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Could Be...

by Mark A. Santillo
Jul 23,2002

 

ConVocation: Diary of A New Convention

by Mark A. Santillo
President, Active Imagineering Inc.

"Could Be...."

[Editor's note: This column was obviously written prior to July 23rd, when it's scheduled to run, but for the purposes of continuity, and to maintain the narrative, we've opted to leave it in the tense it was written in. The second part of the series will appear tomorrow, on July 24th.]

On Tuesday, July 2nd, 2002, I'm heading out to Columbus, Ohio to attend Origins for the first time. Although I've attended many a Con, I've never been to either of the Big Two, so I'm pumped with anticipation. It feels like the last few moments before a hot date arrives and you think, "it's gonna' happen tonight!" But I'm not going just as a gamer; oh no, that would be too simple. I'm going as a Staffer Director of Seminars and Special Events, to be exact. I've been working behind the scenes at Origins for the past six months and now I finally get to see it all come together. Did I do a good job? Will the attendees like what I've done? Will it be a lollapalooza or a total flop? Still, that's not enough for me...

Because, friends, I'm also going to Origins to publicize the new East Coast Gaming Convention that I'm planning for Fall 2003. You heard correctly - a major new show, modeled after the Big Two, but on the East Coast of the U.S. [Mid-Atlantic region]. There's no better opportunity to get the word out to large masses of gamers than Origins and GenCon, so I've reason to be both apprehensive and excited, all at the same time. On top of my official duties, it's quite a lot to contemplate.

This column, ConVocation, is the story of my effort to bring this new assembly into existence. It's about why some few of us feel a calling to volunteer at conventions and what we get out of it. It's about what it takes to pull off a major new Convention, about the planning and the process, about the pitfalls and the progress. And as my story entertains, it may guide others who would tread this path so that they may learn from my mistakes and, with hope, avoid them.

It's also a personal story. It's an opportunity for me to share with my community the frustrations and the triumphs which naturally attend such a venture; to humanize the process so that you will see how much we invest of ourselves in these conventions; so that perhaps you will have a little sympathy for that person standing behind the registration counter when all of your first-choice events are full and the convention hasn't even started yet and you're ready to vent your righteous wrath upon the first person with a staff badge.

In future columns, you'll learn how it all began, how Active Imagineering Inc. came to be formed and how we chose a major new Convention for our first project. You'll take the journey with me through the process of setting up a non-profit corporation, assembling a Board, negotiating with hotels and planning to entertain thousands of eager gamers. Along the way, we'll take the occasional detour, but eventually, if all goes well, we'll arrive at our destination together. I hope you'll come along.

Next time: "Putting It Together..."


For more information about Active Imagineering Inc and the new East Coast Gaming Convention, check out our website at www.activeimagineering.org

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