In recent years, the conference circuit has grown from a few niche get-togethers to a huge economy of thousands of events that cater year round to every interest imaginable. While there isn’t a cyberpunkCon (yet), here are a few places where you chummers and net-runners can find a few days of adventure and entertainment if you happen to find yourself outdoors.
E3 – Electronic Entertainment Expo
June 11-13 2019 Los Angeles, California
E3 is the premier event for the videogame industry. The conference is the premier showcase for videogame industry and developer partners who wish to showcase games that are upcoming for the near future. The event is covered by every industry media channel, and the videos and demos shown during the three-day conference are widely disseminated and discussed.
E3 attendance was previously restricted to media and industry attendees only, but was recently opened to the general public. Starting in 2017, around 15,000 passes were sold to anyone who finagle their way into the conference.
Hands-on demonstrations of many new games can be found at the expo, and represent the first chance to actually play many upcoming titles before they are released to the general public.
Aug 8-11 Las Vegas, Nevada
Defcon is one of the world’s largest hacker conventions, held annually in Las Vegas since 1993. Attendees include include computer security professionals, journalists, lawyers, federal government employees, security researchers, students, and hackers.
The DIY nature of the community of attendees leads to a wide variety of planned and off-the-cuff events. Official and unofficial competitions abound, with contests to see who can create the longest wi-fi connection, impossibly hard cyber treasure hunts and “capture-the-flag” style battles. Anything that can hacked into and changed is fair game for experimentation – cars, household appliances, and laptops are all fair game.
The Defcon event “badge” is also very popular – the attendee passes have have “grown from simple laminated designs to highly complex electronic artifacts full of puzzles.”
July 18-21 San Diego, California
Comic-Con is a large entertainment and comic convention held every year in San Diego. The event has a long history – it has developed steadily over the years from its roots in the 1970’s as a small comic book event. The most recent attendance figures show a crowd of 167,000, making it the largest comic and pop-culture annual event in the world.
Themes of the convention cover most entertainment genres, from horror to manga, film, toys, collectibles, board games, video games, and fantasy novels.
The conference is the most high-profile event for circuit speakers – TV show and film panels featuring the main actors and creators are common. There is a large amount of floor space dedicated to purveyors of comic books and collectibles, as well as space given to panel discussions and presentations. There are several well-attended costume contests, and attendees can expect to to extremely elaborate (and expensive) get-ups as they walk around.
Aug 29-Sep 2 Atlanta, Georgia
For those unable to make the trek westward to Comic-Con in California, Dragoncon is a great alternative, held over Labor Day weekend in Atlanta. Taking over the Peachtree Center area of the city, the sprawling event boasts 80,000 attendees, and grows every year.
The 4-day event features thousands of hours pf panels, seminars, and workshops, as well as the traditional floor space dedicated to merchants. Dragoncon has also historically featured a diverse mix of musical performers, with past guests including Blue Oyster Cult, Edgar Winter, Jefferson Starship, GWAR, The Misfits, and The Bloodhound Gang.
Since 2016, Dragoncon has also featured “The Dragon Awards” – “fan-voted awards given for excellence in various categories of science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels, movies, television, and games.”
South by Southwest Interactive
March 8-12 Austin, Texas
SXSW is a series of conferences that take place in Austin over the course of 10 days. The SXSW Interactive portion lasts for 5 days, and is centered around emerging technology.
The conference features exciting technology from leading manufacturers who wish to showcase their new products in a fun and glossy environment. Attendees can expect to see the latest technology and upgrades, as well as experience Austin, which has a vibrant entertainment scene.