COVID-19 may have shut down the annual San Diego Comic-Con as we know it for this year. But organizers still saw it fit to push through with any semblance of the usual convention. With [email protected] taking over original July 22-26 schedule, fans and convention-goers still got to see what exhibitors and panelists originally planned to present.
The good: SDCC exclusives, cosplays, and panel sessions.
[email protected] allowed still featured the usual highlights such as event-exclusive merchandise and sessions from much-awaited panelists. Since the convention is virtual and access is free, anyone can just jump on any ongoing panel session with little to no restriction. Organizers also encouraged cosplayers to suit up at home, and virtual conference goers sure did a great job.
The souvenir book for this year’s convention is also available for download! Flipping through the virtual pages will also lead readers to clickable deals that are worth checking out
The not-so-good : Where’s the interaction?
There were nice attempts to engage the audience, such as real-time trivia games and other challenges. However, much-awaited panel sessions were pre-recorded video premieres on YouTube. Organizers also took out the comments section. That took away the real-time experience that viewers would have wanted, since highlights of usual panel sessions often featured collective reactions of attendees. But maybe they thought people would tweet anyway. Still, any real-time interaction between panelists and viewers were lost.
Points for learning
This does not totally discredit organizers for trying to mount a virtual Comic-Con during COVID-19. Sure, Marvel and DC skipped this year. Also, some staple experiences were absent. But It was the best they could come up with given the current scenario. Moving forward, however, if the virus sticks around much longer than expected, Comic-Con 2021 should be a better experience than this year.
Should everything go back to normal next year, then maybe they can improve on some aspects of the virtual convention and keep it. There is a huge opportunity to be made with people that you can engage without the need of being physically present.