I wrote this because some things needed to be said. I wrote this because you shouldn’t go around breaking children’s hearts in the name of being kind of famous. I also wrote this because many reviews are from young adults perspectives and I thought a child/parent perspective would be good. I think there is much to learn from the mistakes that were made.
So I began writing my post about MineCon and it very quickly became a novel. It’s not really my style to write long drag out posts so here I am with a much shorter recap of the entire event.
Skylar and I made it to Las Vegas and checked into the Mandalay Bay around 3pm on Thursday. We went over to the convention center and registered that evening for MineCon. I remember buying my tickets and not receiving any instructions on how to actually GET my tickets so I hoped my name and an ID would help. Kids 13 and up needed ID as well apparently, this was never told to me, but they let Skylar have his badge anyway. The line was long and I was grateful not to have to enter it again.
We received our Creeper schwag bag filled with some cool stuff… minecon schwag. We also received a Jones soda with custom Minecraft labels. Well, I mean one of them did, the other had a normal label. Why didn’t ALL the promo soda reflect the event? I have no idea.
The next day we grabbed our schedules and headed to the convention center. I have heard many, many complaints over how the whole thing was organized and I have a few of my own. I want you all to know that we had a FABULOUS time. You see, wherever we go we tend to bring our own fun and no matter how poorly organized this event was we would have had fun anyway.
The opening ceremony was wonderful. The whole crowd was laughing and cheering and having a GREAT time. People are on Reddit complaining about the speaker, Minecraft Chick Lydia Winters. I have no idea why, people can just be so nasty sometimes. She was so awesome and the whole opening ceremony was the best part of the whole thing for me. Watch it here.
The rest of the convention was typical of any convention. Vendors, sponsors, exhibitors, swag and cool décor. However, the event very quickly turned into LineCon. The lines for anything were hours long. That means the merch booth, the autograph sessions, and the scavenger hunt. I understand that at conventions lines will be long, but it was way out of hand. WAY, WAY out of hand. The organization of the event left much to be desired. We hopped in line for a limited edition Creeper toy that I wanted to bring home Milo. We stood there for an hour and a half only to be told the room was closing so that they could start the opening ceremony I spoke about above. I was less than thrilled, but tried to let it brush off of me. I don’t think I have to say that I never did get one of those toys since I couldn’t make it back to the line in time.
On Friday night, I got in line to try and get an autograph from Notch (Minecraft creator) for Skylar. We were 3 people and the last in line. An extremely rude volunteer told us the line was closed and we had to leave. I heard we should have gotten a ticket to get preferential line status the next day but these were not given to us.
On Saturday was the Yogscast panel. Yogscast is Skylar’s absolute favorite YouTube channel. He idolizes these guys. He wants to BE those guys and has talked about starting his own similar channel. It was promised to the attendees that they would announce where the Yogscast would be signing autographs, but it never was. As it turns out they gave out 100 tickets for autographs as a surprise and that was it. 5000 in attendance. 100 tickets. So yeah, “SURPRISE!!! You didn’t get one.” By the time Skylar there and found out he did not get a ticket he was torn apart. Tears. Anger. Everything. When the signing was done, Simon, Lewis, & Hannah (Yogscast) didn’t even look in the direction of all the kids standing there behind the ropes who didn’t get tickets. Not a wave. Not a smile. Not a thanks for watching us guys. Nothing. I saw the crushed looks on about 20 kids faces and I cried myself. What they did was just not right. Not right at all. The volunteers were actually apologizing for them.
See, he’s 13 and spent his own money to buy his ticket, brought his pick axe to be signed by 3 people and couldn’t get near any of them. He looks up to these guys so much and they all made themselves so freaking unavailable during the convention that I wondered why they held MineCon in the first place. The things that were promised did not happen, and if they did it I always had to find out by word of mouth. Right down to the super cool swag bag I was supposed to get for being a speaker. Don’t get me wrong, I love the custom soda bottle I received, but it wasn’t what I was promised. They didn’t even give it to me, I had to go looking for it.
We had so much fun in between all the disappointments, but I just feel those disappointments didn’t have to happen. It could have been different. I was a panelist at this convention and I never even met anyone from the Mojang team that put it together. I didn’t get an introduction, a thank you, or an acknowledgement from anyone. I just showed up, did my thing and that was it. I got a soda that I had to go looking for.
So, let’s get to the awesome parts. The décor totally rocked. Someone had built all the Minecraft characters out of wood and they stood all around the convention hall. Let’s face it, being in a room with 5000 people all passionate about the same thing is sort of exhilarating! I met and saw so many awesome people. Of course I had many of my unschool buddies to hang out with but I was just shocked at how many kids were there with their parents! And parents that played the game! Just amazing. Tiffani and I spent some time hooping with Steve and Creeper heads on down in the convention center. Skylar made some friends that I just know will last a long long time.
The panel went absolutely amazing. I was very nervous as it took a very academic tone, but I settled into my skin and made some great points. I think I even inspired a few people toward unschooling. I’ll post the podcast or video as soon as it becomes available.
The after party at Club XS with Deadmau5 was just totally surreal. I’m still wondering if it was real. It was really fun to hoop by the pool and geekify this fancy club for a night. The muggles were totally mystified by the geekery in the room. I think they dropped the strict dress code just for the evening.
People are asking me if the convention was worth the money. I think I would still say yes, but Skylar feels really cheated. He says he had a great time, but much of that fun was had outside the convention. So the entire trip was 100% absolutely worth it for me and maybe75% worth it for Skylar. If he knew that he wouldn’t be able to meet his favorite people and get autographs he may not have gone at all. Like I said, what was promised didn’t happen. I’m so glad he did go though as he made some unforgettable connections.
I just wish that we could have left it there and not experienced the airing of dirty laundry between Yogcast and Notch. You can read all about that on Reddit. Honestly, I felt that they all sort of acted like divas when it came to their celebrity status. We even tried to talk to Notch at Club XS but his entourage whisked him away and wouldn’t let us near him like he was Tom Cruise or something. Strange behavior since Prince Harry didn’t seem to mind being around people at the club.
Will I go again? Yeah… I totally would. It’s just really hard for me not see the obvious failures that happened at MineCon. It’s also hard to me to watch my child have his heart broken. We missed the closing ceremony because of it. I do hope they learn from their mistakes. But I’ve learned too. I’ve learned I have to be careful with my expectations and to see the red flags from the beginning. Other people had worse experiences than us, and others have better. It wasn’t across the board terrible.
I’m still giddy with excitement, but it’s less about MineCon and more about friendships and sharing some amazingly good times with the people I love. You know who you are.
I covered so little of our trip in the post. As usual, feel free to ask me anything.