This previous weekend, the 22nd through the 24th of September, Viral Outbreak Gaming could be found perusing the scene of one of Alberta’s most anticipated conventions. We are talking, of course, about Edmonton Comic and Entertainment Expo 2017. The entire geek community was out in full-force to bask in the glory of the celebrity guests and unload their hard-earned money at the many vendors. So, did Edmonton put the “entertainment” into ECEE? Let’s get into it.
As always, the festivities were held at the Edmonton Expo Centre. The single-building setup served the purposes of providing halls for vendors, panels, and photo opportunities. However, the shuffling of the layout for the vendor halls for the third year in a row did not work out nearly as well this year. The biggest concern stems from the dramatic reduction in size of the gaming area and the location of the aforementioned zone of fun. This affected this particular aspect of the con in a monumentally negative way (more on that later).
Despite this terrible change (made even worse by how phenomenal the last year’s rig and location was), the EEC adequately worked for what the celebration needed. The massive hallway outside of the halls provided a fast way to travel in between activities. Additionally, being able to remain inside was a blessing because of the less-than-stellar weather.
Score: 3.0 out of 5. The Edmonton Expo Centre is a good location for the con. However, some of the layout changes this year definitely dampened the experience.
The space usage versus area allocation was fairly well done for vendors. Let’s address the variety in the room. For those in attendance, the selection wasn’t bad at all. Pop Vinyls are still going strong. The sheer volume of figures has grown astronomically. To compensate for this increase in supply, the amount of shops that were selling these personifications of pop culture exclusively numbered in the half-dozen. Around a dozen or so other booths had some minor offering from the brand as well. The surprise box was another big hit this year; as other vendors adopted this sales idea and incorporated it into their offerings. I counted at least six shops that featured these random assortment of goodies clustered together in decorative packages. People love the unknown gift.
As far as food selection goes, the recently-revamped food court was in full effect and offered a wide variety of tasty treats. Likewise, there were nearly a dozen food trucks in the courtyard area of the Expo Centre. The major issue this year (and every year) stems from the lack of space for the former. At any given moment, hundreds of con-goers are crammed into a series of lines and tables that are woven together into one huge clusterf*ck. It is uncomfortable and creates a situation where tension is high to look out for a spot to sit opening up.
Score: 4 out of 5. Great selection of wares. Nothing too spectacular though. Nice selection of food, but the food court area is super cramped.
Let’s speak on quality first. Obviously, there were some appealing guests this year for the geek crowd in attendance. Marvel had some fantastic representation from the film side as both Anthony Mackie (Falcon) and Charlie Cox (Daredevil) graced Hall D for hilarious panels. Each man stole the show in their own way. The Stranger Things Netflix series showed some love; as Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) and Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas) presented some teenager charm to the audience. Finally, determined to make up for the last-minute cancellation that occurred at last year’s convention, Alex Kingston (River Song) made the dreams of Doctor Who fans in the Alberta area come true with a spoiler-free panel.
The issue this year stemmed from a lack of diversity and amount of fantastical guests. With the cancellation of the Riverdale guests a couple of weeks out from the show, the number of panels this year felt a little barren. This was blatantly apparent during the second day of the convention, Saturday; as normally that day is packed with numerous showings from the media guests in attendance. This day usually culminates in the Cosplay Contest at around 6:30. This means that there are around half a dozen panels for that day alone. This year there were two and the competition started at 2:00.
Score: 3 out of 5. Some great guests for Marvel. Some great guests for cult shows that are extremely popular right now. Saturday was extremely lackluster this year.
Highlights from this year’s ECEE can be found in our previously published article from last week.
Score: 4 out of 5. There were some great ones this year.
Quick summary. The gaming area was deconstructed this year to spare parts. There were no consoles/flat-screens set up in a sectioned-off area last last year (which was one of the best con gaming experiences that I have ever had). There were two rows of laptops available and a handful of arcade machines to play. No gigantic screen. No tiered seating. It seems that the bare minumum effort was put into this year’s gaming display.
Score: 1 out of 5. Location was ridiculously smaller than last year and the console games were non-existent.
3 out of 5 (An Average Showing).
Changes to the format and lack of a more diverse showing from media guests this year made the experience a little flat.