Pop-Con Powers Up
By Dianna Rupp
Sun Star Web Editor
Packing the Wood Center this past week with a variety of nerdy distractions and delights was SAO’s third Pop-Con, a celebration of all things pop-culture related. From video game tournaments and medieval warfare demonstrations to comic book trivia and discussions of social influence in the gaming industry, Pop-con strived to provide a niche to anyone and everyone interested in the vast universe of entertainment media.
A multitude of tables lined the sides of the Wood Center Saturday afternoon, a particular attention getter being The Society for Creative Anachronism and their basket of foam swords. Focusing on the recreation of medieval arts, fishing and crafts, the society focuses on the celebration of history through hands on experiences. Junior physics student William Hargrove, a member of the society, describes the society’s as, “If it happened from 500 A.D. to 1,700 A.D. we’re there, we do it.”
On the other spectrum of those tabling on Saturday were artists Katie Tasky, Kelsey Gobroski and Madeline Arima. A graduate student of the Art program with a table hosting printed posters and handmade jewlery. Tasky works in a variety of mediums including digital media and metal working, and takes the majority of her inspirations from video games, fantasy steam punk and the natural world. Tabling next to Tasky was Gobroski, a Natural Resource management graduate now working at the Museum, said that, “I’ve already received some commissions for later days,” of her artwork depicting starter Pokemon in a type of high quality marker called prisma colour and ink, a happy surprise for the first time vendor. Finally, down the way from Tasky and Gobroski sat anthropology student Arima. Arima said she began crafting around 16. “I always wanted to wear jewelry from movies, and since I couldn’t buy it, I learned to make it myself,” she said. Originally a vendor in 2012’s Pop-Con, Arima spoke happily of her experiences as a vendor meeting fellow Pop-Conners with similar interests.
The Comic Shop, a hometown favorite amongst most Fairbanksans with a geeky inclination, also chose to vendor for Pop-con. Heather Kahn, a former history student and current Comic Shop employee, said that her favorite part about coming to Pop-Con was, “The commissions, the cosplays, and the clubs.” Past getting to explore and enjoy the other vendor’s booths, as well as admire the handiwork and effort that goers put into their costume cosplays, Kahn spoke about how Pop-Con also helps them reach a new consumer audience, as many students that are not initially from Fairbanks may either not know of them or not have a way of reaching the shop’s 3rd street location, and being able to cater to them on campus is not only a nice experience for the student, but a beneficial marketing one for the store as well.
For those who were more interested in building up their gaming skill or sharing their thoughts and opinions on current events in the gaming industry, both a workshop and discussion were also held on Saturday. The workshop, hosted by the UAF e-Sports gaming club, focused on teaching gamers different play styles and tactics for the popular fighting game Super Smash Bros. Melee; after finishing the workshop, players could then enter a tournament directly after to test their newly learned skills. If the tournament wasn’t so much in their interest, goers could instead take part in a social awareness discussion of a recent issue in the gaming industry aptly called Gamergate. Centered on the discussion of journalism ethics, representation in media, and a variety of other long standing issues in the industry that have come to fall under this header, members of the audience were invited to ask a panel of knowledgable students their ideas and opinions on any part of the situation that piqued their interest, or that they felt needed clarification.
In thanks for those signing up for tournaments, workshops, or filling out a survey on their event experience, SAO offered a door prize raffle for comic shop and Game Stop gift certificates with winner’s being notified by email, along with selling Pop-Con t-shirts and providing general information on the day’s activities. Student Coordinator of this year’s Pop-Con Erik Rickards, an undeclared sophomore, was satisfied with the event overall, saying that, “It was great! We had an incredible turnout and everything went together smoothly.” In terms of hopes and goals for Pop-Cons to come, Rickards said, “If there’s one thing I want to shoot for next year, I want to look at bringing somebody up as a ‘main event’ kind of thing. I guess Senshi-Con brought up Dave McElfatrick [co-creator of web-comic Cyanide & Happiness) this year? I’d love to do something like that.”