By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
The good news is that GottaCon now takes up two buildings to give the people from the City of Victoria and elsewhere the exposition of what the world of gaming offers. Is it a geek haven? Sure, if folks could find something related to pop culture to enjoy (which is mostly found in their evening entertainment), but when this event is primarily about celebrating gaming in all its forms — from board games, miniature battles, cards to video — the big question is will they succumb to requiring celebrities to draw more people in?
Most likely not — but in my case, I have to say that I am losing interest. They do get locally well-known folks to fuel the panels. My pursuits into this realm now lay in finding exhibitions and discussions about new trends. I’m fascinated with the world of mobile/tablet gaming and there’s nothing in the event’s webpage and panel listings to draw me in. Kano/Apps was there to represent that world but they were mostly showing off their own products, saying they are recruiting programmers and nothing was listed as panels to explore this young industry.
Until GottaCon catches up with the mobile world or offers industry type technical panels, I see no reason to attend for all three days. One is enough for me, if they are lucky enough to collect my hard-earned money.
When I hit a convention, I love to explore the exhibition floor so I can discover new products that I have not seen before. This convention has a long way to go before it can grow its display space to a level where it’ll draw the attention of Sony or Nintendo. It at least offers local vendors and talents from the Pacific Northwest to show off their wares. But as for finding deals, this is not the show to attend for that. On the last day to see if any deep discounts can be found nothing got me interested.
Last year had a few operations not marking down prices for single items (I did spot two for one deals) and that’s a turn off.
Plus, my world is with cinema. The cross-over potentials that the rich worlds established in video games present are missed. Only one panel interested me, and that was a World Building one where storytellers, RPG makers and video game gurus talked about how they went about creating universes that matter. I’d love to see GottaCon work in partnership with the Victoria Film Festival to offer a special evening screening of really popular video game movies or have panelists discuss the broader picture (I miss seeing Gareth Von Kallenbach of Skewed n’ Reviewed, a syndicated news & reviews site, at this show and he only appeared once). The Vic Theatre is next door and that’s not being utilized. Given that I enjoy the Resident Evil films for its crazy zombie escapist politics and that I understood Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, all any Hollywood producer needs to realize is that narrative matters over heavy visuals. Sadly, ever since Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time didn’t do as well critically, this drive to manufacture more movies based on video games is in a lull. It’s doubtful if Minecraft, Space Invaders or Angry Birds can do any better. Who wants to hear squawking avians for 90 minutes?
While there’s tons of tie-in with vocal talent, can GottaCon even afford to bring one voice actor to spotlight? I’d love to see Steve Blum, the voice of Killer Croc in Batman: Arkham games and various Call of Duty characters, come back to the Pacific Northwest. When I lined up to meet him at Fan Expo Vancouver last year, I saw more people with their video game cases to get signed than anything else. That must mean something.
Is GottaCon missing an opportunity? They need a proper public relations / marketing team to help elevate them to the next level and investors willing to take a gamble. When I’ve even heard from my hairstylist that she knows of a few gamers who have not heard of GottaCon in the month leading up to the show, that suggests word of mouth is not enough.
I applaud the primary leaders, Evan Hatch and Carson Upton, for keeping this show going for seven years now. I hope they are open to making changes so the event can grow. That’s no easy task when Victoria has a record of not keeping any island based geek convention ongoing for three or more years. I-Con back in the 1990’s fizzled after the third, and some clubs did not have the energy to continue into the new millennium. There was even an attempt to bring a science fiction convention to the island, but apathy killed that.