It’s safe to say that all gamers, anime fans, and enthusiast love engrossing themselves with their favorite hobbies. There are days when anyone would jump at the opportunity to stay at home all day and have a marathon of their favorite show or run-through of the latest game releases. Yet fun things like this are only a small fraction of the gaming, anime, or otaku culture. At the very core, it isn’t about the games, anime shows, or collectibles; but rather being able to appreciate them with others around you. This is the main force behind any successful gatherings and conventions that celebrate all aspects of video games, anime, and the like.
Most of us over the age of 18 probably remember vividly of a time when it wasn’t so popular to like things like anime of video games. Back then, things felt more like a niche hobby that few people really understood without fully investigating. Gamers, anime fans, and hobbyist were more isolated and separated. As time went on however, with the rise of the internet and social media, this has all but completely disappeared. People are able to connect with each other and exchange ideas, preferences, and opinions about things like gaming and anime much easier now over wider distances. Yet social media can never really replace interaction in person, hence why things like conventions and gatherings are the ideal way to build a sense of community among anime fans and gamers.
Conventions have always been a staple among fans of pop culture for years, dating back to the first San Diego Comic Con back in 1970. And while some conventions have taken on a much bigger and grander form recently, drawing in crowds from around the world, the premise is essentially the same for everyone. Get a bunch of people together who have similar interest to mingle and see what happens. Business wise it’s a great thing as gamers, anime fan, and otakus have no issue spending money on what they love. More importantly however, things like this act as a beacon for many fans to come together and meet others who share their interests. This ranges from the larger conventions like Comic Con and PAX, to the smaller local conventions that held throughout the nation.
In my home of Florida, there is a local convention held in different locations in Miami each year called Mizucon. It is a convention that has a heavy emphasis on gaming and anime rather than trying to encompass all forms of pop culture halfway. This convention really distinguishes itself by hosting smaller events, such as the Mizucon Tea Party, that are held throughout the year to help promote the con. While getting awareness out about Mizucon and what it is are all about, these smaller events help to bring people together and create a sense of welcoming familiarity for everyone within the local area. For anyone this would only enhance the experience during and after the convention is over, enticing you to come back again to see new and old friends.
To get some more clarity, I had a long conversation with Steven Lin, the new Con Chairmen for Mizucon, about conventions and the idea of community. And while we talked long and in detail about everything about conventions, one thing really stuck out to me. “Conventions should be for fans and driven by fans… It creates that sense of family… The motive is for everyone to come and be united in having fun.” Family, an interesting choice of word that brings everything together. It is a concept most people have alluded to when discussing the concept of community. A place where everyone can feel they belong, where their love for anything is appreciated and not outcast by others.
That is the best part about gaming, anime, or otaku communities. Local or national events, digital over the internet or in the flesh, there is always a sense of gathering and welcome about them. The days of liking video games or anime being viewed as taboo to the public eye are long gone. Through the tools of the social media and organized events, gamers and fans of anime and pop culture could always find another person to enjoy their hobby with. And while some of us may still have moments where we lock ourselves in our room for gaming and anime marathons, we’ll always know that we are not alone. There’s always another one just like us, enjoying every minute just as much.