Okay, so I know that several of the things I will highlight were already highlighted by smartwittyurl.
I enjoyed the convention, first and foremost, I had a great time. There were so many fantastic cosplays and so many fantastic people.
The photoshoots I attended were fun, and as a rule of thumb everyone was very friendly.
But I do have some issues and concerns
The big two are weapons and first aid. These are the ones that are, to me, most urgent. Then there was the access stuff and and the wrist bands etc.
To make things easier I’ve broken this post down into a number of different parts, among them primary and secondary concerns. I have also put some tips at the end for what I think we, as cosplayers and convention attendees could do.
The lack of consistency of checking weaponry deeply concerned me.
On Friday and Sunday I had weapons, I was only checked on Sunday, and even then, it was only a cursory glance.
I think, personally, the conventions need to have much tighter regs on weaponry, as at both thought bubble and MCM weapons checks were not being carried out at all.
Peacebinding of weaponry should be mandatory and no real-steel weaponry should be allowed in. It’s a risk, and if it pans out then there will likely be legal stuff and everything will get much, much more difficult for everyone.
I won’t go into the level of detail discussed by me and one of my partners, but suffice to say, if something went wrong, for what ever reason, things could get very, very nasty and dangerous in very short order.
Something that struck me and that made me deeply uncomfortable, was the number of realistic looking firearms and fully strung bows complete with fully fletched, properly tipped arrows, some of which included hunting tips. The fact that these people often had their bows at full draw with arrows knocked everytime I saw them having photos taken concerned me. What concerned me more was the lack of capturing on the arrows in question.
At the end of this post I’ve put some tips for what cosplayers can do to make cons safer and lower the risks ourselves, but ultimately I think the convention organisers and venue owners need to put more clear cut rules in place.
First Aid (or rather the lack there of):
The lack of visible first aiders was extremely concerning to me. This is a large scale event of 15,000-20,000+ people. It ain’t a football match, but given props, costumes, etc. there really should be a much more in the way of visible first aiders on the convention floor, and there should be at least one first aid point in the main convention hall itself.
The only first aid station I saw was set below the main concourse near the entrance to the underground car park and appeared to be unmanned. It was also not very clearly signed.
Thankfully no one I was with, or myself, needed first aid and I didn’t have to escort anyone to a first aid post.
But seriously, given the number of attendees and everything going on, I am genuinely surprised there was not more visible first aid. Maybe this is just me, but there should have been way more visible first aid available and on standby.
Whilst on the first day (Friday) getting into and out of the convention was really easy, we could leave the centre and enter it via the doors facing out onto area with the novotel and the ship hotel, which was fantastic, on Saturday and Sunday a one way system was put into place.
This was not sign posted in any way shape or form, we only became aware of it when we attempted to go back in through the same entrance by which we had left.
Whilst I understand why it was put in place, the lack of clear sign posting for entry and exits/that a one way system was in force was rather confusing and frustrating.
To be honest, I could go on about the access stuff, there are some really big problems with access at the convention, cos there’s a list of as long as my forearm. Though surprisingly spacing between stalls wasn’t one of them.
I have issues with wrist bands, they get in the way of costumes, particularly big, complex ones, morph based ones etc. (They are also a sensory hellscape).
Personally, I’d would much rather see a lanyard and ID tag system for convention attendees, as I’ve seen used by the US convention circuit.
How can we, as cosplayers, make conventions and weaponry at conventions safer?
On the subject of fire arms for costuming, I would advise very strongly that they be peace bound (that means bind the trigger into the “on” position with a ziplock tie, preferably a brightly coloured one) and people need exercise trigger discipline.
If it’s not a photo shoot have the mags out and the safety on. Yes it may take you a few extra seconds to put the mags back in, but if you want to keep bringing your RIFs to convention, then we need to start being proactive about keeping it safe and taking those few extra steps.
If you’re using a bow for your costume, and have it strung and drawn DO NOT KNOCK YOUR ARROWS AND DO NOT USE REAL STEEL ARROWS!
If you really must bring arrows to convention, please bring safety tipped arrows.
Safety tipped arrows (so red re-enactment tips or LARP safe) arrows may not look that cool, but if something happens and you accidently loose your arrow, at least what you’re sending flying across the room isn’t going to break skin and significantly less likely to do anyone serious damage.
By being proactive we are less likely to have a major incident and much less likely to get negatively affected by legislation/lawsuits etc.