Conventions, be it Comic Con or last weekend’s Anime and Gaming Con, are usually the kind of thing where only a small group of people really know what they’re all about. Most people either don’t know they exist or are hesitant to go out of fear or uncertainty about what it actually is and what it might involve. From my brief time at this weekend’s convention, I’ll give you my quick rundown of the event and comment a bit about conventions in general.

The convention was held at a small complex owned by London Metropolitan University, taking place over two main floors. The lower floor was more dimly lit à la a nightclub with a small stage, a bar and a few stalls with games and handicraft products on sale. There were also some back rooms were people could go and chill out. One such room had a collection of retro gaming rigs set up with consoles such as the Nintendo 64, the SEGA Genesis and the PlayStation 2 (feel old yet?).

The upper room was larger, with a bigger stage, more seats and a larger variety of stalls with an even larger collection of colourful merchandise on sale. I’d honestly say it’s worth going, just to buy some cool artwork, shirts and trinkets. However, we’re all on a student budget here so make sure you watch your wallet when you venture forth.

“The explosion of geek culture is a bit jarring at first, but it’s something you warm up to”

Compared to MCMC Comic Con held in May and October, this one was smaller in scope and number of people. However, I personally thought that this worked out in its favour; it was nice to get a change of pace from a more grandeur event. For example, when the karaoke event took place, it felt like around half the attendees were present. I know the more socially awkward of you readers will freak out at this but honestly, it made the event feel more like an intimate affair. It seemed like it was geared towards being more social and interactive with other guests, another thing which you awkward peeps may object to.

One thing that’s noteworthy in any convention is the sheer amount of geekiness you’re exposed to. Seeing the explosion of geek culture is a bit jarring at first, but it’s something you warm up to. It’s endearing to see so many people, passionate about their interests and hobbies, and generally being welcoming and non-judgemental towards each other. The quality of cosplay is also a real joy to watch; as cliché as it sounds, it’s like the characters have literally jumped out of the screens into real life.

So much merch, but only so few student loans! // Saad Ahmed

Unfortunately, I had a busy weekend and was unable to hang around for the full three day event, let alone a full day for that matter. Had I stuck around, there would have been a variety of different events to take part in and have some fun with. There were gaming tournaments on Saturday and Sunday over a wide selection of games like Super Smash Brothers, Overwatch, League of Legends and more. As an incentive to take part, there were cash prizes, although to be fair, you’d probably get wrecked by someone who takes the game seriously. There were also Q&A sessions with artists and voice actors, talks about aspects of gaming and anime, and an assortment of different activities. These included, but were not limited to, live band performances, a big Geek Quiz and a cosplay auction (with proceeds going to Epilepsy Action)

“Rick trying to sell his portal gun to DC’s Deathstroke is just amazing to watch”

A lot of this might seem a bit daunting and worrying. If you decide to attend a convention, there’s honestly nothing to worry about it. You don’t have to take part in any of the stuff that happens. Watching from the sidelines (which I was forced to do) can be just as fun and you’ll get an experience unlike any other. Rick trying to sell his portal gun to DC’s Deathstroke is just amazing to watch; it is literally something you’ll not see anywhere else in your life. And it’s just one of the bizarrely awesome things you’ll get to encounter if you attend. It’d be worth going along with a couple of friends so you don’t feel too out of place. The next conventions are MCMC on the 25-27th of May and a second Anime and Gaming Con on the 6-8th of July. And no, they’re definitely not paying me to say this (although if anyone reading this is willing to pay me, that’d be great!)