Finally, after two years of waiting I finally made it to the illustrious Q-Con! After hearing nothing but good things about it I had to check it out for myself. But alas the train fares and my work schedule have forbid me to attend, until this year. And to say I was surprised is an understatement. Why?!

Let me first just point out that I could only attend Q-Con for a day and may have missed out on some events, I’m aware the cosplay masquerade and skits were on the Sunday and I didn’t get to witness them first hand, but the photos seemed very promising. I stayed for the duration of the Saturday and crammed as much as I could into the day.

Q-Con is set in Queens University Student Union in Belfast, and this was a little warning sign for me. The fact that it is in a university, let alone just the students union, is kind of…. iffy. Some of the other college/university cons are really small and usually only cater to one aspect of random, since it’s more than likely a single society running the show. Also college/university cons always seem to be a bit on the small side, Akumakon being one that comes to mind.

But when I walked in I was really taken back! The place was huge, and was packed! Rumors spreading that between 2000-3000 people attended, although i have no solid figures to back that up just now. The con was split up into floors, not the best idea, after seeing the reaction to Eirtakon 2013, but Q-Con had multiple ways over traversing these floors, with wide stairways and lifts dotted throughout the building, finding your way between floors is not a problem! Good job there!

Photo by Andrew Adams Show

Every floor had it’s own main part of the con, there was the registration floor, The Score (Gaming Area), the trade hall, the bar, and then the rooftop bar/esports area. All this along with panels, guests and a screen room showing movies at specific times and constant anime in between. There was never nothing to do or look at.

The trade hall is the most important part of a con, it’s usually the centre of the con and the meeting point. Sometimes some put too much focus on it, so much so that’s all the con is *cough*MCM*cough* Currently it stands in my book that Eirtakon had one of the best trade halls from all the conventions I’ve been to. But Qcon really stepped up to the plate and almost took over! Their trade hall was huge, high ceilings and large windows meant it didn’t get overly hot! But the current weather didn’t help in that regard, after a few hours it for very stuffy and crowded indeed. There was a host of different vendors, almost too many to list! But my only negative thing to say was the placement of the artists alley. Having the AA down the back of the trade hall didn’t seem right and it could’ve been spaced out a little better, it was always crowded and very hard to get through. But that also shows that the talent on display was very popular and of a high standard!

Qcon had a massive focus on gaming this year and had one of the biggest gaming areas that i have ever seen. Over 30 consoles ranging from new to old were dotted throughout the gaming area on full HD screens for the new consoles and some bulky blocks of TVs for the retro consoles. They even had some projectors set up for certain games and also were kind enough to throw in a Dance Dance Revolution machine for the con goers to show off on! Really great gaming room and definitely the best that I’ve seen in a long time. Even the developer’s got a neat little section to show off their creations and all of which were of a very high standard. Sadly the room was too crowded and noisy to pick up any type of interview or q&a but nothing that an email or two can’t fix!

Photo by Andrew Adams Show

Keeping on the topic of gaming, Qcon did something a little bit different to other cons…. they held a DOTA 2 tournament! While it’s common to have eSports present at cons, to see a Dota tournament was so refreshing. They also had the usual Starcraft and LoL tournaments too, but the Dota tournament seemed to be the most popular…..almost too popular in fact

The screening rooms for the tournaments were split up, one big long hall for the Starcraft streams and a small room for the Dota streams. Seems reasonable, since SC is a more popular game right? Wrong. The SC was empty for the majority of the Saturday and the Dota room was packed and overflowing with spectators. This made it very awkward to see the matches and the heat was almost unbearable. Aside from that and minor technical and scheduling issues, everything seemed to go accordingly and that’s the main thing in the end right? GG WP!

Overall, I was very very impressed with the con as a whole, sadly I couldn’t stay for the full weekend but I had just as much fun walking around and just experiencing this convention on my own. Very laid back atmosphere, friendly and helpful staff and just an overall enjoyable experience. Next year, definitley getting another Press Pass and staying for the full duration, need to experience the after party! If it is anything like an Arcade Con after party then this may be one of the best Uni Cons in Ireland at the current moment!

Adam Waugh

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