NärCon Summer 2015
I almost didn’t write this report, because NärCon is no longer worth anyone’s attention and should be boycotted forever. But I still feel the need to express my thoughts.
I know there are a lot of you that look forward to this report, especially after the disaster that was NärCon Summer 2015, but I am only one person so I did not see, hear, or experience everything. But I will talk about the things I did see, hear, and experience.
So let’s take this in chronological order, as usual.
I arrived the day before the con because the person I travel with had to be there. I didn’t do much this day, I checked in and found surprisingly many friends to talk with. It was a nice way to "ease into" the con and start the convention feeling.
I cosplayed Commander Erwin Smith from Attack on Titan, had a photoshoot, and walked around the con with friends. The shoes killed my feet and I had giant blisters the rest of the con, awesome start…
I changed back into civilian clothes and had a look around the con. I could not find anything of interest, it’s like there are less and less things to do at cons. The stage shows are usually fun though. I skipped the Opening Ceremony because they are always the same anyway: "Eat, Drink, Sleep, Shower", a lot of guests I have never heard of, and maybe a video.
I did see the Cosplay Performance though. It’s nice to see that there were so many participants, but can we please stop doing dance skits? They are sooooo boring. Despite my obvious distaste for dances my favorite Solo Performance was the Supernatural dance guy. My favorite Skit was the one with Stormwind City Guard, they were so funny! Their skit worked even for non-WoW-players, all the characters had clear personalities, and the script was well written.
After the performance contest I stayed for Grand Batsu. The only activity I actually looked forward to during NärCon. And just like last year it was the main highlight of the con. I laughed so much my stomach hurt.
I cosplayed Garnet from Steven Universe. Found Niclas as Pearl on my way from the hotel, found Shila (photographer) at the con, and later also Fia as Rose. We had a few photoshoots, and walked along the main road. It took us two hours to walk from one end to the other, constantly getting stopped and asked for photos. To meet people that were happy to see our cosplays, to talk to people that recognized me from online, and to pose for photos was the other main highlight of the con.
I changed into civilian clothing and stumbled into a Bacon BBQ Party where I found some friends. We talked about NärCon until it was time to start queuing for the Nordic Cosplay Championship (NCC). The NCC had a really high production value, as was expected then national television was there broadcasting the show live. From an audience standpoint everything looked great and amazing, and I’m so happy that Elin won!
The day of the regular cosplay contest, and it’s raining like hell! I was pre-judging the Master category for four hours, and it went very well and smoothly. When it was time for the show it was still raining. We could see how the poor stage crew did their best to save the stage. The show gets delayed an hour, and then it was cancelled because the stage was falling apart. I feel so sorry and sad for the cosplayers that didn’t get to show their cosplays.
So instead of watching the cosplay show, we got a private showing of VändettA Cosplay’s intro skit, and then formed a "salt circle" and talked about everything bad. This is where a lot of things surfaced about how NärCon is actually organized.
Nothing happened this day, I just spent it with my friends.
That was what I did during the con. And you might think that beside the rain (that wasn’t NärCon’s fault), there wasn’t anything to justify all the negativity, so let me go though some of the things I’ve heard and my thoughts about it. (It might be a bit scattered…)
EDIT: Some people does not seem to be able to read, so I would like to make it extra clear that nothing in this report should be taken as facts. I only write about my experience and things I have heard. But apparently there are a lot of you that agree with my thoughts, so even if they are not 100% based in fact, there are some underlying problem with NärCon.
I go to NärCon for two things: To cosplay, and to meet friends. That’s it. There is NOTHING that NärCon does that is worth going for. Not even NCC or Grand Batsu is worth it without cosplay and my friends. And I can cosplay and meet friends without NärCon. I’m only going to NärCon because everyone else is going to NärCon, if my friends didn’t go, I wouldn’t either.
NärCon have stopped thinking about the visitors and is only thinking about big numbers and money. They didn’t even sell out their tickets, they only said they did. I think they had 10’000 tickets for sale, and "only" sold 8’000 (maybe not even that).
NärCon invite guests that have "impressive" merits, but not that is interesting or relevant for the Swedish community. Only to be able to say things like "The world’s most famous cosplays was at NärCon".
Almost all organizes were new, so no one knew how things should be done, and I guess this is because no previous organizers want to return because of how NärCon is treating them. The same goes for the staff. Every team was understaffed, and didn’t have enough budget, so the staff had to work their asses of, which in turn leads to them not returning next year. I even saw posters about how NärCon was trying to convince regular con-goers to start working for them, and that says a lot about how understaffed everything was. NärCon is going to run out of volunteers.
The cosplay team didn’t even have a room, so they had to work out of a car. But despite this Freddi (the cosplay organizer) did the best she could to give everyone an as good experience as possible, she has been the best cosplay organizer I’ve ever worked with, and feel as sad for her as for the cosplayers that the contest had to be canceled.
External organizers didn’t get any food tickets. You can read about one external organizer here
NärCon could not afford the stage for the full duration of the con. The stage had to be taken down the night between Saturday and Sunday (this was the plan even if it didn’t rain). That is why there were no Closing Ceremony. But they could afford a fence, advertising in the Stockholm subway, and guests no one had heard of.
Why not take the advertising- and guest money and invest in a stage that can actually withstand rain? Maybe even a tent for the audience? Give some extra money to all the teams, pay for the entertainment and external organizers, and invite guests that would actually give value to the con-goers?
NärCon started to go downhill when they became a company, and when UppCon was canceled. NärCon is only thinking about money and PR, and they have monopoly so you can’t go anywhere to boycott NärCon.
The contestants in NCC was promised to be treated like VIP, but instead they were treated like cattle. I’ve heard that all the other countries are seriously thinking about dropping out of the NCC. You can read more about how the NCC contestants was treated here
Speaking of NCC, there was not a single mention about the qualifying conventions in the Nordic home countries, everything was "NärCon", "NärCon", "NärCon". (And for the second year in a row they said "Scandinavia" when all five Nordic countries was in the contest)
A minor thing that pissed me off, but is not that important in the context: They had scheduled the CMV-competition to be at the same time as the NCC. Why do you do that? You do not schedule two cosplay-related activities to be at the same time!
A big thing this year was the new fence. NärCon had decided that it was a good idea to close the entire con with a fence. They posted the news on Facebook and everyone freaked out (understandably, I did too). Because according to the map, the fence looked like it was going to be placed directly next to the road, and the placement of the gates was just bad and greedy. How did NärCon respond to the critique? By ridicule their visitors and laughing at them! That is no way to treat those that pay for the event.
I heard that NärCon tried to extort both McDonalds and Pressbyrån to give NärCon money to open gates in their directions.
Sure, it was unfortunate that it was raining. But you know what? Rain is common during the summer. Maybe NärCon should have been prepared for that? Ten days before the con the weather report said it was going to rain. Not enough time? Well how about the 16th of Mars when I warned them that they didn’t have a way to handle rain. Samuel (main organizer) even responded with "vi är en festival likt alla musikfestivaler och därmed får leva med förutsättningarna det innebär att vara utomhus en hel del". Which roughly translates to: "We are a festival like all music festivals and we’ll have to live with the conditions of being outside a lot". When it started to rain and I saw that they couldn’t handle it I felt a bit of schadenfreude and "I told you so".
I would like to point out that the decision to cancel the cosplay competition was in the hand of the very top organizers, both the cosplay team and the cosplay organizer was completely powerless when they weren’t allowed to make decisions, but had to execute them.
NärCon have forgotten their roots.
If NärCon continues like this then they will fall apart. I give them 2-3 years, then NärCon will be no more.
I do not know if I want to return next year. All previous years NärCon Summer has been a given, but now I’m not so sure any more.
NärCon want big numbers, things they can brag about, and PR. Well, they sure got PR now, but maybe not the kind they wanted.
I know that this post has been shared a lot, so I want you all to know that my ConReports are only how I felt about the con on my way home from them, and should never be taken as facts. I am harsh and honest about my feelings, but that does not make them true.
If you want to read a more constructive and well formulated post about the NärCon-situation with great suggestions for how to fix it, then I suggest you read this