When I heard about GrandCon and I got super pumped that there was a potential for another awesome gaming and comic convention in the Grand Rapids area. I even came up with an entirely new cosplay and this nifty giveaway in celebration of its debut. However, what I experienced wasn’t the budding of an awesome convention, but the disappointment of having wasted $40 and a few hours of my life on not much of anything. To be completely honest my experience of GrandCon was anything but grand.
Now, I’m not trying to bash the entire operation and there’s definitely a lot of blame to be placed on myself for having a bad time, so let me give you some context. When I arrived at the convention I paid $20 for a one-day pass for Friday, which seemed a little steep, but I assumed it would be well worth the price. Usually it’s a $15 badge, but walk-ins get a $5 add-on. Within ten minutes I discovered that the vendors and artist alley weren’t even open to the public that day. At all.
This is where part of the blame falls on me for not researching the events better, because it does say on the website that they aren’t open until Saturday and Sunday, but I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t have it going. I talked to one of the heads of the convention and he was very hospitable and accommodating about the situation. He apologized for the mix-up and told me some of the other things I could do that day. If GrandCon does have one thing going for it, it’s the amazing people who are working there. Everyone was very nice and super helpful, which gives me hope that it can grow and get better in the future.
After letting myself diffuse a little bit (the artist alley was the main reason I wanted to go) I decided to make the best of it and check out the game library. Unfortunately, it wasn’t open until 5pm (it was around 3:30pm when I asked) so I had some time to kill. I went to a local comic book shop and then the mall to get some ice cream before heading back to the convention around 5pm. I was then greeted with another unpleasant surprise. I had to pay ANOTHER $5 to use the gaming library. I was livid, to say the least, and decided to leave the convention completely.
Basically, what I found was a gaming convention. There were plenty of games to play, but everything cost extra money. This didn’t seem to make much sense seeing as how this is their first year and they are located on a college campus and a town where there are several major colleges in the near area. The smart thing to do would have been to make it affordable and welcoming to the students that don’t have the budget to spend $40 just to play some games. The convention was in a great place (the Prince Convention Center on the Calvin College campus) and has great potential to expand and accommodate a large number of people, but the pay-to-play format doesn’t make the convention ideal for a large number of people.
Now, this was just my experience. I wasn’t able to attend the Saturday and Sunday events as I had to work and if you, dear reader, were able to I would love to hear about everything I missed out on in the comments below. As I said before, I’m not trying to bash this convention at all. I really would love for it to do well and become something great that I could look forward to. They have the right idea and a good start with a fantastic staff and things like providing free drinking water, but it needs some major tweaking to make it appropriate for its local and potentially major customers of students and locals with not a whole lot of moolah to spend.
My biggest pet peeve was that it cost so much to go on a Friday when nothing was really happening. It would have been nice that, since the vendors were closed, maybe the gaming library could have been free for a few hours or the one-day pass could have been a reduced price. I give them an A for effort and behavior, but a D for the overall experience (or lack thereof). Sorry, GrandCon, but I hope you do better next year.
NOW, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for…how to enter the giveaway!
STEP 1: Make a DestroyTheCyborg! account so you can comment below and we can contact you if you’re the lucky winner.
STEP 2: Take a look at the picture below and in the comments section for this post, place your guess of who I am cosplaying as. If you get the correct answer you’ll be placed in a raffle along with any others that provide the same and a winner will be drawn at random after the close of the contest.
I did say you would also get a peek at some of the prize package we have for you and I’m going to hold true to that.
The contest will be closed October 1st at 11:59pm EST and the winner will be announced the next day! Enter below and the best of luck to all of you!