Since 2012, a group of about 30 to 50 locals have been hosting one of Jacksonville's biggest and most successful gaming and art events of the year, The Gaming, Art, and Music Show a.k.a GAAM Show. This year I was able to sit down with Creator Ryan Paul Thompson and his team to get the inside scoop.
One thing that the GAAM crew is adamant about is making sure the public knows that GAAM is NOT a con. Your typical con has significant components which make it very clear that you are indeed at a pop culture convention. These include celebrity guest panels, an artist alley, large variety of vendors, and competitive cosplaying. The reason why these components are so important is because they make up the financial profit of the con, along with ticket sales of course. For instance, remember back in May when I went to MegaCon? Well, that con serves as an excellent standard for the average con. (Note: San Diego Comic-Con is NOT your average con, it's the Coachella of cons.)
Every con has a variety of movie, television, and voice actors and actresses that are HUGE in the industry. I'm talking about Tara Strong, Elijah Wood, and Norman Reedus type. The Producers of the con pay upwards of $75,000 for these celebrities to come to a con of 100,000 attendees or more. Where the profit comes in is through prices for photos, autographs, fan videos, VIP panels, and stuff like that. These amenities can cost anywhere upward of $80 per amenity/per person. This may not sound too bad but the numbers don't lie. Let's pretend Stan Lee, creator of Marvel Comics, was at a marvel themed con with 100,000 attendees. The producers may pay $80k to get Stan there but if at least 50% of the attendees just paid $80 to get an autograph, the con just made $4 million in revenue.
I knew math would finally pay off one day.
Here's where is gets REALLY controversal...
Artists and vendors, who pay for a spot to sell their products and services, now have to compete in the vendor hall and artist alley for consumers; who are likely at the con to meet the voice behind their favorite anime. I mean, if you've ever been to a con you've probably been in one of those cringy moments when there is a flawless replica of Ichigo's Bankai form Zanpakuto on a really dope chick's display table but you've got just enough to pay for your pic with Johnny Yong Bosch and survival for the rest of the weekend. And it sucks because she's looking at you all excited because you're excited over her work but you have to turn away because when is Johnny going to be at Pensacon again?
Here's the point...
I'm a little off topic but the point is, at cons the artist alley and vendor hall are less of a place to display work and connect with fellow fans and artists and more of a stock broker market for nerds. This is why GAAM refuses to become a con. It's an art show, with gaming, and cosplay, and music, and drinks. Did I mention it's a 18+ event?
I certainly don't mean to knock the cons, you will still find me blowing through stacks at your local cons, like WasabiCon, but I appreciate that GAAM caters towards the artists. Art and gaming is what brings this group of over 1000 locals to the show year after year. And you can definitely expect a lot of art this year.
What to Expect: 10 Reason's to Get Your Ticket
1. I know that by now you'll be surprised to learn that there will be a bunch of art. In fact, there will be an auction held for the pieces so you might get lucky enough to take some of it home with you.
2. There will be gaming tournaments, a little bridy told me that there will even be an all girls gaming tournament.
3. There will be food and drank! Alcohol will be served and there will be free beer for the first hour.
4. There will be dancing, primarily from myself but I'm sure other people will join in as well.
5. There will be a live DJ.
6. There will be cosplayers and a large assortion of dope people.
7. There will be a gaming themed charity to participate in.
8. There will be a demo room for game developers and a representative from Nintendo.
9. There will be a pre-GAAM pre-game on the 27th, 10pm at Keg & Coin and then an after-after party on the 28th 11pm at GLHF Bar (be sure to check out my post about GLHF Revival).
10. And if you're lucky enough, there will be you there as well. Clink Here to claim your tickets now!
Alright, I'm almost done showing my geeky excitement over GAAM, just check out their promo vid. and then you can leave