Sunday, April 8, 2012

CogsCon 2012

When I received an invitation to CogsCon from a friend of mine, who happens to be on the staff, I thought it would be a good opportunity to visit a college-held con in its first year. It's always a gamble, when a convention starts off, and ones held at colleges can either rise to great heights, implode, or remain stagnant. Now that I've seen its startup, we'll see what I think.

I didn't arrive too early, but still found parking easily enough. There were no signs marked for the entrance, but only one door that was obviously the way in, although it locked and had to be opened from the inside every time it shut. I got my badge quickly, and followed the markings they left to the con.

As a note on the badges, they had different terms for pre-registered guests (Nobles) and guests who bought their badges at-con (Peasants). The staff working there all wore orange shirts that said "Minion" with a number on the back, while I, as press, had a badge that said "Bard." I quite like that.

The main hall had a fair amount of artists and dealers lining the walls, as well as some students with booths showing off their own work, including some video games they designed. A little ways away, there were screening rooms for student-made animation, and a room where they held a Smash Bros Melee tournament, although their distance from the main hall made them a little difficult to find.

Pages from comics and the outline of a dragon decorated the wall
The main hall
Static Shock
Vocaloids on the way to the beach
At first, there wasn't too much to do, aside from chat with friends and check out the booths. Some friends left early to drive down to Santa Cruz, and while it would have been nice to visit SC again, I had a masquerade to enter and a con to report on.

Around noon there was a "Dragon Egg Hunt." As the name implies, it was an Easter Egg Hunt, although each egg contained either a knight or dragon inside. The one who found the dragon egg would win first prize, while the one who collected the most eggs total would win second. At 43 eggs, I easily claimed second prize, although first went to someone else. My reward was a pack of finger puppets, but as those who are familiar with me know, I mostly just enjoy winning.

After the hunt, some friends and I went to get lunch. The nearest place was a Subway, yet surprisingly, it was closed on a Saturday afternoon. (We all agreed that this was the first time we ever saw a Subway that wasn't open on weekends, but that's neither here nor there.) Instead, we got some sandwiches at Togo's, and returned in time to meet up with other friends.

I'd signed up for the masquerade with some friends, so we were in a rush to get our lines recorded, some practice done, and into our costumes. I was borrowing a friend's costume for Sokka from "Avatar: The Last Airbender," while he cosplayed as Aang, and another friend borrowed my Melon Lord costume. We finished just in time for judging, where we described our costumes and the work that went into them to two judges, who I happen to know are skilled and experienced cosplayers.

When judging was finished, the masquerade began. Most people did walk-ons with the occasional improvised speech, so my group was the only one with a pre-recorded skit. Unfortunately, the people in charge of the audio started playing it before we were ready, leaving us scrambling to either catch up or signal them to start it over when we were ready. In the end, the audience saw essentially the second half of the skit (in which Melon Lord, in a shocking Shyamalanian twist, reveals himself to be M. Night Shyamalan), so the punchline was intact, but none of the setup. Still, the masquerade went well, and there were plenty of great costumes on display.

As there were more prizes for the contest than there were entrants, everyone who entered won, and the order in which they could pick out prizes was decided by random lottery. Of course, it wasn't a simple, "Everyone's a winner" deal; the judges had their own awards for each entrant, along with comments about what they liked about them. My group won "Most Well-Rounded," since we had a little of everything; craftsmanship, performance, and plenty of teamwork. I still count this as a legitimate win, and the four volumes of "A.I. Love You" (an earlier work by Ken Akamatsu, one of my favorite mangaka) would agree.

Captain America and America himself
Go Team Avatar!
Kenichi the Mightiest Disciple in the masquerade
Carmen Sandiego in the masquerade. I guess that answers that question.
The day ended with a lottery, which I had entered. One ticket I purchased, then I received another three as a reward for the masquerade. There were some people who purchased 20+ tickets, and they tended to win several times, but that's how lotteries work, and those who won multiple times started giving up prizes in exchange. The final prize there was Powerpoint CS5… and I won, with the one ticket I purchased, no less!

Talk about ending the day on a high note. I was satisfied with my victories, tired after a long day, and generally feeling good. So although the con was off to a slow start, I undeniably had a good time. I look forward to seeing how CogsCon grows in the future, and plan to keep attending it. I really hope this becomes one of the college-based cons that keeps on growing.

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