edited January 2007 in Meetups / Conventions
There suddenly seems to be awfully lot of convention-threads and having found myself taking part in organising one (I tried to get out, but they keep dragging me back in), it'd be intresting to know about conventions in different cultures.

What's a good roleplaying convention like? Any examples?

What does a good roleplaying convention have, aside from gaming, and what it should have more?

What sucks in conventions? What doesen't work?

What do you usually do in conventions?

The one thing I'm puzzled about in US conventions (never been in one, so this is just based on assumption and browsing websites) is the relatively low amount of speech programme, panels and workshops. Are they well represented? Do the topics change from year to year? Are they intresting? I'm asking because those items are, in a sense, more popular than actually playing around here (though depends on whom you ask), with lots of good stuff going on, whereas we almost completely lack the web presence, active forums and communities. Which, again, seem to thrive in States and English-speaking world in general.

And, a bonus question: if you have been a guest of honour in convention or can immerse yourself into a role of one, what do you expect the convention to do for you? What would be cool and what would be uncool?

(This is, of course, a clever plot aimed to increase the amount of foreign visitors around here.)


  • For me, conventions are about play, and about hanging out with smart people I don't get to see very often. JiffyCon is an ideal example. All that other stuff is like dice and GMs and character sheets and stuff... unnecessary gamer baggage.

  • Conventions can also be a reality check, because you get to meet people outside your circle and see what they are playing and excited about. I'm still a little uncomfortable at cons, so for our local ones I volunteer to GM, which gives me a job and helps a lot. Locally, our conventions are well-run and everybody is generally nice and cool - even the drunk vampires.

    I thought Camp Nerdly Zero (other than the weather) was close to ideal - a beautiful, quiet setting, engaged and excited participants, good, healthy food, great games and conversation, and no distractions. Camp Nerdly One will be even better, since the weather will be nicer and there will be a wandering hobo band.
  • Genericon, in Troy NY, is my favorite convention. Gaming is only a part of it (and Living Greyhawk has been moving in on it heavily), but it's consistently well-run and fun every single year. It has video games, vendors, anime, webcomic writers and artists, costumed hooligans, board games, random pieces of sci-fi, and roleplaying. Actually, until a few years ago when they stopped running the anime rooms during the 2 AM - 8 AM slot, they had more anime than any convention on the U.S. east coast. It's also relatively small; I think the average is around 350 folks, and they're friendly.

    Genericon is relatively low on panels, averaging maybe five of them. Contrast with, say, ConBust at Smith College, where panels are running near-constantly for two days and are a major part of the attraction.

    Both of these are general fandom conventions, as opposed to strictly gaming, and that's not a bad thing in my mind. I like popping my head into the anime rooms, playing video games, playing Clay-o-rama and so forth. I like seeing what awesomeness one of my board-game-designing friends has come up with this year. If I was gaming for two days straight it would be a total overload for me. The mix is nice.

    What sucks is when people think they can throw together a good-sized con in two months. Genericon and ConBust both hold meetings starting the week after the previous con, so they have a full year to plan. Other cons I've been to (who shall remain nameless, because they might get their act together next year) tried to do it on short notice, and there were HUGE problems. Nobody showed up (20 people tops!), GMs canceled, guests didn't know where to stay, and even the vendors left halfway through. Bad planning runs a con into the ground faster than anything.

    I was a guest at Genericon one year, and things weren't substantially different from the usual. I was on a panel with a few other folks, and didn't have to pay admission. No biggie. If I had needed it, I'm sure they would have found me a hotel room or something, but I had friends to stay with in the area.
  • I can echo what Colin said about prep. We're putting together Go Play Northwest, a small con with no panels or speakers, and three months into planning we're scarcely half done.
  • Absolutely agreement on the preparations; we start planning and arranging stuff around November (for next August) and there's still panic before the event. Genericon looks sounds and looks very good; what the size of organisational staff for a 350 attendee convention?

    Also, very much agreeing on the social and just wandering-around parts.
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