When I spoke at Kraken Con last week, it was a bittersweet experience because the convention is shutting down for the time being. Cons come and go, but this smaller con had a special place in my heart for its positive attitude, precise organization, and fan focus.
The Bay Area has seen many cons change lately, from cancellation to hiatus to restructuring. It’s not surprising – we’ve got several dominant big cons, and some areas are damned hard and expensive to host in (like San Francisco). Smaller cons face unique challenges.
I began thinking about how smaller cons have some problems in the Bay Area, and also considered their social role – smaller, more relaxed, more intimate experiences. This led me to another question – what if we re-think cons, especially smaller ones. What are “con-like” activities we could have that fulfill the social needs of smaller cons?
So first, let’s ask what these smaller cons provide:
- The provide a more relaxed setting.
- They provide a more social setting.
- They may be specialized in ways larger cons couldn’t be.
- They can fit into various niches as they’re smaller.
- For some vendors and artists they may be cheaper to be at.
- They can experiment.
With that out of the way, allow me to brainstorm some ideas of “con-like” activities that give us the benefits of smaller cons. These also have an eye towards being easy to do.
Back To Relaxacons – This is something I dearly miss, small one-day cons at hotels where people just hung out. Some people get hotel rooms, a big convention room is rented for videos, and you hang out.
One-Days – Some cons I’ve seen just do one day now. Maybe having more micro-cons may provide the needs for the above. In fact, imagine a con held once a month or so?
Dealer/Artist Get Togethers – Imagine a con (probably one day) that is ONLY local dealers and artists. Give people a chance to get exposure in an easier way. I’ve seen various flea markets and events here that operate out of cars in a parking lot (legaly, of course)
Wandering Cons – This is a weird idea that I’ve thought of on and off, but what if you had a small con (say one day) that wandered about every few months, each run by a different team. There’s still logistic challenges.
Hang At A Hotel – This is something I’ve done before. Just have people get together at a hotel and hang out.
House Party – Imagine a wandering con that’s basically a small house party. Sure space would be limited, but people may also come in and out. A few dealers could attend as well (not sure what the legal issues are here). Hell, done right in a big area, say the Bay Area, it could be weekly.
Online – There have been attempts at online cons, and this could work well with proper coordination (and no hotel fees!). Mix webcasts and video feeds and other services, and you can do cosplay and panels at the very least! Also imagine if you did it right it might be a con that’s going on constantly.
There’s my ideas. I’d like to hear other ones!