Having less audience doesn’t mean you have found your audience, Frostbite

Because this is regional news post, I will be providing necessary translations for the short news story about how people heading Frostbite have just as much common sense as the American comic book industry or the video game industry when to comes to audience and profits.

Well, the news itself isn’t anything special most parts. Just after we read that it was aimed for the adult audience for the first time, we got the first glimpse of what’s wrong with this picture; they only sold 2100 tickets out of 2700.  While this could be seen as a good number, we have to remember that this convention and it’s relative Desucon (goddamn that’s still an awful name) has been selling itself out. With 600 unsold tickets, the difference is significant. This tells you that you have been doing something wrong that the audience you have has made a stance and voted with their wallets.

Change in sales is the most important marker that tells if the product has been good. Negative changes lead into drop of sales, while positive changes lead into raised sales. Numbers don’t lie.  If you have been selling 100% of your product, and you have had the possibility to sell even more, any drop in the sales are significant. Changes that has been made to the product man that they’re fundamentally flawed and the changes either need to be reverted or remedied. It’s laughably sad that Frostbite has been selling out in almost matter of minutes, a thing that further solidifies how they lost a lot of visitors and audience. They never aimed for profits, so I won’t go there.

“All the feedback has been positive. “

I hope they really don’t buy this. On the very first day it was announced that the convention was only for legal adults Frostbite’s Facebook got boycotting messages. Twitter discussed the matter as well. The sales give you feedback as well. They’re resorting to old corporate tricks when it comes to news here. They’re concentrating on the feedback they’ve got from those people who were at the event itself. That’s not the only kind of feedback you get.

Companies that only check the feedback current users give do not enjoy highest sales for a reason. Those that take notice of all kinds of feedback, as well as go their way out finding the feedback that can’t be collected, like the silent feedback of possible sales that were not achieved, enjoy high amounts of sales and continue to produce excellent products one after the other. Not only that, but they’re willing to do customer research and go their way out to cater more than just their core customers, garnering more fame and success while they’re at it.

Of course, all that matters for them is the people who were there, and not the people who explicitly stated that they’d not attend. They’re playing this out just like any other corporation would.

“He [Santtu Pajukanta] estimates that they have made slight loss.

However, not enough that the union’s finances couldn’t take it.”

Wait, if you’re going to talk about losses, then the aim has been to make profits. I’m getting mixed messages here. Of course they’re a non-profit organisation, so losses and profits don’t matter. Yet, in this short news, the representative talks about losses. Anybody really could’ve told them this before they even announced the age limit. They would have made profits with continuing the all-ages practice. They had a customer group which caused 100% sales. Of course abandoning your core customers will cause you to lose profits and make loss. If they wish to cater for a smaller audience, they need to have a smaller place or make the product more high-end, premium or deluxe in order to justify the ticket prices. Smaller user group with smaller sales mean usually demand more expensive and more higher grade product to balance with losses and profits properly.

“Winter event Frostbite will most likely be targeted for adult hobbyists in the future.

-The word of this event will be out there, and I believe that next winter event will have more visitors, tells Pajukanta.”

I have to wonder why the hell are they even doing this? The word is already out there. They’re like the 80’s US comic industry, proclaiming that they have found better audience, and then proceeded to have lose sales through the 90’s and still haven’t managed to bring in back the revenues they used to enjoy. There’s a reason why the comic book movies have been more successful that their comic counterparts. It’s like Bioware saying We want the Call of Duty audience.

They’re not even recognizing that the losses they’ve garnered is simply because they made a decision which reflected negatively to the sales and profits. Not that they’re ever going to see it in a negative light.

Frostbite had an audience that made it sell all of its tickets. There was a chance and place for a bigger event with me visitors. With this new Frostbite, they’ve effectively eliminated their chances with that. Good job at killing chances of growth! The organisers decided to take Frostbite and neuter it. It has never been a good idea to take an existing, successful product and change it to fit smaller customer group and expect it to be as successful.

There’s now an open slot for all-ages winter convention. With the change of pre-existing product for lesser loss sales, they’ve unwittingly opened the door for competition to offer superior product very easily.

Will the future Frostbites sell out again? That is possibility, as those people who were too young to attend this year might be old enough next year or the following. However, that’s not a good thing really either. That would mean that the hobbyists are losing in growth numbers. Do they really want to make the scene look like it’s just bunch of adults watching kid’s cartoons or animated porn? There’s more than just that, and taking these elements into account is just as important. Conventions are also the face of the subculture, and tending that image properly is necessary. This weigh, wanted they it or not, is on the people who make these events that are showcased in the news.

It’s funny how this, as a single case, is a good example how one change in a design of the product can cause you losses. The customers were clearly somewhere else than last time.

To be allow myself a personal statement for a moment, I would wish the the organisers would return to the all-ages model. All they really gained from this was alcohol on-site. That’s not a victory of any kind.

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.

Frostbite and Wakamoto, I’m disappointed

There are few things that really astonish me in local convention organizing, mainly how bad it is. Sure, the conventions are held by amateurs but that is no reason not to aim for the best possible outcome and professionalism. These people seem to think that they’re having a small event for their friends while in reality at the moment their event has taken a world stage step.

Norio Wakamoto is a somewhat famous voice actor within the animation circles, and pretty damn famous in Japan. For the first time he steps outside Japan to visit foreign conventions. This is a huge event inside the scene, and I do know a slew of people that are coming from other European countries to see this man in the flesh. Why do the organizers not realize this?

First of all, their site is still only in Finnish. The organizers need to realize that there is a need for an English language mirror, but because these people are idiots such thing won’t happen. The second is that these people are as underhanded as any scheming moneygrubbing bastard organization would be; there’s no signing event.

Now that link is in Finnish, so here’s the short version; Wakamoto doesn’t give out signatures in general, but the organizers are having a competition where five people get one. Then they explain how Japanese do their signing events.

I respect Wakamoto’s wish to not give out signatures. It’s the choice he has made. Nevertheless, we need to remember that this person is nothing special. He is here to work. He does not only represent himself while being in the convention, but the Japanese animation industry and voice actors in general. This sort of special event demands him to go all out in promoting his works and give out fanservice to a point. Wakamoto has no real reason to refuse a signature event when all previous visitors have gladly taken part in them.

But Aalt, Wakamoto’s Japanese and Japanese people do it differently and we need to respect that.
What are you, racist? When in Rome, do as the Romans do. I do respect Wakamoto’s wish not to give out signatures, but the competition turns the tables completely around. It’s not uncommon for signature events to last only for a certain amount of time, or only serve some fifty to hundred people. Even these would’ve been more preferable than a goddamn competition. It’s lazy and the fault is on the organizers’ back.

You do recognize that this is an event that celebrates Japanese cartoon, so going with Japanese standards is expected?
This would be an otherwise solid argument, except we follow the American convention format with Finnish supplements, and previous visitors have agreed to go full out to make their event something special. Hell Tohru Furuya released the opening song of Kamen Rider Climax Heroes, which he also sang live on-stage. He specifically asked nobody to record it because the song had not yet been shown in Japan. I need to emphasize that this was a huge thing he did.

And the audience outside few selected individuals didn’t appreciate it. It’s like feeding pearls to pigs

To Wakamoto this seems to be a small vacation of sorts, and not anything related to work. For him this should be a huge PR event. While he doesn’t have any obligations to do anything for the fans, it would be in his own best interests to go all out, and spread positive view on everything he is associated with. Right now he comes out slightly asshole-ish.

Still, the organizers are money-hungry idiots of sorts. At least idiots. There is no chance in hell they didn’t know beforehand that Wakamoto wouldn’t give out signatures, so they chose to negotiate this competition and announce it a month after the tickets went on sale. They knew that releasing this information beforehand would also mean that the ticket sales would take a hit. If they didn’t, then these people are not even amateurs.

Where the organizers come out in this whole ordeal is being underhanded and holding out important information. Openness in this sort of events is highly important, and they fail in that on pretty much every occasion. Not to mention that these people are releasing information rather late. Well, the same thing can be applied to our local event, but that’s another story. I wonder if those people have realized that their ad campaign is already late…

I want to iterate; I am disappointed in Wakamoto’s decision to act according to Japanese standards in a Finnish event that follows other Western conventions. I am extremely disappointed and offended how the organizers have handled the whole situation surrounding Wakamoto. And I’m extremely disappointed in every single fan who eats the spoonfed propaganda without stopping and critically thinking for a while. I really hate to put it this way, but a lot of people need to stop sucking up on these organizers and voice actors. Ultimately, these people can only thank their fans. The fans are why they are in the position they are now. While I agree that they don’t have any obligations to do anything more than their job, it is in their best interest to go overboard and promote themselves. As customer we may ask them to sign something, but they have all the rights to refuse.

Of course there are too many fans who do not recognize that when a visitor steps down from the stage, he is off-duty. Ultimately, a Wakamoto producing a service, and not meeting the set expectations is not a job well done.