May 25, 2012

RavenCon 2012

I need to start by apologizing.  I’ve been really lazy motivationally challenged lately when it comes to writing.  Part of the problem has been available time, and part has been that I wasn’t really “in the mood’ to write.

I guess it’s a good thing I don’t write for a living, huh?

Okay, so I promised Mike Pederson I would be placing a review of RavenCon on my blog, so here ‘tis.

RavenCon was held on April 13-15, 2012 at the Holiday Inn Koger Center in Richmond, VA.

The Good

There are always a lot of good things which come out of RavenCon.  The convention is well organized.  They know their limitations and their strengths, and they tend to capitalize on their strengths. 

I’m going to hit on just a few of the positives in this blog:
  • Guest scheduling was nicely inventive at this con.  I was initially apprehensive of their idea, but it seemed to have worked well.  Brandon Blackmoor sent out an email approximately one week out from the convention providing me with a link to a Google Spreadsheet.  The panel schedule was listed there, with spaces for up to 6 panelists open under each panel.  The guests were allowed to sign up for the panels they wanted to participate on, and note if they wished to moderate the panel.  This meant that each guest was responsible for allowing time for things like meals and sleep. If he didn’t eat, it was his own fault.
  • The program book was well designed and attractive, but I’ve come to expect that from Mike Pederson.  Anything less than great would be a disappointment at this con.
  • The dealer room had a nice variety of dealers and was spacious enough to allow for people to get past those who were patronizing the various tables.
  • The names badges were large enough to read at a reasonable distance.  If you’ve read my reviews in the past, you know this is a pet peeve of mine.
  • They added the schedule to LiveCon, for mobile devices.

Possible Areas of Improvement (The Bad)

For all of the great things about RavenCon, there were just a few areas that could use a little, tiny, bit of work.
  • Signing up for panels ahead of time was great, but defaulting to 6 panlists was overkill in at least one of the rooms.  I think I heard other guests comment on that during the con, and have faith that if the room is only about 600 square feet in size, RavenCon will reduce the number of panelist slots next year. 
  • The Auction started late and was rushed.  This, I was told, was caused by last minute additions to the costume contest, which happened just prior to the auction.  My rule of thumb on this is to never, ever, allow people to enter the costume contest at the last minute.  I recommend announcing a deadline for folks to enter, and then sticking to it.
  • I have now had my first, “will someone please shut that guy up,” experience on a panel.  This isn’t really RavenCon’s fault, however.  It’s the moderator’s fault.  Still, I wanted to mention it.
  • Speaking of moderators, the Program Director assigned moderators for the panels where no one had signed up to fill that role.  I was a tad bit surprised to find out I was moderating two panels, since I didn’t volunteer.  Perhaps a better policy would be for the convention to drop a quick email to the guest and ask if they are willing to moderate.  
  • LiveCon cons looks really slick on the iPhone, but aweful on Andriod.  The developer needs to get the app updated for Andriod, which is the OS on nearly 50% of the mobile devices.
Overall, RavenCon is one of my favorite cons.  This year, I would have to give them 4.5 out of 5 stars.  There are some areas that need to be improved on, but those do not detract from the overall con experience.  If you’ve never been to RavenCon, give it try.  It’s well worth the trip.

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