A Deluge Of Anime Conventions

UPDATE: As of 8th July, the Melbourne Anime and Manga Festival (MAMF) has had to postpone their event. No dates have been announced just yet, but their plan is for ‘early next year.’ Most of these new events ran once or not at all.

Earlier this year Melbourne lost its largest and longest running anime convention when Manifest announced it had come to an end. People pined and begged the Manifest volunteers to rethink their decision and resurrect their old con, but instead something else happened. Manifest was gone for good, but in a matter of months three brand new events had sprung up out of nowhere.

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Unearthing The Geek Dating Advice Library

I have a habit of digging into the compost heaps of the internet. Most recently, my search terms have included things like ‘neck beard,’ ‘fedora,’ ‘niceguy’ and ‘geeks who have no concept of how to treat women like people rather than a concept.’ This turns up a mountain of results, including tales of stalking and harassment, multiple blogs dedicated to showcasing the worst of online dating sites and even more articles analysing the trend of the fedora wearing straight male nerd who fails to understand women (and people in general) on a fundamental level.
It’s both scary and fascinating. While it’s far removed from the queer/queer-friendly, feminist and downright lovely geeks I know in my own life, it does cause you to look over your shoulder and wonder if those who wear have a fedora on their head also have a fedora lodged in their heart.

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Pens Down For Comikaze

The Queens Birthday weekend has always been a busy weekend for geek events, but this year will be the first year without the Comikaze 48 hour comic challenge. For the past nine years, the lovely folks at Pulp Faction challenged artists across Australia to set aside two days in the long week end devoted to creating comics anywhere from 8 to 24 pages long.

The results were inspired – sometimes inspired by a lack of sleep and crushing deadlines – but inspired nonetheless. Where else would you find cyborgs stopping mid brawl for a family reunion? Or a money and rabbit team fending off a tiny alien invasion with the aid of a gypsy and a kilted Scotsman?

Pulp Faction closed it’s doors last year and Comikaze along with it. All the entries – save the ones marked mature – are still able to be read for the time being. Plus a few artists post their Comikaze entries to their personal sites. But if you have any favourites, now would be the time to save a copy.

Also for artists wanting a similar online art challenge, there’s still 24 Hour Comics Day in October.

Noodle Limbed Creature Dances For Charity

Those of you with an internet connection may have heard tall tales of ‘the horrors’ that happen at a furry convention. Thing is though, that the really weird stuff is actually kind of baffling and amazing.

Take for instance, the appearance of a noodled limbed, masked being who danced up a hundred dollars for the sale of the unicorn leotard they were wearing – all for charity, of course. The above video depicts the whole thing, which was one of the final items at the charity auction at Gold Coast’s own furry convention, Furry Down Under. The entire event raised over $4600 for the Animal Welfare League Of Queensland.

In fact, ‘Slendy’ made numerous fleeting appearances throughout the convention; running in and out of panels, room parties and dances before disappearing like some kind of squirmy Batman.The leotard was just one of a two-dozen items that were auctioned – many of which were art pieces that fetched hundreds of dollars in mad bidding wars.

The charity aspect of furry conventions is worth highlighting. This is the second year that Furry Down Under has run a charity event as part of its programming, while in Melbourne, MiDFur/Confurgence has been doing charity events since 2008 and has raised well over $40,000 in that time.

So next time someone asks what a furry convention is like, show them this.

Video shot by Ray Liehm.
Top photo by Logan Husky.

Room Party: The Game

Room parties and playing games with friends and strangers are two of the best things you can do at a convention. Recognising this, a group of geeks got together to create their own card game that’s all about the best (and worst) things that happen at convention room parties. Playing a card might summon a neck-beard wearing cardboardinium armour to your party or maybe a D-list celebrity carrying some suspicious looking drinks will show up at the door – it’s all part of Room Party: The Game.

This project came out of a successful Kickstarter campaign and the game has only just started appearing in the hands of Kickstarter backers and at a few select conventions that the game creators have been attending. At Confurgence* in Melbourne, the artist duo known as Blotch were showing off this game and we were lucky enough to try it out a couple times. It’s a competitive game, where it’s every party for themselves. Your goal is to maximise your own awesome score, while also damaging the awesome score of other parties by stealing their best people, turning their tricks against them or throwing unpleasant cards their way.
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Of course Disney crossovers are canon

The internet has been coming up with creative new ways to tie Frozen into the rest of the Disney universe. The most poignant theory being that Anna and Elsa’s parents died whilst sailing to attend the wedding of Flynn and Rapunzel from Tangled and that the wreckage of their ship is the very on that Ariel explores in The Little Mermaid. An alternate theory has the ship wash up on an island where the parents die – but not before having baby Tarzan!

Others have found more tangential ways of linking Brave, Frozen, Tangled and The Incredibles together while stepping sideways over to Pixar there’s this masterful post linking all of Pixar’s work together.

But the thing is that Disney have been creating canon crossovers of their films for ages. In the Hercules TV series, they spent a full half hour having Jafar and Hades team up to take on each others nemesis, Aladdin and Hercules. The actual conflict is average, but it is fun watching the two villains compare and critique their approaches to evil.

Visas, Permits and Suicide Bombers: All In A Days Work

How arresting can a game about protecting your country’s borders through paperwork and policy really be? In the case of Papers, Please, you’d be surprised. Taking the role of an immigration officer, it’s your job to sort through visas, work permits and all matter of paperwork to separate law-abiding citizen from potential threat. The game is still in development and available only as an unfinished demo, but it’s already causing intrigue. The experience speaks for itself and I encourage you to try yourself – but if you need convincing, then read on to find out just how engaging a job simulator can be.

On the macro scale, the conflict is about repelling those who have no legal right to be in your beloved country of Arstotzka – not to mention those who actively wish to do the country harm. But on the micro scale, things are more personal – you’re just some guy who is trying to keep a job and support your family. Sure, your family is only represented as text at the end of level results screen, but when you start choosing to forego food so that you can buy medicine, the situation starts to feel dire. Continue reading “Visas, Permits and Suicide Bombers: All In A Days Work”

Not Boring; Just Bored

‘I like games because I don’t need to think,’ he said openly.

She nods and doesn’t break eye contact with him. It’s a moment of surprising honesty; one you don’t expect to take place in the middle of a waiting room at CentreLink.

‘When I play games, it’s just type, type, type. I can switch off and just chat to people the whole day. I like that.’

Part of me feels guilty about listening in on a private conversation, even if it’s being spoken aloud in a public space. But the rest of me is just fascinated with this scene. So far all I know about this person is that they don’t have a job and that they are collecting CentreLink payments.

She asks him, ‘what would be your dream job?’ A silence follows, before he asks, ‘what do you mean?’

‘Like if someone said I’ll pay you money to do anything you want, what would it be?’ Still no answer, so she persists. ‘You like games? Would you like to work in games?’

He shakes his head. “It’s not that easy. Just because I play games doesn’t mean I have the skills to be in game development. That’s a completely different beast.”

By now I’ve stopped reading the book that’s still resting in my lap so I can pretend I’m not the kind of person who eavesdrops on a conversation so that they can later post about it on the internet. I learn that this person is too poor to own their own computer – so they attend their local internet cafe religiously. It’s a regular cycle of gaming and sleeping; one that he admits leans more towards gaming than sleeping.

“Do you think you could not play games for one day a week?” Another shake of the head. “I can’t. You get rewards for logging in each day. They stack up – but if you miss a day, it all resets. It doesn’t take much time, but you need to log in.” He has just enough motivation to log in and game for hours to keep his reward streak going – but when it comes to everything else, he admits he’s a pessimist. He leans back in his chair and proclaims quietly, “I’m boring.”

“You’re boring or you’re bored?”

“Just bored.”
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Peter Parker As The Bystander

There’s one story in particular that I tell more often than any other – especially to people I’ve only just met. It’s a story about a highly influential murder. Violent murders are an odd topic to bring up with strangers you barely know, but it’s an important story and one that a young Peter Parker would have been well served by.

*Trigger warning: This story involves rape and murder.*

Back in the 1960s in New York, a woman was out for a stroll through her local park when she was attacked by man wielding a knife. She cried out for help – but no one came to her aid and she was raped and murdered. Where things get even more sinister though, is that the place where she was killed was surrounded by apartment building overlooking the park. When police canvased the area for witnesses, they found a total of 38 witnesses. While not all of them saw the crime take place – or even realised what was going on, not a single one called the police.
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Manifest convention closes after 14 years

Next year is set to be another packed year, with over 100 geeky events across Australia and New Zealand. But one event that you will no longer find in the event guide is Manifest. After 14 years of being Melbourne’s premiere anime convention, it’s all over.

The exact reason for the closure isn’t explicitly stated in the official announcement on the Manifest website, but they talk about an arms race of conventions trying to one-up another. “It became a competition,” wrote Cari-An who is the current (and last) president of Manifest. “Who could have the largest crowds, the newest games, the coolest guests? It was only a matter of time until people chose to save their money for the biggest conventions.” No events are explicitly named, so they may be referring to interstate anime events – but more likely they’re referring to competition from the big pop culture events like Supanova and Armageddon. Although the ideal would be to have enough space and interest for all of these events, it seems this doesn’t always work out as fans would like.

Manifest was a fan run event that grew out the Melbourne and Swinburne university clubs into something enormous with several thousand attendees. These kind of events require people to put aside their free time and essentially work on it like an unpaid second job. Maybe they just ran out of steam – but a 14 year run is nothing to be ashamed of.