Why conventions like ECCC and Sakura-con should have student discounts

With convention season in full swing, many students find themselves unable to afford tickets and wishing for student discounts.

Last month Washington hosted two of the state’s largest annual pop culture conventions: Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC) and Sakura-con. Both conventions were flooded with attendees, some being UWT students. However, there was a huge handful of UWT students who wanted to attend but couldn’t due to the high price of tickets. Even students that were fortunate enough to attend these conventions still struggle to attend because major conventions have been drastically changing their starting prices, making the already expensive tickets pricier.  

It is due to this that I believe that conventions, especially those supported by for-profits like ECCC should provide a student discount. The reason I say this isn’t just because of how many people have told me that they wish to go but as someone who’s been in the game since 2016, I’ve noticed that a large portion of attendees at these events are youths, specifically High School and College age. Now that I’m older, I’ve always wondered why large conventions don’t provide a student discount like movie theatres do. 

Salma Wairimu, Alondra Ramirez-Perez and Mattley Minor are UWT students who have expressed their desire to attend these conventions, but couldn’t due to the extremely high prices. When I mentioned the idea of a student discount, all three agreed that would help them purchase tickets.  

Now, I know many of you may counter this by saying the reason conventions don’t do such a this is because they aren’t educational platforms like movie theatres and museums. As a con goer, I can see why people may not see conventions as a place of education, due to these events focusing on celebrating different forms of entertainment. However, these events hold educational opportunities for their attendees to learn more about said entertainment platforms. These educational activities come in the form of panels that are either led by people within the industry or fans who have studied it.  

Every con I’ve gone to, there is a massive selection of panels teaching attendees about a large variety of topics like the history of literature forms, cultures of countries specific series are set in, and insights into skills related to the entertainment industry. There are even panels that talk about issues within the industry and how social issues appear in series.  

If you don’t believe me here are some panels that ECCC 2024 and Sakura-con 2024 held that were educational. This year at ECCC writers Jarrett Melendez and Zoe Thorogood, writer and actor Julie, Synder, and Dani Caruso, who works for Reedpop’s marketing team, held a panel discussing authentic and effective social media marketing to help self-publishers, influencers, and small businesses market their products. There were also other skill teaching panels like “Advanced Comic Coloring Techniques,” “10 True Editing Crimes and How to Avoid Them,” “Reclaiming Queer History Through Comics,” and “How to Take Your Idea from Concept to Creation.”  

I had the privilege of attending the former panel that was hosted by writer and founder of “Stranger Comics” Sebastian A. Jones during ECCC 2021. He holds it every year to help striving writers in learning the process of outlining a series, pitching and working in a team with editors, agents, and artists. He even briefly mentioned how to collaborate with partners in different entertainment media. At the end of the panel, he recommended all creators to network within the convention due to the many companies, industry icons and influencers attending. Taking his advice, I was able to obtain his contact information to reach out to him whenever I’m ready to publish my story. I’ve also gotten many contacts of others such as Youtuber Reina Scully, and almost scored an internship with Crunchyroll one year at Sakura-con after an industry panel hosted by her! 

Just like ECCC, Sakura-con holds panels about editing and history. But the main draw is the cultural panels that teach attendees about the culture of Japan, like their annual “Tea Ceramony” and “Samurai Undressing (Lecture and Demonstration).” As panelists did their demonstrations, they would explain the history of both subjects and the importance they have to Japanese culture.  

In both conventions there are also panels that teach attendees about the history of series like the two hour long “Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past” panel that happened this year at Sakura-con. According to attendee Leilani Van Eerde, the panel hosted by streamer Conterez went through the early games of “The Legend of Zelda” up to the newer ones in chronological order. 

Attendee and video game art student Laura Audre Wen from Digipen, who also went to the panel, said it was really engaging, which helped her take in all the information that was provided in a less overwhelming way. As a fan who just entered the fandom and is used to the open world concept in the newer games, she found it interesting to see how the series started and handled the gaming resources that were available back in the 80s. It also helped her see how the industry had evolved. 

As you can see here, conventions have educational aspects that can help attendees career-wise, or just gain more knowledge of their passion. Not only would a student discount help more students attend conventions, it would also be beneficial to the conventions. According to TimbuckDo HR services on LinkedIn’s blog, businesses and organizations that provide student discounts would gain loyal attendees due to recognizing the financial hurdles these potential costumers face. By doing so, companies and organizations will be most importantly investing in the future. I would like to add that conventions also bridge the education gap, for the educational opportunities they provide are sometimes not available in schools. Lastly, they provide the opportunity to learn industry skills through small crash courses for those who can’t afford higher education.  

What do you think? Would you attend a convention if there was a student discount or not? And which convention would it be?   

An educational panel that was hosted at ECCC 2024, discussing Comic book’s history with Queerness. Image by Karla Pastrana.

The second building to the Washington State Convention Center- the Summit building. Photo by Karla Pastrana.