Yesterday Dragon Con announced the change we all expected was likely to come and changed its Twitter name to “Dragon Con Is Staying Home For A While.” But while we won’t be gathering together in Atlanta this Labor Day weekend, we will have our first Dragon Con online.
On the one hand, this will be the first time in nearly my entire adult life that I’m not spending those five days with tens of thousands of my favorite friends and friends-to-be. (Because although it sounds cliche to say, I can honestly say there are few strangers at Dragon Con, only friends you haven’t met yet.) And that’s hard.
But on the other, there’s a definite up side to pizza at regular price and watching panels from the comfort of my sofa instead of a hotel ballroom chair, and that’s what we’re getting. Of course, you’re welcome to stand in a pretend line outside your house for an hour in a corset, wings, and/or body paint before each panel if it feels more realistic.
Instead of us coming to the con, Dragon Con will be coming to us with a live-streamed convention free of cost to anyone in the world. (Extra-terrestrials who are able to get Earth signals are also welcome. You’ll be responsible for any interstellar mobile charges. Check with your provider.)
DragonConTV (DCTV) launched in 2002 as a way to keep us all entertained in the large ballrooms while waiting for panels and has grown to be a favorite part of the con for many attendees. In 2016, they launched a streaming service and live parade broadcast. So the con is no stranger to streaming, and they have many years of content in their archives. I imagine the storage to look a lot like Warehouse 13, with backup storage in between rolls of old Marriott carpet and a complete collection of autographed Funko Pops.
That means that not only will we be treated to a stream of mostly live panels and original content for 2020, but you can also experience a bit of the Dragon Cons of years past. I asked Dan Carroll, Dragon Con’s Director of Media Engagement, how far back we could look forward to seeing archived footage from, and he said although he’s not certain, the likely pool of past panel content goes back to around 2006 or 2007, while DCTV content (much of which you can see on YouTube) goes back to its beginning.
Dragon Con is now, as always, putting its fans first and wanted to get us the news about these changes as quickly as possible, which means the exact content and guests that will be on the stream have not yet been determined. “But in the Dragon Con tradition we’re going to try to be lighthearted about it while taking the serious stuff very seriously,” Carroll said. “We’re going to make sure the virtual event is fun and worthwhile. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure we have quality content worth getting engaged with.” Details will be announced in the upcoming weeks, and you can expect regular (if not daily) updates at https://www.dragoncon.org/updates/.
This is great news for all of us, and especially for folks who have dreamed of Dragon Con but never been able to attend. But there’s still a treat for those who already purchased memberships for the 2020 convention. You can seek a refund at dragoncon.org through August 1, or if you do nothing, it will automatically roll over to a 2021 membership. If you choose to roll over, you will receive your badge in the mail (while it sounds minor, this is a completionist’s joy) along with a special pieces of swag that won’t be available any other time or way. (Note to that swag team–your secret is safe. Carroll wouldn’t let on what we’ll be seeing, but I can’t wait to find out.)
Those who did not have memberships yet or who will ask for a refund can keep their eyes on the Dragon Con store for special edition 2020 merch.
If you have been a regular attendee for the last decade or so, you’ve seen the hotels and nearby restaurants truly embrace the event with costumes, events, dedicated signage (often with quality puns), and a lot of staff who really seem to genuinely enjoy the event being there. (The influx of cash no doubt helps, but almost any con attendee can tell you the story of some staff member going above and beyond in some way.) Dragon Con would like to encourage Atlanta locals who can safely do so to give those restaurants some of the business you normally would have. Show them the love they show us every year and assure them we miss them and will return.
“We understand that everybody’s going to be disappointed about this and everybody’s going to have emotions about it. We’re disappointed, too,” Carroll said. “We will be back in 2021 with an epic Dragon Con.”
We can’t wait, but for now, thank you for the opportunity to share our beloved con with everyone at home.