by Rob Balder
October 15-17, 2004
Meadowlands, New Jersey
This is going to be an unfair report. Accept that right now.
Ubercon, among the most aggressive and ambitious young cons running right now, held its fourth installment in a twenty-month span. Ubercon has set its sights very high. From the con name to its mission statement (“our objective is to provide world class facilities as a global entity for the purpose of ushering in a new era of unsurpassed excellence in the game convention industry”), they’re clearly out for blood. They want very much to build the biggest name in gaming cons. Which, with just four cons under their belt, is somewhat reminiscent of a high schooler with serious ambitions for the White House. Ubercon’s certainly not a bad bet to achieve their lofty aims (maybe more like a high schooler who is also captain of the football and forensics teams), but there’s a lot of ground to cover between them and say, Origins or Gen-Con.
Ubercon was loaded with activities, events and facilities for gamers of all stripes. They had tournaments, and a massive LAN set up, and giveaways, and raffles, and free energy drinks… But the reason this report is unfair is that as the only representative from Nth Degree in attendance, I didn’t give a gluteus rattus about any of that. I was there for the webcomics.
Ubercon rolled out a big red carpet to the webcomics world. They brought in over a dozen creators, including several of the most popular on the web (rock star names included Pete Abrams of Sluggy Freelance, Tim Buckley of Ctrl-Alt-Del, Brian Clevinger of 8-bit Theatre and Randy Milholland of Something Positive). The rest of us were well above the chopped-liver level.
This particular Uber suffered a bit at the hands of the venue, as a wedding was booked in the ballroom on Saturday and attendees were forced to walk through the drizzle outside to get between halves of the con. This will apparently not be a problem at the next one. Ubercon did one rather innovative thing by combining the dealers’, gaming, and LAN rooms into a single space. This definitely did encourage more walk-by traffic, but raised some security concerns for the dealers. The reaction from dealers was therefore mixed, though the attendees gave it a thumbs-up.
The con gave a decent nod to programming variety with things like a big medieval festival on the grass outside, a costume contest, a filk concert (mine) and music circle, and readings by C.J. Henderson. There was also a blood drive and a worship service for Christian gamers (“give us this day our daily treasure allotment…”). The Saturday night party became a thing of legend, occurring in the con’s own suite, building to a crescendo and climaxing with the arrival of the cops. But that is a story for another day.
Overall, this is a con you need to catch while it’s on its meteoric climb. The staff is so charged with enthusiasm and energy that if you come to an Ubercon and fail to have a good time, you have only yourself to blame.
Or.… possibly the cops.