Are Boston conventions worth the investment?

People walk past the Hynes Convention Center in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston, Mass.

Attending a convention is the dream of every gamer, TV watcher and book enthusiast. An entire weekend dedicated to expressing passion for some favorite pastimes with thousands of others provides a thrilling experience that can’t be found anywhere else. Boston has a massive market for conventions and holds several every year. However, attending a convention can leave quite a dent in the wallet, so is it worth it?

Anybody who goes to a convention is sure to spend over $100. The tickets alone can range from $50 to $150, and some even increase in price as the date grows closer. There are multiple kinds of tickets for those who can only attend certain dates, but for those who want the full experience, it’s going to be expensive. 

However, the tickets only make up a fraction of the cost, as convention shopping centers serve as a can’t miss attraction. Shopping is at the core of most conventions and is also where the majority of the revenue comes in. Convention shopping offers rare and expensive merchandise that may be hard to find elsewhere. 

At Anime Boston, a majority of the figurines are imported from Japan and are nearly impossible to find in most U.S. stores. Boston’s biggest convention, PAX-East, even sells high-quality PC parts that are both very expensive and rare, especially since the start of COVID-19. The price of these items can be very high but so is the chance of giving in and buying some.

Those who cosplay spend even more prior to the convention in order to take on the look of their favorite character. Cosplay and conventions are inseparable. Every convention will be flooded with people in high-quality costumes—many of which are homemade. Cosplayers love to take pictures and sometimes participate in events at conventions. Assembling these outfits, however, can double the cost, so be sure to budget well.

Money is a large concern, but for those that have moved from out of state, there are also some difficulties that come with being in a new city with nobody you know. However, Boston’s conventions open the door to meeting many people with similar interests. Attendance is typically in the thousands, with several opportunities to interact and meet new people. Many activities are held, not just with the intent of having fun, but brewing friendships and providing social interactions as well.

Panels, which are interactive lectures about various topics, tend to be the most prevalent activity found at conventions. Listening in on a panel provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about the history and processes behind different forms of media, such as the origins of character tropes or how an animation studio functions.

The presenters make sure to constantly keep the audience engaged, and tend to throw in a lot of humor in their lectures, making an hour go by in minutes. The coolest part of these panels is when special guests, such as actors, authors or influencers, make an appearance to sign autographs or share their own knowledge and experiences. 

Alongside learning about them, you can also play games yourself. Conventions always have places where fans can play video games provided by the convention of their own free will, and many meet people while doing so. Most conventions hold video game tournaments as well, where prizes can be won. Occasionally conventions such as PAXEast hold new and even unreleased games, which allows fans to give them a test run and see if they want to buy them in the future. 

Conventions even go beyond just video games. Anime Boston hosts game shows such as “Deal or No Deal” and “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” where both the players and the audience are made up of guests, as well as the many tabletop games that allow for fun interactions between attendees.

Creative minds also get a chance to show off their ability at conventions. It is common for conventions to have an art gallery, where fans can submit their very own artwork and have it on display for guests. FAN EXPO Boston’s Artist Alley is iconic, from paintings to sculptures to handmade clothes and accessories, there is artwork of all kinds presented there.

Competitions are also held where attendees can vote on their favorite artwork, such as Anime Boston’s AMV competition where fans create and enter Anime Music Videos to show off their video editing skills. Conventions can be a great place for fans to gather exposure for their work, which may even be a nice touch on a resume.

Overall, Boston has some amazing conventions that come and go throughout the year. It’s a place where fans of nerd culture can express themselves to the fullest extent without any worry of judgment. They are a very expensive experience, so fans should start saving up as soon as possible, but it’s also an unforgettable time that’ll be treasured for years to come.

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