Since getting married, I have been introduced to a new world: the world of conventions. And I have found, that I actually like them.
I think I like conventions because I am a bit of a hobby collector. I like to try out new things on a frequent basis. There are things I’ll never give up – like shopping – but there are others that come and go as my mood changes – like knitting or landscaping (that’s a mood I’m not likely to be in for awhile) or particular video games. And going to conventions lets me get a brief glimpse into a hobby, so I feel like I can add it to my list.
In my first married year, I went to a one-day Comic-Con in Baltimore. My second married year, I went to a 4-day Star Trek Convention in Las Vegas. And this year, I went to the two-day Blizzcon. While I enjoyed them all (though, admittedly, 4 days is WAY too much time to spend with fanatics), Blizzcon wins, hands down.
I have to concede that Blizzcon is hosted by Blizzard who makes millions and millions of dollars on their video games, most notably, World of Warcraft, which has 9 million subscribers who gladly pay $14.99 each and every month for the pleasure of playing. (yeah … I’m one of those 9 million …) The other conventions were hosted by … well, fanboys. People who just love comics or star trek sooooo much, and they have a deep desire, down in their hearts, to have a venue where all the fanboys of the world can come together and be all fanboy-ey. So there is definitely a money discrepancy that can’t be ignored. And, well, more money gets you better stuff.
Point one for Blizzcon: Ticket distribution. Ticket pickup was available the day before, or during any of the convention days. The Star Trek convention used this model as well. But Blizzcon split the alphabet up into about 30 groups, and had in essence, 30 lines. 30 minutes before the start of ticket pickup, my husband and I got into our line. Less than 30 minutes after ticket pickup officially started, we had our tickets (and swag bags). At the Star Trek convention, we got in line 30 minutes before ticket pickup officially started. The one line. When we finally got to the front of the line, hours later, the alphabet was split into a couple of groups, where 10 people were there to get us all squared away. It was a pretty miserable wait.
Point two for Blizzcon: Open space! The main stage was set up with thousands of chairs – but also wide open space to either side. There was wide open space around the food vendors. There was wide open space around the various booths. There wasn’t too much open space – but enough of it to accommodate the thousands of people as they wandered from one place to another. The vendor room at the Star Trek convention was overly crowded, and some booths seemed more like a personal garage sale than honest-to-goodness Star Trek Shtuff dealers. The booths that were expected to be busy didn’t have enough space – or cordoned off space – for people to line up in an orderly fashion.
Point three for Blizzcon: Staff! The staff walking around Blizzcon all had little radios. So they could keep up with what was going on. So they could radio for help if needed. They were well-connected, and if you asked them a question, they knew the answer. Or they could get it for you quickly. At the Star Trek convention, most of the staff didn’t know what was going on. If you asked a question, they didn’t know the answer. And they couldn’t point you in the direction of anyone who did. They were just people with pens hanging from their necks, carrying clipboards, who got in for free by volunteering to be staff.
Point four for Blizzcon: Not ridiculously priced food! The Star Trek convention was held in the Las Vegas Hilton. Complete with $2 Hilton candy bars and $4 bottles of water. Blizzcon was held in the Anaheim Convention Center. With $6 pizza and $1 candy bars. Maybe still a little overpriced, but not so much so that you find yourself going hungry in protest of serious price gouging.
Point five for Blizzon: Funny Humor. The Star Trek convention people made a Star Trek puppet musical that was supposed to be funny but was just plain odd and uncomfortable. The winners of the Star Trek movie contest had movies that were again, just … strange and mostly boring. The ‘movies’ and ‘promos’ that Blizzard put together were hilarious! And the winner of the ‘Comedy’ Blizzcon movie contest was a laugh out loud riot. I know not everyone shares the same sense of humor – and my own sense of humor is admittedly not exactly main stream – but I really didn’t get how anyone could find the Star Trek convention brand of humor … well, humorous.
Point six for Blizzcon: Gracious Hosts! Never, at any time, did anyone with a mic at Blizzcon get snippy with the audience. Never, at any time, were they anything but glad that we had come. Never, at any time, did they leave a sour taste in my mouth or make me feel like they were just grown up spoiled brats. I wish I could say the same for the Star Trek convention hosts.
So, there you have it. Blizzcon, with 6 points and Star Trek Convention 0. Some of the issues would be hard to fix without a lot more money – but the Creation Entertainment folks could certainly learn a lot from the Blizzcon book of entertaining. I understand that the first Blizzcon didn’t go off nearly as well as this last one – but they definitely learned from their mistakes to throw one heck of a party.