Another day, another convention announcing that they’ll be “online-only” again in 2021. This time the convention in question is QuakeCon, the convention for fans of classic shooters, ID and of course Quake. The announcement came a couple of weeks ago, with the organizers basically saying that they’re doing this in the interest of staff and attendees. Its definitely the “responsible” move, but its still rather disappointing to see.
Some are likely to agree with this decision, and some are likely to disagree with it. I’ll be keeping my opinion on that particular question to myself, because I think there’s a more interesting question here: is a remote convention really a convention? In my opinion, no it’s not.
Conventions are, by their very nature, large gatherings of like-minded people. If there’s no gathering, then there’s no convention. You could argue that lots of people will be in the official discord channel, so it’s still a gathering, but I really don’t see it. I’m a member of many discord channels: some large and some small. Sometimes they’re really active, with many people “talking” all at once. It’s lively to be sure, but it doesn’t feel like a gathering to me. Rather, it’s just a very active message board as far as I’m concerned.
The same felt true for PAX Online last year. I’ve been to PAX in-person and I must say that the online version doesn’t even come close. None of the energy is there, and only a fraction of the excitement. Both of those qualities are hugely important to the success and popularity of these shows, so I wonder if they’ll be able to survive another year or two of being “safe.” Again, your opinion might be different. That’s fine, but I still think that these events need to return to in-person gatherings sooner rather than later. If they don’t, I don’t see them continuing for much longer.
How do you feel about online conventions? Do you think they’re here to stay? Are they actually a good replacement for their in-person counterparts?
Source images from Steam. Edited by Hatm0nster