As I had stated once, it appears new cons are popping up all the time lately. College-based conventions are also no exception. FAN:Dom Con would mark the fourth college based convention I have attended. There was MomoCon which was pretty fun, but felt overly crowded. Kaji-Con had a good start, but was lacking attendance. Then there was another one which was pretty much the worst con ever. For the most part, college cons usually don’t offer as much in comparison to cons like EXP or AWA and rarely have a strong following. With FAN:Dom Con, I had heard good things about its debut the year prior and was invited to be a part of its second year.
FAN:Dom Con Year 2
November 12-13, 2011
University of West Florida
The first thing I noticed was while driving towards the convention that there were plenty of signs pointing towards the convention’s location. This is extremely helpful considering I have actually got lost on my first time to MetroCon and AWA. I also did not have to deal with any gates or parking fees. Upon my arrival I noticed the staff was always very helpful and very friendly. Once I got my badge, I never felt constantly asked or heckled for it at any point. It was like once I entered a room with it, I was never asked to show it again.
When it came to the attendance I was certainly a little taken by the numbers I saw and had heard (reportedly just over 1000). It never felt too crowded, but it certainly never felt dead either. There were also some occasional stand outs cosplay-wise. My favorite Cosplay I spotted was the nine foot tall Gundam walking around all weekend.
In comparison to other college cons, FAN:Dom Con actually offers a lot that would easily put it in the rank of any normal con. The dealer’s room was actually pretty big, about the same size as EXP’s and, as I always point out when I see one. an actual video game dealer. Though I didn’t get to check it out much, the artist alley wasn’t too bad either as I spotted at least 12 tables. There was even a Masqurade Ball and a rave which both had a light set up. There was also a maid café. The music during the rave would probably rate top on my list in comparison to the rest of the con raves this year.
There were a nice slew of guests including Eric Stuart. One thing I did notice that some people who are active in the convention scene that were invited were also listed as guests. There were also surveys that were handed out on many occasions during the convention to help improve things for next year. Prizes were also given away during the closing ceremonies for those who stayed that long. This all gives a great sense of community which is something I feel is becoming absent with some conventions.
Since I was invited as a photographer, I also provided my services offering studio shoots during the convention and Ball events. Unfortunately this limited me from covering some of the other events going on. The few panels I was able attend were… eh ok. My only real criticism when it came to panels was some of the room layouts. When I did my photography panel, it was in a room with a large circular table in the middle taking up most of the space and you could probably not comfortably fit more than 20 people in there. I noticed there were two other panel rooms similar to this. Not particularly the conventions fault as those rooms would normally be designated for something else.
As far as other criticisms, the video game room wasn’t entirely my cup of tea. There were only a few fighting games (Smash Bros and MvC3) and two first person shooters from what I recall. However, admittedly, I am more of the niche gamer. The only other is the weird layout of the building. It consisted of a small lobby which had the registration desk then a long narrow hallway which circled around the building until eventually you reach another lobby where the main events was held at. I actually got lost trying to find the game room and main events the first time there. I can’t complain in comparison to MomoCon which was split across three different buildings you had to walk one-fourth of a mile in-between to get to.
In the end, I really enjoyed FAN:Dom Con. In fact, it was probably my favorite con of 2011 as far as personal enjoyment went. Everyone was nice, no problems, and it always felt like something cool was going on. What also made FAN:Dom Con a rare success is that the attendance was also not hindered by ShadoCon going on that same weekend; a normal con held 6 hours away. To top it off, it only costs $6 for a non student pass and the hotel is only $40 a night w/ internet access. Overall, if their success keeps up, FAN:Dom Con will certainly become a big name in Florida, college con or not.
Pros: Friendly atmosphere and staff, some stand out cosplays, excellent dealers, cheap hotel, cheap pass, decent rave, surpasses expectations
Cons: Weird building layout, small panel rooms, some so-so panels