Hurricon is one of those conventions that are only feasible due to the tremendous dedication and love of otakus who want to bring joy to other otakus. I attended Hurricon in its first year, and I can confidently say I’ll keep going for as long as I stay in Florida, but it is a young event that still has much to learn. Going this year as a panelist has made me more aware of what Hurricon needs to be better and I’m going to list what’s wrong here. I am not saying Hurricon is not worth attending I had loads of fun and for what it’s worth (free entry for everyone) you shouldn’t miss out.
Unused rooms and time gaps
What do I mean by this? Many rooms went unused during the little time the con was active. When I looked at the schedule I felt my stomach drop because both my panels were scheduled during the costume contest and its prejudging, which would wipe out a good part of my potential audience. Many rooms were unused prior to the time, and I don’t mind presenting early. My turnout was smaller than it is in other cons, but the audience was wonderful and I’m glad they dropped by. As a panelist however, the bigger the crowd the better, and the schedule wasn’t working in my favor.
Panel rooms are split in two
Basically the center of operations is a big building I believe serves as a two story student lounge. All the vendors and the cafe is outside, the first floor hosted one vendor, an exhibitor, and the karaoke setup, and the second floor hosted all the ballrooms and the video game room. But the schedule has some panels held in “The Learning Center” which is a long tiring walk all the way to an orange building. I’m alright with it, but because of that 10 minutes between events is probably not enough for people to bother going to see those faraway panels, especially since most congoers are used to having everything in one place (convention centers spoil us).
Almost no vendors
I was disappointed in the selection provided this year despite that there were more sellers than last year. Out of the many people who got a spot to sell stuff only three merchandise vendors showed up, the rest were artisans and artists. I support the latter, but I much prefer an import figure than a piece of jewelry (although I occasionally bite). This is the first convention I didn’t want to buy anything from. The first year I did want to buy but this year nothing really stood out to me. Of course the convention is not responsible for what their sellers sell, but I hope a wider variety of vendors come next year because that revelation was quite shocking. Good news is no one was selling fake merchandise, yay!
Your refreshing honest vendor, sadly nothing he sold interested me.
Some artist tables. The lovely Reimu cosplayer is Zipper Tan, an artist and talented cosplayer.
Video game room uninviting
Let me begin by saying the video game room was all male, which is odd because other conventions have females in their game room. I could see a few problems. The biggest blunder was all the consoles and television were set up too close to each other, making a small square in between and leaving little space to roam and see what could be played and comfortably watch others. This is important, in fact so important that is why most successful arcades have plenty of free space. Also there was too little light, which somehow makes the small space worse. The room had plenty of space, but it seemed instead of moving around the seats in the lounge to create an ample gaming space they just decided to make a small circle of doom surrounded by them. As for the gamers themselves? It seemed many of them have been camping there since the con started, it made me feel too uncomfortable to ask if I could play a round. I could play the same game at home anyway.
But enough with everything wrong, what was good?
The location is beautiful
UM should pride itself in its campus because I can say with confidence it has the most beautiful one in Florida. The location difference from your typical convention center is refreshing. You’re surrounded by trees and sculptures done by students, the walkway to the learning center passed a peaceful fountain, and the student lounge has an appealing modern design and awesome murals. To the delight of many, the first floor had plenty of plugs and phone charging stations with all types of cell phone charger cables.
Many talented cosplayers
I am not kidding when I say Hurricon brings the best of cosplayers out. Maybe it’s the fact the hobby can be expensive and the entrance is free that makes the magic happen. Theories aside they’re everywhere, and friendly so you can take pictures of them without hassle. This also probably makes it harder to win the costume contest.
Engaged panel attendees
Despite being left with a smaller audience than I would have desired the ones that stuck around were great. There are two types of good panel attendees, the ones that are so excited they often shout insightful comments and funny remarks or quiet, attentive, and engaged attendees. I got the latter which is a refresher from the usual excited fans and they also gave feedback, asking questions and answering some question I asked. Other panels varied, but the typical audience was made up of good people. I can say with confidence you will feel comfortable at one of their many panels.
Everyone is friendly
Like the cosplayers this rule also applies to everyone. You can talk to anyone like you’ve known them for a long time and they’re open to almost anything. This is a convention were there is not as many groups as in your larger con, and it opens opportunities to make new friends and have a good time.
Summed up it is undeniable the con did have its flaws but they’re not bad to the point I would recommend staying away. I had fun and I really want it to become a UM tradition. Everything that isn’t wrong is so good fixing what was wrong would create the perfect convention.
If you live in South Florida attend the next Hurricon in 2014, it’s a great otaku treat.