One of the biggest game conventions, the Origins Game Fair, has just announced that starting next year, the show will take place at a new time of the year – Memorial Day weekend. (Yes, for those of you paying attention, that’d be this weekend, next year.) According to the announcement (also copied below), the move has allowed the convention to cut hotel and exhibitor costs, but some fans fear this could disrupt the established pattern of regional shows. Some industry folks also speculate the new show dates are too early, moving Origins out of the summer vacation months, thereby making students less able to attend.
Origins Game Fair announcement text follows:
We have some great and important news about Origins and the schedule for the future. We are moving the dates earlier in the year, starting in 2012. Our new dates are:
May 30 – June 3, 2012
May 29 – June 2, 2013
I am really excited about the move. I have been coming to Origins as an attendee for more than 10 years before I became the Executive Director of GAMA. (Spending almost all my time as a GM & playing RPG’s in the Hyatt) Origins is a great event and a time that we enjoy meeting with new friends and old while playing games we love.
We know it’s the convention where you actually play games, and we intend to keep Origins that way. It’s also always been a family-friendly event. I have been bringing my own children to the show for more than 5 years. As the Executive Director and a father, I promise that we will always be a family friendly event.
You, our attendees, have made Origins a success. We’re watching our attendance numbers grow each year. 2011 is the second year in a row that the Exhibitor floor has sold out before the event! Because of your support we’ve been able to add programs like the Author and Game Designer seminar tracks, expand the art show and artist seminar track. We run thousands of events each year and have been forced to expand our event schedules because so many companies want to run games for you at our show.
There are two main reasons we want to let you know about these changes. First, and most important, we want you to have a full year to plan for your attendance at the show. A lot of folks operate on automatic pilot and we don’t want you to miss the show by planning for a June trip when we’ve moved to May.
The second reason is the most important: we want to make sure you understand what the move means for you. Our move into May has allowed us to cut hotel costs for our attendees—both gamers and exhibitors. With more money in your pockets, you can afford to buy more of those games you get to try at Origins. With having to spend less money to get to the show and stay, companies can afford to bring more staff to run even more events. The move to May means we’re ahead of the prime travel season, resulting in lower gas prices and airline tickets.
As we looked at making these changes, I consulted with our Board and Sponsors. We did acknowledge that some schools may not yet have let students go for the summer, and this was a concern. Attempting to account for school schedules when you’re drawing fans from throughout the nation is an impossible task—and all the planning in the world collapses when a string of snow days adds class time to the end of the school year. The reason we wanted to give you a year’s notice on the changes was so you could more easily make arrangements to fit Origins into your schedule.
We also had to keep in mind the fact that the summer is full of conventions which game manufacturers find very important. Origins has traditionally been the lead-off event for summer gaming. Moving into May allows manufacturers to attend and have time to recover between shows like San Diego Comic-Con, Gen Con and Dragon*Con. By moving earlier in the year, Origins is positioned to get you the new games sooner, so you can enjoy them longer.
Aside from the years when Gen Con and Origins were run concurrently, we’ve always maintained a six week gap between shows. Most people think that we all get to simply select our dates, but when you have a city wide event like Origins or Gen Con, we really are given limited options as to what the venue, the hotels and the city can support. Because Gen Con has to work around events in Indianapolis like the Brickyard 500 and the opening of the NFL pre-season, in 2015 their dates got pushed forward to July 30-August 2; and that started us looking for dates earlier in the year, so we could maintain the historical gap.
As we looked at the last week of May, we wanted to see what kind of impact that would have on our attendees. In this economy, we are committed keeping your costs and expenses down while you are joining us for a fun weekend. Here is what we found:
While we know we can’t please everyone—especially those folks who resist change simply because they don’t like change—this move is very important to continuing to make Origins the premiere gaming event of the summer. We have more ideas—more cost saving ideas—that we’ll be letting you know about after we recover from Origins 2011.
We thank you for being part of our Origins family.
[GAMA Executive Director]
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