Monday was a mellow last day of Dragon*Con; there were far fewer costumes and the halls were much emptier. Especially as early as I arrived – 10am – there wasn’t much activity to be seen. I still had two panels to hit up, though, so with coffee in hand I wound my way through the remaining geeks to sit and enjoy the end of the fun.
The first panel I went to Monday morning was for Geek & Sundry and The Guild. The entire cast from The Guild was there, and they spent their hour taking questions, making jokes, and carousing as much as a bunch of hung-over people awake at 10am can. It was entertaining and good fun, and got me excited for their new season coming up in the beginning of October.
If you’re unfamiliar with Geek & Sundry, it’s a website created by the excellent Felicia Day for, basically, nerd entertainment; “Eccentricities for your Entertainment” is its tagline. It features 5 online shows on their own YouTube channel on different subjects, including Sword & Laser, a show about science fiction and fantasy books, Tabletop, which showcases tabletop games (and is hosted by the bearded Wil Wheaton), a channel specifically for The Guild and more. I haven’t watched all of them yet, but I love Tabletop. Wil and his friends play new games almost every week, giving you a good idea of their mechanics and if you and your friends would enjoy them.
If you’re a gamer, especially one who’s played an MMO, The Guild will without a doubt tickle your funny bone; I love how as their seasons progressed they clearly got better funding and recognition, resulting in a nice polished end-product and getting some excellent nerdy cameos at the same time (including, but not limited to, Stan Lee himself). Season 6 should be fun times. Go subscribe to Geek & Sundry’s YouTube channel or one of the other million ways to social connect to get your nerd on.
For me the next and last panel of the Con was “Tactical SOPA Strike: How the Web Protected Itself from Congress” on the EFF Track, talking about internet freedom, specifically SOPA. There were supposed to be 2 moderators, one with us in the room (Andrew Norton) and one live from California (Holmes Wilson), but the Californian guest apparently never showed up. So Norton – by himself and in the throws of con-crud – was forced to go solo.
I followed the SOPA trial incredulously while it was going on and was hoping to get more details on what exactly happened and how it got so far. The panel wasn’t quite as in-depth on that topic as I was hoping, instead more of an aimless wandering from subject to subject, but I still learned about how to be more active in regards to freedom on the internet, and also obtained some useful resources. If I can ever find my notes from that day, I’m sure I’ll have more to share. /annoyed
After the Con I got the same question from multiple people: “How did Dragon*Con compare to your other con experiences?” Since comparing BlizzCon, ComicCon and Dragon*Con is a bit like comparing apples, oranges, and bananas, there’s not a good way to quantify which one is actually better. BlizzCon in particular, while a nerd-con, has completely different goals from the other 2.
In an effort to do a basic comparison, though, here’s a list of things I look for at a con, and how the 3 I’ve been to rate next to each other.
- Interesting Panels: Are there enough panels there that capture your interest? Or are you spending a lot of time wandering around wishing there was more for you to do?
- Famous People: Even if you’re like me and feel super awkward about getting signatures and pictures from famous people, it’s still fun to have an opportunity to see them on a panel or ask them to sign something.
- Struggling Artists: These are the less-famous people that you’re a fan of and would really like to support. Lesser-known actors, artists, etc.
- Exclusive STUFF: STUFF from cons is always awesome, be it a physical item or merely an experience that can only be obtained there. That’s why people keep their badges year after year and why my bags will inevitably be covered with con-related pins and patches. Stuff, epeen…call it what you will – it’s still fun to have.
- Convention Quality: The overall quality of the organization of the con. Were there enough seats for the panels? Were the schedules correct and in order? Was it impossible to move due to crowds? You get the idea.
Con Comparison Chart
Here’s my basic opinion of the 3 cons:
- Interesting Panels: All 3 have plenty of panels to choose from; there was never a moment at any 3 where I got bored. Content for all 3 conventions is not an issue here.
- Famous People: BlizzCon gets a middling rating because your “famous people” are less “stars” and more “developers at Blizzard”. This can still be exciting, but let’s be real – it’s no MacGyver.
- Struggling Artists: Of the 3, ComicCon had the most of these, followed by Dragon*Con. BlizzCon had none, though it’s fair to allow it to abstain given that external artists are not its focus.
- Exclusive Stuff: Here’s where BlizzCon shines. With constant availability of all the currently working games at Blizzard, it’s tough to beat the exclusivity. ComicCon also has that for it, as well as a plethora of “ComicCon-only” items, from t-shirts to posters to a bunch of other deals from vendors.
- Convention Quality: This is where ComicCon loses the battle. Since they don’t clear out rooms between the big panels, getting into anything is a huge wait in line, and you’re still not guaranteed a seat. Of course, ComicCon struggles with its ridiculous size, but I don’t think that excuses it for wasting hours of peoples’ time.
I think Dragon*Con wins for “the best” overall, but if you’re a huge fan of Blizzard, BlizzCon will hands-down make your year. Also, I’ll still be going to ComicCon next year, but I’ll be altering my expectations. Since they don’t appear to make much of an effort for their plebeian attendees, it’s up to me to organize my schedule in a way that will maximize my own enjoyment.
And that’s it! Those were my 4 days at Dragon*Con. Was your con experience as fun as mine? Do you disagree with my convention assessments? Let’s discuss.
And, of course, some final pictures:
The Greendale Human
Vash the Stampede
Spiderman & Venom
Me, with the Flying Spaghetti Monster, touching its noodly appendage.