The Rise Of The Virtual Gaming Convention
Hello fellow travelers! If you're like me, 2020 was a year to forget. As the Covid-19 Pandemic ravaged the world and disrupted our lives, I felt isolated and lonely. Our Wednesday night Pathfinder group stopped meeting in person and I retreated to the safe confines of my office, hidden away from friends and family as the world waited and hoped for things to get better. The months dragged on, but now as summer approaches in this promising new year, life is slowly starting to get back to normal.
Gaming Convention Shut Down!
It wasn't just my Pathfinder group that had to cancel, but it was the gaming cons as well. In a move that would have been thought of as inconceivable a few years back, gaming conventions such as Origins and Gen Con were shuttered. There were economic ramifications from shutting down of course, not to mention the thousands of disappointed would-be attendees. Still, most everyone understood that the health and safety of our fellow gamers came first.
Cancellations were unfortunate, but some cons that had enough time to prepare, like Reaper Con 2020, got creative and went completely virtual. I participated in several of the online painting classes at Reaper Con, and I can attest that the event was an amazing success. Thousands of gamers worldwide were able to attend the convention and take classes on everything from airbrushing to glazing from the likes of Anne Foerster (one of my favorite miniatures painters).
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The Virtual Gaming Convention
2021 is shaping up to be better than 2020, and in-person gaming conventions are already happening and being planned. This is exciting news of course, but the Pandemic has given rise to the virtual gaming convention, and I hope this format continues to grow.
Some organizers (using Reaper again as an example) are holding live conventions as well as dedicated, virtual events. Due to the success of last year's online version of Reaper Con, the inaugural Reaper Virtual Expo was born. This event, held earlier in March, is to be followed with the normal, in-person Reaper Con slated to take place in September.
Other groups, like Gen Con, are going the hybrid route, with both in-person and virtual events taking place concurrently. Even though this year's Gen Con was pushed back to September, organizers hope this hybrid approach will result in the largest number of gamers being able to get their game on.
And that really is one of the amazing possibilities of the virtual gaming convention format -- having an increased number of attendees being able to participate. Yes, I can't wait for in-person cons, but I would be seriously disappointed if the virtual conventions were completely done away with. Not everyone can go to Denton for Reaper Con, and not everyone can go to Indianapolis for Gen Con. Live streamed events on Twitch and Discord allow gamers from around the world to be part of the action.
As disruptive as the Pandemic was to the gaming community, perhaps something good has come about and virtual gaming conventions will be a permanent fixture...
So what are your thoughts fellow travelers? Have you participated in a virtual gaming convention or would you do so if given the opportunity? What do you think are the positives and negatives of an online format? Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below, and as always, happy adventuring!
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