While going to a convention is generally not an impromptu affair what with lines and ticketing involved, it’s very easy to get into Kamen. Conventions hosted from the National Stadium in San Jose, Costa Rica are generally very accessible and more so if you’re hardly more than 20 minutes away from the venue all the time. It was at the suggestion of ALIANZ that we checked it out and, I’ve been in the habit of attending Kamen and similar otaku culture conventions with long-time friends for many years now. It’s a familiar sight for me: three interior halls and a pavilion that stretches the outline of the whole building. I would say I’ve probably not connected with a convention in the way I have at Kamen 2019.
One of the regrets I had last year was not purchasing a few prints and stickers made by the local artists who turn up to show off their amazing skill. It’s satisfying to have spoken to and acquired from these artists, and I’ve featured a couple of them over here on the site for their contributions. It’s also great to understand the willingness these artists have to be featured and spread out in the community. After all, they do all this work to turn up every year.
Fostering gaming communities at conventions
With that sorted, I confess that I often lament the limited turnout of gaming teams to conventions. I commend the folks over at True Challengers for running their finals in time for EVO in August, but I do believe a real community turnout depends on showing up to novelty events. To our luck, we found the community: A humble setup of Dragon Ball FighterZ, Mortal Kombat 11, Smash Bros. and Dengeki Bunko Fighting Climax of all things. We took a couple of videos of the games and the overall reaction of spectators to our matches was both applaud and hype. It’s the most genuine FGC moment I’ve witnessed at the convention in the few years I’ve been attending.
I had a chance to speak with the organizers at length and challenge them to the various games they had available. In particular I spoke with them over a few games of Dengeki Bunko, a class of niche Japanese fighting game that serves a kind of common culture among the most diehard in the scene. We learned a lot about their challenges: Bringing themselves into the same space as local cable companies and gaming organizations like HP’s Omen brand pushing their products with similar setups at conventions.
What they were pleased to report was that their model of play — about a quarter per game on a single controller — was adopted by the companies attending and their offerings differed wildly. For our Mortal Kombat, we also had Crash Team Racing and similar crowd pleasers. If I had to hand the crowd favorite award to anyone it was definitely Dragon Ball though, as it tends to do at conventions. But it really helped them to have niche fighters at the event, it really shows the roots of those involved and foster conversations that otherwise don’t come up among gamers. I’m glad to have shaken on the possibility of cooperating with them in the future and working towards it as a team. It’s one of those moments that solidifies the values of Gotta Be Legend.
I’ve long suspected gatherings such as Kamen were critical to speaking to an audience directly related to us. It’s reassuring to play, chat and exchange with creators inside the country and I can only imagine the next outing will be immeasurably larger in scale for us. We’ll be there.