Monday, November 11, 2013

Game online at AetherCon II!

by Randy

Hello, gamers! Have you ever attended an online gaming convention? If not, you should consider logging in to Aetheron II this weekend, November 15-17th! This is AetherCon's second year of running an excellent and free online gaming convention, and they have loads of events, games, and panels. I had the opportunity to catch up with Barry Lewis, the Promotional Coordinator for AetherCon. He was able to answer some questions about the convention!

Growing Up Gamers: This is AetherCon's second year. What was the original idea behind AetherCon? Has that changed since sine last year?

Barry Lewis of AetherCon II: The main idea is just to get people together to play RPGs and have fun with a sense of community behind it.  That has not changed and never will.

Growing Up Gamers: What are the technologies that you are using? What can simulate the in-person roleplaying experience?

Barry Lewis: AetherCon is using free, web based programs to run the convention.  The two programs we’ll be using for the RPGs is the Roll20 program, which will be the main program being used, and the INFRNO program, in which a few games will be featured on.  Roll20 and INFRNO will be used for the publisher demos as well.  The other program we'll be using is Anymeeting, which is a free web conferencing software, for the Q&As, panels, vendor hall and artist enclave.   I think the two programs, Roll20 and INFRNO, come very close to the “in-person” feel with their use of webcams/chat rooms and on-screen graphics.  The only thing you can’t do is raid the GM’s fridge for snacks!

Growing Up Gamers: How many people do you expect to attend AetherCon II, and how many took part last year?

Barry Lewis: As of right now I don’t have the solid numbers, since they tend to fluctuate, but this AetherCon is shaping up to have more people than last year’s event.  We’re learning little by little what works and what doesn’t and this will help us improve each year and this translates into a better experience and more attendees.

Growing Up Gamers: How have game designers and other panelists responded to the idea of an online convention? Your schedule certainly shows us that there has been a great response, but have others been hesitant?

Barry Lewis: The response has been excellent.  Since this is a fairly new(ish) idea they are intrigued with the concept and would like to see it succeed since it’s another way to get their products and themselves more exposure.  They’re only hesitant until they check their schedules to see if they are available.  If they’re available they tend to jump on board quickly.

Growing Up Gamers: Since AetherCon last year, I have seen at least one other online game con (ConTessa). Do you think more conventions of this sort are going to take off?

Barry Lewis: I’m noticing that online conventions are starting to appear. VirtuaCon just happened in October so I’m sure we’ll see more in the near future.

Growing Up Gamers: I imagine it is taking a lot of work from a lot of people to make this happen. How many people are on your team?

Barry Lewis: I’m the director of a “live” game convention and I think doing a “virtual” game convention is much harder.  AetherCon has staff spread out across two countries, US and Canada, and it’s a lot of emails, messaging and live chats.  You definitely have to be well organized and prepared for anything.  We have around 12 people working for AetherCon at any given moment with 8 or 9 of them being senior staff.

Growing Up Gamers: Are there any event types that are not yet represented in AetherCon's schedule that you would like to see in coming years?

Barry Lewis: I would like to see other aspects of gaming, such as card games and miniature games being integrated into the convention, but that just opens a whole other logistical “can of worms”, at least for now.

Thanks, Barry! I would like to point out to our readers that I will be participating in AetherCon II as an attendee, a host for a couple panels and a panelist myself. If you would like to catch up with me (Randy of Growing Up Gamers), drop in to the panel at 3-4:20pm EST on Saturday Nov. 16th called Looking for Players: Bringing New Faces To Our Tables. I'll be on the panel with Mike Mason from Chaosium and Mark Diaz Truman of Magpie Games. Additionally, on Sunday I will be hosting Q&A sessions with Brian Berg of Total Party Kill Games at 4-5pm EST and Todd Crapper of Broken Ruler Games at 5-6pm EST. I hope to see you all there!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Randy,
    We are running another online convention - FG Con - this uses the Fantasy Grounds virtual tabletop. Its running from May 8th - May 11th 2014.
    There is a great selection of games running -
    • Lots of Pathfinder Society
    • Savage Worlds
    • Castles&Crusades
    • D&D 3.5E
    • A playtest of the new Champions ruleset
    • Serenity/Firefly using BRP
    • FATE
    • Extiction Event (completely new ruleset)
    • GUMSHOE (new ruleset on Fantasy Grounds)
    • Star Wars: Edge of the Empire (new ruleset on Fantasy Grounds)
    Weve got 43 sessions already published and a few more in the wings.

    There is no cost to play, no license required. If you have never tried Fantasy Grounds you can download the instructions to install Fantasy Grounds and TeamSpeak and you can join in on one or more sessions totally free!