IF Gathering at NoShowConf: followup

I may write up a convention report but I haven’t yet. I’m posting here to open up the discussion about how this past weekend went as an IF-folks-getting-together event, what we should do next year, and what we want out of such an event.

My view: NoShowConf was a lot of fun. I got to hang out with a bunch of out-of-town IF regulars: Iain, Lucea, Deirdra, Emily (who decided to fly in at roughly the last minute), plus many Boston folks (insert name list here) (did I forget anybody from the out-of-town list?). I went to some good talks and presentations, I got to see some interesting works-in-progress.

The IF crowd was smaller than at the past couple of PAXes. None of the talks and presentations were IF-specific. Some of the works-in-progress being shown off were IF or IF-related; more were not. The lunch was copious and the evening everybody-goes-out-for-dinner sessions were exceptionally enjoyable. :slight_smile:

There was not a visible division between “IF folks” and “everybody else” at the event. The very first thing that happened when I walked in the door was somebody asked an Inform 7 question – and it wasn’t one of the “IF regulars” I listed above. It was somebody who had never heard my name, in fact. There were at least two IF or IF-related projects shown off by people who I did not know at all.

Post-weekend, there was a lot of IFMud discussion about how it went. If I may offer a probably-over-broad concensus statement, I’d say it sums up to: “That was a success, but not as IF-focussed or IF-energizing as previous years, and we don’t want to lose that.”

Obvious factors: NoShowConf was tiny and pricier than PAX. I have word from the organizers (well, from Darius, who was not the organizer but who knows the score) that next year’s NoShowConf will have lower membership rates and more space. (Not just more floor space, but a larger number of smaller rooms, to allow multiple tracks and more focussed events.) So, it will be larger next year. It will not be PAX-sized, but I’m pretty sure that nobody wants to grow that fast.

Unlike in previous years, I made no attempt to organize IF-specific events, other than saying “Let’s meet up for dinner on Friday evening!” There was in fact plenty of IF-related discussion, among us folks sitting around the conference – and (as I noted) it wasn’t just among the folks who I knew personally. But there was no galvanizing event of “let us get together and discuss what’s going on in our IF lives.” Emily commented that she missed that focus, and I agree.

The above is written in the descriptive mode. Now I will switch to what I want.

To make plans for next year, we must have a notion of what we want out of an IF gathering. I invite you all to chime in on this.

What I want – and some of this is inspired by other people’s statements, but don’t take it as a consensus, it’s just me:

  • An event which motivatates IF fans to show up from all around the world.
  • An event to which we can plausibly invite famous IF names who are not part of our regular community (Infocom emeriti, etc).
  • A space which we can claim as IF territory, where interested newcomers and IF fans who don’t know us personally can meet up. Community nurturing space.
  • A time where we can show off our IF projects and discuss where we’re going with them. (Since so much of the IF world consists of people building off each others’ projects, technologies, and idea.)
  • A deadline for showing off our IF projects, to motivate us to keep plugging away at them over the course of the year.

Given those goals, it’s easy for me to go on to “what should I do next year”. (Plan another IF room/suite; stake out at least one time slot for IF state-of-the-union.) But probably we should mull goals rather than plans at this stage.

book flight from Munich, Germany

Jim Munroe, also.

That all sounds pretty plausible. I’d also like to see:

  • Post-event reporting (in SPAG if it still exists, or elsewhere) so that people who couldn’t attend can keep tabs on what was shown and discussed.
  • Possibly: outreach to IF-friendly indies and journalists.

I think this is at least as important as the Infocom emeriti thing. (I have no interest in rehashing Infocom and its contemporaries. I have plenty of interest in people from outside the community who understand IF and care about its continuing development, which is pretty likely to describe any old-guard alumni who’d want to attend.)

I didn’t mean only Infocom people; that was just an example (demonstrated from the first PAX IF event).

A current-generation example would be Jason Shiga – I’ve worked with him, but have never met him. It’d be great to have an excuse to get him out to the East Coast. (Hopefully for an event that doesn’t conflict with ComicCon. :slight_smile:

That reminds me of when I saw a girl wearing dragon wings ask about Inform in the “make a game a week!” panel at PAX '09.

Actually, it seems to me the goals posted here were served pretty well by attaching to a major game convention. Was there anything IFfy about NoShowConf that worked out better than the PAX events?

The presence of people either temporarily or permanently iffy about PAX, for one.

Is that a concern because of political reasons related to PAX specifically, or logistical/social reasons that would apply to any large game convention?

For several people I know, the former, and I can’t imagine that changing.

Having a presence in the primary event space, as opposed to a room in the adjacent hotel. Similarly, in the convention’s actual event track. (Which we did in PAX 2010, but I don’t think that’s repeatable, unless jscott plans to premiere Get Lamp 2: Get Lampier.) Having IF shown off during the convention closing ceremony/keynote/whatever it was called.

Also, the events at NoShow were more interesting to IF folks.

The extent to which we were “attached” to PAX over the past two years is more of a fixed insistence on our part, rather than something PAX noticed.

My concern is directly the latter – I wouldn’t want to schedule adjacent to DragonCon or SDCC either. The political issues bother me only indirectly, as in how other attendees see them – but as Lucea says, some of us see them as looming large.

I understand the political bit and holding a grudge. (For example, I’d sooner sell my own grandmother than set foot in WWDC.)

As for the logistics, I wonder if planning something the day before or after a major con would do the trick? Many con-goers would be in town but we wouldn’t be competing for attention.

Personally, I could care less about PAX politics, but I do care about the impact on hotel and room prices during PAX. I’m assuming finding space and hotel rooms is easier when we’re not up against a big convention. The problem with Boston (and any other major city) is that there is some big convention every week.

Now I know there are a couple of important people in Boston, but why Boston all the time? Is there any compelling reason we can’t ease travel requirements by holding it in the midwest somewhere, and for not purely selfish reasons, I suggest Chicago. Chicago has direct flights from Europe, so that’s not a big deal. It’s probably hugely less expensive in Chicago than Boston, and getting meeting space would be a lot easier. It’s central to everyone in the U.S. and has great attractions for non-IF vacationing.

Obviously if there was a consensus to have an IF meetup in Chicago, me and my fellow Chicago-IF meetup folks and we’d take on the role that Zarf takes in Boston.

Just a thought.

As for general ideas about the meetup itself, Zarf’s list is fine. I do think having a demo-fair every time is important and adding possibly something to that, like ribbons or medals or statues or something would be great. And possibly holding the XYZZY awards at our meetup would be really cool.

David C.

Did people have trouble finding hotel space this year?

To answer ‘why Boston all the time’ (as someone who doesn’t live in Boston :wink: ), I think the way these things actually come about is that people in a spot make it happen, and then out-of-towners can commit. Doing it the other way round is ‘the sensible way’ but it has a lot more friction as well IMO.

I’m in favor of holding the XYZZYs at whichever meetup we end up having (with a simulcast-type ifMUD thing, possibly), but this is perhaps going to result in either changing the meetup or the XYZZYs date.

I don’t live in Boston but have absolutely no issues with the location; it seems to have worked well so far. (Bias: East Coast.)

As for planning something the day before/after a major conferences, the main issue with that is going to be taking time off work, if most conferences are held on weekends. It’s always doable for some people, doable with planning for others, pretty much impossible for others. I’d say weekends are generally best, competition or no (plus, ideally, the events wouldn’t “compete” per se.)

Practically speaking, a place with an established and active IF group makes things much easier. That cuts the list to Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver. (Maybe New York once that gets running). East Coast is probably preferable just because the population density’s so much higher there. Assume three sets of potential attendees: those willing to fly, those who will attend if it’s within a day’s drive, and those who will show up only to something in the same metro region. East-coast cities are always going to be preferable by that standard (though I suspect Chicago would be better than anything on the West Coast, much as it pains me to acknowledge this).

I agree that it would be nice if there were alternative venues, to give PR-IF a respite and see some new places; but I still think that Boston’s the best location by default.

Practically speaking, the XYZZY ceremony needs to be sometime in early March to April (I’d want to err on the side of later, if we had to do the extra organisation for a live event) while the PAX East events were in mid to late March.

Where can I find out more about this established and active Vancouver IF group?

If Team Chicago set up a Midwest IF hoedown (either in place of or in addition to something in Boston), I’d be there in a heartbeat. Or seven hours, I guess.

I know nothing about them because they are a Facebook group and I am never on Facebook. For all I know they met twice before self-immolating in a bizarre love heptangle, then sinking without a trace into the Strait of Georgia. But they are generally mentioned in Lists Of IF Groups, in conjunction with this fine link.