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As I write this, America’s response to COVID-19 has been dismal without federal vision. There are many problems, but one of the things I’ve been considering is the status of geeky activities: cons, gaming events, cosplay, etc.
This is not intended to be flippant or minimize issues. However these activities are big parts of people’s lives, create and reinforce social ties, and encourage creativity and development. They do matter, and I wondered how they can survive our current situation, become stronger, and build a better geeky community. My barely-organized thoughts are as follows.
As a note, this is based on two things. One is my knowledge of organizational structures. The other is what I’ve observed, learned, etc. about the virus, possible treatments, and responses. The short form is I think this will bedevil the world for two years, that a vaccine IS possible (but needs annual updates), that there will be better treatments/preventatives, but lots of people aren’t going to follow science.
Conventions should plan for the worst case scenario of no in-person cons happening until mid-2021 easily, possibly start of 2022. I’m missing them as much as anyone, but there’s not going to be anything big until we have a widespread vaccine, and even if we find preventative/prophylactic medication who’s going to take the risk.
But we also needed to rethink cons anyways. Some are overly huge draws. Small ones provide useful niches but get ignored. There’s giant logistical challenges. So here’s my takes.
- Every con out there should plan to go virtual for the next 18 months easily.
- A kind of “league of conventions” needs to be formed to share knowledge, tech, and ensure survivability.
- Cons should consider breaking up into smaller events online, then possibly in person, then re-consolidate if needed.
- Cons should look at things like outdoor events, etc. that will minimize risk when we’re nearer the end of this.
- Small cons need to Voltron together right now to support each other.
- We need convention guides and info sites to focus on virtuality and track them.
- Duplicate con events as singular events – online viewings, dealer rooms, etc.
Argh. I didn’t play a lot of tabletop and P&P RPGs as of late, but I wanted to get back into them, and now this happens. I can’t imagine how devastating this is for various gaming groups and stores. Fortunately I’ve seen a lot of gaming groups going virtual or having it as an option anyway.
- First, I don’t know how bad this is going to be for game stores, but my guess is pretty devastating – many held gaming events. It’s imperative for people to support them.
- I think we need to see someone write and promote guides on moving gaming groups virtual temporarily. Discord, tools, etc. I see people pick this up by osmosis.
- Other groups (con groups, cosplay groups, etc.) need to promote these.
- Gaming groups are great ways to build virtual events to – you guessed it – support cons.
WRITING AND CREATIVE GROUPS
I belong to a bunch of these, and trust me they’re helping a lot of us stay sane and focused. Be it writing, art, or cosplay, these are vital. Fortunately, a lot of these have been going virtual for ages (in fact, I think they’re ahead of gaming groups). The ones I’m part of have adapted well.
- These groups should cross-pollinate. I’m doing that with my current groups, and it’s helpful to maintaining them, and is psychologically comforting.
- Some groups are good at specializing, and this helps cross-pollination. Have a “shut up and write group” share members with a “business writers” group.
- Combine with other events to promote the socializing. We run a movie night and I promote it into my writing groups. This further reinforces things.
- Start doing presentations WITH cons and other events – be a source of events!
VIDEO GROUPS AND BOOK CLUBS
These seem to have moved online pretty easy based on my experience, so hey, my folks, keep at it. A few thoughts
- These groups can be vital to building social ties and be ready to help people. We need groups like this.
- Video groups especially can help support other groups as they can be sites of casual socialization.
- Experiment with different technologies and try them out – I’ve found out about optimizing experiencces.
A few more thoughts on what geekdom can do to ruggedize.
- SPEND. Financial supports of cons, groups, meetups, dealers, etc. Put your money where your mouth is.
- VOLUNTEER. People may be busy, but we should step up to help our various clubs and groups and cons out.
- DON’T depend on one technology. Do not count on Discord, Facebook, Zoom, etc. if at all possible. Use multiple technologies as social backup.
- RECRUIT. Get people involved and help out. We need people actively supporting geeky communities.
- LEARN AND SHARE. Get to know all these tech tools and share your knowledge.
- RELAX. Treat yourself right, let your hobbies support you, and don’t overdo it.
So those are my thoughts of a more rugged geekdom. There’s a lot to do – and a lot I need to do more of. But maybe we can build a stronger geekdom in a hard world.