Time for some whole-hearted geekery. If ever there is an event that brings together the most unique, interesting individuals, it is the convention. Across the world, conventions are held to celebrate a unifying interest, whether it be for video games, music, or even comic books. Conventions are some of the most awkward, amazing, horrifying experiences. There is not a single story that is generally the same as the next. Conventions are one of the few events that can create a tailored experience for an individual without even trying. Conventions have become a prevalent pop culture event in today’s society. The expression of visual media are one of the cornerstones in the convention schedule. It would be safe to assume, then, that such an event that tailors experiences to attendees and is designed towards a specific interest would be an extremely special moment. Nope.
In the short lifespan of conventions, the event has evolved from a personal and small event shared only with a handful of people to enormous spectacles driven by money and popularity. Convention attendees are no longer outcast nerds that have an obsession with comic books, but normal members of society attending a monumental social gathering…as long as you attend the right convention, of course. Big name conventions like San Diego Comic Con and Penny Arcade Expo (commonly referred to as PAX happening this weekend at the Seattle convention center) have gained an enormous amount of popularity. Their audience has shifted to represent more of the general public. Their popularity has made it possible for convention goers to be seen as normal members of society. However, any lesser known convention that lacks the enormous amount of funding and public support these two heavy weights have cannot paint the same picture for their audience. On top of that, lesser known events attract lesser known vendors and speakers, thereby drawing fewer attendees until finally, everyone’s either going to PAX (if they can get in) or San Diego Comic Con (if they can get in).
It’s quickly becoming apparent that the unique experience of conventions is quickly disappearing in favor of a more general, run of the mill experience that is motivated by money, not by the fans. It’s not a conscious change, but a change is occurring nonetheless. The bigger the convention gets, the more its meaning diminishes. Attend PAX or San Diego Comic Con, just don’t expect to experience to be near as amazing as it was in the beginning. If you want something special out of the convention, something that will be unique only to you and not watered down by the fact that a million others are seeing the same thing, you have to go looking for them. Those conventions aren’t going to be the ones on the front page of the newspaper.