UBCon XXIX A Bard's Rhyme: A tribute to the tabletop
Games, cosplay and more come together at UB's anime and gaming convention
The Student Union is usually a quiet place on the weekend, but the three-day UBCon made sure that wasn't the case. Cosplayers, gamers, anime fans, furries and other fandom members took to the Student Union to share their diverse interests.
The 29th annual UBCon, celebrating fandom and art. Strategists and Role Players Association and Anime Club organized the various events –– including Nerf Wars, League of Legends and Super Smash Bros. tournaments, anime showings and cosplay improv shows –– running from Friday to Sunday. The convention was centered in the SU and extended through Baldy, Clemens, Knox and Norton halls. Attendees could also explore Artist Alley, two spots where they could buy fan merch, antiques and homemade goods from local artists.
Brendan Loos, Con director and a senior business administration major, said UBCon is “an insane event.”
“Not many events exist like [UBCon],” Loos said. “We're one of the first conventions on the East Coast to host the Nerf Wars, so we're very proud of that.”
Analyzing feedback from fans and attendees is one of the most crucial parts of planning, according to Loos.
“We try to pick events based on what fans want to hear, who they want to see, who they want to meet. It's always a good time when people get to meet their favorite guests.” Loos said.
The convention offered an eclectic mix of activities, from tabletop gaming to karaoke. The Nerf Wars were one of the largest events of the weekend. The foam-dart battle between around 300 people spanned the entire Student Union.
UBCon hosted a variety of special guests, including voice actors Sarah Anne Williams of “Kill La Kill” and “Sword Art Online,” and Spike Spencer of “League of Legends.” They also brought in Kayley Marie and Sarah Jean Maefs, two professional cosplayers.
“[The special guests] are some of the most down-to-earth people. They fly out to Buffalo just to be a part of the convention. It's really an honor for us,” Loos said.
The convention brought many cosplayers from the enthusiastic community. UB Cosplay Club hosted the Cosplay Contest in the SU Theater as part of UBCon. Cosplayers competed against each other in different categories. The different skits and artisanship draw in fans, filling the theater. Elisa Forysinski took home the “Best in Show” award with her Lady Four costume.
Jennifer Dudzinski, a junior media study major and secretary of UB Cosplay Club, chose to cosplay as Grif from “Red vs. Blue” on Saturday.
“I spent around $70 on all the different pieces,” Dudzinski said. “I like to stay under $100, but it’s something I enjoy. Sometimes you have to go an extra step.”
Paul Mercer, a regular attendee at UBCon, said he spent $1,500 on his full-body fursuit, equipped with a fan installed in the head. He has been fur-suiting for the last three years. This year, Mercer dressed as his most pursued “fursona,” a jackalope named Cacao.
“I’ve commissioned four people to create my costume. I met one of my artists here,” Mercer said. “Three years ago I got into the community through different friends, and have been upgrading everything over time.”
Unlike last year, the convention split its Artist Alley into two separate rooms. Local artists and crafters rented out booths for their products. One room featured 2-D art, such as prints and stickers, while the other featured artisan crafts. Some attendees were able to commission different artists on drawings or cosplay equipment. A third room, separate from Artist Alley, sold merchandise like board games and written material.
Farah Raghunandan, a sophomore psychology major, was travelling through the SU with friends to finish homework when he came across UBCon events.
“It’s hard to get work done with so much commotion, but they’re having fun,” Raghunandan said. “If this was happening during a weekday, I would understand some complaints, but it’s on a weekend once a year. I watched a lot of anime in high school, I might even check it out later.”
Next year, UBCon will celebrate its 30th year as a convention. It plans to continue to grow and bring more UB students into the community.
Samantha Vargas and Ema Makas are staff writers and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org