Sense of community


A local father has found an unusual way to bridge the generation gap as his son gets older.

While many fathers and sons turn to sports, fishing, hunting or working on cars to find shared interests and to bond, Shawn Bryant and his 11-year-old son, Cade, of North Vernon, have become “geeks” together.

On Saturday, the two visited the Jackson County Public Library in Seymour to participate in the second MINICON — short for mini-convention.

The two spent time chatting while playing the card game, “Munchkins Apocalypse.”

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“It’s really a chance for us to set aside all the differences and be equal,” Cade said. “We get to meet people and have fun and socialize.”

The two have bonded through things such as board games, card games, Dungeons & Dragons and video games. 

“We’re just geeks,” Bryant said. “We enjoy geeking out with other people who are into the same stuff.”

MINICON is a general fandom convention designed to give fans of different niche cultures such as Star Trek, fantasy, anime (or Japanese animation), Star Wars, gamers and more a chance to interact and share their interests, said Lola Snyder, the library’s head of youth services.

Similar conventions have been conducted in larger cities such as Indianapolis for years, but having one at Seymour saves local people the trouble of having to drive for an hour to meet others with similar interests, she added.

The convention gives people an opportunity to share things they enjoy and are passionate about even though they perhaps don’t fall into the mainstream, Snyder said.

“For me, I like all of this. This is me,” said Eddie Tobar, 13, of Seymour as he sat at a table playing a board game with four others. “Before I sat down I had never met these people and now look at us, we’re playing and having fun.”

At the 2015 MINICON, Natalie Bray gave a demonstration about cosplaying, or dressing as characters from popular games, comic books, movies or anime. This year, she presented on the basics of building chain mail, a type of armor that is often a staple of clothing for fantasy characters. Assisting her was Nicole Plumer of Seymour. 

“It’s just fun,” Bray said of the event.

“It’s a good chance to get in touch with your inner child,” Plumer added.

Both said it’s hard to find communities where cosplaying is available, but if found, they are some of the most supportive and enjoyable communities, they said.

Cosplaying is a very diverse hobby, which Bray said she became interested in after researching it a little online.

Bray and Plumer dress in clothing from the Renaissance period or fantasy genre rather than trying to portray a specific character from a video game or graphic novel.

It’s easier than aiming for a specific character, because both confess they are perfectionists when it comes to their costumes.

Bray said much of her interest in making chain mail is self-taught after she attended a class on making scale mail at GenCon, one of the larger fantasy and gaming conventions in Indianapolis. Scale mail is another type of armor common in the fantasy genre.

Besides the class on creating chain mail, MINICON also offered classes on the basics of video game design presented by Dustin Sluder of Seymour; a digital art demo by Emma Martin, also of Seymour; a monster makeup demonstration from Seymour’s Fear Fair haunted attraction and more.

Batman stopped by to read stories and people could meet and get their picture taken with Spider-Man, members of the USS Gorkon Star Trek Fan Club: Star Fleet International and Bloodfin Garrison, a Star Wars cosplay group.

The public was invited to stop by and play Pathfinder, Dungeons & Dragons and some lesser known board games. 

Overall, the event was a chance for people to socialize and share interests while enjoying the activities the library has to offer, Snyder said.

About halfway through the day, some 350 people had  attended, surpassing last year’s total attendance of 300.

Snyder said as interest in MINICON continues to increase, there is potential to make it grow into something much larger.

“We’re about more than just books. The library is a community group, and this is a community,” she said.

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