By Toni Stauffer
Spiderman throws his arms around Lady Deadpool, giving her a big hug. They turn and pose together for a picture. Jon Snow from Game of Thrones stalks by, and Harley Quinn from the Batman comics swings a comically enormous hammer.
This isn’t some crazy dream. It’s a scene at NerdaCon, a multi-genre convention. Run completely by Columbus State University students and members of the organization Campus Nerds, NerdaCon was held off-campus for the first time at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center the first weekend of November.
“I’m extremely happy with this year’s convention,” stated Jordan Huggins, NerdaCon director and president of Campus Nerds, “and the usage of the Trade Center was very beneficial.”
NerdaCon began as a small event held in the Davidson Student Center on the CSU campus. The venue changed due to the steady increase in attendances and the difficulty of on-campus logistics.
The Campus Nerds is one of the largest student organizations on campus. In addition to organizing the annual NerdaCon convention, they also host bi-weekly game nights, the popular zombie apocalypse game, and network with other organizations on campus. One reason for the organization’s success is that it is all inclusive. You don’t have to be a nerd to be a Campus Nerd.
In the main lobby of the trade center on the second floor, con-goers mingled and took pictures; traveled down the various hallways to rooms hosting card games, video games, board games, discussion panels, and a dealer’s room.
While most con-goers seemed happy with the convention, some said there is still room for improvement.
“I miss the familiarity of having it on campus, but the change of venue was nice, said Danielle Davis, senior in professional writing, “It was a well-planned event, but they should definitely add some food vendors next year.”
The dealer’s room was a large room filled with tables and booths where vendors and artists sold their wares. Attendees moved through the lines of tables, pausing to look over various merchandise such as movies, books, buttons and posters, the majority featuring popular anime characters.
The most popular event turned out to be the costume contest, which filled to capacity, a sign of the convention’s growing pains. Spiderman and Ladydeath took the stage separately, but there were many other characters represented from anime, Marvel, and even an Alice from Wonderland.
After the costume contest, a raffle was held and fans cheered as winners were announced. Prizes were: a limited edition Halo 5: Guardians Bundle, a Doctor Who TARDIS Mini Fridge, a Game of Thrones Dragonclaw Goblet Replica, a planetary glass set, and a Star Wars Episode VII Millennium Falcon BT speaker.
And while this NerdaCon was deemed a success, next year might be more challenging. The leadership is constantly changing due to factors such as graduation, but the former staff does train the new staff prior to stepping down.
“We are working on making it so that the future for the convention does not get altered in a negative way,” said Huggins. “The biggest problem was relearning how to organize the convention since we experimented with a bunch of new things (some will be kept others will not), but the learning experience was needed and will allow future conventions to be better prepared.”
A constant is that it takes money to run a convention and the bigger it gets the more money it takes. Overhead includes the cost of communication devices, transport, refreshments, Wifi, electricity, advertising, printing and security. There were eight campus police officers hired for convention security this year.
“With the new venue came new challenges,” said CSU police Sergeant Brett Stanelle, “but everything ran smoothly. There were no security issues. Stanelle added that they are already planning for next year.
“We didn’t have that big of a change,” said NerdaCon senior staff member and Campus Nerds vice-president Sam Sachs. “It’s possible that the drop in attendance is due to the change in venue.” He went on to say that he didn’t think the increase in ticket prices was a factor, but the fact remains that NerdaCon now turns a profit, though those profits are not public record.
Tickets were $15 for a two-day pass and $10 for a one-day pass, a big jump over the $5 ticket price from last year and free admittance from previous years; however, con-goers didn’t seem to mind much. Attendance last year totaled approximately 2,600 and this year attendance has been estimated to be only slightly lower.
“I cannot mention profit,” said Huggins, “but I can say we made more than last year.”
So, where does the money go?
“All proceeds from NerdaCon go back into next year’s convention,”said Sachs. “It funds itself and the money doesn’t go anywhere else.”
With enormous conventions like ComicCon in San Diego and DragonCon in Atlanta being big moneymakers, perhaps someday NerdaCon will outgrow its new home at the Trade Center.