Recently, I began to explore the world of conventions, fan conventions, more specifically. A couple of weeks ago, I looked at why and how they came into being. Obviously, for the most part, it was the desire for fans to get together and be around other fans. Yet, there is something about a convention that goes beyond a regular meet up or get together. First, conventions typically are much longer than a regular meet up or get together. For example, many get togethers last only a few hours or part of a day. Conventions commonly last days. Some can last an entire weekend and beyond. So, length of time makes a convention special. The other thing that makes a convention more than a meet up is the activities, or what people can do there, which is the focus of today’s blog. What are the typical activities at a convention? Which ones are the most important? Which ones would get you to go to a convention? Do the activities matter more or as much as getting together with fellow fans?
I have done a fair amount of research on conventions, have attended some, and planned one. I have seen some common activities at all of them and some unique ones at specific conventions. The specific ones relate only to that individual fandom. For example, at ours, we went to Late Bar to enjoy 80s music or other music conventions have had tribute bands play. At conventions related to TV or movies, they might show a new episode or behind the scenes footage. Beyond those unique activities, here is a list of the most common. I’m sure that the list is not complete.
Common Convention Activities:
*Registration—All conventions require attendees to register. For some conventions, this is a simple check-in, get materials and move to other activities. For other conventions, it is more of an event with attendees mingling and enjoying drinks and/or food.
*Games—Many conventions feature trivia about one’s fandom. Other games related to that specific fandom(s) are common as well.
*Vendors—Many conventions have an area in which attendees can buy products. In most cases, those products are related to the fandom(s) represented at the convention, but, sometimes, there are general products as well.
*Panels—These panels can vary in topic and scope. At large conventions like Comic Con, these panels could include an entire cast of a TV show or movie or a combination between the actors, producers, directors, etc. Sometimes, panels are people who do a similar job related to that fandom. For example, our convention had an author’s panel of writers who have written material related in some way to Duran. At times, a panel might be made of one particular celebrity. Panels typically run with a moderator who allows each of the panelists to give a statement, then asks questions of the panelists and fields questions from the audience.
*Banquets—Smaller conventions often have banquets associated with them in which food is served and the attendees dine together. Often, at the banquets, other activities take place, including contests, raffles, games, etc.
*Raffles or Auctions—Attendees have a chance to pay for raffles or to bid on items related to the fandom. Typically, these items are donated and are a means of fundraising for the convention itself. For our convention, we had items like rare vinyl records, t-shirts, signed products, and more. Conventions associated with TV shows or movies might have items like props from episodes, costumes, signed pictures of actors and more.
*Costume Contests—Many conventions have attendees who will dress like specific characters from movies, comics, video games and TV shows. Then, frequently, there is a contest to see who has the best one.
*Photo and autograph opportunities—Many large conventions are able to get celebrities to come to the conventions. Then, fans have the opportunity to buy a photograph and/or an autograph with the celebrity of choice. These are usually additional cost beyond the ticket to get into the convention. The cost of these opportunities often depend on how popular or in demand a specific celebrity is. For example, a big time actor would cost more than an actor who hasn’t been on a popular show for a number of years.
*A chance to showcase one’s work—Often, people will attend conventions to show off their work or to have their work be seen. For example, it is common for conventions to have an area where artists can show or play their work. These artists are not famous like the celebrities or panelists but do want to show their work and to get more work, more recognition, etc. They can also sell their products. Likewise, at large conventions, companies involved with the popular arts would come and see people’s work like a job fair.
Based on this list, which activities would appeal to you the most? More specifically, which ones would make you want to get to a convention? For me, there are activities that I think are super cool and would get me to pay for the ticket and then there are others that I would enjoy if I am there but wouldn’t push me to go. I’m curious about which activities would make you more likely to pay to attend? What about ones that would get you to travel? Perhaps, for you, it isn’t about one or two specific events but there needs to many of them that are cool that would get you to pay and/or travel to go to a convention. I want to know. What matters in your decision to go, in terms of activities? Do the activities matter more than being around other fans? Maybe, for some people, they have the chance to be around other fans all the time so they don’t need to go to a convention for that. Online activity might more than enough, in terms of interacting with fans. For those of you like that, would any of these activities get you in the door? Why or why not?