Con odds and ends

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Yes yes, we know this is yesterday’s news and Chicago is where it’s at now, but a few last links before we sail into the sunset. Chuck Rozanzki sends out a daily report from the show, and they’re all gathered in one place. Rozanski is a smart guy and always has interesting observations, and we’re not just saying that because he’s one of our sponsors, honest!

There is always one sad, bleak post about a con that must be read as a counterpoint to the shiny happy reports. That post is from Rikki Simons who looks back on 20 years of con going, from drinking Thunderbird with hobos (!) to this year’s oddness and weird conversations with ex-Marine bus drivers who like Pokémon:


It doesn’t surprise me that some people had to hide their convention passes when riding the trolly to keep from being refused entry. It doesn’t surprise me that I should hear the local “alternativeâ€? radio station blaze forth the message that, while trying to give away free tickets to the convention, you would not lose your manhood in the presence of so many awful comics since Samuel Jackson was to make an appearance. “I’ve never picked up a comic in my life and it’s a crime to call this convention a comic convention,â€? bleated the thoughtless jock on the radio, “This is a pop culture event. It’s got movie stars and TV shows and rock stars!â€? And as painful a stab as that was, I have to admit that the very presence of Mace Windu and the force of his Hollywood clout was enough to get us parking at a trolly station that probably would have otherwise been closed to comic con nerdery.


Rikki also points us to a very interesting post on E3 — we should stress that while E3 will no longer be a multi media extravaganza, it will go on as a smaller, more intimate show, and
Arstechnica has what seems to be a sharp analysis:

Sources say that two major factors have led to the decision to transition the show to a more “closed-door” event. Both, coincidentally, were major reasons for COMDEX shutting down: cost and access. If you’ve never been to E3, let me describe it like this: long lines, truckloads of people, video games everywhere, and really fancy “booths” (where booth sometimes means basketball court-sized display area). As with COMDEX, the major players are reportedly tired of how much it costs to put on the dog and pony show. Turns out it costs millions of dollars to put the sparkle into an E3 blingfest.

Now in theory, these shows are primarily geared towards connecting businesspeople. To that end, E3 was (again, in theory) only open to industry folks and journalists. In recent years, however, the number of people attending have skyrocketed, in part because E3 registration was a moderately open process. The show was getting huge, and just as with COMDEX, the show-within-a-show was born. What I mean by that is that it was no longer enough to go to the show. To talk to someone who actually knew what they were talking about, you’d need an appointment. To see something really special, really worth writing about, you’d need to meet behind closed doors. To find out anything of interest about something that wasn’t on a placard, you needed to get in with the right people. With COMDEX the practice started to get ridiculous; major players officially skipped the show but set up camp in Vegas hotels and had their sideshows for a fraction of the cost.


The parallels with SDCC are obvious, and it’s interesting to speculate if San Diego may someday become this kind of closed door, appointment only show, like Toy Fair and now E3. It’s highly unlikely since the Comic-con is run by a non-profit organization and NOT an industry group, like E3 and Toy Fair, or even ShoWest. Movie and TV companies like getting consumers into the mix now, but if they could throw a smaller, cheaper show, like ShoWest, and just make appointments with all their favorite internet journos, they probably would, down the line. Just food for thought for now, but its all part of the big picture.

Comments

  1. It was very difficult for me to get around on the convention floor, and I’m a native new yorker used to subways at rush hour and Chinatown during new years. However, I was able to do get in some “aggressive” networking. Not angry or mean, mind you — but with the whole place being some version of, “Oooh, Shiny,” (as author Win Eckert described it), I had to jump in sometimes really quickly.

    Case in point – at the end of the lamentably named “Black Panel” (why only one?) I had to practically jump up on to the podium to have a brief sentence or two with Michael Davis. Then, later when I saw Dwayne McDuffie (who I knew on sight from previous conventions), I had only a moment to hand him my DVD (and hopefully my business card) before he, too, was swept away in the crowd.

    The pros and dealers had the “industry lounge” in which to network… those who knew of it. I still spent plenty on convention center food and coffee, but probably saved about $30 on their water, coffee and lemonade.

    While I was waiting for people I knew on sight, I also talked to anyone who looked interesting — especially anyone old. That was kinda cool. I spotted Ray Bradbury in the industry lounge after his panel with about 30 people keeping him company, but earlier in the convention, the very distinctive looking George RR Martin was in there with only a few people chatting with him.

    I hope that some of t he new people I met will remember me, and was also glad to catch up with a few people from previous conventions (like Star Trek The Next Generation story writer Jimmy Diggs).

    It was a shame, however, that I only got the chance to wave at Sergio Aragones on Wednesday and that poor Mark Evanier was moderating almost back to back panels (counter programmed often against HUGE, HUGE media event panels). By the time I got to meet him in person (I had chatted with him on the radio in February of this year), I was glad to just introduce myself in person, shake his hand, and let him do his somewhat weary thing.

    I hope to blog more on myspace ( http://www.myspace.com/village_mystic_r ) – but am getting over a cold, so this is actually the first place I’ve had to chance to write about some of this.

    -Rachel

  2. To say that Ars Technica is a gaming site is like saying The Beat is a Gerard Butler fan site. It’s part of what they do, but there’s much more to it than that.

    Si.

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