Aug 23, 2010

[Conventions] Do You Want A New Worlds 6?

It's been almost 3 years since New Worlds 5.

In previous years, the New Worlds conventions were an annual celebration of science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts put together by a bunch of dedicated fans. These various conventions were a great way to bring fans together to celebrate the shows, movies and franchises with people of like-minded interests. It was also a venue for geeks to "come out" of their respective geek closets and be proud of being exactly who they are.

Harry Potter fans wearing Hogwarts uniform's r...Image via WikipediaFor one reason or another, I missed out on the geek convention scene and only got to participate in 2007 after my father died. We weren't exactly close over the years and thus probably why he never got around to telling me all about the big geek conventions he was attending and even helping organize. So I only caught the last two big New Worlds events both held in 2007 - New Worlds: Transformed and New Worlds 5.

It's been almost 3 years since New Worlds 5. Don't you think it's about time we held another convention? I sure do.

When thinking about conventions, we tend to look towards the US for ideas about how conventions should go. There are the big ones like the SDCC or the more focused ones like Star Wars Celebration. Plus a whole host of others like Gen Con, Dragon Con and even Gaylaxicon as other examples to examine as role models for our own conventions.

Common elements in many of these conventions include (1) various forums and panel discussions, (2) workshops and other activities related to the theme of the convention, (3) big announcements from the studios or companies with related shows or products and (4) some sale items and exclusives that can only be found at the convention. Locally, the conventions we tend to see more highly publicized tend to involve (1) a few talks and seminar style workshops here and there, (2) a cosplay competition and (3) a lot of items on sale by independent sellers and a few local stores and franchises. Thus you can see there tend to be subtle differences that keep things still distinguishable from one another.

One could argue that this probably just refers to differences in how mature local convention groups are versus the more developed versions abroad. Local conventions survive mostly through a lot of volunteer work and extensive lobbying for sponsors. And naturally that's a major pain since local sponsors tend to not understand what these conventions are for and thus they only gravitate to the aspects of the convention that yield the most potential ROI for them - these being the sheer number of people who are exposed to their brand as a big cheap advertisement and getting a part of any revenues generated by the event. However conventions aren't meant to be revenue-generating venues but are originally meant to be a group of people meeting to discuss a particular topic, genre or whatever.

Think of the local Ad Congress or the various trade conventions that are held every year. People go to network and attend various talks, lectures and seminars related to that field. However when we look at a majority of the conventions we have here, they are closer to being more like trade shows where people can buy things rather than being about attending seminars and such. The push of advertisers and the goals of corporations has certainly shifted the focus of our local geek convention scene to result in the ones that have survived so far.

The comic book folks have at least three conventions every year - the two Komikons (one in the Summer and the other in November) plus the recently concluded Metro Con, which tend to be pretty decent events. The toy enthusiasts have Toycon and TAGCOM. And despite the fact that most of these other conventions have cosplay events as a highlight, we also have the Philippine Cosplay Convention and Cosplay Mania. And there are all those other conventions that I'm not familiar with for the anime enthusiasts and whatever else is out there. However when you look at all these conventions, it becomes rather tricky to determine what sets each one apart. Most will have cosplayers wearing the same costumes regardless of the theme of the convention. Comic Odyssey will probably have a booth for selling comics, also regardless of the theme.

But that's their thing and I don't want to go into digging into whether each of the other conventions are good or bad. That's not my point here. What I am talking about is the fact that it's sad that we don't have a serious convention for science fiction and fantasy fans anymore. And when I say serious, I mean one with great forums, fun fandom-themed games and activities and without the need for a cosplay event to attract people. I prefer it when people dress up as their favorite characters just because they want to and not because there's a contest involved - it's just a way to show their passion for their fandoms. And we know there's a market out there - they've visited the past New Worlds conventions after all.

The challenge is getting enough volunteers to actually put the work in to make the event possible. This means taking time out of our busy lives for the sake of the geeky things that we love. It means a little out of pocket expenses but hopefully more effort in terms of finding sponsors and an event that won't charge too much to host us geeks. It's a lot of discussions and word-of-mouth sharing and a heck of a lot of persistence.

While we gather enough people to make such an event possible, we should get the awareness ball rolling. Don't you want to have a convention for your geeky interests? Don't you want to be able to meet other people who enjoyed the original Star Trek series like you or perhaps who love the works of H.P. Lovecraft or Anne Rice? Don't you want to discuss how Lost ended with other Losties? Don't you want to be able to share a bottle of rum with a fellow Pirates of the Carribean lover? Don't you want to practice your spells with other Harry Potter fans?

If you want all these things and more in a convention that stands out and really says we're proud to be geeks, then let's start talking about it. Blog about your ideas for the next New Worlds convention. Discuss what help you might be able to offer. Rally your respective geek groups in order to see how you can help organize the event. These things don't teleport out of thin air - if we really want this to happen, then we have to make it happen. If we wait for the corporations to put something together, it's just going to be a glorified tiangge or an advertising machine for their products and services. It won't be the kind of convention that's really about the fans.

New Worlds 6 - we can make it happen.
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  1. Pirates love their grog fests...err Conventions, where do we dock?

  2. Yay for NWA6! NWA5 remains memorable for me, especially when I recall that guy I saw whom I was asking Benny to introduce me to.



  3. how about a new worlds every 2 years?

  4. In a way im starting to miss the overnight ingress, late night egress, and most the post convention sickness :D

  5. Don't forget Con Parties! In the US, Cons are held in hotels, so usually Con goers host varying degrees of wild parties at the con.

  6. A couple of quick points on how Cons in the US happen and how they drive attendance:
    Usually, they are less sponsor driven and more "reservation" driven. Even for the smaller conventions, the fee to get into the con is usually anywhere from $20 (one day pass) to $50 (full weekend). Reservations taken months in advance are for a reduced rate (usually about half) and that's where the funds come from to actually produce the convention. Any profits are donated to charity (there's Literacy Foundations, or the one that provides insurance to Scifi/Fantasy Authors if you're looking for something to fit your theme).
    The dealers rooms in Cons usually have items that can't be found outside of the Con. For example, gaming companies often do early releases of gaming books at GenCon and I'm sure there will be comics that can only be found at SDCC every year.
    Cons usually have celebrity guests (even if they are "B" Celebs that only scifi/comic geeks would know). These people (and seeing them or hanging with them in the aforementioned parties) are part of the draw.

    I doubt all of those would be worthwhile to emulate over here, but it's food for thought.

  7. Multi-comment response time!

    Nazgul Queen: If we all put our thinking caps on and work together, I'm sure we'll find you pirates a safe port.

    Tobie: I wonder whom you're referring to...

    Lyndon: Changing the cycle might not be too bad an idea given everyone's busy lives these days.

    Mark: There's certainly an odd sense of fulfillment to be found there, hehe.

    Adam: All definitely good ideas. I think breaking even is definitely a goal and the whole reservation has a lot of merit. Now if only we could find local talent to invite over to keep things interesting - or even better if we can get foreign folks to join in!