I’ve been going to Dragon*Con for years. I’ve probably been ten times, my first time being probably in 1993 or 1994. I’ve missed some years, but I’ve attended more than I’ve missed. If you have never been to Dragon*Con, I recommend it.
As much as I do love the con, I’ll be the first to admit that if you go with any frequency, certain aspects of it will get… repetitive. If you are interested in writing and getting published, the writing track has panels that are good to attend where you can listen to published authors talk about how they got published. Better yet, you can probably ask them yourself. (Just don’t hand them a manuscript, they aren’t -generally- publishers or editors themselves.) However, after you’ve been to that panel a few times, unless they add some new and awesome guests you don’t need to attend it again, or at least just not every year. Go to con enough years and you’ll find that you’ve “seen everything” – which you really haven’t, believe me, just when you think you’ve seen it all at Dragon*Con someone will walk out in a costume or some guest will sign on (Shatner and Nemoy last year!!) and prove that you haven’t – but when you get to feeling that way there are really only too options: coast or step up.
To coast would be to attend every year, go to the parties, visit a few panels, maybe wear a costume and just enjoy the weekend. Nothing wrong with that at all. But the other option, to step up, would be to volunteer for staff. Dragon*Con is a con for fans by fans. Grim said it pretty well:
Now, here are some major differences between Dragon*Con and “everybody else”…
GenCon is gaming, only gaming, nothing but gaming. They are the Mac-Daddy gaming convention, and they do gaming very well. They do not, however, have concerts, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Costuming, or any of the other “3 hotels worth of stuff” that Dragon*Con does.
Penny Arcade Expo, is run for gaming companies, by gaming companies, and caters to an established audience. If you are a computer or console gamer, this is a great convention. If, however, you want to have drinks with celebrities, or are not a hardcore gamer. PAX isn’t for you.
Comic-Con focuses on Sci-Fi and (duh) Comics. You’ll have a pretty good chance of seeing celebrities there (since it’s located near Los Angeles and New York) and there is a correspondingly large media presence there.
There is only one convention that does “all of the above”. There’s only one convention that isn’t so hip-deep in advertising and sponsorship dollars that you can save yourself the trouble and just download press-releases all day. There’s only one convention that boasts 24-hour, round-the-clock, non-stop “stuff to do”. There’s only one convention that is run by fans, for fans.
And it is with this in mind that I noticed last year I spent about 80% of my time in the MMO Track, so I’ve volunteered and joined the staff.
Recently, Grim wanted the gang to start updating the track blog more, to keep a flow of information to help build and cement a community around the track. I suggested and volunteered for Saturday Morning Cartoons. If you know of any good MMO videos, be they music videos, comedy routines, awesome raid take downs, Easter eggs, or anything worth watching, especially if it’s for a game that isn’t WoW (no offence to WoW, but there is just so much for them that finding WoW-stuff is easy… not so much other games), let me know.
Another place I’m involved is in trying to track down guests, or companies that want to send us some swag to give away… if you happen to read my blog and Dragon*Con looks like fun to you and you happen to work in the MMO industry, let me know.
We’re about five months away from Dragon*Con 2010, and I’m more excited about it this year than I’ve ever been. This is going to be great!