Living for Learning: Total Immersion Education

By Joshua Needham

For three days during October, something strange happens at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, NH. People from all over the country gather to share their love of anime, video games, and pop culture. Colorful costumes and home-made props fill the halls and courtyard for nearly a full 72 hours and it is clear, Another Anime Convention (AAC) is back in town.

When people outside of that culture think of such events, they likely think of the socially inept gathering to discuss Star Trek, individuals dressed as their favorite characters and roleplaying their favorite scenes with one another. What they may not think about is the professionals that make the journey to attend the gatherings.

Many major conventions are centered around media, such as AAC and Anime Boston, can be split into two main attractions: entertainment and education. A ticket to attend grants access to many spaces for entertainment, such as the Dealer’s Room, a space where industry dealers can sell their merchandise directly to the fans; Artist’s Alley, where independent artists are able to sell their art work and share their creative visions; and convention panels, where a lot of the main focus lies.

Panels at conventions serve as small classrooms where guests can learn skills and traits of the professionals in the media industry. From game developers to music composers, filmmakers to animators and professional prop designers, the people making a living in the media industry are there to guide those that want to break the mold of the mundane.

Learning isn’t just something that we do to attain a degree and, in turn, a job that pays well enough to be worth the student loans. Education is on-going and events such as these can really help to make the learning process both more entertaining, and easier to understand. Reading something from a text book may help understand how something is done, but there’s nothing like being able to learn from and ask questions directly with someone that’s been in the line of work you aspire to be in.

Anime conventions such as these can be a great resource for students in the media arts fields, but they’re far from the only conventions around. With a little bit of searching, all types of conventions can be found for nearly every career desire. Not only does attending conventions offer new opportunities for learning, it can also be a great chance to network with others in your industry, and it’s a great way to immerse yourself in your subject matter.