Northwest Fan Fest 2014 has come and gone and need to be categorized as a success. An event programmed by fan for fans, it combined Cos & Effect, Anime Evolution, and the Vancouver Gaming Expo into a single event that covered a wide variety of geeky interests.
Located at the UBC campus in Vancouver, BC, this convention debut was shockingly well organized and managed to run without a hitch. The staff – labeled as NPC’s – were easy to find, omnipresent, and helpful. A variety of events and group cosplay photo-ops kept the crowds moving and happy, and the programming featured everything from an awesome West Coast Geeks vs. Nerds debate to the classic and epic Zoolander-inspired Cosplay Walkoff to the debut of the Homestuck musical.
The vender area was easy enough to navigate and showed a good variety of products and classes, offering everything from Hyrule steampunk pocket watches to voice acting lessons from the School Creative. Everything was easy enough to find, and featured a good mix of established and local companies, and even a couple of brand new store fronts.
Likewise, the gaming area was spacious and highlighted a number of games and systems, throwing fan favorites like League of Legends and Nidhogg on projection screens while also debuting the newish Retron 5, a console that plays SNES, Genesis, Famicom, GBA, and classic Nintendo games while prettying up the graphics of those games. It also features wireless rechargeable controllers, which is always a good thing, and we should have a review of that system up early next week.
Not content with video games, the gaming area also featured storefronts for board and pen-and-paper role-playing games, and tables for those interested in trying out any of what was on display.
Upcoming events were also at Northwest Fan Fest to tell us that they, like winter, are coming. Evil Dead the musical is on its way to Vancouver, just in time for Halloween. The Geekenders were there to promote their upcoming burlesque re-imagining of Labyrinth. The Fictionals put on a few different shows, just to show how awesome they are. BronyCan was out and force, getting the herd together and letting everypony know that Friendship is Magic.
The programming was equally fantastic, featuring panels on everything from costume design for cosplayers to the emergence of geek culture into pop culture to an in-depth look at the artistry required for professional costume concepts in shows like Arrow. The latter featured none other than Michael Cohen, lead on the official Arrow and Star Wars podcasts. Pretty damn snazzy.
Of everything, we have only two complaints. One, Artists’ Alley felt cramped. The artists were there and what they had for sale was cool enough, but the room they had been placed in was a little too small to contain the sheer number of both artists and art-seekers that were there. Two, the lack of food was a problem. Northwest Fan Fest had nothing to do with the latter, but it would have been nice to see UBC step up.
Still, these are minor complaints for a first year event – several members of our staff overheard people saying that this was the most fun they’ve had at a convention and that this was exactly the kind of event that Vancouver needs. It was clearly by fans, for fans and filled with passion for every fandom it encompassed. We can hardly wait to see how awesome Northwest Fan Fest 2015 will be.