no-no is what’s called “ghosting”. Ghosting is where somebody sneaks into the con without paying, and gets into panels, the dealer’s hall, everything, for free. It’s akin to convention piracy.

And it’s gotta stop.

Granted, some conventions are very hard to ghost into. There’s indestructable old ladies guarding every single door of Sakuracon, and they will rip your throat out with their teeth if you even think about trying anything other than flashing your legitimate badge their way. Though as you can guess, Sakuracon never really had a major problem with ghosting.

And yet, on the other end of the spectrum we’ve got MEW Con, where the convention presence folk never actually checked anyone for a badge. I’m sure some of them probably noticed there were badgeless non-attendees walking about, but they never had the courage to throw them out on their asses.

Ghosting can break a con incredibly easily. Sure, a fifty dollar entry fee foregone may not seem like much, but often times a fee like that is enough to get a panel going. Twenty registration fees can get a mid-tier guest. And let’s not forget the hotel or convention center costs.

Ghosting kills cons, no joke about it. I wouldn’t even wish it on Akicon, our resident bottom-of-the-barrel convention. Attendees, pay the man some money. Security, yojimbo, SAS, whoever you are, you need to be more vigilant in doing your job.

Otherwise we’re not gonna get cons very much longer.

Something I want to chime in on…

Posted: March 28, 2011 by ConGear in Con Review

Last week, A typical gamer in a Bioware’s forum went off on his obvious homophobia and it being in his Dragon Age II. The great response that follows from the lead writer of the series, and essentially told him to get with the times and stop gaming in 1965. A glorious response indeed.

My problem with this, however, is the fact that this is still a problem. Homosexuality, in any media, has been around for a while. The show Will & Grace was the first show to bring homosexuality to the American forefront, and it’s been in media since. It only got introduced to gaming in 2004, when it was possible to have a homosexual relationship in Fable. I don’t remember people complaining about it then.


As a gamer, I’ve had to hear the word “gay” used as a demeaning slur since I played Counter-Strike and Quake in the late 90s. Most of those gamers have grown up, but we still hear it. With the inclusion of mute in games, this isn’t a problem, and usually rarely you can ask someone to use a different word, and they will comply.

I guess my point here is that gamers need to grow up, and more importantly, realize that the world is evolving and becoming tolerant of homosexuality. I understand it’s hard to compromise to that fact, since you have to finish your 10-man raid, or try to get your 25-kill streak in before dinner, but  some guys like guys, some girls like girls, and some people change gender. It’s a fact. Deal with it, or shut up.


Hi everyone, Bressler here:

We’ve got a couple of interesting articles down the pipeline here, but We wanted to let you know that we just opened up our very own Steam community page!

I tend to play a lot of Counter-Strike and Audiosurf, but I just downloaded Borderlands GOTY and would love to play with you guys! Mike loves his Dragon Age, because he is a loner, and Tanis has logged MORE THAN THREE WEEKS worth of Team Fortress 2! Join us and the fans of ConGear and other 3GP shows! See you there!

(Editor’s note: Tanis shares his account with his brother, who logs crazy amounts of time of TF2. Tanis is partial to Borderlands and Left 4 Dead.)

Hello everyone! We still do update this thing! Promise!

In the few months, we’ve done this blog, I’ve pained to know there was going to be a moment that I was going to criticize my home convention, Sakura-Con. This is a convention I have been with and staffed since 2005. People know who I am there, and I feel I have made lots of positive contributions to the convention.

But again, I’ve pained to know at some point I’d have to criticize them here. I just wish it was something done AT the con, and not before it.

Now, when you are arguably one of the ‘big three’ anime cons in the country (AX and Otakon being the other two), you want to have your rules for things like the AMV Contest, Gaming tournaments, and Cosplay Contests, out of the gate well before the convention, especially when people are going to be putting time into editing, practice, and skit creation for this like the above three. A lot of people put a lot of time, effort, and love into these sorts of things.

What I saw this weekend was sadly not something that gave any sort of proper notice, and changed rules that a lot of people had a huge concern with, some good, some bad:

Walk-offs and skits have been, like The Offspring song, separated.
I fully support this idea. I think that giving people an opportunity to show off their handiwork between a couple of skits got things a little out of hand. This also increases the number of people who can enter both of these events.

Seven people to a cosplay group for skits. We go from the best idea to the most stupid. I understand the chances of a cosplay skit group having more than seven people aren’t very high, but there never was an upper limit, and I think if the Cosplay Coordinator can judge that a group of 25 people might be a tad too much, we’d be fine. I think establishing an upper limit is asking for trouble, and if you read the Sakura-Con forums, it has.

3:00 limit on skits. Also an idea I don’t like at all. Skits were limited to five minutes in previous years, this take a lot of the entertainment and fun out of skits, not to mention this is going to make people scramble to redo skits they may or may not have finished planning out. If you are separating walk-ons and skits, this is an idea with no logic attached to it, as if you are eliminating walk ons, and making them their own entity, you’ve cut that extra dead time from the skit contest. This makes it look like the people doing skits are being penalized and the walk-ons getting more of the spotlight than the people doing skits, who, most of the time, not only have to make their costume, but have to coordinate with others in making costumes associated with the skit, then taking even more time to write the skit. Walk-ons requires (usually) one costume, and not as much time and coordination. I’m more in a stupor over this than the upper limit for people to a skit.

Being given all of this 90 days prior to the convention. I’m of two minds on this one. For half the cosplay crowd I know, this is perfectly reasonable. For the other half, it’s not even close. Some groups I know are like NFL head coaches, where they take seven months of offseason to plan their playbooks. I’d like to see conventions instill a six-month advance on all things programming-related (AMVs, Gaming, Panels, Cosplay, etc.). [NOTE: Yes, I did run Programming at this convention, and I may sound wholly hypocritical in saying that, as I never even came close to that milestone, but you get a petter perspective from the outside looking in.]

I also can’t say I am thrilled at how the Cosplay Coordinator handled themselves when people asked legitimate questions, and I think he is setting his bar of expectations a little too ambitiously. He’s projecting 90 groups for the skit contest. Sakura-Con 2010 had around 30. I don’t think that number is going to triple in the span of one year. I can understand that he’s new to this sort of thing, and that there are people around to help him, up to and including last year’s cosplay contest team. But to tear into the very people who want to entertain the crowd at the convention is the worst idea you can make.


Yes, it’s true.

Another site of the whenver we feel like it!

This moment belongs to our good friend Chris Bores, aka the Irate Gamer. Chris reviews games from the 8- and 16-bit eras, mostly, but also reviews some modern games as well. Come for the game reviews, stay for the hilarious cursing.

In other news, Bressler has a proper computer again, and will be posting a retrospect on cosplay later tonight. Make sure you subscribe!


MEWcon 2010-11: A stripper pole later…

Posted: January 4, 2011 by ConGear in Con Review

So we went to MEWcon at the Portland Airport Sheridan, and we found THIS:

What you didn't see here is that Mike and Tanis are beating the fangirl(s) back with funnoodles.

We also found a convention, in which some things were going less than great:
-Ghosting. I need to get this one out of the way now. Ghosting is when people follow people with paid badges and simply follow them into rooms. There was next to zero badge checking at doors. This is both the fault of the convention and of the hotel. This is mostly the hotel’s fault because they deemed hallways where the convention were going on as public space. This is stupid, seeing as there were two major area the convention was happening at: a) a set of double doors leading to panel rooms, main events, and gaming – the hotel staff could have allowed the convention to have a security volunteer there checking badges at these doors and the two entrances to the building – and b) the area where CCG gaming, library, and two additional panel rooms were – set up stanchion and you are done. There was nothing going on in the hotel at the time other than that. Part of the blame on this does have to go on the convention, however. Very little effort was made to check badges.

The Hotel. I’m going to be honest. I didn’t like the hotel. The layout segregated part of the convention from the rest of it, which is what MEWcon has done now for two years (though, honestly, this year’s segregation was far less worse that the previous one). Speaking of segregation, this hotel is what is in essentially the middle of nowhere; any place to eat outside of the hotel was at the leasta five minute drive away, and a much longer walk. For those that did not travel by car, this made you feel trapped in the facility. I will say, however, that having an indoor pool handy 24/7 was very nice.

There was some stuff I liked about this convention:
Gaming. For a small con, this area overall was handled with a level of organization that could be compared with the likes of PAX and Sakura-Con. Console gaming had a great check out system, and a decent small LAN area. There were consoles ranging from NES to current gen, which was a nice change of pace from the in-your-face console rooms of current generation consoles. I liked the CCG/tabletop area as well. Even though this suffered a bit from being stuffed into a back corner of the hotel, there was a glass wall ensuring some exposure was had for this area.

Convention Character. The character and soul of this convention was really the point to write home about. This convention was 17+ and it showed, and didn’t care if you were some kid. You could tell it in the attendees and staff. I have never seen more drunk congoers in one pool in my life, and I don’t know if I ever will.

Belated Happy Holidays from all of us at ConGear!

Posted: December 27, 2010 by ConGear in Con Review

Hey everyone! Bressler here.

We want to wish you a belated happy holidays!

We’re hard at work on getting our premiere episode ready to go at MEW without a hitch. Mike, Tanis, and I are very excited to bring this to you!

Some things to expect at MEW’s taping:
-An introduction
-The Win Wall!
-The first six people to drive in our anime like car!
-Guests driving the Anime-Like Car!
-the ConGear awards!
-The Aki-Con review!
-Mike’s cosplay corner!

We’re in Panel 1 at 9:30pm on 12/31. We can’t wait to see you guys!

Aki-Con Outtakes!

Posted: December 14, 2010 by ConGear in Con Review

Hey guys! We have Aki-Con Outtakes after the jump! Enjoy! We will have the teaser up tomorrow! (more…)

We did work this week, Honest!

Posted: December 12, 2010 by ConGear in Con Review