This weekend’s encountercon was an old-fashioned mix of people and genres.
Extroverts and introverts were brought face to face at the Holiday Inn East on South Rock Road for the First Annual Encounters Convention.
From Friday through Sunday, the motel was a mix of people who simply love science fiction, comics, horror, anime, steampunk and gaming.
More than 400 people attended the conference from the Midwest.
“Where else can you see a little girl dressed as Rapunzel playing with an old Western gunfighter?” said Avi Zacherman, one of the coordinators of the conference. “They are just enjoying themselves at their hobbies.”
Truth be told, the multigenre convention was almost a thing of the past.
Sure, it was the type of convention you’d see on a regular basis during the 1970s up through the 1990s.
And then, they stopped.
“The multigenre convention used to be done all the time,” said Derek Richardson, another of the convention’s coordinators. “Sci-fi was the most dominant. But when eBay and the Internet came into prominence, these conventions died off. Until then, they brought things into communities you couldn’t find normally. A lot of dealers would travel the convention circuit that you wouldn’t see any other time. They brought guests from television shows that unless you attended a convention, you rarely got a chance to interact with.”
But then came Facebook, Twitter and eBay.
With Facebook, fans could become friends of celebrities and buy autographed pictures and collectibles on eBay.
They could play games on the Internet – all from the comfort of their homes.
Still, something was missing.
It was old-fashioned eyeball-to-eyeball human contact.
With the Internet, “You thought you had everything you ever wanted,” Richardson said. “You could watch a Q and A interview with one of your idols; send him a message on Facebook. What people missed in the sterile computer environment was meeting people. You may meet people on Facebook, but you really meet people when you sit down in a room like this and strike up a conversation. You make a human connection that you can’t make on a computer.”
And so, this weekend brought in celebrities such as Tom Kane, a prominent voice actor from Kansas City who was the voice of Yoda and Admiral Yularen in the “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” animated movie and TV series; and, Caitlin Glass, an anime voice actress from Fort Worth.
It featured steampunk musicians Marquis of Vaudeville who was billed as a “melodic vortex (who) emits an extraordinary sound that spirals listeners on an utterly imaginative, musical merry-go-round”: and DJ InfamOus a “DJ by night, IT Tech by day.”
“You can walk into an event like this and still experience new things,” Richardson said. “You can still meet new people and see things you hadn’t realize or anticipated.”
The encountercon ended at 6 p.m. Sunday.
But don’t worry; it will be back again next year.