Guide to Otakon 2002

While at Otakon 2002 I learned a whole lot of shit.


The Cheapest Stupid Way

Sleep on the street. If you find the right spot, you'll probably actually be able to get comfortable, and given the heat, a blanket may not even be necessary. Unfortunately, you run the risk of either being noticed by unsavory elements or, still bad but slighly less so, discovered by Baltimore local police. Even if neither happens you'll still be a smelly mess. This is probably the most convenient method if you're able to easily defend yourself, and are traveling alone.

Pros: Cheap, relatively comfortable.

Cons: May be illegal, body odor.

The Cheap Stupid Way

If you really feel like it, it's entirely possible to spend all three days sleeping in the back seat of a car or, if you're extremely lucky, a large sized vehicle like a van. Doing so will enable you to go through the convention without having to give hotels ludicrous amounts of money, and chances are, you won't have to walk very far. However, sleeping in a car is highly uncomfortable, and you'll likely wake up with sharp pains along the spine. Similarly, you'll be completely unable to bathe yourself for the duration of the convention; the fact that Baltimore is hot and humid in the summer only heightens this problem. By Saturday you'll probably smell horrible. By the end of the weekend your body odor will reach alarming, dangerous levels, and god help you if you're cosplaying anything but some bum character. Best if traveling alone.

Pros: Cheap, as close as you want it.

Cons: Highly uncomfortable, possible injury. Body odor.

The Cheap Smart Way

You may be fortunate enough to know someone who actually lives in the area, or know a friend of a friend that does. If this is the case, your problems are largely over, given access to comfortable lodgings and assumedly working bath facilities; the only obstacles may be the costs of transportation on a daily basis and relative distance from Otakon, which are, relatively speaking, easily surmounted. This is ideal.

Pros: Cheap, comfortable. You won't stink.

Cons: Distance, transportation costs.

The Expensive Way

Stay in a hotel, preferably one close to the convention. You'll have a comfortable room to rest in, as well as bath facilities you can use as much as you want. Ideal, but only if you have the money.

Pros: Comfortable. You won't stink.

Cons: Expensive, unless the hotel is very far.

The Less Expensive Way

Stay in a hotel, preferably one close to the convention, with as many other people as you can find. This will not only give you people to talk to at night, it'll minimize the costs of living in an expensive hotel. Even if sleeping on the floor, unless you're so unfortunate as to have to sleep on a towel, the nights will be relatively comfortable. In addition, you'll be able to shower, especially crucial in such cramped living conditions. The main flaw lies in the noisiness and hyperactivity of your roommates; unless you can pass out at will, the other people in the room will keep you awake until the early hours of the morning. Ideal if you don't actually value sleep that much.

Pros: Cheaper, relatively comfortable. You won't stink.

Cons: You won't sleep much.


What to Eat

There are numerous restaurants in the Baltimore area, as anyone can see from reading either AAA guides or the information provided by the Otakon people. In addition, the city is well known for its excellent seafood, being built near the coast. Think carefully about these, then completely ignore them. Regardless of what you may have heard or been told, you'll end up eating either pizza or burgers across the street. Eating actual convention food is only an option if you happen to either be stupid or remarkably wealthy; a single slice of bad pizza costs over three dollars, and god help you if you're hungry enough to go for more. In addition, wandering around the city on Saturday or Sunday, you'll discover that practically all minor restaurants close at three pm for no apparent reason. This is your first and most major indication that the city of Baltimore makes no damn sense.

This leaves you with two options. You can either go to an actual restaurant and waste precious time, or go to the building across the street, which houses both a Burger King and a pizzeria. In terms of both money and time, the latter option is far more practical; yes, it's unhealthy, but also the smart choice. Chances are, wandering lost around the convention center for three days and skipping the other two meals (see below) will allow it to all balance out. Or so you hope. If not, then you'll just die.

When to Eat

To make the most of your Otakon time, skip all meals except dinner. In general, no one will wake up in time for breakfast, and there's almost always something interesting happening around lunchtime. It is possible to survive on a single modest dinner a day, if you possess both the will and inclination to do so; think of this logically. You're not going to be suffering- you're at Otakon, watching anime and playing a shitload of games and having as much fun as it is humanly possible for an anime fan to have. Skipping the first two meals not only allows you more time to enjoy yourself, it gives you more money to buy useless but godly junk with.

By this logic, of course, the best method is to simply not eat at all for all three days. This is entirely possible, but only if your love for anime shit actually surpasses the needs of your body, allowing you to survive without sustenance as long as you're in contact with Japanese products. If this is the case, godspeed- you're certainly stronger than me.


Who Should Cosplay

Judging from what was seen at Otakon, the majority of people who choose to cosplay are alarmingly ugly and obese specimens of humanity; in addition, a person's unsuitability to cosplay is apparently directly proportional to the sexiness and/or badassedness of the character they wish to dress up as. For example, while it's certainly admirable to have the dedication to design and wear a Rinoa costume, appearing as Rinoa's fatter, waddling sister isn't. If you intend to dress up as any character that shows a lot of skin, then for the sake of both yourself and the people who have to look at you, spend a couple months (a year, for some people) starving yourself. You don't look cool or cute, you look horrific.

What to Cosplay

As should be obvious to anyone who even knows what Otakon is, it celebrates anime and manga. Clearly, then, anyone who wants to dress up should cosplay an actual anime or manga character. Sadly, this is not the case; many people fail to realize the nature of the convention they're attending, dressing in idiotic and completely random costumes ranging from an M.I.B. to the killer from the movie Scream. Repeat after me- Otakon is NOT Halloween. Otakon is an ANIME CONVENTION. There is little to no point dressing up as anything not based in Japanese products; doing so not only completely misses the purpose of the entire convention, it makes you look like an idiot.

Originality would also be a plus. God knows how many people I saw dressed up as Vash, and some of them even looked good, but after a while it was just too much. Try to pick a more obscure character, or at least one that won't come to mind as easily; your efforts will be all the more appreciated, and you'll be far more unique as well.


Signing Up

There are many tournaments at Otakon, for wide a variety of video games. Given the sheer volume of people hoping to compete, it's advisable to show up around half an hour before the signup time to get a spot in the tournament; however, try not to show up TOO early, or you'll have the utter misfortune of getting raped by some of the later signups. This actually happened to one sorry bastard who got to the line first this year. Just make sure you're in.

Flooding the Tournament

If you're so inclined, you can play dirty, arriving early and flooding the competition with random people who have never before played the game. This lowers the general level of the playing field, giving you entire groups of meat to cut through before you hit the actual competition in the later rounds. It is actually extremely easy to get people to sign up for a tournament for a game they've never touched in their entire lives; given that they're already loitering around the video game room, it is clear they have nothing better to do, and the fun that comes from being in a tournament will probably be sufficient to entice them to their deaths. This strategy is only advisable if your sole ambition is to win the tournament; if you actually want to test your skills against other good players, then stay away.

Flooding Other Tournaments

Real bastards with too much free time on their hands can show up for other tournaments early, signing up and stealing precious slots from people who actually play and love the game in question. The main enjoyment in doing this stems from depriving other people of their fun, and culling potential tournament winners from the game. Some people go to Otakon for the sheer purpose of competing in specific tournaments; taking their spots, without them ever knowing it, will give them a strong sense of bitterness and disappointment only matched by your knowing happiness.

Physical Intimidation

Chances are you'll be larger (not in the fat sense) and more physically powerful than people who are better at the game. This stems from the different distributions of exercise and practice between you and them; they are better because, logically, they play the game more, while you're stronger because you similarly exercise more. Ultimately, if one were inclined toward playing dirty, physical power provides a far greater advantage than actual skill in the game. There are two ways of going about this. The first weaker tactic involves intimidation, which may or may not work given your opponent's stupidity and inability to feel fear. The second tactic, relatively speaking, is horrendously effective. Most video games involve the use of hand manipulated controllers; as a result, the obvious weak point of a skilled gamer is his hands. Before the match, offer to shake, noting that the majority of button pressing being done with the right hand. Once in contact, grip as firmly as humanly possible, as if you were holding on for dear life, and crush his hand to pulp. Chances are, your opponent will be relatively quiet and meek. Assuming that that is in fact your normal handshake, he'll proceed to play and, with luck, lose.

Note that the above method is completely worthless against Dance Dance Revolution or Para Para players, who use their feet and legs as their primary tools. The key in these games is to limit the opponent's agility to a level equal to or below your own. Merely shaking hands in this instance will not work, the distance between the hands and legs limiting your ability to "accidentally" damage any vital parts. Nor will you be able to strike during the game itself, as the mats are placed relatively far apart; obviously, the main opportunities will occur outside of the actual round. Once you receive your numbers, there will one hour of rest time before the tournament begins. This enables you to go to the boards and note the number of your opponent. Seek him out, as he'll most likely be loitering near the stations of the game in question hoping to get a few rounds of practice in; immediately before a tournament, huge groups of people stand around the game stations, watching intently as others play and waiting their own turns. Most people will hold their tags in their hand, allowing you to carefully glimpse his number. If it happens to be the one fighting you in the first round, maneuver yourself to a position behind him. Given the sheer volume of people pressing in on you both from all sides, it should be a simple matter to use your own foot and strike him at a vital leg point, then nonchalantly stare at the screen as he turns around looking for his assailant. As this will likely be from behind, the soft area behind his knee will be completely open for attack. Kick it as hard as humanly possible with the point of your foot and immediately assume a casual standing position. Again, with luck, this will seriously inhibit his performance.