A matter of being an adult, or matter of being taken seriously?

All-Ages or Adult only? Larger customer group or aimed at a niche? Of course, you can aim at both with different products from the same provider, and thus keep a wider appeal. However, what then when you change the product to only suit the other?

Comics have a bad rap nowadays and for a damn good reason. Since the 80’s American comics have become less and less entertainment for everyone and more aimed towards the adult collectors. With the recent Marvel soft-reboot, Peter Parker becomes a businessman of sorts rather than staying a teenager. ‘Staying’ is the keyword here. Readers who have spent some thirty years with these comics already know ins and outs of these characters, and it is apparent how both Marvel and DC have people working for the who want to take these characters further. The question is; do they have the right?

These characters are not theirs, they are the audience’s, the customers. The reason why Spider-Man became so popular was because he was young and had the same problems its readers had. Despite this, the stories themselves were fit for older audience as well, where the web they spun was extremely well made and has stood the test of time. Spider-Man was a character who had magazines that everybody could enjoy because of its quality writing. When the Dark Age of Comics hit, it left an impression on Spider-Man, and both the comic and character lost their soul. Comics became brooding and less about ideal to read. Ultraviolence and depictions of highly mature material in a very immature form became more or less a standard, something that modern comics still suffer from. Cheap drama is formed through needles gore and sexual acts, as the fence is at its lowest at these points. It takes a skilled writer and editor combined with a great illustrator to breathe life into a story everybody could read without it being patronising or going over the top. A lot of those skills have been lost, and the old guard who made these comics are literally dying away. With time we’re only left with the 90’s superstar comic creators, and I’m absolutely sure nobody will remember Liefeld as a great creator who brought high quality products. He is no Jack Kirby.

Why am I talking about this again? Because a local convention about Japanese pop-culture, Desucon (yes, the name is that cringeworthy) released a statement that their conventions from now all will all be R-18. Their reasoning why this is something that had to be implemented is that they want to cater to their niche better. That’s all good and proper, but these people already had a convention for Adults only. Why two? Clearly before this they did not cater only for the adult niche, as the content in the convention never gave such indication. This is more an issue of convenience for the convention staff themselves, as the con has outsold itself in matter of minutes. Rather than limiting the amount of people who can attend the convention, clearly the convention should grow larger in order cater to its customers, but here they decided to turn it the other way around and make themselves smaller. To complain that you get too much customers shows their inability and unwillingness to grow.

One of their more childish reasoning is that they want to bring the hobby of being an otaku to more adult level, as they seem to think how cartoons and comics are seen something for kids only by the larger audience. They aren’t wrong, because most of Japanese cartoons are intended for kids and so are most of the comics. Well, not exactly; most have wider appeal and are for all to consume. Something like One-Piece and Dragon Ball are being enjoyed both children and adults alike.

If you are intending to gain a wider approval of your hobby on adult level, this is the worst thing you could do. The sad thing is, if it’s not the kids’ stuff, then it’s the terrible tentacle porn. That’s the two extremes. If you try to veto to the other adult oriented materials, you’ll most likely end up with huge bouncing tits and swaying asses from modern late night anime. Studio Ghibli could be something they could use, but in the end all of their movies are for all ages. If you check something like Top 100 Most Popular series from ANN, you see that the list is more or less governed by something that everybody can enjoy. Some titles are questionable of course, and some titles don’t have right to be in there, but this is only a sample from the fandom, and not from the larger population. As such, if fandom’s result yields something that, I just wonder what kind of results we would get if the larger customer group outside the niche could vote?

It’s juvenile to assume that closing doors from minors would promote positive adult view on the hobby, especially locally. What does this offer? To sum it from their official blog; it makes things easier. Now that all the visitors are adults, there’s less responsibility on the providers. This shows how much their service design sucks. It’s absolutely hilarious to think this gives the programme presenters any more free hands to work their shows as they like, as they’ve always had that. They just don’t need to check the IDs now. Then again, the programme has been absolutely horseshit for years, with the exact same topics repeating, sometimes twice or thrice in the same year. Then you got all the softcore and hard porn content that has always been deemed tasteless. Do we get an influx on these? Does anyone actually want to hear somebody discussing porn on stage with an analytic view? If you do, drop me an e-mail.

The decision to make the event Adults-only doesn’t ring a good bell. It’s an excuse to lessen the workload, and they admit to it. They want the convention to look like how the providers see it, but that’s impossible. It’s always the customers who colour how the product looks like. If you really want it to look like the way you want it to be, these people need to work harder. For example, the content needs to be renewed with a harsh hand and whoever is responsible for letting people to have programmes that are basically just one-night works over with copypaste from some Wiki, then they haven’t done their job. Hell, last time I went to the convention, they had goddamn airballoons everywhere, causing safety hazards. That sure is a good adult look.

This being Finland, we know there’s gonna be booze. We all know this. Being adult only convention now, I expect it be actually handle everything in a mature way. That’s another keyword, and that’s missing. The only indicative for the ages they have in the convention are inquiries they put up, and I know from experience 20-years old people are just as juvenile as 11-, 15- or 17-years old. A person doesn’t suddenly grow into a responsible adult when they hit 18. Just like the younger people, these 18+ people will be just as annoying and even more so when drunk. That’s what people outside will most likely see; booze and porn.

If the providers would really want their hobby to be seen in an adult light as a valid thing, the first thing would be to grow a pair and approach everything from a practical point of view. Allow as many costumers to come in as possible, build it larger and show what it’s all about. This is artificial and inefficient way to make a statement. The larger population won’t even notice this, even if YLE (Finnish national TV and Radio) made a small newspost. You cannot expect people to see things in your light if you are unwilling to go to them. These providers should get their message, in whatever way they see fit, to the general consumer and get them come to convention. Making it more limited is the exact opposite, and gives off a message of seclusion and elitism. I remember going to a convention and seeing few amazed parents how enthusiastic their child was all about that, and then saw deeper into the culture themselves. Sure, there was some comics about tentacles and little girls, but outside that they could find points of interest and stories that could be worth something. Of course, anime doesn’t sell in the West. Its visuals simply don’t attract the larger consumer eye, and that’s fine.

But that’s another issue; why does it matter what ignorant masses think? Sure, there is validity in taking in how people see you, but you are the one who determines how you are seen in the first place. You can always do the classical thing and don’t mind what others think. Be yourself.

If you are worried that your hobby is seen only as a kids’ stuff, it would better to start doing something about it outside your group of enthusiast. You need to go out there and manage to touch all these people who are not coming to your convention. Changing your convention to adults only won’t pull in any new visitors, it won’t affect how your hobby is seen. It only affects how these providers are seen in the hobby circles, and this move have pissed off every single potential customer they have under 18.

It won’t matter one damn bit what you’re doing, if you are not reaching to people you want to show what this all is about. It’s out there, not in here where you need to that work.

Music of the Month: Lancaster

Burning your hands because of you were thinking of certain special is all OK, right?

It’s been one busy month, and it shows. I hope I can manage to do a nice review on two pinball games during the weekend before I dive into more unpleasant matters again. Well, it’s a late monthly music and meta ranting time.

Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2 was released just the other week, and while I would be interested to check it out due to the first game, I am afraid that has to wait until summer as I have no home consoles at my current whereabouts. It seems to be more or less more the same than LoS with more open world, which can be a turn off for yours truly, but you never know how pleasant a game is before you sit down with it and play it. That’s a dirty lie to some extent, as that’s hugely biased way to see it.

Bias has been an interesting thing lately. We all are too close to certain subjects and people that we become blind to the forest. We only see the trees we’re standing next to. I’ve been wondering whether or not I have personally this bias to some matters I handle here (the answer is yes) but seeing how I try to go my way to the other extreme in writing, it might be the best for me to try and find a proper middle ground between the personal opinions ans the authorial intent I have with this blog. Perhaps I’ll cut back on the provocations a bit, sometimes the jokes and wording I tend to use feel far to juvenile even for me.

Nevertheless, you can see bias happening pretty much everywhere. Just recently Desucon compared to their conventions’ content to finely made steak meal, and showed a stock photo of a stock steak. Their bias towards their view on how things should be and what they value the most has already clashed with their customer group, and the way they announced what their target market group will be henceforth was not only pompous, but very dramatically stupid too. While I have no qualms about anyone aiming to market a deluxe or premium product with higher price tag to smaller audience, the content and the money gained from the product needs to raise itself to the same level. Whether or not changing all-ages convention into adults-only was a great idea is up to the customers. I see no reason to visit their convention because of their content; it has been more or less completely dire and incredibly derivative.

However, I have to wonder whether or not they would be the convention that would allow larger Eastern pop-culture to be showcased rather than just comics and animation. It is very awkward to go to a convention that is supposed to celebrate regional popular culture, and then disregards major parts of it for no good reason. One of the reason why e.g. tokusatsu is not a subject to be showcased is that it is silly, according to the bush radio. Well, we all know how that holds up the water.

The new Godzilla trailer came out recently as well, and while I initially planned on making a whole post if it, I decided against it for now. Godzilla’s new design bugs me out with that short, stumpy nose of his and legs that seem to be cut from a tree with a chainsaw. According to the spoilers we are getting a very big Godzilla as well as rather weak one. I read the spoilers after seeing the trailer and it further solidified my first impression; this new Godzilla movie is very much like the Gamera Trilogy. Problem here is that Showa Gamera movies are not really all that good, they’re B-versions of Showa Godzilla, which was pretty bad most of the time. The Gamera Trilogy took all that was good in Gamera and made it better. It didn’t embrace the funny self-humour it could’ve done, but took the basic premise and spindled a proper web around it. The new Godzilla seems to miss the point of what Godzilla is, and while we do get nuclear testing, it turns out all of them were more or less intentional attempts on killing Godzilla. Rather, we get to see him part of a larger species with all the bones that are uncomfortably  similar what we saw in the Gamera trilogy, and the description of the fights seemingly mirror Gamera’s fights. All this from a short trailer is really stupid, I know. However, first impressions count a lot, and I hope that I made a very good one recently.

Speaking of trailers, take a look at the original Godzilla trailer.

What I found interesting here is how much they show the monster, even thou at times it is hard to make out its specific shapes. In contrast to this the new trailer doesn’t want you to see Godzilla but in flashes, but at this point we all know how Godzilla is supposed to look. Rather than keep it a dull surprise, they should celebrate Big G’s return and show him in its full glory. The new trailer latched a thorn into my side with its end, where they tease with Godzilla’s classic roar, and it never comes out, unless the roar after that tease is complete. If this is the case that they made that tease just to lampoon the roar and have it there as a joke, it was in very bad taste and was empty. When tampering with an iconic character like Godzilla, especially the Vs Monster kind, there are requirements that need to be ticked, and one of them is Do not make the iconic things look bad or poke fun at them. There’s parodies and other places for that, and a there where the icon returns from hiatus is not one of those. American comic industry has problems with this, especially with certain characters that are almost hundred years old now.

I find it sad that most if not all hardcore giant monster movie fans are expecting a monster mash. Godzilla was something more than a couple of dolls beating each other up. There is a reason why the original movie is regarded best one in the series and is celebrated as a films among other ground breaking titles from that era. I can’t see this new Godzilla being better because it still misses the point what made the original so good. I bet it will be a good action movie, and I seriously hope it will be far superior to Pacific Rim, which I surprisingly disliked to an extreme.

Before I decide if I am going to see this in theatres, which might be a direct yes as I haven’t seen a Godzilla movie in a theatre in years, I will wait patiently for further information.

Also, my editor is taking a trip in Japan, so you’ll have to live with all my unedited stuff for the time. Cheers!

Customer is…

You’re all in the hamburger business. Do not forget that

What is a customer? A pile of miserable secrets? No, a customer is someone who is being marketed at and exchanges money or other valuable assets for goods and/or services. This much is clear, ja? Then why is the customer a god? Customer is what determines the value of your firm, association, group or whatever you are in that offers service/ goods. Your brand, whatever it is at the moment, is what the customer perceives it to be, not what you make it out to be. Customer’s perceived quality is what you wish to achieve and what you wish to reach to.

Having customers is an extremely good thing, because that means your services are of some worth.

I can’t understand people who say they have no customers, like that representative from Desucon. If this was true, they’d have no perceived value or a reason to market themselves. Yet there is a marketing campaign and exchange of money for goods and services. While they offer augmented service offering via lodgings, these have been more or less limited successes rather than complete successes. Perhaps using GAP model between the organization and the customers would help these people to get rid of negative impacts in their service, thus reducing the time spent on fixing things rather than, y’know, enjoying the event and so on.

One thing that any company wants to achieve is a relationship with the customer, and one of the most important aspects of this is to have the same view on quality as the customer has. For example, CAPCOM clearly doesn’t think that games like Mega Man Legends 3 could’ve been a quality product, whereas they seemed to agree with themselves that games like Resident Evil 6 and DMC are a pinnacle of their genre and the product line CAPCOM has. As we’ve seen, the customers at large didn’t really care for either of them. Their perceived quality was less than the assumed quality CAPCOM put in there. Tameem or his company shouldn’t be even mentioned here, as he sucks at his job worse than a dead rhinoceros at living.

This is one reason why the video game industry is and has been for a long time in such a steep decline; the firms do not recognize their products and services having low quality and qualities the customers do not value.

This bears emphasizing, as fixing this would yield positive results for the industry, but the creator god myth, or the rockstar developer myth, is holding everything back. I’ve hammered this in far too many times, but these people are there to please the customers and not themselves. They are not artists. They are people who get paid to create products and services that we purchase from them. If the things they try to sell us fail, they need to start fixing all the problems as soon as possible, or loss of money will happen because time is spent on these failures rather than on successful products.

What Customer is god means is that the customer is what builds your firm/ organization. It’s never enough to push out something the firm itself sees as something of worth, it has to be seen of worth by the customer and no one else. Hell, even the brand a company has is determined by the customer and not by the marketing department.

Then how can you fulfil the customers’ expectations? The best thing is to offer them service of adequate quality, something that they will perceive as decent service and will not stray off from their quality tolerance. Every customer has a levels of tolerance for bad service, and bouncing within these limitations is challenging, but worth most. However, it would be best to achieve the level of quality the customer expects rather than bouncing on his tolerance zone, as at times you can surprise them with overquality. I wonder when was the last time a video game company surprised me with overquality?

Nintendo keeps talking about surprising the gamer. This and aforementioned overquality are not the same thing by far. Nintendo’s surprises are things that the customer does not expect, or more accurately, does not want. One example is the 3DS’ 3D screen. The only people who wished such from a handheld console were the developers. The customers wanted something more along the lines of Nintendo DS 2 or a named successor to the GameBoy brand. However, when talking of consoles we need to notice that they live on the augmented service offering, which they need to survive; the games. The game quality on the 3DS is abysmal. I freely admit that I got swept by my own hype on Project X Zone, and that it ended up being pretty damn bad game, which is why I am completely dumbfounded that the game is coming to Western shore after crashing and burning worse than Red Ninja on PS2.

The augmented service offering, in short, is additional services provided next to the core service. Video game consoles live on this type of additional services as they’re just the boxes you play games on. The games themselves have augmented service offerings as well, like updates and patches. DLC is is not part of this, as they are a separate product to market and sell. In most cases all video game firms lack quite a lot of these augmented service offerings and concentrate only on the core product, which is pretty stupid model when you notice that the consumption of video game, especially in modern days, is very dependant on constant little services provided by the service provider. It’s a good question whether these services are of good quality, as differences between SONY’s and Microsoft’s models are quite different when it comes to their account systems. It’s also notable that the playing of video games itself is the service procedure we consume; during this time the companies are responsible of working video game, both from technical and gameplay stand points, and on the function of the console we are using as they too offer the service of being able to play games. If any one of these and what they consist of fails, the service procedure’s quality drop significantly and in the future we will be more vary of buying product from the service provider. I need to bring Mega Man Legends 3 back into this, as the service procedure on the game had already been started and was cut short. CAPCOM not only got free workforce in the help in designing the game, but also offered a non-billable service which would’ve ended in the customer purchasing the game and consuming the product. CAPCOM’s decision of cutting the service procedure after it had been initiated and was well under work shows that CAPCOM doesn’t know how to run a goddamm business.

Thinking that game developers are just product providers is an old fashioned concept. Nowadays they need to offer more billable and non-billable services in order to provide the quality needed. Not only that, everyone in the game industry needs to change their habits and start accepting that you’re in the business to make games for other people.

I couldn’t give rat’s ass about what any organization thinks they do if I’m at the paying end. The only thing I care is whether or not they are able to provide me with high quality service I’m paying them for. If they aren’t, they deserve all the flak they get. From that flak they should be able to weed out the unnecessary problems with customer service and further enhance their service quality, because that’s what it all is about.

A review of Frostbite, or How I met your possible doppelgänger

The presented critic on Frostbite and on its elder brother Desucon has caused sort of a small uproar locally, which has caused this blog to gain five times more visitors than usually, more spam and somewhat more uncivilized comments than usual. Well, good. It’s publicity and the word gets out there, even thou it ultimately gets on my own conscience and nerves. Still, a review of the event itself is in order, and if you found yourself getting mad at me during the previous posts I doubt you’ll like this either.

I admit that I came out in a very hostile manner at start, but everything still applies. Naturally, things change in the light of new information. I love how professionally both the main organizer and main programme executive took so (intentionally) overblown critique. Desucon even has an English and Japanese language versions now. It’s a change for the better and a lot of information I recommended having there actually appear in the English site. Then again, the design is questionable as the left-hand panel has English menu while the Finnish menu is still above. It’s unnecessary clutter. Things like this are small but important details, but I’m sure the staff is going to work on the site in future and renew it from time to time.

I went to Frostbite with a hopeful set of mind. It might be cool, I can meet new people and perhaps make some new contacts if needed. There are clearly people who know their subject and are willing to put their best effort to bring out the best showcase possible. The organizers themselves seemed hopeful enough, so it can’t be all bad, right?

Wakamoto finds your lack of- I can't do this
Wakamoto finds your lack of— I can’t do this 

I won’t go through the whole event, but I’ll talk about few key points that really stood up to me, because they can be applied on the general level as well. All the points are not negative, but there are some big issues here that need to be addressed.

The overall event is as with any event really. The opening came and went. Since every event is handling their openings well enough, it was expected for this to be without any difficulties. During the opening you could see that there was nice selection of people of all ages, and in the hallways I caught some English, Russian and Swedish. During Wakamoto’s event there was a French guy, but we’ll come to that later on. I met a lot of familiar people and all that, but sadly I was unable to greet a newfound friend at any point. Oh shoot.

Speaking of languages, all the signs within the event parameter lacked all sort of English text. I see no reason to not have English text when you know that there will be foreigners.

I contacted the main organizer Mr. Myyrä in order to get some hard facts. He was most helpful with my inquiries. One of the things I wanted to know was the overall visitor amount and the number of foreigners. Please keep in mind that these are loosely translated from Finnish.

– Visitor amount
 The number of visitors was the maximum amount of tickets we sell for Desucon Frostbite, which is 2700. This was too much, as the visitors tend to stay inside during winter, which makes the Sibelius Hall rather tightly packed.
To last summer’s Desucon we sold 2900 tickets and this seemed to work for the space we had. This is why we will sell the same maximum amount of tickets this year as well.

–  Amount of foreign visitors

 The number of foreign visitors was around 20.  When you count the visiting Swedish convention organizers and the likes of Russian Pro Cosplay magazine’s journalists, this rises to around 35. This is about 1% of all visitors.
See? One. Percent! Now you might think that I’d back down about this subject. No, this is a great number considering how small scale the event is. That 1%, if nurtured well enough, can be grown into a higher number. It’s a start, a seed that needs some water and good ground to grow from. However, this would mean that the whole system would need to grow, and most likely this would mean a change of place.
Midday Sunday
Around Sunday noon. You’d think that the main hall had that much room to move in all the time but no

While wandering the hallways and checking everything through, a friend of mine heard a couple of youngsters asking each other Why won’t they get a bigger place? The question is valid. There clearly is demand for a larger event. Of course, there are numerous problems with this, starting with first finding a bigger structure to house the event, the higher price of the event which would most likely be seen in the price of the ticket at first until proper visitor numbers are listed and the general increase of certain workloads would be somewhat significant.

Desucon, as well as Frostbite, has room to grow. However, as evident from the plans the organizers have for the summer’s tickets, it’s clear that they have no intention to allow these events to grow.

– The amount of cancelled tickets and how fast they were resold
The amount of cancelled tickets was around one hundred and they were resold in less than 10 minutes. This sort of system where we sell the returned tickets is not functional, thus we will most likely refrain from selling cancelled tickets in the future, unless something strange happens.
The amount of returns and the speed at which they were resold tells that there is demand for a larger event. Seeing that Desucon has a reputation of sorts to be the definitive convention in Finland, I see no reason for keeping it from growing and expanding to accommodate the growing number of visitors as well as strive for higher quality program. However, there are many things that I assume are holding the organizers back from changing the place from Sibelius Hall to some other place. The paperwork it would take, planning, advertising and all that take their own time, and then there’s the fact that some people see the Sibelius Hall as the place for this specific convention. [Oh bullshit!.Edit] However, we must recognize that if the convention is going to grow for the better, it needs to be allowed to grow in size as well to a certain point where the the amount of tickets and the willing the willing amount of visitor meets. It’s now evident that Sibelius Hall has become too small for this event, and more room to the sales hall wouldn’t hurt either.
It’s a question I wish the organizers to ponder among themselves whether or not they are willing to expand the existing convention to a larger space to serve more customers. If they are not, what are the real reasons behind it and what can be done to serve this smaller amount of customers better. Getting the program quality up would help a lot in this. Actually, that would be the most important step.

Speaking of the space, there was a strange design decision to attach balloons around the guardrails in the stairs, which effectively prevented from using the said guardrails and there were few people who got caught into in them. Attaching them outside the rails would’ve been a better bet, and better for the overall safety of the event. 

Question of space also became evident when visitors began to loaf around, blocking the hallways. I would have wanted to see the patrolling security to separate these blocks and instruct the loafers to move into somewhere they have place to do so, like the cafeteria or the main hall. Naturally, this is because of the aforementioned amount of visitors.  Naturally, the security guards there were pretty chill people, laughing and joking with the visitors.

The ongoing stuff, like the games room and such, were somewhat higher in quality than standard, offering more consoles than some other events, but the overall selection of games seemed to be somewhat limited. Only a certain selection of consoles had a large selection, while others had distinctly scarce. They had a damn PC-Engine there, which I gladly tested through and through in every occasion I could.

I understand why PC-E failed in here West while it enjoyed a moderate success in Japan. It also has an awesome design only with few negative things. It's also tiny!
I understand why PC-E failed in the West while it enjoyed a moderate success in Japan. It also has an awesome design only with few negative things. It’s also tiny!

I need to do a design review on game consoles some day.

There was also a small incident with the ongoing traditional games on Saturday evening, where the players were promised continued light, but due to the evening party all lights were cut down, effectively preventing these players from seeing what they were playing.

But let’s get to the programme itself. It’s apparent that the staff aimed for variety, and in that sense they did succeed. It’s not that easy to juggle different programs so that they do not overlap with the same theme and that they offers options for the visitors. However, all of this is for naught when the programs themselves are lacking in content and quality. For example the Sunday morning’s Gundam show was rather awful. Ville Siivola, the presenter, seemed to spend one year watching through all of Gundam metaseries and not getting but parts of it. While Gundam shows do repeat their certain themes, the UC and Seed series are the only ones that truly share solid common elements. Comparison between Wing and 00’s themes is a bit amiss because they are vastly different as well, but I guess it’s understandable for a person who didn’t really give a damn about the franchise and missed pretty much all the important details that were on the screen. The programme was lacklustre because it was just an opinion and not worth a programme block. Loads of the arguments presented there as well as overall knowledge of the franchise and on the overall era of each series were pretty baseless. While it’s good to see new people watching old shows with open eyes and with no knowledge of the situations surrounding the series, for a presenter to completely dismiss them is just plain stupid. This is a problem, because it’s a controlling element, and can be weeded out if the organizers keep the presenters in a short lease and edit their programs to a point, much a book editor edits a writer’s book. You can have a subjective show for sure, but that’s not an excuse for ignorance. I find it laughable that Siivola recommended the Gundam Crossbone comic, but said soon after that he only knew of the animated works when he was inquired about Gaia Gear. Good thing nobody brought other side-materials out then. The things would’ve gone even more awkward. 

This is a problem, as from-users-to-users, or user created content, rarely produces good content without a harsh screening.

While other programmes were much more knowledgeable on their subjects, majority of them fell into the same pit of having a subjective view of their own; a zero facts show, where everything is assumed. To some extent you’d think that they were paid to advertise products, but I’m sure this wasn’t the case. I only know one event where a presentation was made to advertise a product, but less said about that the better. On top of that, all the classical errors you could do in a presentation appeared from talking over with your host, turning your back to the audience and reading what’s on the screen. Perhaps all people who are admitted to have a panel or presentation should get a some sort of memo from the main staff what not to do during their show. 

The main stage also was almost completely empty of programme, which is really strange. It’s a shame that a large stage like that was mostly ignored when it could’ve been put to good use.  While it is known that the main stage needs to empty for rehearsals and walkthroughs, that’s not reason to leave it completely useless.

In short; despite the efforts put in the quality and variety in the programme, the results could’ve been much better. Not to say that there was no good presentation or panel, like the Invitation to Japanese comic studies, but we can all agree that two or three pearls doesn’t make the overall schedule shine as it should. In the end, it’s up to the main programme manager keep up the quality of the programme. It’s not enough just to take people in and have them do content, but this content needs to meet certain standards, and it appears these standards have never been set.

It’s also a fault that from-users-for-users format never really works when aiming for high quality. This user generated content is always a finicky thing. You get one or two decent results through that, but on the long run the system becomes abused in a way where the user comes in with content that is basically worthless and still gets a free pass. In this case, a lot of people make content for conventions just to get in free and don’t care if their program is good or not. What I’ve gathered was that Desucon was made to bring high-quality events and programme into Finnish convention scene, but as they are now they’re just as bad as any because of the system abuse. While the concept is sound at the base level, it falls apart when you take into account how little your run-of-the-mill person cares what he puts up.

However, the main event itself was Wakamoto on stage and you really can’t screw this kind of thing up. Except, y’know, when it comes to translating audience’s questions to him.

I’m glad they set the rules before anything else; taking photos are OK except when video footage was on, and taking video was banned altogether. I should’ve taken sound next to my photos. This is completely understandable as Wakamoto’s voice is his trade. The footage they showed had original Finnish subtitles, which is a great way to circumvent some licensing issues, thou the footage itself might’ve had some issues, but I’m sure the staff managed to get around that as well.

Wakamoto on stage

However, when it came to the second part of Wakamoto’s stage show, where he answered to questions from the audience, the translator was really struggling with some of the questions, and few questions were poorly translated, which led into Wakamoto misunderstanding the question. This is unavoidable to an extent, but noting that the translator lacked certain knowledge and finesse tells that either this person had a huge stage fright going on or wasn’t really up for the task. In situations like this it’s completely acceptable to hire a professional translator with proper experience if possible. Considering the translator himself was most likely a fan, I find it stupid for him not recognizing YouTube: M.D. Geist, not even from the context of the event. I could’ve expected that from a translator who isn’t accustomed to talk about the subject, even when from the context it’s damn clear that it’s something to do with Wakamoto and anime scene.

No, he didn't wear shades but he should've had.
No, he didn’t wear shades but he should’ve had. After all, he IS Most Dangerous Wakamoto

Now, there was this competition between artwork and Wakamoto impressions. Two best artworks would win and so would the best impression. Sounds good. There was a relatively low amount of contestants in the artwork side, about thirty, and knowing the level Finland has with its fanartists it most likely yielded something exceptional.

Ladies and gentlemen, plagiarism
It’s not even a good fucking trace!

Now excuse me for being coarse the next paragraph but what the hell is this shit? THIS is the winning piece of fanart? If you allow this piece of plagiarism win a contest, what the fuck were the competing works? Put up a damn gallery on your website so we all can see them. This is not fanart, this is a bad trace of an existing comic panel and it’s bad at that. Who the hell was in charge of this contest? It doesn’t help that the second place was won with a picture of Cell from Dragon Ball Z that looked like it was made with fucking crayons in ten minutes. Where’s all the awesome artwork we usually see? The level of the contest shows that people didn’t give two damns about it. God, I wish I had participated with a screenshot from Gunbuster with some new rasters. It would’ve been the same damn thing. This is just bullshit. I’m not even going to criticise the Wakamoto impression because it was horrible and embarrassing to listen to. I’m addressing this critique to both the staff and to Isoaho himself. Letting a tracing to win an art contest is a mistake, but Isoaho also managed to screw the picture. If you compare it to the original panel, you can see every little and big mistake he has done. Either Isoaho can’t draw or he sucks at tracing. On top of that, as a separate artwork the picture is dull as hell in contrast to the original. Good job at fucking up a good comic panel. I really want to see the other participants’ works as well, and they could put up a gallery in Frostbite’s page. They can’t be any worse than what this piece of crap is.

Beside that, the prices themselves were pretty damn near; an alarm clock with Wakamoto’s voice recorded in it, and his autograph as well. The audience who sat in certain spots with numbers was were in a lottery of who would get the remaining two. To my happy surprise a French person won one of those, and the other was won by a random Finnish guy. Kudos to that guy.

Speaking of Wakamoto, it seems that he only stayed within the country for three days from Saturday to Monday. I really do wish that he had as fun time as claimed, and to see him here for a vacation rather than for work like this.

It had escaped me until that point that the whole show was in Finnish. If it had been an option, some sort of translation for them would’ve been really damn awesome, but as it was now I can’t help but to think how indecipherable the whole event was for them. It’s a matter worth looking into. An English language leaflet would also be an excellent addition. Of course, this would’ve been in limited production and aimed only for the foreign visitors.

These things are rather small, but important. It’s easy to get blind at these things, and Frostbite showed that since their first years the staff have become a bit too accustomed to the way everything works to the point that they have become blind to the more intricate details that need attention, and to their faults that have risen. God live in the details after all, and while the overall frames might work without a fault, all the details are what builds what the customer experiences. I’m glad to see that the organizers are willing to take in harsh criticism and work to get them fixed.

However, there was one large point that I need to point and it comes to the porn sold there. The sales floor was basically a free-for-all zone, and certain sellers sold their pornographic fancomics openly for minors without checking IDs or similar. That’s practically illegal. I’d hate to think that the organizers are unwillingly to take part in sexual harassment of under aged people. As open as I am with porn, I recognize that in an event like this the R-18 comics, toys and so on need their own section behind the curtains with a guard to check IDs when necessary. I’m sure this sounds anal to most people, but I’d rather see Desucon and Frostbite continuing and possibly getting better (rather than worse) than seeing the people charged for breaking the law. I have no qualms for a young person to see porn on the Internet, as it is the parents’ job to instruct and educate the children with this matter, but allowing children a direct access to porn and even allow its promotion is going too far in doing nothing.  It takes one phone call to local Police office and tell, that this event has sellers selling porn to children, and that the organizers are turning blind eye to it.

One thing that makes conventions like this what they are is the fellow participants. Everybody to whom I stopped to chat with were most helpful, interesting and honest. Even when I didn’t get to know these people, nor they got to know me, we enjoyed the new company and laughed at our bad jokes. Sadly, this can’t be attributed for the convention’s own positive nor negative, as this can be achieved in your local library as well. Your standard Finnish doesn’t really break their shells and talk to strange, unknown people. Within this sort of environment ,where you know everybody is just as loony as you, it becomes increasingly easier.

While I did not attend the lodgings provided by the local scouts, I did hear some negative comments on them. As such, the following criticism is mostly taken from discussion with three of my friends who did. According to them, there was a problem with water resources, as the water was cut at certain time, meaning that the use of restrooms and showers was impossible. There was only three restrooms for seventy people, which caused some serious commotions. The showers were also unisex showers, which caused some slight discomfort. Communication between the administrators and the scouts was also faulty, causing some chaos in their ranks. They did get a decent and cheap breakfast, so that’s a plus, but according to this set of people there wasn’t any choices for those with food allergies.

It’s kind of interesting to see that this kind of cheap lodgings provided by the organizers had these problems. Most of the time I’ve heard good things how things work, but it takes only one bad time to get a negative reputation to circulate. I wish things will go much better next time, and that the organizers will take do what they can in order to ensure the flow of water.

I don’t really have any proper closure. Depending on my work and life situation, I’d sort of want to participate to summer’s convention to see how it goes this time. They have time to change details for the better, and start checking the programming. I have been offered a chance to create program, thou that would mean that I have two programs to create for two separate conventions. Not a big job as such, but for a proper programme it takes six months to study and research the subjects if you’re unfamiliar with it, but seeing that I would make other based on brand management, the other would take considerably less time to make. I do understand the implications behind this tactic thou, asking a critic to take part, but I do believe we are not that childish to resort in actions or debate like that. If the organizers wish to comment on the presented critic, I will be publishing their responses as usual.

Events and organizers need criticism just as badly as any service field, and in their place building up proper criticism needs to be something they have to work with. In cases like this, where the event itself is an annual event, it would be good to introduce as much criticism in order for the next year to trump over the last.

Wakamoto is either telling you to Make it so, or Stop that shit now
Wakamoto is either telling you to Make it so, or to Stop that shit now

Let’s finish this off with some music, shall we?

Sometimes a service provider takes it to their heart

When a service provider takes critique with a positive attitude, you know that these people care for what they’re doing. My critique is in most cases a bit too extreme and that’s mostly the point, as I wish to showcase mostly opposite views while exploring other possibilities within certain limits. Often I look back at a post and wonder if I was too harsh, but then I remember the general attitude a lot of companies and organizers in general have. It’s a bit unfair to lump them all into one piece, but looking at these people in one general view creates a sort of competition to design better service. Then again, I do admit that I’ve been listening to Josh Hadley’s rants lately a bit too much and some of my intentions have been slightly adjusted to channel the passion that man oozes.

In that sense, you can be surprised that within eight hours of releasing my disappointment on the upcoming Desucon Frostbite I noticed that Antti Myyrä, the main organizer, had commented there and further explained the situation. At the time you’re reading this post the comment will have already been deleted and moved into this post in order to open a transparent dialogue. Let’s see what the man writes back.

Hi there!

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions. The truth is, we actually don’t have a clue beforehand whether our GOH’s will give out signatures or not. Usually they do, but sometimes they just don’t. We realize how important getting an autograph from the GOH is to fans, and we have succeeded in negotiating with many who at first didn’t want to give out any. This time it was unfortunately a different story.

So, being in a situation where we can’t get everything we want, we could have of course cancelled the whole thing, but to whom would that do any good? I still believe fans can get a lot out of the visit, although getting a signature from Mr. Wakamoto would have been a highlight of the event (or even the whole year, for some).

As for communicating the thing, we didn’t release the information until we were certain that this is the deal we’re getting. Releasing incorrect information or just lying about it isn’t how we do things. We are of course offering a full refund on ticket purchase, if someone wishes to cancel their visit because of this.

Information is the most important thing when it comes to event organizing, but not just towards the customers. Having an open dialogue and clear set agreement between the organizer and the guests is highly important, as it helps in solidifying the overall structure of the event. Knowing well beforehand what will be, how it will be and at what time is extremely important. It’s far too common to have this sort of lack of dialogue and information between participants. Every working environment suffers from this from school to event organizing to whatever generic workplace we are in. The problem persists in our information era, even thou we have multiple sorts of instant messengers. Some things are in the human nature by default. 

Uncertainty has been a downfall for few events that I’ve been putting up. That uncertainty needs to be removed with questions and answers from both sides, so no ambiguous assumptions are left open. This of course is always reflected in the information given to the customers. Leaving information allows the customer to assume what will take place rather than to expect what will take place. This is what you want to avoid as much as you can.

It’s understandable that we do not wish to release information that we are not certain on. However, then this uncertainty needs to be reflected on the released information. How this information is released is actually very difficult to achieve with the desired effect. Sometimes it may put the organizers in a position where they look incompetent, but with correct wording it becomes just a part of the information.

Personally, I’m glad to see that the organizers are willing to refund the ticket’s price for all who wish to that. While it’s “merely” 20€, you need to take account the travel and hotel expenses as well. The overall price of the visit is not 20€, but all those expenses added to it. Simply because of this good deed I’m still willing to participate in the event and further explore what do they have to offer.

We do have a version of the site in English (and an English Twitter account, @desukunENG), but the site’s currently not in use. This is actually a thing where we’d appreciate if you’d help us! We don’t want to put up a mirror site, because many things in Desucon Frostbite are completely in Finnish and we don’t want to make people believe that everything is in English at the event. So, we only want to publish the things that an international visitor might need or appreciates. Would you have any suggestions which things we should at least put to the English site? I promise we’ll have one before our summer event, Desucon!

When information on certain events is given in English, it always has to be made clear whether or not the event itself is multilingual. It looks like none of the Finnish convention practise English outside few selected programs, which is both a positive and a negative. While it offers everything to the local audience, it locks out the possible foreign audience. If we were to put an extremely overboard service, one way to open these events to foreign visitors would be to have a translator with a selected group, to which this translator would summarize programs and other matters. This sort of guided event translation service is usually rather expensive. However, the signs in the event could be bilingual and it would ask no extra effort.

Clear cut information is the key overall. A clear page design saves a lot of troubles later on. Mirroring a Finnish site into English would only be half the job, as the other half would demand that the information would be modified to serve the needs of foreign visitors. An English language site should always have relevant information for both local population who do not speak Finnish and information for possible foreign visitors. All the basic stuff from description of the event, history of the event, why and when… It’s all pretty clear overall. The same basic stuff as with any event site. However, English information site should also contain description of the city and a somewhat exhaustive collection of hotels, transportation timetables and maps for foodstuff, restaurants and if possible, a small review on each place would be extremely helpful. Knowing which place sells the cheapest pizza, or what store has the best selection, will always come in handy. Most of these are easily done with Google Maps most of the time, and many travel agency sites already offer this service, but having an exhaustive information package for the possible visitors saves their time, which then turns for the organizers favour on the long run. A happy customer is a returning customer.

The question What is relevant information? in this case it depends on what sort of event is being held. Newsfeed is always necessary, and while I do recognize how useful Facebook and Twitter are nowadays, the good old RSS feed on the site for new updates is still irreplaceable. Keeping both sites updated at the same time is also important, so that neither side misses any important bits.

The event programme schedule itself needs to be translated as well, and further emphasize that all programs are in initially set language unless mentioned differently. English  programs could also play part in the overall event, where certain set of panels or presentations are designed to be presented in English, or if someone would like to see the trouble going through, bilingual with subtitles. I’ve seen few well made presentations, where the presentation was held in Finnish, but a video was rolling in the background showcasing all the presentation with English subtitles. A lot of work, and if well made, really awesome way to present yourself.

This would be a good place for small customer research. If possible, I’d recommend doing a small inquiry among the foreign visitors what they’d like to see on the website. That, and visit hotels’ sites and other similar webpages to amass some material and patching a good vision what is needed to serve foreign customers.

On another note, it would be interesting to see if anyone from abroad would be willing to come here to arrange some sort of programme for the convention. We’d get some change through that. It would also give a chance for some adventurous person to wonder into Finnish wilderness called Lahti.

TL;DR We aren’t complete idiots, just suck at negotiating if you will ;)

Best regards,
Antti Myyrä
Main Organizer
Desucon Frostbite

I like that bit. Negotiating skills grow only through experience, much like everything else.

P.S. I’m pretty sure you already know this but your readers probably don’t, so I’ll need to clarify: the organization behind Desucon is completely non-profit and all the work is completely voluntary. No one gets a salary, or any other kind of pay for doing this, so there’s no hidden scheme to make more money. That doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be criticism, but it should stick to the facts.

Our finances are actually open for everyone and the results for our fiscal year 2011-2012 can be found from here: http://desucon.fi/desucon/blogi/2011/12/luukku-2—desuconin-talous-julkiseksi (in Finnish again, sorry) The newest one was actually completed just before Christmas, and we’ll release it after Frostbite. If you’re interested in details, I’d love to go through them with you.

I admit going overboard with this a bit. However, non-profit or not, I see that there is no reason to not fully realize possibilities that event like this holds. Non-profit or not, it doesn’t matter on the long run. Naturally we can’t expect to have same level of service as in events run by companies that are after profit, but ultimately what only matters from the customers’ point of view is that they get what they get is the best possible outcome. If it would mean that salaries would need to be paid in order to lift the quality of the event, I’m all in. As always, there’s the fine line between doing the best you can, and the best your customers expect. Thou I have to admit, that sometimes the customers can be huge assholes with this.

If relevant in the future, I’ll take on mr. Myyrä’s offer and discuss on what goes into putting up an event like this. I’m sure that his point of views and experiences would be interesting to hear.