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So I attended some of Crunchyroll Expo, and wanted to share a few thoughts about the event. It’s actually pretty positive, though keep in mind I was mostly observing and wasn’t doing everything.
Still, what I saw impressed me – and gives me ideas for how we can manage cons in pandemic times. In fact, more on that later.
METAPHOR: In general there was an attempt to copy the feeing of a con – treating it like a city! That’s just pure metaphor, but it makes it memorable and relateable and fun.
Takeaway: Model your virtual con on physical space.
EVENTS: Pretty much every kind of con event was there, just often changed for the need to be virtual. Again, this preserved the metaphor and experience, and it made it accessible. Also I think people needed that sense of normalcy.
Takeaway: Find equivalent events for your virtual cons. Not always the same, but close.
MEDIA: There was streaming and videos and so on. Wisely, there was chat so people could, well, chat – while being on the page. Discord type stuff is nice, but I see the advantage of the embed (more on that later).
Takeaway: Combine streaming with accessible chat for the “con experience.”
PANELS AND SUCH: These used pretty much the same model – stream with a chat. But most panels were pre-recorded, which gave the presenters time to chat. I never realized until now how the pre-recorded appraoch works for audience contact.
Takeaway: Try pre-recorded events in your virtual environment, using chat for interaction.
SHOPPING: This was disappointing as it was mostly links to people’s profiles and some items. This is an area that needed to be rethought as it lacked the human contact. I think shopping at virtual cons needs to feel like the real thing, including chats with others and the store owner. Try to create a virtual artists alley or dealer’s room.
Takeaway: The fun of shopping and art at cons is the interaction. Try to get that with chat, people being available certain hours at their “table,” a good metaphor, etc.
Was it a success? Well, people came from all over, I saw great stuff, people had fun, and in the middle of a horrible pandemic. I also saw some clever use of metaphor and web layout.
So heck yes. There’s a lot to learn here.