I liked the overall atmosphere of the con. It seemed everyone was generally having a good time, which is the most important thing. Here were a few of my observations though that could definitely be improved for upcoming years:
- Guest panels opposite the cosplay contest. The cosplay contest is, for a lot of people at least, the capstone event for any convention. When I checked the schedule this year, I noticed that a guest panel for Chris Cason and Monica Rial was scheduled directly opposite the cosplay contest. Now, I can understand having panels and other events opposite the cosplay contest for other things to do because not everyone goes, but I wouldn't schedule a guest panel opposite this event because the con spends good money flying these people in and you definitely want to have the most people you can attend these panels when possible while not conflicting with other major events.
- Cosplay intermission took way to long. Between the character auction and amv contest winners showing, in my opinion at least, it took way to long to announce the winners after the masquerade was over. By the time the convention staff was ready to hand out awards, well over 2/3rds of the room had left to go do other things so few people got to actually see who won. And when the winners were announced, they were nowhere near the stage so it took them a good while to get back to accept their awards. Definitely might not be a bad idea to have people who participate in the masquerade to be positioned closer to it when awards are ready to be handed out.
- Cosplay contest seemed a little unbalanced. There were several entries, in my opinion at least, that were in the beginner category that probably could have been in intermediate or advanced and vice versa. Now, I didn't exactly look at the specific cosplay rules and to what criteria were used to judge this, but there were definitely some amazing looking cosplays in the beginner category that just based on look and design, could have been better served in the advanced categories.
- What do you get for a bid at the character auction? I know it was announced previously on the con site before the convention, but there was no mention in the program guide or before or during the auction itself as to what a winning bidder actually got by bidding on someone. There were definitely a lot of minors in the room, but it couldn't have hurt for the 18+ people that were in attendance to know exactly what they were going to get if they bid and won someone. A lot of people might not have known you get a date to the rave and what not.
- Technical and sound issues. I know it's not easy putting together a main programming that size, but there were several sound issues including no or quiet audio for music, no or low microphone volume, and wrong stuff being played during intermission.
- Minimal signage to main programming. One thing I noticed with the con being so spread out was it wasn't very easy to locate main programming. Outside of one sign by an escalator that wasn't overly easy to spot, I didn't see very much in the way of pointing the way to main programming. A few more signs pointing the way definitely wouldn't have hurt.
- Some security staff should be a bit more tactful. It seemed that there were at least a few security staffers who definitely should have been a bit more cordial to the con goers when it came to checking badges. I understand they have a job to do, but it almost seemed like they were taking things WAY to seriously and being borderline rude to people coming into areas like the rave. I know it's not easy to deal with a lot of hyper teenagers, but showing a bit of restraint and cordiality to them when checking badges could have gone a long way imo to improving attendee/staff relations.
Overall, AMKE was a good weekend. There was a lot to like. The VGR, arcade, and table gaming rooms were well put together imo. There is definite room for improvement for any con though, and for the first time in being in a hotel and away from the UWM campus, the con staff put on a very large event and worked as hard as they could putting on a con that everyone could enjoy. I don't fault con staff for things like elevator crowding and hotel issues. For any con of this size, theres always going to be problems in that regard that are beyond control of convention staff.