My time at YogCon 2019
From August 3rd - 4th I attended YogCon, a small convention in Bristol dedicated to the network of You Tubers and streamers called The Yogscast. The Yogscast has been around for over a decade, but this is their first foray into hosting an event like this. In the past they have been to conventions around the world, including MCM London and E3. But this was different, the only creators included in signings and photo shoots were members of the network and, unlike most conventions, both of these things were included as part of the ticket price. This was just one of the things that made the weekends great for me.
TanaCon 2.0? Not a chance!
When YogCon was first announce I was sceptical, the history of first-time conventions over the past few years has not been a good one. However, my desire to meet some of these creators out weighed my fears of TanaCon 2.0 so I bought a ticket. I initially tried to get a ticket in the early bird sale, but they sold out so fast that I had to wait for the, higher priced, main sale a month later. There was a nice range of ticket prices, starting at £60 for access to both days of the convention, all of the panels and one signing and going up to £500 for a VIP extra tickets that got you all of the above as well as a list of other goodies. These goodies included; a merch bag (with a retail value of approximately £121.94), a ticket to an exclusive dinner with the specific group that you had bought a ticket for (either general Yogscast, Hat Flims or Highroller D&D) as well as a picture with that group. The Highrollers package also came with a three hour one shot DM'd by Highrollers DM Mark Hulmes.
Being the huge D&D nerd that I am, I shelled out the £500 pound for the VIP extra package. Because of this my Yogcon weekend actually started at 7pm on Friday the 2nd rather than the next morning. The VIP dinner was at the Marriott Royal Hotel and consisted of an hour of mingling before a three course meal in one of the most spectacular function rooms I have ever been to. All three of the VIP extra groups were in one room, but at separate tables. Which meant that all 30 of the VIP Extra fans could talk to creators from all of the groups.
It was a great evening with a fun and welcoming atmosphere. The members of the Highrollers were really lovely to talk to and tried to make sure that everyone was involved and got to have a chat with them. The food was good and the staff were amazing. Overall it was a fnatastic night. However, there were a couple of things that would have been the cherry on the cake. One, is that it would have been nice to have name tags for everyone, even would be even better if these tags included peoples pronouns. The other is that the gift bags didn't have all of the merch that they said would be in them. But these are very minor issues, and anyone who asked about the missing merch got to collect it form the merch stand the next day.
So, after a wonderful evening I made my way back to my hostel ready and raring for the next day.
I didn't arrive in time to see the opening ceremony (I am going to blame the wine hangover for this) but from what I have seen and heard of it, it was something to behold.
The rest of my first day went off without a hitch. I went to two signings and various panels at the three different stages at the convention. There were a few hours where there wasn't something that I wanted to do, but that was for the best because it was a long day an i really needed some rest. Not to mention how hot it was in the convention building. The day was then topped off with a pub quiz that not only had some of the Yogscast's big names, such as co-founder Lewis Brindley, as well a his fellow Tri-Force members Sips and Pyrion Flax, but also had the whole audience playing along. The questions were mostly Yogscast related so for anyone who only watched a few members the questions may have been a bit confusing. But It was definitely a fun time and an excellent way to get to have a bit more of a conversation with some of the people I had met the night before. I got back to my hostel at around midnight thoroughly exhausted, but with a big smile on my face.
The next morning I had another late start as I didn't need to be at the con site until 12:15, which was when the crowning jewel of my weekend was set to start. A three hour Dungeons & Dragons one-shot run by Highrollers DM Mark Hulmes. The one-shot was set in Hulmes' home-brewed world 'Aerois' and the story is now canon to the main campaigns storyline. This gave the one-shot more gravitas that it would have had otherwise, as everyone at the table had the idea that maybe their action could affect what happened to the characters that they know and love.
Mark was great at making everyone feel welcome at the table and really made an effort to give everyone a voice. His planning and storytelling skills shone brightly as me and four other VIPs battled our way through monsters and rough terrain alike. It was an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone who could afford it.
Afterwards I got myself a delicious pizza from one of the available food trucks and made my way to the VIP lounge to cool off, both literally and figuratively before the one-shot of the main Highrollers campaign later that evening. I had a complete hoot of a time sitting in the crowd watching as the players ran through a non-canon one-shot with a Willy Wonka theme. The atmosphere of watching live was electric and I felt like part of a community more than I ever would by just watching the usual twitch stream.
An Appropriate Ending
After the one-shot had ended the stage was quickly cleared for the ending ceremony. This was a short affair, with Lewis Brindley taking the stage to thank all of the people who made YogCon possible, from the fans and creators to the tireless teams of staff and volunteer who worked throughout the weekend to make sure everything ran smoothly. What happened next was honestly one of the weirdest experiences of my life, even though it had already happened on a smaller scale at the pub quiz the night before, but the video for The Yogscast's well know song 'Diggy Diggy Hole' came on screen and a room full of at least 500 people burst into song. I myself only knew some of the words but did my best to join in. But it was during this somewhat surreal few minutes it really struck how cool the whole of this weekend had been and how special an event YogCon was for so many people.
Not a Rave!
The only drawbacks, that I haven't already mentioned, were to do with the venue. The convention took place in a place called Motion, which, on most nights, is a club that hosts raves. And, while the juxtaposition of this compared to YogCon really amuses me, it wasn't an ideal location. While it was an appropriate size and was wheelchair accessible, there wasn't any air con or sufficient ventilation so inside was sweltering. On top of this all of the women's toilet cubicles were tiny, meaning even if there was technically a disabled cubicle it wasn't really that accessible. But again these are minor complaints, there were plenty of outdoor areas and seating for people to escape the heat, and that isn't really something anyone has any control over. And this being the con's first year I don't think the venue was ever going to be perfect. The venue is also something that can be changed should YogCon happen again.
YogCon was a delight of a weekend. I have been to conventions before where it was obvious that the creators were only there for the money, but that definitely wasn't the case here. Everyone I came across, whether they were fans, staff or creator, really obviously wanted to be there. Even the slightly perplexed food truck operators seemed to be having a fun time. I will always look back on this weekend with fondness and sincerely hope that there will be another convention next year. So, here to YogCon 2: Electric Yogaloo.