I have been going to anime conventions for nearly 10 years, I’ve done major conventions in my state, I’ve road tripped to other parts of the country for cons, and I’ve even thrown my hand in at working for cons. I may not be a convention expert, but I have experience.
Anime Midwest is one of the few anime conventions I attended in the past year, others in the schedule being skipped to focus on work or family. Anime Midwest is the right combination of local and within my budget. This year it also was a perfect chance for me to spend time with friends.
When I go with my friends to a convention it is very rarely something I plan or push. For me, conventions are about the other people I’m with, about their interests and what they wanna do. Anime Midwest was no exception. I enjoyed wandering from panel to panel with my friends, helping them get through the day, and reminding them to eat and drink (something most con goers need to be reminded of).
Anime Midwest does it’s best to support guests the same way I do with my friends. They provide safe places, free food and drink, and informed staff to help you get from place to place. Even the panels showed the conventions interest in creating a safe and guest focused experience with talks about Autism in the community, and mental health in video gaming.
The convention suite, located next to the Hyatt lobby, is a free, badge checked space with food and drink. During my visit to the convention they offered me Ramen, white rice, oatmeal, salad, bread, and a variety of condiments. They also provided water and several kinds of pop for guests to enjoy. Some of the food choices appeared and disappeared throughout the weekend, but the ramen, rice, water, and pop are staples of this con suite.
The staff for this convention worked hard to ensure con spaces were available to guest with badges, and were extremely helpful in helping you find the panel rooms or dealer’s hall. They were also very understanding about many of the guests playing Pokemon Go, and wandering around the spaces looking for Pokemon.
While at the convention I was able to sit in on panels about mental health and connections it has to video gaming, and a session about Autism and how the anime community can accept and support these individuals. Both panels included speakers who were very open and honest about their struggles, their motives for the talk, and encouraged others to open up and give insight to how the anime community has made them feel.
These steps taken by Anime Midwest made me feel as though the convention was working to make a space available to everyone, through conversations about inclusions and actions taken to ensure no guest had to feel hungry or unsafe.
For me, conventions have always and will always be about the people I am there with, my friends. It was great to spend time at a convention that felt as invested in their guests as I am for my friends. Small actions like safe spaces or ramen can help all of the guests have a better experience, and big actions like opening up about a mental illness can help guests learn about themselves and those around them.
Keep it up Anime Midwest!