How Will a LOTROCON Get Its Wings?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The LOTRO Follower recently posted some thoughts on the idea of a LOTROCON that has been batted around the LOTRO Blogosphere and forums recently. I've yet to make a post about it on the Adventurer. The Follower has given some good thoughts and has inspired me to offer my own in a more organized fashion than comments.

The worry is that there won't be enough interest to justify the expense of putting on the con with all the ideas that we have - gaming room(s), in-game duel tournaments, panels, official developer attendance, Tolkien/lore programming. That's a lot. And it costs a lot of money.

What about something small - we're not getting away from expenses with this kind of thing - it'll cost someone something somewhere regardless of how many people are in attendance, but rather than have a huge con right of the bat full of wonderful ideas but also a big logistical challenge. Let's start with a much smaller scale.

Let's have a small event. Maybe just a half-day get together. Book a restaurant for an evening. Or a bar. Hang out. Many large cons can trace their roots to like minded people simply sharing a drink on an annual (or even more frequent) basis. Something this small, however, isn't appealing to spending money to fly too so it'll have to eventually be bigger to attract a bigger crowd. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? If you build it they will come?

What about a series of community events across the country like the above. Small things, get-togethers more than cons per se. They could be tied to industry events so that there's a chance of getting some official attendance and increase interest.

The important thing is to have someone or a couple someones keeping track of this sort of thing so they can build on the interest and push for a larger event. We can't instantly have boiling water. It's got to slowly warm up but as more and more molecules get excited, the pot begins to bubble. As more and more people are aware of these events, the more momentum we can build and that way we can have a better meter of interest in a larger LOTROCON event.

What this will take are a few advocates in various places across the country. Processes of this type tend to be spontanous and uncorrelated - only later do you see an organized effort to capture the energy. Perhaps we can artifically create that energy by coordinating from the beginning. Someone near major population centers over the whole US (we certainly can included our Australian/New Zealander and European neighbors in this too) can be the spearhead for these small get-togethers, but these people talk to each other about how their events went, how they planned, and most importantly get the word out in an organized fashion.

Eventually there will be enough interest to hold a small convention someplace cheap to fly to - Las Vegas has lots of convention space of any size and has some of the cheapest airfares (Southwest Airlines is great for that). If there has been official interest in these smaller predecessor gatherings (perhaps by having one near Turbine's headquarters or associated with industry events) official interest in the newborn con will exist.

And then we build from there... and we get a nation-wide (perhaps world-wide) gathering of people who have grown up with the community we've built. It's more than interest in the game or the con. It's interest in the people they've gotten to know - the relationships they've built. Sucessful IRL activities based on games are propelled by relationships - even if those relationships have started in the game. Between players, between developers. Whatever. LOTROCON can be a reality, but we need to start with the foundation or else our house will come falling down.

2 Responses to "How Will a LOTROCON Get Its Wings?"

Thallian Says:

Good idea, and keeping it small the first time is a very good idea. The most popular places to hodl conferences (SF, LA, NY, Florida) are also among the most expensive. If you had it near Turbine's headquarters then some fo the devs could show up easier or whoever (Jeffrey Steefel, etc..) Just some thoughts. They are headquartered in Westwood MA so maybe Boston would be good?

The LotRO Follower Says:

The starting out small thing is a great idea. From what I saw people were envisioning something like an E3-esque convention for LotRO players, and at this stage that's definitely not going to go over well.