This is potentially going to be one of the stranger morning blog posts I have made in awhile. Yesterday during the midst of another conversation entirely I planted a seed, and got a significantly more favorable response than I had expected. Essentially I have thought for awhile how awesome it would be to have some event that let all of the great people I know through gaming or blogging to meet up, hang out, and cause mischief. This year it was my hope to be able to make Pax Prime since there are a significant number of people in the Seatle area now. The problem being by the time I even knew the tickets had gone on sale, they were already completely sold out. Our backup plan was to try and get AggroChat qualified for press passes, but we were summarily rejected without much notice as to why. Every major convention has this same issue, with having way more demand than there are tickets available for folks to attend. So this sent me down an alternate line of thinking… maybe we just need to create our own convention. I know that sounds crazy at first glance but bear with me for awhile.
My wife is heavily involved in the twitter math community, and five years ago they were lamenting how every single professional development workshop they have been to was essentially a waste of time. One discussion lead to another, and the idea was mentioned that what they really needed was a way to get together so that they could share ideas. From there they organized the very first Twitter Math Camp in St Louis, and it was a huge success. That first year only around fifty teachers attended, but each additional year it has grown to this year in Los Angeles there were over 200 teachers. So seeing this go from someones vague idea to fruition maybe gives me a different perspective than the average person when it comes to the thought of forming our own convention. I mean ultimately that is how most gathering start, with a basic idea and then just branching out from there.
Our Own Convention
I loved Pax South, but not really because the convention itself was this magical place. The floor was busy, and there were so many people wandering around that it became hell to find a quiet spot to yourself to think. What made the convention awesome was getting to hang out with people that I had only ever talked to online. When I realized this… I realized that I didn’t actually need a convention to have fun, but in truth could potentially have more fun if I just somehow managed to gather up a bunch of people in one place and time. Even if we quite literally did nothing but hang out and play board games and talk about life, it would still end up being an amazing experience. That said I do think we could convince enough people to show up to make it an interesting experience for all of us. Think about the sort of things we go through with the Newbie Blogger Initiative each year, and ultimately how much we learn from one another. It would be easy enough to throw together a series of panels discussing the finer points of various blogging skills that we have. I mean it would be pretty awesome to record an impromptu live Podcast for example, or a technical discussion in how to get the most out of WordPress. There are real things we could talk about, and with that many game bloggers in one spot we might even be able to talk some game companies into showing up as well. Maybe I am brutally naive… but I think it is a thing that might be doable.
Location, Location, Location
I literally have thought about this for awhile now, and those thought processes were just made more concrete after returning from Pax. I’ve long thought that the best place for a meetup would be in a central state. Conventions have this problem of being super convenient for people living on one particular coast, but damned near impossible for anyone else to attend. So after a lot of thinking basically I came up with two potential locations.
- St Louis, Missouri
- Chicago, Illinois
Both locations have strengths and weaknesses, but both are also fairly centrally located making it not too horrible from pretty much anywhere in the United States, and potentially even doable for Canadians. St Louis is significantly easier for me personally… because I know the town decently well and have several friends in the area that I could potentially recruit to help. Chicago on the other hand… other than flying through O’Hare I know nothing about it, and I really have zero support structure to help out with the planning and the details. Its biggest strength however is O’Hare airport, because essentially it is a straight flight from any major airport cutting down the overall travel costs. That said St Louis hotels, venue rentals, and pretty much everything else would be significantly cheaper which might offset the travel costs. All of this said… they both have strengths and weaknesses, but as I said my personal leanings are towards St Louis simply for the familiarity point.
I guess the ultimate question is… would some sort of convention/meetup be something that our community would even be interested in? We would have to set a date well into the future and begin planning now to make it work, but before any of that… I need to know if people would actually come. I think it could be a really awesome experience, and if nothing else let a whole bunch of people that have only ever communicated online hang out and get to know each other. I also think there is a lot of cool stuff we could learn from each other, so I feel like it could be more than just a “gathering”. Over the last several years we have gone from being a vague connection of island states, to being a serious and formidable community constantly welcoming new people. Blaugust while stressful, is an amazing event and just one in a long line of events that we do each year. While I jokingly referred to this as BlaugustCon… it is more than just that. I think we could build something amazing in the real world in addition to all of what we are doing in the virtual world. Like I said.. the real question is do people even want this? I don’t often ask for feedback, but in this situation I absolutely need it. Leave me a line and let me know your thoughts.