Third annual MomoCon draws 2,600 gaming fans

This article is reposted from an article I wrote for The Technique (official site, Wikipedia article), published on March 3, 2007. (html, pdf). You may also be interested in MomoCon’s official site and Wikipedia article.

Some students decide to spend their life savings over spring break, taking trips to Maui or Cancun, partying all night and not knowing where their pants are the next morning. For the few students who stayed at Tech over the break, the Student Center was the place to be on the weekend of March 17-18.

There, one could find Tech’s very own anime and gaming convention, MomoCon, founded and coordinated by Jessica Merriman, Management ’05. In its third year, MomoCon is free to attend, a far cry from the large membership fees associated with more established conventions.

This year’s MomoCon had its highest attendance to date with approximately 2600 people attending on both days, about 800 more than last year. Thankfully, the Student Center food court was open both days, a huge boon to hungry con attendees.

The student center was absolutely packed with con attendees who dressed as pretty much anything imaginable. During the costume contest Saturday afternoon, I remember seeing characters from most popular anime series (Naruto, Trigun… pretty much anything and everything that’s ever been on Cartoon Network) and then some.

Other cosplay staples were represented as well; a few Links, Klingons, Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts characters (including a Nobody) and creepy furries could be found in the mix of people. The costume contest on Saturday was held outside due to the somewhat limited seating available in the Student Center Movie Theater, but the weather was unreasonably cold, an unpleasant surprise after excellent weather before and after the con.

The pace of the contest felt rather slow, probably because I so desperately wanted to go back inside and warm up. The costume contest ended up being about an hour shorter than scheduled, for which I am thankful. Despite the poor weather, the costumes themselves were fascinating.

Among the events that could be found were panels that investigated certain aspects of geekdom; examples of the 23 panels and 17 workshops scheduled were “Costuming 101” and Brent Allison’s “Anime in Academia.” Also available were anime music video (AMV) competitions. An even better draw than the panels, though, is the dealer’s room. A Mecca of sorts at any convention, the dealer’s room draws you in and tempts you with rare items only found at conventions. Inside the Student Center Ballroom, one could find witty shirts, rare game soundtracks, games, art and for those such as myself who played Ragnarok, adorable plush Porings.

Outside of the dealer’s room, the third floor rooms were filled with tables, gaming consoles and excited gamers. Popular choices were perennial favorites Super Smash Brothers Melee and Soul Calibur 3, along with relative newcomer Gears of War.

Due to a power outage, the gaming rooms were moved from large spaces available in the Student Center Commons to the relatively cramped third floor. Perhaps the Student Center should volunteer a few of the dozen or so plasma TVs at its disposal next time.

On Saturday, there were Smash Brothers Melee and Soul Calibur 3 tournaments. Guitar Hero, Halo 2 and expert DDR tournaments were scheduled for Sunday, but they were cancelled.

A few hours before the con was scheduled to close, I decided to visit to the dealer’s room to talk to my friend Jennie Breeden, con panelist and artist of the webcomic Devil’s Panties ( Soon thereafter, MomoCon staff began politely asking people to leave the rooms and locked them.

There was some general confusion as the staff evacuated the building and told attendees to meet at the Campanile for an explanation. Merriman explained the reasons for the con’s early closure: unidentified individuals had detonated small fireworks outside of the student center, and had been planning to detonate several more inside the Student Center.

The Georgia Tech Police Department became involved, and the con staff found several small fireworks inside the Student Center. As a safety precaution, all of the con-goers were evacuated from the Student Center, and the con was shut down for the day.

“We would like to apologize to every one of our attendees.” Merriman said, “We know it is you guys who make MomoCon what it is, and we will do whatever it takes to make our next MomoCon the best one to date.” After her speech, the convention attendees gave Merriman a standing round of applause.

All in all, MomoCon 2007 was a fun and exciting convention, with about 80 percent of the many scheduled panels, workshops and events taking place.

In spite of the security trouble, MomoCon 2008 is in the works. No announcements about the place or time of the next convention have been made, but Tech will allow MomoCon to use the Institute’s facilities next year.

Andrew Guyton

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