Thanks to the great horror that is COVID-19 / The Coronavirus many conventions have been canceled. Emerald City Comic Con, SXSW, GDC, and plenty others have all closed up shop due to the health concerns.
Speaking to an acquaintance of mine who happens to work for a publisher about their recent trip to PAX east and future con plans, my brain suddenly had a thought.
Right now, the biggest issue with a virtual convention is “Networking Opportunities”. Those situations where you and another can meet up and chat. Plenty of publishers use these conventions to meet upcoming dev teams, influencers, and forge relationships that go beyond just showcasing a game.
Conventions are an amazing experience. I remember my first real gaming convention last year, when I went to Guardian Con 2019. It was a small convention by most standards, only hitting about 30000 sqft and having only a few major booths and some vendors. But it was…awesome. I have been looking forward to the rebranded GCX since.
Conventions are also costly however. And with these cancellations smaller studios lose a huge chance to get noticed.
So how do we address this? Virtual conventions seems like an easy idea right? Hell, Geoff Keighley and the Game Awards did that in 2019 thru Steam, allowing folx like me to play the indie game demos shown at the awards for the duration! But this still misses something. That…connection you can make with a real person.
Then I recalled a very strange little game I once messed with on steam called “Anarcy Arcade” and my brain started…percolating.
What if some ambitious game dev out there created, well, a first person virtual convention SPACE. You basically build an MMO like piece of software. You build a 3d Enviroment with booths. You allow developers to “customize” the booths (uploading art and assests). You let guests and exhibitors customize an avatar on an account system. You allow vendors to setup booths as well that link directly to their online stores.
Hell, you could even implement collison, voice chat by proximity, and lines, so people would get the full experience of hanging out in line and chatting with each other.
Doesnt need to be VR either. We already know HOW to create FPS controls. You would get the entire experience of a convention, all the chances to “speak” as it were face to face with others, but never have to leave your home.
Obviously such an undertaking would take time. But I imagine if a studio out there decided to setup this idea up and then charge for both attendance to the virtual conventions AND for renting out “digital space” (at an appropriate price, after all) you would basically have created the first ever fully virtual Convention Center.
Thats what we need.
a Virtual Convention Center in 3D.
It would let disabled people easily attend, people could create “Digital Cosplay” for their avatars, it would let folx who have issues with money or travel attend these things, hell it would help small devs find an audience!
And with space not really being an issue (its virtual, after all) you could create much larger spaces.
I am surprised no one has done this yet.
But I don’t think this is a terrible idea…. So there is my gift to you devs out there. Someone, build the first Virtual Convention Hall! Lets move forward into the future together!
Games are good, games are awesome, and deserve to be seen by as many people as possible.