I don’t remember which year was the first time I went to Dragon*Con. I’m not sure if it was before or after I got out of college. I think before, so it was probably 1996 or 1997. The first couple of times I went down it was for concerts and people watching and the dealers hall. At some point, probably 5 years ago or so, I started actually going to panels. Not just one or two, but spending pretty much all my time in them. From year to year I would go to new tracks and see more stuff…
Before I go further, I want to say that everyone should take some time and see the panels. They cover great topics and the people are very passionate. Just think about the things you are interested in and track down a panel or two and go.
… that said, after five years, many of the panels are content stagnant. Hey, if you’ve never been to the Star Trek author’s panel, go, but if you’ve been before, unless there has been some big shakeup in the publishing or some game changing new book released, they are more likely to just discuss the same things they discussed the last time. Much like I wrote about in this year’s daily posts concerning the Art Show, Exhibitors and Dealers halls, once you’ve gone through a track’s panels in full once or twice, you can skim them in later years and just pick up the new stuff. After five years, you are pretty much skimming all the tracks, and some tracks, while being full of awesome people and awesome content and perfect for people new to the track, there is so much less “must see” items on their schedule.
When you get to this point, you will find out which items you are really interested in by which tracks you continue to visit. This year, I spent most of my time in the MMO Track, with a few trips off to the Writer’s Track and Apocalypse Rising, and those side trips were only to see those “skimmed” panels of content either new or deeply interesting to me.
So what do you do when attending the panels is winding down? For me, it means I’m thinking about getting involved. Why just go to Dragon*Con when you can help bring it to be?
Beyond that revelation, I also discovered that being in better shape physically makes for a better weekend all around. Four nights in a row of getting 3 to 5 hours of sleep at best and I wasn’t exhausted. Even now, in the aftermath, I’m more mentally tired than physically so (though I did get about 9 hours of sleep last night). Getting healthier is having all sorts of cool benefits. I even managed to go through the whole weekend without gaining weight.
All in all, Dragon*Con was as good as ever, and I’m really looking forward to next year.