Students, dressed in outlandish costumes to express the love of their interests, felt right at home at the annual GATO Con (Games, Art, Trade and Otaku convention) on Feb. 7-8 at the Student Union Building on the Texas A&M University-Kingsville campus.
Cory Scarborough, GATO Con chairman, began the tradition five years ago, in Spring 2010, to bring something new to Kingsville.
“I felt like Kingsville didn’t really have that much to do so I wanted to bring something here that everyone might enjoy. I hope to even make it a tradition,” Scarborough said.
Scarborough organized the event from the bottom up with the help of vendors from all surrounding areas and organizations.
“I called vendors, artists, and guests who might want to come and participate as well as organizations on campus and they did and that’s how it was able to come together,” Scarborough said.
GATO Con is a small convention compared to many throughout the country. However, even with the small venue, the guests feel it has potential to keep growing.
“The con was amazing, and although the con is small, the spirit of it is huge. It has been consistent and doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere and that makes me happy,” said Michael Mendez, a comedian for the event.
The convention brought many students and the Kingsville community together. Many attendees dressed up in costumes, an activity known as cosplay, where they signed up for the cosplay costume contest.
Alexandria Baldwin, art major, dressed as a Legend of Zelda character. She created her costume from scratch with a printer box, fabric, and painted it with nail polish.
“I really liked the game growing up, so it was awesome to put it all together,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin won Best Performance in the Cosplay Contest performing her own piece with music from the video game, Legend of Zelda.
“It was really a nice moment. I worked really hard on this outfit so it was great to perform at the event. It was a good feeling, and getting an award for it was even better,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin is no stranger to the event, as she has participated in it for three years. She lead two panels in the past where she showed her art work and taught GATO Con attendees how to create them.
“Everyone is really nice, the staff is very helpful and they always have everything on schedule,” Baldwin said. “It’s a nice experience and it’s affordable compared to other conventions.”
GATO Con schedules many speakers to host a variety of panels throughout the convention weekend.
“I had wanted to do a panel because I am new to YouTube and I knew that GATO Con is a great place to start for aspiring entertainers such as myself. I had a feeling that it would be good for The Mega Mike Show and I had a feeling The Mega Mike Show would be good for Gato Con,” Mendez said.
The convention’s proceeds go towards improving the event for next year. They also help fund the Otaku Gamer’s Society and Gamerz Elite, which are the campus organizations that play a large part in putting the event together, Scarborough said.