Conventionally Speaking

Conventions today versus yesterday

When I was fairly young, I had this idea in my head that conventions were for those that had professional jobs and were sent by their company to go hang out with other professionals. Like a dentist convention or police convention. (yes that’s a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas reference)

As the last 10 years have defined what the modern convention is, it has evolved into places where those that have the same interests can gather together and teach each other something new. I have been to multiple conventions from Steampunk to Twitchcon. There are conventions about Aliens and about high fantasy artists. If there’s a market or a way to teach someone something then there’s a convention for it.

What does this mean?

When I first went to ComicCon, I went to the New Orleans one before San Diego put a halt to comic conventions using that moniker. It was a small convention and I enjoyed wandering around the artist alley and taking pictures with tall the cosplayers. I didn’t go to a single workshop yet I had a lot of fun.

Then I discovered that workshops are generally free and they are usually taught by some great industry experts. I finally figured out why people really love conventions, it was more than just spending your money on little plushies and figurines. When I went to Twitchcon, I got to sit in on some great panels that went over the gender debate and how that related to online streaming. People were having some very in depth discussions that left me with a sense that even if you aren’t watching a demonstration or partaking in an activity, there’s value in going to the different events held at the modern conventions that hark back to the original reasons why professionals hold conventions for their jobs.

Why is the modern convention at risk?

During a pandemic, its not feasible to hold such large meetings. Just like restaurants and movie theaters, the once large conventions full of people are no longer safe. At least right now. I’ve gone to one convention since the pandemic hit and am currently about to spend a weekend at NDK. (Nan Desu Kan) Conventions will never go away but they have to evolve like everything else in light of recent developments.

When I went to that last convention over the summer, it was fine. It wasn’t the same, there weren’t as many people and there weren’t as many presenters or workshops. The convention suffered but survived. That is what is concerning, as the years stretch on from 2020 (our year of isolation) there will be lasting changes. We can’t just go back to the way things were. We can try but ultimately I don’t think we should. There was a lackadaisical approach to these events that got everyone sick. I even experienced it, the aptly named ConCrud.

Hopefully this will be a lesson in how to deal with large crowds. As more and more large scale concerts start to make their way around, maybe you should take basic precautions to protect those around you, as well as yourself. So stay safe out there friends. Maybe someday you’ll be a presenter at a convention and will be proud of the fact that conventions aren’t just a thing of the past.


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