Family Time at Nine Worlds Geekfest 2014

With the dust settling on Nine Worlds and lots of great reviews coming out again, we’ve taken a slightly different approach and reviewed it from a parents convention view and was Nine Worlds a good thing to take our young child to?

This was mine and my husband’s second year at Nine Worlds and this time we had a little addition to our family, our six month old son Benedict and this would be his first ever convention. We were very excited to be going as we had so much fun last year, but we were a bit worried how our little one would cope and if we would feel as included.  So how did we get on?

This year I was focused on looking at how baby/child friendly this years con would be. One of the great things about Nine Worlds last year was how inclusive it was, and I hoped that this would spread to the younger geeks building on last years great atmosphere.

Whether this was just because we are new parents but one of the first things I noticed was how many children and a few babies too (at least 4 that we saw) there were. It looked like a lot of parents had also decided Nine Worlds was a cool place to take their children.

Having a look through this years programme I saw there was a lot of stuff specifically for kids, from Punk your Nerf to gory make-up – very few of the talks throughout the weekend had any restrictions on age but obviously some subjects are less likely to keep your 5-year-old entertained. In addition there was also children’s entertainment in the form of Pyjama Drama for 2 – 10 year olds.

My only complaint was that there wasn’t anything for babies or very young children. There was a play area in the 3rd floor atrium but it felt a little lacking and something more just thrown into a spare corner. However, there was a lot of arty things for kids to do, a few toys and some books, but it would have been nice if they had stuff for younger kids too – a section with foam play mats and some toys, board and cloth books for babies to interact with would have been great.

I did pop in to a couple of sessions of Pyjama Drama and Ben and I were able to join in for the first little bit which was great. Pyjama Drama also do classes for babies but were not specifically covering it at the convention, they did however make us feel very welcome and included where we could join in – maybe next year the organisers could look into that. It would be nice to go along to something specific for Ben even if only once a day. It would mean he could interact more, it would be a bit of a break from the crowds, plus it would mean that I could interact with other parents, which is always nice.

Talking of crowds I was a bit worried that Ben would be disturbed by them, especially as this year was only in the one hotel. But the Radisson was more than big enough to accommodate all the attendees as well as quite a few prams and it never felt over crowded, even in the major through fares like the foyer was easy to navigate through.

I found the whole atmosphere very welcoming. Ben got lots of attention and people were very forgiving – a number of times in the talks Ben got bored and started making noise (ok crying). Then either myself or my husband took him out, the nice thing was that neither of us felt that people got annoyed about it at all, in fact a number of times no one seemed to bat an eyelid, and no one cared either about a baby and pram being in the talks taking up space. It made the whole con feel very relaxing, which as a mother with a young baby I can tell you is no small feat.

One great example I can give to show how Nine Worlds is different from other Cons was during my Water Dancing lesson with Miltos Yerolemou (which was amazing by the way – if you get a chance to do this you must!). Towards the end my husband had to run off to a panel which he was part of (we didn’t realise there would be an overlap) Miltos’ PA, Sarah kindly offered to look after Ben for the last five minutes or so which meant I was able to finish the lesson. How amazing is that (and huge thanks again to Sarah and Miltos you were lovely)….

Miltos Yerolemou and Benedict

 

GOOD POINTS:

– Lots of big spaces giving plenty of room to get a pram around.

– Friendly atmosphere.

– Adult goodie bags

– Family room – good for anyone breast-feeding, or to get away if it gets too much for the little one.

– Varied places to eat, both inside the hotel and surrounding areas.

– Very inclusive con to ensure no one felt out-of-place, i.e. non gender toilets, and coloured lanyards to indicate if people want to be talked to or not – a totally brilliant idea.

– Cos play tokens – a great way to start a conversation, show your appreciation and a way for cosplayers who have put in the effort to be rewarded.

– A great selection of panels once again (always more than one thing on at a time that I wanted to see) and some really interesting new tracks introduced.

– The focus being on panels and mixing, rather than trying to relieve you of your money like a lot of other cons out there.

 

IMPROVEMENTS:

– Lack of activities for babies and young children. Only need one to two things a day, but I’m sure it would be much appreciated

– Lots of kids put a lot of effort into their costumes, so why not hold a costume party for them. Actually a lot of adults said that they would like a costume party to show who had got the most cosplay tokens too – and hey it’s a party and they’re always good.

– An opening and closing ceremony. Again a lot of people we spoke to felt that it would have been nice to have had these to make the whole con feel like it had properly started, and to close it properly too.

– Some areas were a little tight with a pram, especially the sellers room (Mum tip: For these tight areas I put Ben in his carrier and dumped the pram, it got him out of the way, he didn’t feel overwhelmed and got tons of attention).

– The Sellers Room was a lot smaller than last year which was a shame and made it feel like quite a squeeze, even without a pram you felt on top of people. Due to this it felt like what was on offer was dramatically reduced from last year and there was very little focused towards kids. For instance there were a lot of book sellers and publishers with stalls, I’m sure they must do kids books, so why not have a small amount of them for sale too.

– There was a severe lack of baby changing facilities, this was said by pretty much every parent that we talked to. The only place that we found was one ladies toilet in the hotel, which many mums found hard to navigate and a struggle with a pram. This isn’t necessarily Nine Worlds fault as it’s the hotels facilities, but maybe next year a few changing mats could be put in one of the Family rooms, this would allow dad to change baby also (this would have been impossible this year, and can be awkward if you have gone to different talks, as mum would have to be found just so she can go and change baby)

– A better equipped/thought out children’s play area, it felt a little bit of an afterthought with its location and size allocated.

– A bit more thought for the goodie bags for kids. Adults get two books, badges, taster game etc, where as the kids get colouring pens and books to colour in. How about a free reading book for them too?

– Where was the room with the board games in? Really missed that this year.

 

In summary there are a lot of good points and a few to build on, but considering Nine Worlds is only 2 years old, they have got so much right (the very important things) in so little time, and really took the time to listen and take on board the comments from last year. This year built on last years foundations and added a whole new level – from what seemed like a difficult task after last years success they managed to make this year even better.

You can check out some of our pictures below

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This sums up the whole weekend for us, another brilliantly run con, where new parents and their baby can feel very welcome – Benedict loved it.

Well done Nine Worlds the whole family are already looking forward to seeing you all next year – can’t wait!

 

GS Bloggers: darkphoenix1701 & JMS1701

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