[RANT INCOMING! There is a TL;DR option for those who really need it >:|]
I not only belong to the anime sub-culture of life, I also belong to the FGC: the fighting game community. I recently read an article about whether or not "stream monsters" (people who watch live tournaments, but only to troll the chat and annoy the other chat users who are trying to discuss the tournament) were actually...well, important. Like, should we really care about them? Should we even...allow them and their behavior?
I mention this backstory because it brought up a discussion amongst some friends of mine and I about anime cons.
See, I'm of the small minority of people who don't actually go to anime cons for the anime or the panels; I go, primarily, to meet (presumably) like-minded people. People who ascribe to any of the following stereotypical traits: anime-lover, Japanophile, nerd, gamer, random, lonely, bullied, fun-when-you-get-to-know, etc etc etc. Those are all some of the many phrases that, I feel, have come to define most everybody that goes to cons. It was my theory, therefore, that people who go to cons, even if they are super shy, reserved, or antisocial, would be more than happy to also do what I do: hope to meet new friends at anime cons.
Now...my opinions are totally observation-based, just to get that out there, but, really, I've been going to cons since 2006, and, honestly, it really does seem that the "types" of people going to cons are...changing...not in a good way...
I realize that, honestly, most people that go to cons are rather shy, and even at cons they aren't really used to people just sparking-up conversation. I get that. But like...what I've noticed a lot of in the past 3 years or so are people who either A. come to cons with their "cliques" and have no intention of making any new friends or even really talking to people not involved in their immediate circle of friends, or B. people who are shy, get talked to, and even when people are being totally nice to them and just trying to strike-up a conversation, they just clam-up and either walk away or just try to ignore them.
I don't expect everybody to be social butterflies, but it just...it honestly hurts me. In the gaming community, socialization is how you get better at your game. It's how you meet people to share tricks with, play online with, etc. At cons, it just...it almost comes off as selfish, or "I want to have my cake and eat it too", like you want to be surrounded by the sub-culture (anime) and its people (con-goers, cosplayers), but you don't really want to...ENGROSS yourself in it. It comes off sorta like those people who go to parties not to actually party but to make a Facebook status about how they went to a rad party.
Now, okay, this has all just been ranting. What about solutions?
Well, I mean, there's really nothing you can do truly; people are going to be who they are, and, sadly, cons aren't always the social catalysts they should be.
Personally, I really think we need more age-restricted events. I don't even mean making cons more exclusive for older people; I mean legitimately making panels have like...a "you must be between this age and this age" sort of thing, as well as the traditional age+ events. I say this because I would really want to see if they could go about making more social-based panels. While anime cons aren't just random meet-n-greets, they are such a great way to function like that. The problem with events like this, of course, is that you don't want to have people of two radically different ages meeting for obvious reasons, which is where the from blank to blank age-restriction comes in.
That, and I mean, anime does have its rated G stuff, its PG, PG-13, etc, but it also is totally full of all of the higher ratings, as well as its own sub-niche of people who are into said higher ratings. To me, I feel this mixture...honestly distorts the image of anime. While I realize, at the end of the day, it's all anime, but like...I'd really be willing to gamble that an overwhelming majority of con-goers would say their primary interest lies in anime that is for like...ages 16+ or so (don't yell at me if you aren't one of them lol). I would never force my view of anime on a con if I were in charge, but, again, I feel there has to be a certain sense of realism here.
Given that Japan is a totally foreign culture to ours and is one that tends to be extremely relaxed about graphic depictions of violence, sex, substance abuse, so on, I really feel that places a heavier burden given not only its content but its prevalence in anime.
So, let's just conclude, or TL;DR this
TL;DR version: I honestly am of the opinion that anime cons are just...not being populated by the right kinds of people anymore. I feel that socialization is rarily helped or addressed given that most panels are look-and-listen based instead of interactive or social in nature. I feel that the two main reasons to go to anime cons: to be surrounded by your interest (1) and to meet people of like-minded interests (2) need to cross, and that a lot of people these days either go for neither of these reasons, or they only go for the first one.
Looking forward to hearing you guys' thoughts if ya has any. Hopefully I didn't ramble too much; definitely in need of sleep at this wonderful hour @_@;;