While 2020 has created many challenges for industries of all forms, few industries have seen the same kinds of impacts faced by the convention industry. From cancellations of events to many states still limiting group sizes, the convention world has come to a screeching halt. Fortunately 2021 has given a glimmer of hope for those of us who miss the hustle and bustle of a convention floor.
2021 will be bringing us the return of the PAX gaming convention. But what will the event look like in the face of COVID-19? Many of us have made changes to our everyday routine to ensure our safety during these complicated times. What changes could we see from the conventions themselves to help ensure a safe and healthy experience for all in attendance? There are somethings that people expect in any situation where there may be a large gathering layer of people. There will be mask requirements. There will be reduced occupancy limits. There will be fewer panels and events to allow time for sanitization. These are the things that we have come to expect for any type of social gathering amid this pandemic.
What other precautions could we possibly see? For those participating in gaming tournaments, you may be asked to supply your owns components such as keyboards, mouse, controllers or headsets. I think we will see more pre-registration for events, such as gaming tournaments and maybe even some of the more popular panels. We will most likely even see clear dividers between the players to help ensure their safety. On the developer floor you will see a lot of time spent disinfecting controllers or swapping out controllers between players. When it comes to your equipment vendors such a Razer, they may keep their new equipment in display cases in for ease of sanitization.
On the table top gaming side of things, card sleeves will be king. Any games that are card based I would expect to see in clear card sleeves. The card sleeves will help protect against many of the sanitizing agents and at the end of the night the sleeves are disposable. You mostly likely won’t see as many community dice. If there is a demo for a game each player may be handed their own set of dice to play with which are disinfected at the end of each session. You will also see more game demos with the minimum player count. If a game says it can be played with 2-6 players, many of the demos may be just the 2 players with the developer guiding them through the steps.
The world if ever changing and conventions will change with it. Attendee safety is at the forefront for any even coordinator when it comes to large scale events. Without the attendees they have no event. If we as individuals keep taking the precautions we already are, and follow the direction of event security to take their protocols into effect, it is my opinion that we have learned enough to have a safe and fun convention experience.