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Record attendance at Japanese event

Attendance records were once again broken at Närcon, the youth festival for Japanese pop culture and gaming, held at LiU this summer. But the university is missing a great chance to market itself to a perfectly matched target group, according to the organiser.

The winner of the national championship Cosplay, from Denmark. Photo: Joacim SchwartzFor the third consecutive year, the near-deserted Campus Valla was invaded for four days in late July by more than 5,000 extravagantly dressed young people. They came for NärCon – a youth festival for Japanese pop culture and gaming, where the participants get together to attend workshops, watch films, play games, listen to music or simply meet like-minded.

“For most people, Cosplay is the most important part, with a Scandinavian and a Swedish costume competition where the participants dress up as characters in films or TV-games”, says Samuel Anlér, head organiser of Närcon. A Danish partipant (right) won the Scandinavian competition.

Närcon has grown by 50 per cent every year since its inception in 2002, both in terms of turnover and number of participants. The event came to LiU in 2011, after outgrowing the venue in Örebro where it all started.
Samuel Anlér (bottom left) co-founded Närcon and has been head organiser since 2002. He studies industrial economics but has taken a break to work full-time on Närcon. Over the years he has focussed less on the experience of the event:
“What I enjoy most is the organisation, trying to get people to communicate, work and function together.”

The winner of The audience's choicel. Photo: Erica LindbergThere is a clear connection and a positive interplay between his studies and the event. Managing such a large event is like running a small company – you are involved in everything from organisation, finances, marketing and follow-up.

“You can tell that there are lots of people from industrial economics involved in organising Närcon. For instance we try to place decision-making as close to the operations as possible, as they do in Lean Production. We do detailed evaluations and we remake the organisation every year”, Anlér concludes.


NärCon 2013 in figures

  • 5,250 participants
  • SEK 3 million in turnover
  • 1,734 participants, 33%, replied to the organiser’s survey
  • 62% were female, 34% were male. 5% responded “Other” or ”Don’t know”
  • 1994 is the most common year of birth
  • 43% were first-time participants. Most had heard about Närcon through friends and family.
  • 85% attended all four days
  • 2% attended just one of the days
  • 97% thought the event was very good, good or quite good
  • 1-2% were parents of other participants
  • 5% were from Linköping
  • 3.5% asked to reply to the survey in English
  • 80% will absolutely return next year
  • 0.8% will not return

Samuel Anlér, head organiser of NärconMost Närcon participants are in senior high school and an overwhelming majority got a very positive impression of LiU, thanks to Närcon. The university’s Vice-Chancellor is positive to the event, and is happy to rent the spaces at a very reasonable rate. And even if LiU was involved, for instance with the student ambassadors, Samuel Anlér thinks more could be done:
“I would like to see LiU have a much stronger presence at Närcon, that it was more of a partner. Why not have some relevant lectures, for instance in Japanese culture or games development, as part of the event? The knowledge is there.”





Photo: Joacim Schwartz, Erica Lindberg, Shora Ahmadi


Related links

Japanese culture attracts more and more people

5000 spelsugna ungdomar på plats (in Swedish)

Elisabet Wahrby 2013-09-06

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Last updated: 2013-09-19