Diary of… a student who attended MegaCon

Tyler Conti is a sophomore English and history major. He likes to have fun, play water polo and enjoys video games. He dislikes cars.

I’ve never attended a major convention before, so when NSU’s SAGE club, the Society for Anime, Games, and Entertainment, offered its members an opportunity to go to the MegaCon (a convention catering to the comic book, sci-fi, anime, gaming, and fantasy community), I signed up. The days ticked away until it was finally Feb. 17. I arrived in Orlando at midnight and met up with several of the members who had already arrived. Not knowing what to expect from the convention, we went to bed just past midnight with our alarms set for 7 a.m.

The next morning was rather interesting. At 7 a.m. on the dot, six different alarms went off filling the room with noises from chiming bells to the introduction of the Lion King. Stubbornly, we all awoke and got ready for the day ahead. My friend and I were interested in taking part in a team game of “Magic: The Gathering,” so we left early with a few other members. I got my ticket and, already, this section of the convention center was rapidly filling up with people dressed in casual clothes and people costume playing as characters from their favorite films, TV shows, and video games. Some costumes were very impressive, even though I knew nothing about who they were pretending to be.

After getting my ticket, my friend and I went to the “Magic: The Gathering” arena and signed up for the team tournament known as the “double-headed giant”. We were given eight packs of cards and 30 minutes to construct two decks of cards to use in the tournament. The cards we got were not the best, but we made the best decks we could. Once the time was up the teams were bracketed up and we were granted “the first bye”, which meant that we did not have to play in the first round, so now we had 90 minutes to kill in the convention.

Once we exited the arena, we found ourselves lost in a twisting line of people eager to grab a ticket to the convention floor. The entrance to the convention floor was roughly a football field away so we began to dodge in and out of the crowds towards it. Once we got to the entrance we found the opening exhibit — a Volkswagen Beetle painted to look like Pikachu from Pokémon surrounded with all kinds of Pikachu paraphernalia. As we moved towards the door to the convention hall we held our wrists high and walked through to a vast, almost empty, room. To the right was a the main convention area which seemed, even greater in size to the area we were already in, but I was still surprised to find this room so empty. The only thing in the room was an extremely long line and a closed off area, where one can pay an exorbitant amount of money to get Stan Lee’s autograph.

My friend and I, then, glanced at all the booths. I saw everything from old toys I used to play with as a kid, that now sell for considerable amounts of money, to swords, T-shirts and candy. At one of the booths I found a Viking-style sword and I had to have it. The man who ran the booth told me $50, but after pointing out that the sheath was damaged and that it was a show model, he knocked the price down to $30 and I paid him.

We headed back to the Magic arena where we arrived just prior to the final game’s conclusion. Shortly afterward we were placed against another team and were swiftly defeated. We laughed at our pathetic attempt and then waited around 30 minutes for the next match. The second was a close game but they drew the better cards and won just before we did. For our fourth match we received another bye and fourth place, something we gladly took. Our prize was a few packs of cards and a handshake.

We returned to the convention floor for a closer look at the abundance of items that were offered. We saw bootleg DVDs of no longer aired TV shows, movie posters signed by their actors, figurines of famous characters, comics, T-shirts, costumes, almost everything imaginable. Unfortunately, most of the things were overpriced. Most figurines started at $5 for the poorer quality ones and then skyrocketed into the hundreds for the ones of better quality. I picked up a HBO series “Game of Thrones” poster for $8.

We moved on to a different part of the convention known as Artist Ally. Artist Ally was row upon row of artists with prints of their best work for sale to anyone willing to purchase. Some booths offered on-the-spot drawings, while others stocked pre-printed and pre-signed copies. I, personally, did not find anything that I absolutely needed to have, but most of the artwork was very good and I know several people who bought some very nice and creative pieces.

After strolling through Artist Ally my friend and I found ourselves spent. We had seen everything interesting to us so we decided to go play some games. My friend and I played two sessions of “Star Wars Dungeons and Dragons” before getting bored and returning to the hotel.

I enjoyed my trip to MegaCon. It was interesting to see the abundance of people in crazy costumes. It was fun to roam the convention area and look at all the cool things that were on sale. However, I found the prices too high on several items, but it’s not to put me off from attending another convention. If given an opportunity to attend another one I would definitely do so.  I recommend that anyone interested in comics, video games or anime attend at least one convention. They are interesting experiences that are worth the time and cost of attendance.

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