I'm (as I write this) at OryCon in Portland, OR. It's bigger than I'd expected, but still pretty small as conventions go. And many of the faces here are faces I recognize from NorWesCon in Seattle, which is much larger.
I've had a good time at the show, and I do intend to return in the future - but I didn't interact much with the show this year. In fact, I only went to a small handful of panels, and, in most of those, I was oddly disappointed.
For example, the "Crowdfund Your Book" panel covered nearly all common-sense items that I'd learned from the Kicksnarker community on Google Plus.
I keep saying this, but maybe I should look into being a panelist at a convention sometime. It seems that more and more, I'm disappointed by the actual panelists.
In 2013, I attended the North American Discworld Con, GenCon, and OryCon. In 2014, I'll be attending NorWesCon, and GenCon for sure. OryCon and GameStorm are maybes. BGG.con is wishlisted.
But I only have two weeks of vacation, and I only spend one week on me. The other week of vacation is reserved for Stephanie. It looks like there is a lot of vacation spent up there, but NorWesCon is two days spent. OryCon was one day. GameStorm is one day. North American Discworld Con was for Steph (as was OryCon). And yes, I do take occasional unpaid days off for conventions.
I'm learning that I actually prefer bigger shows, too. OryCon is - as I said - larger than expected, but it's still small enough that many (most?) of the regulars know one another (or, at a minimum, recognize one another). As a first-time attendee, I feel like a bit of an outsider. This is, by the way, not a criticism of the show itself. Or of the people attending, for that matter. SCARAB was much the same way a few years ago - the difference is that I knew someone at SCARAB other than Steph. And, by the way, I do intend to return to SCARAB at some point.
At a larger show, people expect to be surrounded by strangers, and so work extra-hard to get to know them. When you go to a small show, people are often there to see their friends and so don't make as much of an effort to reach out to strangers.
Smaller shows also have fewer panels. I realize that this is essentially common-sense, but it should still be said. At NorWesCon, their program book doesn't have any gaps in any of the rooms until late at night. Here at OryCon, there are rooms that are only in use for a few hours every day. But fewer panels doesn't mean they're lower in quality by any means - the Crowdfunding panel that was disappointing for me? Did have good information. It was just good information that I already had. Someone who wasn't active in the Kicksnarker community might have found it very useful and/or informative. I honestly don't know.
One of the real highlights of the show - for me, at least - was introducing my wife to Shogi, using this set. I'm still learning to use this camera, so it's not quite what I'd expected - but I'll get better. And there are few things as awesome as a good time-lapse board game video, amirite?
... and that's about all I have to say for now. Next week, I'll have more words to throw at my screen. I promise.