Online Conventions and My Views

I really like the idea of online conventions.  It probably has a lot to do with the fact that living in Tasmania there are no conventions.  In fact, believe it or not, I have NEVER attended an RPG convention.  I once attended a convention that had RPG’s at it but it was not dedicated and I was not actually there for the convention.  So I like the fact that there are online conventions that I can get involved in.  Last year I only did the one online convention and I ran four games at it.  It was one of the Let Us Game conventions that were held and it was fun.

But I didn’t get to play in a game, and running four games left me very tired.  I can tell you that I enjoyed the experience and signing up to the convention was a breeze.  But sadly, it appears that this ease of sign in is not prevalent across the range of other conventions online.  I was privately included in a conversation about a convention that is being held in November of this year.  They were keen to make it a solid 72 hours of gaming and thus wanted some Australians to handle some of the period.  At the time I thought it a good idea to throw my hat in the ring so I went to the link and put in my details.

Getting my grumpy on!

I was going to run three games and had not really decided what they would be.  For the first I was leaning toward running something for Lords of Gossamer and Shadow, the second would likely have been a FATE or Super Squadron game and the final game would have likely been Earthdawn or Dungeon World game.  I put those details into the system and thought that it was all over and I would be contacted nearer to the date.

But no.  Within 24 hours I had an email requesting that I go to a different site.  I had to detail precisely what I was running, at what time, using what system and the stipulation that each game must run at a minimum of 4 hours with a maximum of 6 hours.  I went to the link realizing that this was not a convention I was going to take part in, after all they wanted all these specifics 5 months at least before the convention?  When I got there I also found the site was American central.  Not that America is bad, but remember they were trying to get people around the world to game and they did not even have the decency to allow me to work out what time in my time zone I wanted to run the games.

Not only that but I could not choose a start time, I had to pick a start time that was pre-ordained and as far as I could work out (not that I gave it a lot of effort) the times were in my time zone the following three options;

  1. Really bloody early
  2. Just before dinner time (I cook in my family)
  3. Really bloody late
Now, I love online conventions because of their flexibility but this was not that.  The fact that I had to sign up twice (well actually four times as I would have to sign up for each game I was going to run) and the stupid times just made me give up.  I will not name the convention but I will point out that it was a new convention to me.
This has really tainted online conventions for me.  So much so that I may just never participate in one again.  The things I would like you to consider if you are planning on running a convention are the following;
  1. Make it easy to sign up ONCE.  Deal with detail via personal emails closer to the date
  2. If you are going to call for GM’s very early in your process give them some slack to prepare something.  They may not know precisely what they are going to do 5 months before they do it
  3. Allow the GM to decide what time they want to start and finish in their own time zone, then you do the work scheduling the times in your time zone
  4. Why have a minimum length?  I do not understand this at all.  Maximum, sure – that allows people to plan what games they can and can’t make but a minimum of four hours is insane
  5. Do not introduce frequent participation schemes into your conventions.  If I get awarded badges etc. for running games I will boycott it on principle.  Every GM should be treated equally regardless if they were present at the first con or the fortieth
So there you go.  I got my grumpy on and out.  I almost play exclusively online these days and so for me to get involved in a con it has to be something easy for me.  Most online cons tend to be held over the weekend which actually makes it very difficult for me to get involved as I work and have my only day off to spend some time with my family on the weekend.  It is why most of my games are run on weeknights as they are the only times I have free so for me to consider a weekend con you need to make it easy for me or I will just never do it.  Remember, you will catch more GM’s willing to give it a go if you make it a pleasurable experience.  Keep rolling!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.