Held at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY, Genericon has now been running for 25 years, but despite such a legacy, Genericon remains a small-ish convention. Size does not denote quality, however. The classroom atmosphere instantly gave the already distinguished panelists — Erin Finnegan, Noah Fulmor, and Scott Fermeglia, among others — either a scholarly air or at the very least the instant focus of everyone in a chair. My full-on panel report is forthcoming.
There were two rooms dedicated to panels, but the programming was well balanced between the expository, the entertaining, and the academic (last link is of the crowd at the "Fandom & Criticism" panel). Sequentially, there was never too much of one type of panel or the other; the rooms were close together, which made transitions a breeze; and scheduling was such that I experienced no real conflicts of interest or extended periods of panel drought. Even during times when I deemed both panel rooms skippable, there was still plenty to occupy my time throughout RPI’s campus during the 24/7 (ok, 24/2.5 if you wanna get all technical) con.
Three video rooms were allocated for live programming, animation, and a mix of both, all showing a good range of shows and movies. To test these rooms, I stayed awake from Saturday through Sunday, catching Excel Saga and the dub of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion for the first time (both are extremely funny when sleep-deprived, in case you were wondering). If watching away the early hours of the morning wasn’t enough, the video game room and tabletop gaming areas also remained open for attendees. Though definitely sparse compared to the daytime attendance, the con remained populated and appreciated by the night owls (and those without accommodations). So thanks, Genericon! (EDITOR'S NOTE: For the record, I did offer to let you crash in my dorm room.)
Being held on a college campus, Genericon did a wise thing and segmented its Artist's Alley and Vendor areas into multiple, smaller, side-by-side classrooms. This seemed to alleviate some of the crowding, but the vendor areas were still packed, and inter- as well as intra-room flow was still a bit chaotic. Also, completely square rooms made it difficult to determinine which dealer was responsible for which items(s). Though the range of products from vendors seemed to dwarf the offerings from Artists’ Alley, there were still plenty of attendees circling both areas.
While I’ve never felt video games to be an integral part of a con, Genericon left open a 24/2.5 room for such, and I can definitely see (and indeed saw) how it would be appreciated by attendees...especially those covering the graveyard shift. Since Genericon’s video game room “runs on charitable donations,” the mix of consoles and games, coupled with the amount of available stations at which to play said games, was as excitingly eclectic as it was sparse. While this certainly did not hinder the late night crowd, I could see how the more enthusiastic daytime masses might arrive en masse and quickly turn around in impatient disappointment.
To the contrary, Genericon’s mobile app — complete with con schedule, interactive indoor maps, and more — looked like it would have been amazing. I have a dumb-phone, however, and the app was not compatible with my Kindle Fire, so I cannot report firsthand the awesomeness it seemed to offer. You, however, should totally check out its page and features and come around next year in hopes that you too can use it. Speaking of mobile device compatibility, RPI offered free (if only somewhat finicky) WiFi. That, combined with decent cellular coverage (at least for AT&T), made keeping in touch with friends much easier than in NYC’s Javits Center.
Though you wouldn’t guess it from the pictures I took (for some reason, being a 30-something non-student asking to take pictures of kids that were of college age or younger just seemed wrong on a campus), fandom was in full swing at Genericon. Cosplayers were everywhere, from recent series such as Madoka and Hetalia to older cartoons like Inspector Gadget and anime legends like Space Battleship Yamato. In short, the kids are, in fact, alright, and they also know how to rock.
While I wasn’t expecting anything from a rock band that calls itself “Eyeshine” and is fronted by an American anime voice actor (I’d never even heard of the band until Genericon), I have to admit that I underestimated it. Eyeshine had me bouncing from song one or two, and the hypnotized crowd eagerly filled in clap rhythms and screamed in enthusiastic appreciation after each song. Songs ranged from straight-out rock and pop-rock to anime OP (J-rock)-sounding pop but never lost an ounce of energy. My pictures of the concert can be found right here on anigamers.com (via Flickr)!
If you’re close to Troy, I’d recommend attending Genericon. There’s honestly nothing here I don’t think you won’t find at any other con (aside from the 24/2.5 openness ... which was AWESOME), but it’s got a great sense of programming, good layout and administration, and decent geographical placement (not but a couple miles away from two fantastic bars: Kokopellis and Dublin). I traveled 3.5 hours at break-neck speeds to get there, and do not regret a single moment spent.
DISCLAIMER: Ani-Gamers editor-in-chief Evan Minto was the Vice-Chair and Public Relations Coordinator of Genericon XXV. He was involved in copy-editing and fact-checking this article, but did not contribute to the value judgments of Genericon detailed above.