|Posted by HERETICPRIME on June 12, 2015 at 9:25 AM|
I'm going to tell you the story about what I could once call my favourite con: MomoCon, and my honest view on what happened this year, from all the things I've heard from other people. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this year, and this year promised to be the biggest and best thus far, because the convention moved out of the Hilton Atlanta and Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, and into the Georgia World Congress Center. My health and other factors hit me in a perfect storm, but in the end, I still think that what I have to say will still shed some insight on what happened, this year.
Last year, in 2014, was my first MomoCon experience. Despite living in Georgia for most of my life, since I was seven years old, and being an otaku since the 80's, as I write this, I have never been to Dragon Con, and had not gone to a full bloomed anime convention until my company helped sponsor and vended Anime Weekend Atlanta 2011.
Having gone to AWA several times gave me mixed, but overall very positive feelings. While I loved the fellowship of my fellows, enjoyed the creativity and ingenuity of the costumers and the display of the cosplayers, swooned at the guests that represented my fandoms, and was quickened by my escape from normalicy, There were short-comings that I experienced from staff performance and response that ended up growing each year. I don't want to say that the staff didn't care about us as individuals, but there did seem to be a growing apathy with individual satisfaction and more concern about appearance and order.
Now, I can appreciate order and safety at a convention. EVERYBODY should. I also realise that balancing a sense of freedom and adventure with safety and order can be difficult, so I don't really want to sound like I am harping on AWA. AWA is pretty big, here in Georgia. It is considered, perhaps, the biggest convention in Georgia soley dedicated to the otaku lifestyle, and definetly one of the oldest, if not the oldest. For this, AWA earns a lot of respect from all of it's visitors, but nothing could prepare me with the inpact that MomoCon would have on me.
As I said before, 2014 was my first MomoCon, and it was at the Hilton Atlanta and Marriott Marquis, in Atlanta, Georgia, but it's roots were at Georgia Tech, and for most of it's history, it was held on campus. It was a humble convention that was able to be completely funded from items sold at the convention and was actually free. It was not until 2012, when it moved to the Hilton Atlanta and Marriott Marquis that MomoCon started charging admission, but it was well-warranted, having grown in such size and reputation. It was no longer a second-rate con, and the organisers had nurtured and raised it into a con to rival AWA.
Well, I expected pretty much what I had experienced at AWA, when I arrived at MomoCon 2014, except on a slightly smaller scale. I was pleasantly surprised. Everything from getting my weekend badge and swag pack, to getting information was much easier. The staff was friendlier and more educated about the surroundings and amenities, despite having only been at that venue for 2 years prior and AWA had been in it's location for over 10 years. While the convention was packed into the two hotels, it made for a coziness and warmth. The opening ceremonies gave me a picture of the progression of MomoCon, and made me feel a part of something very intimate. I wanted to be a part of team MomoCon. That MomoCon was the best con experience I have ever had, thus far.
It inspired me to reach out to it's creator, Jess Merriman, and her husband and co-chair, Chris Stuckey to discuss how much I enjoyed the con and wanted to help in any way I could. I was even willing to partner with them on future ventures, some of which I had ideas for. They were good enough to meet me for lunch and discuss these things. A lot of the ideas were either ones that were thought of before and tried, or not, but had proven to be impractical for some reason. Others I think did have merit, but they were not so hot for. (Hey, I understand.)
They then told me what they had planned for MomoCon in the near future. They told me how it was going to move, because they felt that it had outgrown it's location that year, and needed a new space to grow in. They said while it was possible that it could feel a little emptier at it's much bigger location at the Georgia World Congress Center, that this was a normal part of con growth, and with the new space would come the new growth. They made arrangements for discounts for hotels in the area for the con. They were looking for new things to do with MomoCon. They seemed very proud of the prospect of the growth, and how bright the future seemed, and assured me that everything was just going to get bigger and better.
As I outlined earlier, MomoCon started out small gathering of nerds at Georgia Tech, and now grown into a large convention. I could understand Jess and Chris's pride at the prospect of growth and some well-deserved recognition, even, but all this talk about bigger and moving even deeper into the jungle of downtown Atlanta made my Spidey-Sense tingle, and I voiced my opinions.
While MomoCon's venue that year was very intimate, and the experience was top-notch, there were problems that I had experienced, for the first time going to a con, intrinsic simply because it was in downtown Atlanta. There was a charge and over-charge for everything. I paid just to have my car sit in the parking deck of the Hilton (and it was not fun trying to find my car that Sunday when I wanted to go home.). I got introduced to the practice of paying for local calls from the hotel. Food in downtown Atlanta was expensive, and getting around was not car friendly, both for parking at other places, and paying for both getting parked and parking again, when coming back to the Hilton.
AWA has avoided all of these problems by having their convention at the Cobb Galleria Centre which is surrounded by hotels in all degrees of proximity and price range, insuring that a person with reasonable planning can get a hotel within 2 miles of the convention and still be able to pay less than $50 a night. Parking is free at all of the hotels in the area, for AWA, some of which have free breakfast. Lots of great restaurants, malls, and shopping centers are in decent driving range. Even parking is free and easy at the Cobb Galleria Centre. Most of the time, I can park up front whenever I want to.
I voiced these concerns, and how I felt that these things would only get worse going even deeper into Atlanta. I also gave merit to the coziness and warmth that I thought would be lost by moving into such a big venue. Jess and Chris assured me that whatever small problems that might occur would be over-shadowed by the gains of such a big convention, but I was not so sure, and maybe they would not have been if I could have forseen just how much MomoCon appeared to lose by getting "bigger and better."
Readers, what do you think?