Role Play Convention 2013 – smaller, yet somehow bigger

rpc 2013 role play convention cologne

Blogosphere! How you doin’? As I sit here listening to Frank Turner, I can only come to the conclusion that it was yet another great weekend, especially for the somewhat dominant geeky side of my personality. The reason for that was my visit to the Role Play Convention in Cologne, Germany. I don’t know if it’s still Europe’s biggest “general nerd convention”, but it really didn’t feel like it this year, while somehow it still did. Confusing? Let me elaborate.

The RPC 2013 was my fifth RPC, and in this time, I have seen the convention change in different ways. My first visit in 2009 felt drastically different than this year’s, and not just because the RPC had to trim its size to share a building with a completely different type of convention (it had both booths for tents and for the German Marines, so I can’t tell you what its general theme was). What always had been a challenge for the RPC was to give all the topics it represents enough spotlight, and that just has to be hard. Since the convention tries to be interesting for all kinds of nerds, it has to offer a slew of different things, and every year, I have the feeling another “genre” gets the spotlight. Back in 2009, it felt like video games were a huge part of the convention, which changed in 2010 when I had the feeling that the focus was back on tabletop gaming. What was this year’s prominent theme? Well, it felt like that was “pack as much geekiness as we can on as few square metres as possible”. And you know what? In retrospect, the smaller size made it all seem bigger.

Okay, I’m still not making sense, but hear me out. After arriving back home, I thought the whole thing through. During the convention itself, I was kinda disappointed about the downsizing of the entire thing. Everything felt packed, like the organizers tried to stuff it into some weird kind of real-life WinRAR-folder, which the visitor had to unzip just to be greeted by a myriad of geeky documents of different quality. There was no real divide between the different genres of geekdom: just when you thought you had made it to the digital games, you set two steps and found yourself in the middle of the comic and manga area. It felt chaotic and stuffed, especially during the convention’s Saturday peak hours, causing a few “traffic jams” here and there.

But as I thought the whole thing through, I came to the conclusion that the downsizing might not be as bad. In fact, it made things easier. In previous years, you had to switch halls and the entire crowd was spread thin. Now, you had the geek universe in one nicely done hall, and the crowd wasn’t even that bad. It also gave the entire convention a feel of unity: while we might show our geekiness through different hobbies and passions, we’re still one great mob of weird individuals, budding shoulders at every occasion. So why not get a bit closer and celebrate our craziness on a few square metres?

Of course, it’s sad to see that due to the smaller convention a few things had to go, and I can understand everyone who feels kind of bummed by this sign of a potential “downfall” of the RPC, but personally, it didn’t bother me too much. Once again, I had a good time browsing dozens of stands, getting to see a few familiar faces and celebrating geekdom in general. It might have gotten smaller, but I don’t mind sharing my personal space with the fantastic people visiting the Role Play Convention.

Thank you RPC, it was a good one!

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