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My plan was to show up at MEWcon Sunday afternoon, but in real life this did not happen. Eventually I got to the hotel and found that not everyone had departed, although certainly most sane folks had gone home.

As I said earlier, cosplay (hall costuming) is very popular there. Video gaming was apparently hopping all weekend; even into Sunday evening there were over a dozen machines still set up and some were in use. I'm not sure how busy card/board gaming was; by the time I arrived it was getting packed up. One thing I missed on Friday was the artists' track. Many of the attendees read manga and there's an active interest in drawing (probably both manga-style artwork and actual sequential art storytelling, but I didn't get the chance to chat up any artists in depth). When there are fans holding an art seminar at 8PM Sunday, you've got an interested fan base.

I also overheard the only memorable problem that I heard about, which I'm sorry to say didn't surprise me a bit: an epidemic of badge swapping. I'm sure you know how this works: a group buys one membership, whoever wants to go into a members-only space such as the dealers' room uses the badge, and then passes it along to the next friend. Since quite a lot of this con took place loitering in the halls, that's a semi-practical strategy for cash strapped teens. I'm sorry to say it doesn't surprise me, either, and while an operational counter to this is best, the badges themselves could hardly have been made more suitable for this scam. They were plain white paper, laminated, on a neck lanyard (anyone with a scanner, printer, and laminater could make copies easily, although counterfeiting is a different and more sophisticated cheat than badge swapping). The one side that was printed had color art on it, but the bearer's name wasn't particularly visible...actually, I'm taking on faith that a name was printed on the badge at all; I never read anyone's name off of one. And since they were single-sided, many people were walking around with bare white rectangles on a string. In portrait orientation, by the way, so flipping over is maximized. Fixing this is not impossible, as shown by Kevin Standlee's article on badges (or just google Standlee badges); it's not clear to me if this was a brain fart or a failure to care, but I'd prefer the former. We've all done stupid things! The trick is to realize it and try something else.

The badges failed spectacularly in the Identify to Fellow Members category, and also on the Ticket to Admit function. Oops. Most problem badges do only one or the other... (In MEWcon's defense, this is only their third year, and experienced fans are thin on the ground there.) If they ask around, they'll be able to do much better next year.


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