Despite my nerdiness, I did not grow up attending cons like so many of my other nerdy friends. I have never been a fan of crowds and as a kid that discomfort always won out over the thought of getting to see my favorite actors in real life. My family and friends were (are) nerdy enough to satisfy my need to talk about these loves, and so I never really sought out conventions to attend. As I’ve grown up and made more and more friends who attend cons, my perspective has changed. This last weekend, I finally attended my first con, in Atlanta, Georgia: TimeGate Con 2015.
Since TimeGate was my first ever convention, I don’t really have a frame of reference, or another con to which I can compare it. My only comparisons are things I’ve heard from friends about cons like Anime Boston, LeakyCon, and internet coverage of San Diego Comic-Con. I didn’t have the best sense of what the scale of TimeGate would be in comparison to some of the larger cons, or how that would affect the experience. But despite not really knowing what to expect, I was hugely excited. Spend an entire weekend with other geeks, talking about geeky things? You don’t really have to ask me twice. There’s a reason I make the time for The Daily Geekette on top of working full-time: I love geek culture, and the media around which it forms.
I attended a total of ten panels, in addition to both of Michelle Gomez’s Q&A sessions, and one of Katy Manning’s. They ranged from broad topics like “The Future of SciFi in America” to discussions of specific shows like Outlander, to a tribute to Leonard Nimoy. By the end of the weekend I felt like I was really getting to know some of the panelists, and they were joking about that too as they introduced themselves at the beginning of each new panel. I’ll have a longer post about Michelle Gomez’s Q&As, as well as a post about some of my experience of these panels coming up later this week, and will update this post with a link when they go up.
The size of the panels was probably one of the most surprising things for me. Again, never having been to a con before, most of my frame of reference came from footage of much bigger things like SDCC, which I knew this would not be. Most panels I attended at TimeGate had an audience of about 10-20 attendees, which made it very easy for them to turn into real discussions about the topics with the panelists. In some instances, this allowed for very interesting conversation. In others, a few loud audience members ended up dominating the discussion, with panel members mostly unsure of how to politely quiet them. I really did appreciate the proximity of attendees to guests, as it made them feel very approachable if you had extra questions about a particular topic after the panel ended. Some guests would even explicitly say “please come find me at my table if you want to talk about this further!” I would say it’s a testament to how much the panelists really love the topics they’re talking about when they invite you to come pester them after the panel ends.
I loved getting to see all the cosplay at the con, and as you can see from the photo at the top of this post, I was dressed up myself on Saturday. While I’ve certainly had many nerdy costumes over the years, they’ve all been used for Halloween (my favorite holiday). In terms of what the actual costumes were, I was surprised by how little people seemed to be pulling from seasons 6 and 7 of Doctor Who in their cosplay – most were pulling from season 8 or from seasons 5 and earlier (the one exception to that was a fabulous River Song cosplayer). I think one of the most striking things for me about some of the cosplayers was how much they played to the strengths of their own physical features. Many were dressed as characters they very closely resembled already, to the point where I did multiple double-takes when sitting in the lobby, because I could have sworn David Tennant had just walked past me. While I strongly believe anyone should cosplay as whomever or whatever they like, it is really fun when the cosplayers can “pass” (so to speak) as the actual character they are dressed up as, and there was a good amount of that happening at TimeGate.
I really did have a lovely time attending TimeGate 2015. There were so many panels I was interested in that I was at the hotel for thirteen hours on Saturday, and another six hours on Sunday and, some brief caffeine crashes aside, thoroughly enjoyed myself. If you’re local to Atlanta, or willing/able to travel, I would absolutely recommend it as a convention.