This year I've been visiting a couple of conventions, for various reasons. First of all, my health has stabilized so much that I can hold a full-time employment that allows me this kind of luxury. Prior to that, my health problems caused me to live on a rather tight budget that didn't easily allow for visiting conventions and exploring this aspect of geek lifestyle. Secondly, over the last years I have observed a lot of projects and communities that have failed – mostly due to a lack of engagement from their members and difficulties with recruiting active members. This doesn't seem to be a critical issue for the big conventions I've attended, and I'm generally curious about what make certain groups of people endure where other groups fall apart. This inspired me to write the post
in which my conclusion is that particularly those groups succeed that pitch positive visions of society and social interactions. I could have been content with drawing that conclusion, but I am always eager to find out whether there is more to successful communities than that.
Galacon is one of the largest Brony conventions. It's a meeting of fans of compact pastel equines, mostly from the 4th generation of the TV show My Little Pony. The Brony community certainly wouldn't have formed if that show hadn't been exceptionally good! At the moment it's already in its 7th season.
I've already been at Galacon last year. My advantage is that I live rather close to Ludwigsburg, a mere one hour train ride, so that travel expenses and durations weren't much of an issue. Public transport was good enough to allow me travelling back home at 1 AM in the morning to get some rest in my own bed after the first convention day. That made it easy for me to decide in favour of visiting Galacon again (I already reported on Galacon 2016). Having been to that convention last year, allowed me to get an impression of how the fandom develops.
Panels are on YouTube
What made this year's GalaCon special was the fact that they made an effort to record a full lifestream of all the events happening in the main hall on both convention days, and put the recordings on YouTube, so that you can get an impression on what went on there without the necessity to have been there in person! That's even very useful for those of us who actually were at the Galacon in person, because there were quite a few panels that happened at the same time. Some, but not all, panels outside of the main hall were recorded, too, as has been the case for the last two years of Galacon.
The vendors present at this year's Galacon were mostly the same as last year. Plushies, shirts, mugs, artwork, pins, and other merch were available in relative abundance. Prices were respectably high, though.Nobody seemed to want to spend the change required for this royal statue of princess Luna – I suspect issues related to shipping.
I chose more affordable Nightmare Moon merch that reflects my mood on serious caffeine withdrawal.
Cosplayers and ponysuits
The number and quality of cosplay costumes was quite decent, even in comparison to last year. This year I got the expression that more people were present in full ponysuits.
Isn't that cute? They neatly lined up for public execution... I mean exhibition. Also, I later partied with the guy who built the awesome sound blaster carried by Nightmare Moon.
Neither beer nor LEDs were lacking!
Even the ponysuit photographers lined up rather nicely.
Galacon 2017 cosplayers: Crafty, creative, colourful, courageous, comical, clashing, coherent, cool, causal, conspirative, calibrated, cranial, clumped, can I stop now? I can't be serious here anyway.
In the end, they were annexed by Kekistan, but nopony gives a kek.
Villain cosplayers must pose together. They are cooler than the elements of harmony anyway.
The panels were mostly on fans being creative and producing and presenting various forms of art, ranging from stories, over comics to animations and video games. What's really amazing about the Brony community is its high quality and quality of fan created content. Some artists really reach a degree of professionalism that is hard to rival with any other kind of group of mostly unpaid volunteers. Passion can really go a long way! Just check out the Ambient White Game Panel for example:
Some of the panels were already present last year. I have been to the Family Feud community game panel both years. They reused quite a bit of the questions from last year, which I found a bit disappointing, but the panel host was energetic and enthusiastic enough to compensate for that shortcoming.
Galacon associated pub
Since alcohol wasn't allowed on the proper area of the convention, it was consumed outside, mostly at the Towers Irish Pub. Though, most convention visitors still perferred to hang around in the main party events of the convention, the Gala Ball and the Gala Party.
At the end of the convention, there was the Charity Auction at which valuable fan-made items were auctioned for a good cause, in association with Bronies for Good – a group of Bronies who are Effective Altruists. This year less money was raised that last time. The precise reasons for that are not so clear. I got the impression that the Brony community has reached a certain level of saturation, which makes further growth quite challenging.
The plaza in front of the convention building started getting used as medium to transmit subliminal messages, or something.
I'm not sure what's most disturbing: Rarity as alicorn, the number of warning labels, or the sheer general weirdness
Of course there were many more things and panels than mentioned here in this personal review. In some sense, this year's Galacon felt less big than that of last year. While the hardcore fans seem to be going at least as strong as ever, the Brony community as whole apparently stopped growing as a whole.
In general, I am really impressed how a high quality and passionate work of fiction with a positive and socially relevant message can inspire people to become really enthusiatic and creative. That seems to be a recipe for success that's hard to copy. The capital required to create the initial show that catalyzed the whole fandom is quite high. But well, with millions of dollars you can reach millions of people, and in the best case enchant them.
Brony fandom is magic.