Dallas Geek at Arlingcon 2018
In our many convention adventures, we have tried to show a decent share of small, medium, & large conventions to help explain what makes each experience unique. Arlingcon is one that is a little difficult to fit neatly into one category, as it feels like a small convention (& by many measures, still is), but, takes up a large enough space that it can just as easily be called medium sized & not be entirely wrong, either. As such, there are a few things that are worth discussing about it, both good & bad.
The good of this convention is pretty obvious the moment you walk in the doors. It knew who its main focus was: the cosplayers. It was a free convention (always a plus for cosplayers); it had activities going on all day, both cosplay related and cosplay adjacent, as well as some just for the fandoms; and it made the main cosplay event a cosplay walk, rather than a contest, to let people have a chance to show off their work with little to no pressure of judgment. Most importantly of all, it was family friendly. When you are putting on an event like this, being able to encourage families to attend, either to participate in the cosplay fun or just to watch & let the kids enjoy, is incredibly important for building staying potential.
As for the bad, some of what we could say would be nitpicking, considering how young the convention is, &, frankly, there wasn't much that could change that we couldn't say about most conventions of this size. The biggest problem was the fact that they had more space than they knew what to do with. Don't get me wrong, space is a precious commodity at conventions & you never want to have so little that people are practically getting trampled just to move around. However, in this case, the building at UT Arlington that the convention was housed in is a fairly large one & this event didn't need to take up the entire thing. Having so much open space in between parts of the convention made it feel almost frustrating to figure out where you were trying to go, when you knew there were only so many options to choose from anyway. If the available space could have been used a little more efficiently, that would have made the whole event feel much more connected. Also, & this was a major misstep to many of the families with kids that attended, what was up with the cafeteria closing after only an hour of service? This is the main eating establishment on a college campus on a Saturday during an event...
Anyway, overall, Arlingcon was...ok. It's not the strongest small convention in the area, but it has potential. Hopefully, in a couple of years, we'll see it clean up & mature just enough to have some staying power in this ever-saturated nerdy market.