About this time about two-three weeks ago I was at Keele University campus for Amecon 2012, my first Campus based convention. Two main things that stand out from a campus based convention is that there are less general public around and you'll have to do a fuckton of walking. That aside, it was quite enjoyable. It would have been more enjoyable if I hadn't broke my goddamn 2 litre stein when I checked in, but I guess it was karma for me not to walk around with more beer than is humanly logical.. Fuck you Karma. Fuck you.
The only major downside I found was the cost and the difference in facilities. You see, to pay a bit extra gets you a lot more however that cost to start with is already fucking painful to start with and you do run the risk of feeling like you didn't get your monies worth if you don't throw yourself into the deep end.
So lets get started!
Standard student halls. Okay so it's the most expensive part and you get a choice of ensuite or non. Personally I went ensuite because I like the option of hosing myself down after a technicolour yawn in case it's not as tidy as I had hoped. Having been through a variety of student accommodations in my heyday as a dirty student I can say it's pretty decent, albeit the motion sensitive "Jedi" showers were a fucking pain in the arse to operate/adjust. The rooms were tidy nonetheless and functional. They even gave a little kettle and tea/coffee thingies in the room which I thought were nice considering it was a university not a hotel.
Breakfast was pretty fucking awesome. Seriously! Though the coffee was liquid shame the rest of it was on par with some of the large hotel conventions; Hilton standard at least. From there it gets sketchy, food is available from a studenty type restaurant but till like 4, then you've got takeouts from what I believe or the mini-mart on campus where you can stuff for later. Handy as there are microwaves in the kitchens at the student halls. And for the really hardcore twats out there, ovens! Yeah, check that shit out.
You can do what I did and get a chinese take-out on the Friday (furama palace I think) spend about £5 and get enough food to last you 2 days. I'm not joking, massive portions and value for money. Unless of course I had stumbled upon magic egg fried rice that never ends, stranger things have happened.
Holy feckerama, there's so much going on and I even managed to wangle myself into the Masquarade! The committee, or rather Ilpala was really sound about me getting in last minute; no groans or hiccups and for that I'm really thankful. I've even gotta hand it to GrannyGertrude for his announcement for me"Alan Gabriel from Big O- BIG-O BIG-O BIG-O!" A thing Big O fans get from the ridiculous intro sequence. That pretty much made it for me, and my first masquerade was a lot of fun. Big shout out to Tino and Rob for being legends with the facepaint emergency, muchos gracias.
The masquarade itself was a little unorthodox for me as I'm used to seeing one single stage, this one was all the way through the Student Union with several stop points and I'll be honest I was so paranoid about being as good as I could be that I probably ran through the entire thing like a coked out butterfly. The Masquerade briefing could have been a little better rather than a glorified role call -IT'S PRONOUNCED "VALLON"- but hey we got the gist.
Party-wise it was pretty hit and miss, catering to a lot of genres but again that's what the convention scene is about; varied tastes that generally hit within the mainstream of our collective tastes. I got my DJ Snap conventioncore set, which had me rave out like a Disco-Fu after an eyeball injectionful of DMAA. Something was pretty awesome about the Student Union Layout; if you didn't like the nightclub part you could go next door to the very warm and welcoming bar, play some pool, get a cheap ass drink, have your backdoor smashed in or be entertained by the hilarious bar staff. Saying the "drinks were cheap" is an understatement along the same depth as "Neil Armstrong was a cool guy" or "Mike Towers is a bit of a shady character", because how much better can you get other than Student Bar prices? I barely spent £20 the entire weekend, maybe £10 of drinks bought for me because I'm a classy mother hubbard like that, I probably consumed about half a bottle of Kraken Rum too and found myself nicely inebriated through the entire gig. I didn't get drunk off my face because due to the walks I'd have found myself waking up in a hedge or in a tree with a crown.. I'm looking at you Cid. I had quite a few shots called BackDoorSmashers which was essentially everything in a shot and tasted like a party in my mouth, you know the kind of party that ends with the police getting called round several times and someone getting knifed with a broken Pink Floyd CD.
As a conclusion, anyone who is into the convention scene needs to attend Amecon at least once and get in the deep end. Although not as glamorous as Kitacon it does the basics incredibly well and the sheer scale of the Con is not something to be missed. Though anyone used to a Hotel Convention will find the area difficult to cope with at first, once you nail the timings you'll be fine.
Pack a camera and take along a little more maturity than you would normally, this is one convention where you can get a hell of lot out of it. A lot of friendly faces and appreciators of the more obscure cosplays.