Con Report – ConnectiCon 2016

As we come into the middle stretch of the summer, it comes time once again for one of the conventions that’s become part of the circuit for me – Hartford’s ConnectiCon comes around once again.

If there’s one thing I’ve liked about this con overall, it’s that they’ve handled their growth as a convention fairly well. It’s come a long way in terms of headcount and a few bumps aside, it’s held up for that fairly well.

ConnectiCon-Logo-720x340This year hit a small bit of a hurdle with that care of their decision to switch over to a new system for registration and panel submission. Honestly, I’ll give credit where it’s due – there are honestly some very welcome aspects to the GrowTix system. In fact, I’m honestly hoping they keep it in the future (it’s especially helpful on the panel side of things.) It’s more this year went the way of most first times out with a new system, so there were still some bugs to work out.

About the only real flaw I can say with the system overall this year lay in the new decision to make the schedule app-only. I can see why they did it, and I feel like in a way this was only a matter of time, but it’s the kind of system that was bound to fumble with some people (and some did complain because, hey, not everyone has the option of a smartphone yet) and hopefully a print alternative will be considered for future years there.

Credit for the photos going to my girlfriend Liz, pictured with our perfect con child - Nessie.

Credit for the photos going to my girlfriend Liz, pictured with our perfect con child – Nessie.

That said, let’s get into the rest of the con itself – I will admit, since we didn’t get the chance to get press coverage this year, I mainly just decided to enjoy this one at the congoer level (…well, congoer and panelist, but I digress)

So let’s get into it.

THURSDAY –
Ye olde Pre-Reg line. Actually, this year wasn’t too bad all in all. I mean, as Thursday lines go, CTcon has had worse luck in the past (a few years back when the systems were down comes to mind) and after the security debacle at AnimeBoston this year, this was a welcome change of pace.

As it was, with the new system, this mostly moved pretty well. The length of the line itself was a bit of a nuisance (albeit one that could have been a LOT worse. July weather can be a special kind of Hell that makes you appreciate when the line is in a covered garage with wind) but once it got moving, it kept a fairly good clip.

Really, the only other grievance I could say I had with this year’s pre-reg was the again rather overt presence of the US Army backing as far as the lanyards go. I want to be clear on this – on its own, I have no qualm with the armed forces, but there’s still something that feels ethically unsound about promoting at a convention, especially one with as many children in attendance as this can get.

Judging by the presence of plain black lanyards from Saturday on, however, it seems enough other people shared the misgivings for Ctcon to meet this point partway.

(For my part, I got a replacement lanyard in the dealer room…though there’s probably something to be said about the hazy ethics of replacing the US Army lanyard with one for Black Mesa Research.)

FRIDAY –

Aaaaand we’re off!

All in all, this was a pretty fun day, albeit one that reminded me of one of those essential rules of convention planning – when choosing your costumes, always, always, ALWAYS check the weather.

On paper, the idea of doing a group costume based on the Beastie Boys’ Intergalactic music video was a good idea, and honestly, it came out pretty well. But damn, those suits got uncomfortable after a while.

Screw it. Still worth it.

Screw it. Still worth it.

The reactions from those who recognized it made it worth it at least (from others…man, cons can be rough reminders of one’s age). It’s honestly one of the things I tend to like about this con overall, you get a good cross section of different fans and tastes, so chances are you’ll encounter some people for almost any shared interest one way or another, or failing that, the chance to introduce new people to it.

Before hanging up the costumes for the second half of the day, we stuck them out for the sake of the first of two panels I was hosting that weekend – A Beginner’s Guide to Body Horror.

Just a sample of the panel's family-friendly entertainments!

Just a sample of the panel’s family-friendly entertainments!

For a first time out, we had a good crowd for it, and it was actually pretty nice to see people getting as into discussion over it as there were (even if time got a little close at points, forcing us to speed things along.) In general, the reception went well.

…and, admittedly, I took a sort of sick feeling of accomplishment hearing some of the reactions from the crowd as some were introduced to the infamous Videodrome gun scene for the first time.

We opted to go plainclothes for the second half of the day, which was admittedly more relaxed. Mostly just exploring the con and the first time hitting up the Dealer’s Room. Unfortunately didn’t get to as many other panels on this one, which is a shame, because there were some pretty promising looking ones I saw during checking the schedule in the week leading up to the con, but the new system curbed some of being able to keep tabs on them as readily (at least on my end).

With this, all the other Marvel Ken Burns jokes can pack it in. This group's got it.

With this, all the other Marvel Ken Burns jokes can pack it in. This group’s got it.

Still, there’s something to be said for just a relaxing day walking around a con and meeting up with new people, and in that regard, ConnectiCon continues to not disappoint.

SATURDAY –

This many years coming to CTcon, and this was the first year I think I’d actually gotten around to checking out much of the games room. I’m now wondering why I hadn’t thought to do this sooner.

For part of the morning, I joined fellow MP writer Elessar down there to check out a couple of games with a few other congoers. As the only one of the three I’d had prior experience with, Cthulhu Dice was still the quick, enjoyable game I remembered it being. Following that, we joined in a dice game based on the old Mars Attacks trading cards. Fun game if you ever get the chance to play it, just be prepared to curse out the dice not infrequently as the game moves further in (a whole lot of flicking dice across the table and hoping you can gauge where they land. Enjoyable, but frustrating.)

Finally, we joined in a couple of rounds of the board game Pandemic. I still find it kind of amusing that, while our first round involved several player types that usually make the game run much easier, it was our second run, involving the not quite as overtly useful player classes, that resulted in success (the first game…well…let’s just say the deck was not on our side with the number of Epidemic draws.)

Don't be fooled by our nerdy t-shirts and crosses drawn on the face - we're here to help!

Don’t be fooled by our nerdy t-shirts and crosses drawn on the face – we’re here to help!

For the second half, we got to doing more general con exploring, including a second encounter with a group we’d met with on the first day. Again, I enjoy the events and the guests here, but it’s the people that really keep me coming back, so this was a good year in that regard.

SUNDAY – 

As final days go, this was a busy one, albeit in a good way.

Given part of this was somewhat last minute (our second panel, How to Play (And Surive) The Game of Thrones was a secondary that got added in due to another panelist not confirming) it all turned out pretty well.

With the early starting time on that panel, we opted for an early packup/check out of the hotel just to stay ahead of the crowds (anyone who’s stayed at the Mariott and taken the elevators there knows the chaos I’m referring to) with surprisingly good results.

Alas, this guy couldn't make it to the panel.

Alas, this guy couldn’t make it to the panel.

Once our luggage was all sorted out, we had good time to prep for the panel and still make it to the room with time to spare. Which turned out to be a good thing in this case. While we’d had no technical hang-ups on Friday (my HDMI to VGA converter finally proves useful!) the projector in the room on Sunday proved…finicky in terms of translating the resolution from one screen to the other.

This is one of those moments where I need to give a big shoutout to the Panel Ops (as well as that one person in the front row who stepped up with their flash drive) – thanks to us finding this out with enough time, we were able to transfer the presentation to a con staffer’s laptop where it played without a hitch.

If either of the parties involved are reading this, I can’t thank you guys enough. You really saved the panel on this one.

Besides this, it was also probably one of the best discussions the panel has had in years – breaking down what did and didn’t work as well as just speculation on things to come (and since I promised it at the panel, our site’s own review of season 6 will be up next week.)

As wonderfully dickish as this is, this Mighty No 9 cosplay might be my favorite of this con.

As wonderfully dickish as this is, this Mighty No 9 cosplay might be my favorite of this con.

Once the panel was over, it was time for one more sweep of the con – which lead to seeing probably one of my favorite cosplays of the weekend pictured here. And farewells. This is always kind of the downswing of the con – you have fun, but eventually it ends. Still, it gives something to look forward to next year at least.

Personally, I’m already making plans.

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