It’s been a week since DragonCon in Atlanta, and we’re still looking back and grinning. This was our first time at the show, and we really weren’t sure what to expect. Oh sure, we’ve heard about the great costumes and how big the show is, but it’s always different to experience something like this in person. What is DragonCon? That’s a good question. I had a hard time explaining it to the woman behind the counter at our hotel because it isn’t one thing. It’s a convention for fans of TV and movies, fantasy and sci-fi, pop culture, and general weirdness. There is gaming, cosplay, shopping, autograph signings, and everything geeky under the sun. As Anne-Marie said to another vendor, “It’s like ComicCon before there was a ComicCon.”
The preparations started for us on Thursday, when we drove into downtown Atlanta and began the less-than-glamorous task of waiting for our load-in time so we could start setting up. Many hours later, we were finally carrying all our boxes and cases into our booth. Then we began the real work of turning an empty 10 foot by 10 foot booth into a cool space to show off cool games.
We finished our setup and headed out to meet with our fulfillment partners for dinner. Our games are warehoused and shipped out of Atlanta, and it’s always great to see the gang and talk a little business while we’re in town.
Friday was the first day of the show, and it got busy quick! Right away we noticed a big difference between DragonCon and Gen Con in the way attendees view games. At Gen Con, players are there for games, and they want to sit down and play a game to really experience it. At DragonCon, attendees have a lot of interests, and there is so much to see they don’t have time for full games. They wanted a quick overview and made up their minds right then. It was a lot of fun getting to show our games to non-gamers, but we quickly realized we hadn’t brought nearly enough Castle Panic! To make matters worse, our reprint arrived later than expected, and we weren’t be able to get any more from our warehouse. Curses!
That night after grabbing some dinner, we hit the costume contest. A huge auditorium filled with eager onlookers as competitors took to the stage to show off their creations. The award categories are based on how experienced the creators are, and they are judged by a panel of professional costumers. While they were all pretty cool, my favorite had to be the full-body Skeksis Chamberlain, and since it won Best In Show, I wasn’t alone.
Saturday, we drove past the streets where the famous parade takes place. It was completely packed! We’re talking 4 or 5 people deep! Sadly, the parade starts at the same time that the vendor hall opens, so we couldn’t make it out there. Maybe next year. Once the crowd came in, we were surrounded by people asking about Bears!, Bloodsuckers, and Dead Panic. We had flown a few copies of Dead Panic out for Gen Con, but we sold through those in a day. All we had left at this point was our demo copy, which was great to give people a taste of the game, but it left a lot of folks sad that they couldn’t go home with their own copy right there. We were sad too.
We thought the crowds would start to die down on Sunday or Monday, but we were wrong. It stayed packed all weekend. We were always busy at our booth, explaining games, giving quick overviews, and handing out catalogs and swag to fans. The convention is actually spread out over 5 hotels with the vendor area taking over 4 sections of the AmericasMart building, so it’s pretty big. We barely even had the chance to leave our booth. The farthest we made it was to the bathrooms, but that just proves how great the show was.
Sunday night, we had a fun dinner with our friends from Adventure Retail, Steve Jackson Games, and Ken Hite. Monday was another blur of demos and crazy, cool costumes, and then the show was over. We packed up our booth, loaded the van, and said goodbye to DragonCon. We’ve already purchased a booth for next year, so we’ll be back! You can check out some of the cool costumes and get a taste of the convention in our photos and video below.
We left Atlanta to meet some friends in the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee, for a short, but much needed mini-vacation. Our next stop will be the Portland, Oregon, area this Thursday, so stay tuned as we get back into the West by Southwest tour!
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