Con season is upon us…
…and while fans of fragfests gathered online and at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas for QuakeCon, organisers of another convention are throwing out apologies like confetti as the DashCon trainwreck rolls on.
QuakeCon 2014 looked like the usual massive success you come to expect from a company whose fans started throwing it for them in the first place; with a new Doom 4 reveal (which turns out to be called just Doom) and some sweet tournament action which I streamed on Twitch – and didn’t understand a word of the commentary. Something about stacks, apparently they’re a handy thing to have, and LGs – which I eventually realised meant Lightning Gun. Okay, I’m not much of a deathmatcher, never was. But there you go, at least it looked like everyone was having fun…
…Unlike at DashCon, an event so dedicated to Tumblr users that Tumblr wouldn’t let them use the name for fear of association. And rightly so; the first thing non-attendees were treated to was a video of the organisers asking those in the main ballroom on opening night to donate everything they could towards a funding shortfall of $17,000 – or risk having the con shut down by the hotel then and there.
I remember the first time I ever booked bands to play upstairs at a pub, and all the advice I received from a lot of very knowledgeable people who out-and-out told me that I should not only be ready for, but expect to lose money. We’re talking fifty quid for the PA, a twenty-quid deposit cheque for room hire – to be cashed if anything was broken or missing – and a reasonable amount of petrol and beer money for the bands who played. Nonetheless I still assumed that, with the bands I had playing, how could I not make it all back and then some, even for only three quid on the door?
Luckily I still took the advice on board and wasn’t feeling (financially) hurt about the fact that a lot of people who promised to show up did not. I was okay with it because I looked at it a different way; I had a fucking great time watching my favourite bands and seeing some friends. Totally worth the investment, and totally worth not attempting again for a long time afterwards.
Now imagine you’d already paid the best part of fifty quid to hang out at a con, see some celebrity guests and have a great time. Now imagine the celebrity guests won’t be coming. Now imagine you’re being asked to give even more money to keep it going. Tough sell, isn’t it? To the tune of almost twenty grand, yes, that’s a tough sell.
There are many good accounts of what happened that weekend from people who went, people who went but left, and the people who memed the shit out of that ‘free extra hour in the ball pit’ nonsense – look them up, there are plenty of posts.
The DashCon organisers themselves have an account of what went down that weekend on their front page (as do one of their guests – theirs is much funnier), but from the mountains of unnecessary screenshots of bank statements and email exchanges, it’s another lesson they’ll have to learn…before they apparently start organising next year’s event.
If even DashCon aren’t too disheartened about all the abuse they’ve taken for this, then goddamn, maybe it’s time I booked another gig. Oh, but I’m sorry to announce that Queens of the Stone Age have pulled out, and I need £500 from everyone in this room by 9.30 or else the landlord’s gonna kick us all out.