FACTS 2014 Convention - Nerds Are Mainstream Now

While Facts 2014 is as entertaining as every year, it's most definitely a public event now.

By Daavpuke, Posted 20 Oct 2014

It’s with a heavy heart and also a sudden case of severe stomach pains that October rolled around another Facts convention. As Marvel keeps crapping out movies to launch its struggling brands, the crowds keep growing larger with people mindlessly and erroneously shouting quotes. It’s therefore that Facts 2014 is almost exactly the product of last year’s prediction, with one or two differences. Its bottom line is that the traditional nerd is out and the fair-weather attendants that just happen to dabble in these subcultures are in. It’s sad, yet not surprising and also not problematic, because the things that the solitary wallflower wants are still there, just buried, like in real life. As always, please excuse the blog format of the personal trip to Belgium’s largest geek event.

Facts 2014,Convention,Belgium,Nerd Culture,Geek Culture

As stated, the morning started with acute illness, so it took a few hours longer to get to the giant expo hall, where all stands are now crammed in the central hall. Sideshows fit their description with a clever relocation to side rooms, to accommodate nerds and crowds alike. Only being able to struggle in past noon has its advantages though. For one, there is literally no line left, even with packed trams releasing hundreds of show-goers at once. Each year, there seems to be less of a point to tack on those few early hours, since half of it is spent in a queue.

A sad reality, however, is that with only a few hours left to see everything, time became an even bigger issue. Luckily, games receive a front and center spot and a roomy one at that, but the hordes of casual people made it impossible to get through. Making matters worse, Ubisoft’s booth didn’t get its PS4 versions of Far Cry 4 running for longer than a minute without crashing, making the line even bigger. A decision was made ten minutes in to not wait around for something that wouldn’t work out. Seeing the entire convention takes precedence to playing what looks like Far Cry 3+. Don’t get me wrong, Far Cry 3 is amazing and therefore this iteration could be as well, but it just looked like a more condensed version of an already existing game, nothing more.

Facts 2014,Convention,Belgium,Nerd Culture,Geek Culture
It took all I had to leave this beauty behind and its Jaguar and Neo Geo Pocket siblings.

To turn this bittersweet train around, there are definitely still a lot of positive developments that come hand in hand with the watering down of nerd culture. For one, this year’s Facts convention was all about games and that’s the first year this has happened, likely due to PS4, Xbox One and many franchises now being prominent in the family home. Stands finally acknowledge that there’s money to be had in these gamer people. Nearly all merchants were offering games, new and old alike, which is a blessing and a curse as your resident classic gamer here. In fact, the very first stand in the hall was nothing more but leagues of older platforms, anywhere from Sega Saturn to GameCube. Starting off with fifty bucks less due to purchases is setting a pretty big message: This convention means business.

More noticeable growth was present in cosplay seen around the event. Yes, it sadly is still quantity over quality. Those ridiculous onesies are now everywhere. Showing up in an ill-fitting suit and sneakers now equates to a Doctor Who outfit somehow. Hopefully, the dozens of people wearing fedoras and army pants, while reeking of cat piss, were on some next level of dedicated disguises as well.  Some straight up just bring whatever mismatched Halloween clothes they’ll be wearing in a few weeks. And yet, unlike last year, the breaking point here has been breached that masses in costumes can actually be beneficial.

First off, the deluge of people coming in costume also means that there are many more doing it right, just out of pure probability. Oh my, there were so many great and original costumes, you did so great! I eventually didn’t approach a single one, because I felt a bit intimidated that I’d pick one great cosplayer over another and I also didn’t want to contribute to the ogling and objectifying that was occurring everywhere. Sadly, that was also a thing with the trendy crowd. Seriously, they’re people, not props and your condescending cackling is gross, but moving on. Another benefit is that this symbolizes just how accepted and commonplace cosplay is now. It’s no longer a thing that needs to be hidden until the con doors, but it’s a fully accepted hobby. That last part was inspiring, to see a lot of hardworking people or just boys and girls who wanted to feel like their favorite character for a day getting to do just that, without social worries. It’s not all piss and vinegar when it comes to these “filthy casuals” infiltrating the thing we love.

Facts 2014,Convention,Belgium,Nerd Culture,Geek Culture

A final breach was dedicated to another conflicted presence: My Little Pony. Plushies, figurines, shirts; fans had their pick on a lot of stands now openly displaying the kid show. And while that’s still a point of aggravation for a lot of people, it does signify something special: The bronies have officially landed and are now an accepted part of the subculture that otherwise puts them down. Con acceptance; that’s a huge statement! Want it or not, they are now on equal footing with any other Kuroko No Basket pillow or League of Legends Teemo doll put on tables. I don’t mean to like or understand the pony movement, but it is an uplifting thing to see regardless. We all know what it’s like to be the kid on the outside.

As expected, however, the popularization trend meant another price increase, while item quality decreased. Similar portraits that were plastered on huge frames last year, sold for more on smaller and lower resolution images. Shirts keep tacking on a few bucks to get people to buy more. Additionally, the real gems and special items are now completely overrun by mass manufactured items available at each stand. Personality is down this year, that’s for sure.

Here again, there’s a slight upside to the waves of crapola. Overstocking means that those who don’t need the very latest of trinkets can get their hands on items at dumping prices. Sure, they’re tossed away in boxes on the floor and it once more means getting obscured by flashy goods, but it does save a pretty penny for some neat things like board games, mugs, figurines, plushies and so on. Even some premium statuettes, those who usually sell well into three figures, were cut down to about fifty bucks. Take into account that Star Wars, who used to be king con, is now also more of a relegated item and that pristine Vader model becomes fairly hard to resist.

Time was running short, so there was not a second left to even get a glimpse of Lou Ferrigno or other guests and the artist section was sped through. That latter section of the hall seemed so desolate. As much as Marvel is making comics cool, there doesn’t seem to really be a follow through to, you know, actually get into comics.

I was eventually able to circle back to the game booth on the way out and took in some time with Assassin’s Creed Unity and Assassin’s Creed Rogue, but more on those in the coming days, hopefully. I can already say this: Ubisoft is above criticism, even though no one knows what they’re doing with the franchise anymore. So many of the same type of common gamers frothing at the mouth over nothing special was rather confrontational. After about half an hour at the booth of listening to dozens of people speculate about what they thought Rogue was, I informed some it’s a last generation game and not the Black Flag expansion that seemed to be the consensus among youngsters.

Oh, another thing: Ubisoft was actively encouraging unattended minors to play mature games at their booths. So much for using that age rating excuse ever again, forum dwellers; even the company knows exactly who they’re peddling their wares too.

The only prediction that didn’t go the direction I initially thought was indie games getting a bigger spot, which is lamentable. Only a few were shown and some were so tucked away, it was barely noticeable at all. I only spotted I Will Escape at the very end of the day and after already getting booted out by an understandably tired Nintendo lady at their booth, I didn’t feel like doubling up on rejection. My sincere apologies to the indie crowd for that, but time and sickness got the best of me. I assure you that you are free to contact us at any point to cover your games, if any of the attendees are reading this. Eventually, I only played a few rounds of Guns, Gore & Cannoli, as it was the most accessible. That was enough to call it a day.

Facts is definitely a convention for the masses now. Big crowds and shallow content are painful to see for the nerd who held up this culture to legitimize it, but this does come with positives in other areas. It’s easier than ever to get into certain interests and it’s less of a pain to put this on display with an equal ease in getting hands on whatever fits your fancy. Gaming doesn’t need to just become a product to sell off though. The convention itself needs to see its benefits like merchants now have used it. I expect more and bigger games next year, now that it’s a big thing at the con, Facts organizers and publishers.

As always, we leave you with the world’s worst pictures, taken by yours truly. I swear, my photography gets worse every year; I have no idea how that keeps happening. It can’t possibly be as sick as I am.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed (@Daavpuke)

comments powered by Disqus

Related Feature

  • 1

    FACTS 2013 Convention - The Rise And Fall

    By Daavpuke, Posted Oct 21, 2013

    With another year comes another Facts convention in Belgium, where anime, comics, movies and other nerd culture meets for an annual blowout. As noted from my recap of last year,


General Information

Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC, WII, 3DS, Vita, Mobile
Publisher(s): N/A
Developer(s): N/A
Genres: N/A
Themes: Convention
Release Date: 2013-10-19

View All

Popular Articles