UCON 2018. Anime and Gaming Expo. UCT.

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Pictures by Denver Albertyn and Tanyeshca van der Merwe

Only at a con would you happen to stumble into a serious and riveted audience at a cosplay workshop on adequately taping and creating boobage. The latter, of course, is reserved for game characters. This balance between fandom humour, dedication and appreciation is illustrative of a nerd culture that can only be found at cons – and particularly, smaller conventions like UCON. The setting is a bit more intimate than the larger nerd cons, allowing the space to become more interactive with interesting attractions such as the maid and butler café and a more closely monitored anime, gaming and comic book quiz.

The anticipation for a nerd con often involves a mental preparation for large crowds and over-stimulation but UCON is breath of fresh air. Tucked away in the charming campus grounds of UCT, the con is both quaint and welcoming. The student-run anime and gaming convention is held at the sports centre on middle campus, inviting cosplayers, gamers, manga and anime lovers – both new and otaku – to have some fun and meet others who share an appreciation for gaming and anime.

UCON 2018 UCT

We spoke to Luther de Lange, one of the organisers on the committee from Genshiken, UCT’s anime and gaming society to learn more about UCON and its legacy.

WeekendSpecial: What goes into planning a con?

Luther de Lange: A lot of things, really. You need direction as to what exactly you would like. So, for example, while we have a lot of nerd cons we have the gaming specific ones like UCON and EGE and then you have comic book specific ones like FanCon. Then you need to find the vendors, find the workshops, find anything related to what you want to do, and then see who’s there.

WS: What is the focus of UCT’s con?

LdL: Well, I wasn’t around, I wasn’t at UCT when it first started but I’ve been told (it has been passed down) that the original mission of UCON was to be Rage for Cape Town. So that was kind of the vision, to bring that kind of convention to Cape Town.

WS: And Rage wasn’t here at that time?

LdL: No, it wasn’t.

UCON 2018 UCT

WS: And FanCon started after Rage. So was UCON was the first?

LdL: I’m not sure if it was the first but definitely one of the longer running conventions.

WS: How do you select your vendors or filter out what you guys are interested in?

LdL: We were fortunate that when we walked into planning, we already had an established set of vendors. We have a mailing list from all of the conventions. When we have a convention and we announce that it’s happening – on Twitter and other social media like Instagram and Facebook – everyone gets informed through that and then through advertising. We basically open it up to anyone who thinks that they could do well here. Anyone who thinks that this could be their target market, they are free to just join in. It’s very much a community-based vendorship.

WS: Do you have any favourite local artists or local stores?

LdL: The steampunk stuff is pretty awesome.

WS: Genshiken focuses more on anime. How do you guys view this generation’s anime community? Is there more interest in cons?

LdL: I feel there’s a very nice market for it. What we noticed at UCT is that every year our membership increases. We advertise ourselves as the anime and gaming society and each year there are more members, it’s increasing. There’s quite an interest for it, a lot of people who grew up with Dragonball Z and Pokémon.

UCON 2018 UCT

WS: It starts out there, doesn’t?

LdL: Yes.

WS: What do you hope to accomplish through UCON or hope that the next bunch would be able to accomplish?

LdL: UCON, for us, is kind of a brand in itself but it’s a different committee every year, different people every year. So what we try to do is while also bringing in something good to Cape Town, bringing in something that everyone will enjoy, we also hope that we can bring more people into the planning and into that side so that they can kind of experience it for themselves; it’s almost like a stepping stone. We try and aim to keep it going and have the old committee teach the new committee who will teach the new committee after that and basically improve on it each year, and hope that it just gets bigger and better every year.

What: UCON 2018 took place on January 27 and 28 at UCT

WS