Every convention I have ever attended has always put a smile on my face and the 5th Annual Indy PopCon was no different. Coincidentally, Indy PopCon landed on the same week as the Indianapolis Pride festival. I have always viewed anime/pop conventions to be a celebration of one’s freedom of expression, so it felt nice to see these two events align.
Indy PopCon was held June 8-10 and this was my second time attending Indy PopCon. You can read my post about the great time I had in 2017 here. Unlike last time, my stay at the convention lasted only a day: I was scheduled to give my Ethics and Videogame talk at 1pm on Saturday. During that same Saturday, I had to be back at my place around 6pm to get picked up to attend a dinner with some friends. So, I could not stay to long at the convention because it is an hour drive between my place and the convention.
I arrived at Indy PopCon around 10:30 a.m., grabbed my pass, and headed out to get some brunch. After a delicious brunch, I arrived back at the con around noon. It was in full swing by that time. Mercy (an Overwatch character) cosplayers were in abundance possibly due to Lucie Pohl, the voice actor for Mercy, being a special guest at Indy PopCon. There were also a few ill-looking Spiderman cosplays. One had a sign that said, “Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good” while having a thermometer in their mouth. I was impressed and depressed all at once after seeing him.
I saw a Waluigi cosplay with a fully-body Waluigi car. It was quite impressive. While I took note that Waluigi was “Rid’in Dirty” as the music he was playing suggested, a group of women with furry tails and ears screamed in excitement as they hugged their friend who was sitting on the same bench as I.
Around 12:50 p.m. I proceeded to my panel room to set up. After a few technical hiccups, my panel kicked off a little after 1 p.m. My talk went well and the audience seemed to have received the material well. After answering a few questions during Q&A, a few more people came up to me afterwards to ask questions. A charming woman with a black beret and polka dotted skirt came up to me asking a very intriguing question the ways that people are affected by making violent decisions in videogames. After giving my answer, I answered two other questions by other people, but the woman with the black beret did not leave.
As I walked and talked with another person, she followed in closely behind. As I finished the previous conversations, the woman in the black beret asked nicely if I could address a few more of her questions. I kindly said, sure! As I was listening to her, I noticed that a few passerby were slightly eavesdropping on our conversation. To be honest, I felt kind of cool. Only at conventions do I feel, just for a moment, like a celebrity. During our conversation, she mentioned how she really enjoyed my presentation and glad to talk to someone about her views in engaging with videogames through a critical and analytical lens, if only for a little bit.
After a delightful conversation with the woman in the black beret, I proceeded to head toward the Dealer’s room. My goal was to find a nice poster of Saitama from the anime One Punch Man. The hunt commenced the moment I stepped into the Dealer’s room. I walked around for a bit and saw no one selling posters of Saitama. Saddened, I decided to just walk around little more to see if I missed something. As I approached a kiosk selling Power Ranger figurines, I saw right in front of me: Jason Faunt.
Jason Faunt was the Red Ranger in Power Ranger’s Time Force. I kept my composure as I stood at least 5 feet away from him. He was speaking with two guys when I saw him, so I had to wait for the perfect time to introduce myself. My face was directed towards the toys, but my ears where listening in on his conversation. I had no idea what they were talking about, but I was waiting for the guys to say “see ya,” or “nice meeting you,” or something that indicated to me that the guys were leaving Jason. After waiting 2 minutes or so Jason said, “Alright, I think I’m going to head back to the table.” It was my time to strike! I immediately walked to Jason with my phone in hand and said hello. He greeted me with a big smile and shook my hand. I asked if I could take a picture with him and he said, “Sure!” As I handed my phone to one of the men Jason was speaking with, I told Jason, “I think you’re awesome. I grew up watching you as a kid!” Jason replied, “Ahh, thanks man!” Definitely, a surreal moment.
A few minutes later after the picture with Jason, I ran into a former student of mine. We greeted each other and she informed me that Indy PopCon was her first ever anime/pop convention. I immediately took her on a tour of the Dealer’s room and answered any questions she had. We watched part of the yo-yo tournament that was happening in the room. We walked further down from the yo-yo competition and saw a live snake wrapped around the trainer’s arm. That was cool to see.
Afterwards, we checked out this mobile 2D fighting game called “Konsui Fighter.” This game was quite different then the card and/or ‘rock, paper, scissors’ based mobile fighters I was accustomed to playing. There were left and right buttons to tap on as well as dedicated Punch “P” and Kick “K” inputs. Combos were created by tapping on these various inputs which enables your character to perform certain special moves. It took some time getting used to, but I enjoyed myself. The art direction had an anime aesthetic to it that I liked. The game is still in beta, but you can purchase it from the Google Play store for 3.99 USD. Check it out their website for gameplay footage and more information. I will be keeping my eye on this game.
Once 4 p.m. rolled around, it was time for me to head out. I said goodbye to my student and left the convention.
Indy PopCon was a charming and very welcoming venue that was full of life and laughter. I knew I would be back once I left Indy PopCon 2017. Glad I was able to attend this year’s convention. Thanks for the engaging dialogue and merriment, Indy PopCon. I look for to attending next year’s convention!