Although many conventions were cancelled due to the current situation, some decided to move online – Demicon 31 is one of them. With multiple events going virtual, I received an unique opportunity to travel to conventions organizedeven in distant countries. It is likely that if not for Demicon being virtual I would not have a chance to ever visit it, and now here I am – writing a report.
“There is no timezone”
With Demicon being based in Des Moines, Iowa, it was seven hours behind Central European Time. I decided I would adjust to the convention time zone slightly, but changing by seven hours just for a weekend would be too much for me. Instead, I moved my sleeping time by around 2-3 hours so that I could participate in at least a part of the convention activities.
There are certain downsides to such approach – firstly, I was rather tired (which is understandable). The other issue is that I was still able to participate only in some of the activities. Lastly, I usually expect people to socialize more in the evenings. Still, I did my best to enjoy the convention to the extent that I was able to.
Although Demicon 31 was free of charge, organizers asked everyone to sign the Guest Book (via Google Forms). Everyone who did (and according to the statistics from the closing ceremony, 279 people signed it) was supposed to receive a virtual item that can be exchanged to a physical one at Demicon 32. The virtual item was a special ribbon that one could attach to the badge. The badge itself was available for download from the convention website.
During the first programme item – Welcome to Your First Virtual DemiCon – I learned that ribbons are a big thing on Demicons and that explained the registration approach. And when the first virtual ribbon from the organizers appeared, people decided to share their own creations. Truth be told, I also prepared the FandomRover ribbons (you can download the set of three here). I ended up having nine different ribbons attached to my badge. Yet I saw one other person sharing picture of their badge with 52 ribbons attached – wow!
I like ribbons in general and I regret they don’t exist at conventions in Poland. Whenever I have an opportunity, I attach some of them to my badges, yet I prefer to have just a few as otherwise they get in my way. I had the same approach at Demicon, so this is why I limited myself to just nine.
Programming on multiple platforms
Unlike my previous online cons (Lajconik and Konline), Demicon decided to use multiple platforms. I did not manage to try all of them but I observed some interesting ideas. Talks and panels were streamed on Zoom, casual chat took place on Discord, while concerts were streamed on Facebook and sometime also on YouTube. Twitch was devoted to gaming while movie watching used Netflix Party. Dealers’ room and FanTables used multiple platforms. On top of that, Scavenger Hunt was on Facebook, there were items to do alone at home and some author’s reading and other movies were uploaded and premiered on YouTube. Yes, a lot of different activities were available!
I managed to attend a few programme items with the most remarkable one being Virtual Dragon Sculpture Demonstration and Studio Tour with Artist Guest of Honour – David Lee Pancake. His works are amazing and having a possibility to watch his sculpting presentation was really awesome. I hope that the recording will be posted to Demicon YouTube channel so that you can check it.
Music all around me
I was really surprised with the number of concerts that took place during Demicon. Thirteen concerts were scheduled (I believe that one did not occur due to technical difficulties). I managed to listen to just a few of them. The one I was really hoping to see – by Rhiannon’s Lark (whose work I learned about thanks to Karl-Johan Norén informing me about Festival of the Living Rooms quite recently) was scheduled against David Lee Pancake’s presentation. I was glad to see that the recording is available online and I already managed to listen to it.
Participating in the concerts online is not the same as in person. Still, filk concerts during virtual conventions are a great opportunity to learn about new artists. I managed to listen to a few concerts both during the Demicon and by listening to the recordings after the con. Now I know I need to spend some more time listening to certain filkers.
Demicon 31 ended too fast
Well Demicon 31 was not a long convention it started on Friday late afternoon (night for me) and ended on Sunday afternoon (again – night for me). As I missed certain part of the con the time flew past much too fast. Still, I managed to enjoy the con and learn some things about it. It seemed to me that the atmosphere was quite family-like. I had the feeling that most participants knew each other (at least those that were active during different events).
Screenshot I took during Girls just wanna write SciFi talk (availablae on YT)
What I was somehow lacking was the socializing aspect. I know that people had some nice chats during the Netflix Party and Twitch gaming events (which I missed). Also when I joined the Chat and Craft “panel”, there were nice discussions ongoing, which is a plus. I was hoping for the Discord server to be more active. But even with the limited socializing aspect I had a good time.
I really enjoyed both the Opening Ceremony as well as the Welcome to Your First Virtual DemiCon panel. They gave me some understanding of the con and its dynamics. They allowed to meet the concom and some other convention members. I also felt welcomed as on a few occasions during the con it was mentioned that there are members not only from US but also from other countries including Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Poland. I got the impression that the team was really happy that Demicon attracted audience it doesn’t usually attract.
It was good to be there
All in all, I am happy I attended Demicon 31. Maybe not everything was perfect but the team put a lot of heart into making the con an interesting experience. Some of the prepared content can already be seen on YouTube. If I visit Des Moines in future I will be happy to visit Demicon in its usual venue and meet the people there. So here at the end I would like to once again thank the Concom for running this con and I hope you liked organizing it online.