So this was the third year for Nine Worlds Geekfest and the third year we’d attended also. This year we were interested to see if it had carried on growing, gone off on a strange tangent, or just become stale – keep reading to see what we thought…
There was a bit of a change in tracks this year as Brony, Harry Potter and Steam Punk (as well as others) had been replaced with the likes of Supernatural and Star Trek. Now this may be a contradiction but while it was nice to have some new stuff and certainly big geek mainstream topics, quite a few people we spoke to felt that too many of the tracks they went to felt a bit too niche and less mainstream – and so less accessible for them. I’m not sure why this was but in some of the talks I went to I found that the talk I thought I was going to listen to quickly changed from the subject matter and went off on its own tangent – stronger moderation could have helped in some of these to keep the panel on point.
The diversity is something that previously has been the strength of Nine Worlds, filling a gap within the con circuit by bringing things together that other cons only skim the surface or just flat-out don’t do. But with a total of 35 different Tracks and over 350 sessions, this year just felt like their eyes were a bit too big for their belly, if you know what I mean.
Now after saying all of that, we have to say that for ourselves most of the tracks that we did go to were fantastic, interesting and informative as always. A couple of the programmes to call out for a mention were, ‘The Psychology of Exorcism and Possession’ run by Professor Chris French and ‘Can’t Stop the Signal – Taking your podcast to the next level’ within the Podcasting track. Oh and also a special mention must go to Amy Hansford for running the Geeking Drama throughout the weekend and entertaining our grumpy 18 month old son – the programme created for children of all ages this year was appreciated by all parents we spoke to and really did build on last year.
The con seemed much busier this year, which is fantastic as obviously word is getting around. However due to this the rooms were crammed and there were huge queues for certain things. For instance the queue for Nightmare Live seemed a test of will power for even the most British person, and you know how we love queuing!
However Nine Worlds announced the other day that they are changing the venue for next year – hooray! I know many of you will shout! So lets hope that they find somewhere with bigger rooms, and where the staff are friendlier to us geeks! – Yes Radisson we are looking at you!
Some points they should consider about the next con and new venue are:
1) Bigger rooms – maybe reduce the overall track size a bit, as we have always found that there is always a bit too much all going on at the same time. Maybe have two or three of the tracks as the main focus throughout the weekend with 10 to 15 smaller niche tracks running alongside that you can dip in and out of?
2) A safe kiddy areas. The actual space itself was good and was nice to not be stuck in a room to the side, but was situated right at the top of the atrium on hard marble floors and stairs surrounding the area. Our son actually fell down the stairs and ended up with a nasty bruise on his head – putting a few chairs in the way of a hazard is not good enough. Either use an enclosed space, or just put up something like baby gates so toddlers can be toddlers and go full kamikaze as they like to do. I know once word got out about our sons accident less of the parents were willing to use the space.
3) The family/quiet room is great for breast-feeding, but in reality unless your child wants to sit perfectly still and colour, it wasn’t very practical as a ‘family’ room. This was due to it being a small conference room that was mainly taken up with a table and chairs – we would be worried about our energetic son hitting his head as sitting isn’t his forte.
It’s a great idea but a bit more thought could have gone into the contents of the room, as yet again there was a lack of baby changing facilities this year within the hotel. The options were to use the ladies toilets, which is no help to the dads looking after their little ones or change them on the floor somewhere. A changing mat or two within the family room would have been a perfect addition (and maybe the table being removed)…
4) Another big bug bear with a lot of people we talked to was lack of information about panel changes. I went to go to a panel in the evening only to find it had been changed to earlier in the day. The only way to know was to access the on-line programme which is a great idea in theory, but as our phones internet signal within the hotel was terrible and the wi-fi being almost impossible to access most of the time (presumably due to the number of people trying to use it), this didn’t work in practice for us. Maybe having a screen set up in the foyer with these changes on for people to check up on would be a good idea, then people can check as they go between panels.
5) Make some of the tracks a bit more mainstream. For instance Minecraft which could cover gaming, programming and building (great for all ages). And maybe a Disney track – this may sound a bit strange but its great for all ages, Disney as we all know has the rights to Star Wars and Marvel as well, and it could cover such subjects as how women are portrayed in Disney movies so even touches on the strong feminism track.
We don’t however want you to get the impressing that we didn’t enjoy the con because we very much did. Meeting up with friends that we hadn’t seen in a long-time and meeting like-minded people was fantastic as always and for that we thank you.
I think we were just hoping that it would have evolved a bit more being in its third year. Hopefully the change of venue next year will help to freshen things up and may assist in an evolution we feel it needs.
So after all that’s been said above will we be going next year?
You bet we will, for all its faults this is still one of the best cons we have been to, it’s run by and frequented by fantastic people. August wouldn’t be the same without Nine Worlds Geekfest. So if you haven’t been yet hurry and book your tickets for next year now, tickets are currently £85 for adults and £28.50 for children (aged 5-15) for the whole weekend.
For more info: Nine Worlds Geekfest