If you haven't heard the news already, Jagex is holding its first real life event for RuneScape, RuneFest. After being released to the public over nine years ago, players have the potential to now meet the people behind the making of one the world's largest free MMOs, get some insider information, and meet other players from around the world, perhaps some well-known ones.
I say hopefully because while the event is quite impressive on paper, some things came to mind when the event was initially announced. For one thing, this is an event for adults due to the availability of alcohol. By adults, I'm assuming eighteen years or older. A good population of players is under-aged, making me wonder if these players will be left out of the real life experience that Jagex is attempting to create. Perhaps this is a "test run" of sorts for Jagex to see just how many people show up before expanding the event in the future for other age groups.
The ticket price is rather astounding. At £75 each (about €86 Euros or $109 US Dollars), for a one day event, it seems rather pricey. However, taking into account the number of events that are to occur in the festival (live role-playing, ogre wrestling, and archery for example) as well as the freebees, the cost is understandable. Consider the cost of food and drink for an event this size, safety equipment, etc. There is also the fact that it appears that Jagex currently does not have sponsors listed for the event yet. If they do have sponsors, the actual cost might've actually been reduced already.
Still, the price does not feel reasonable for those of us not living in or near the United Kingdom, especially with the current economy. Not only would transportation be an issue (for this writer, it'd be flying across the United States and the Atlantic Ocean), but also the cost of staying in the United Kingdom, even for a day or two. It's reasonable to say that most of us wanting to go from overseas do not wish to simply fly and rush into the event jet-lagged and fly back out the same day to avoid the costs of staying at a hotel.
Just how creative will the participants be? I've been to similar conventions before, the last being WonderCon in San Francisco, CA back in April of this year, and there is always an overwhelming feeling of awe when I walk in and see thousands of people dressed as their favorite characters. Cosplay (costume play) is quite common in at such conventions, but would we be seeing any of this at RuneFest like Jagex hopes? We've seen a lot of RuneScape machinima and drawings, stories and poems, but it isn't often we see something in a more artisan craft sense. I went on a well-known site that allows users to show off their artwork world-wide, and got only fifty-three results on "RuneScape" in the artisan crafts section, majority of them being plushies. Only two results showed an actual person wearing their creation (dragon chainmail). I'm fairly sure there are more out there, but costumes take time to create. Die-hard fans of such conventions plan and create their costumes months in advanced. Will four months be enough for those fans of RuneScape to create their costumes?
Extending from cosplay, would we see players participate in the real-world activities that are meant to be similar to those we see in game, or would players feel too silly to participate? Archery doesn't sound like a bad idea, but ogre wrestling? Possibly not much different from wrestling sports we see in schools. RuneScape themed food and drink doesn't sound bad since a lot of the food are quite similar to those we see in real life, although we might need to stretch our imaginations a bit if Jagex decides to bring in some gnome and troll culinary arts into the food court.
Do these reasons give people a valid reason to whine about how "unfair" the event is? It's understandable that people are frustrated that there's this huge event that's going to happen that they cannot attend, but we have to remember, this is a first for Jagex. If Jagex went out and simply opened several venues around the world at the same time, the events may not be as well-oriented as it appears to be right now based on the posted line-up. Some people would feel that maybe some countries are getting more attention than others because of staff representatives present on site if that were to occur, or that maybe one country's convention would be more of a hassle to deal with than the other because of supplies to set up the event. The logistics behind conventions like this are a lot more complicated than most would expect.
So will RuneFest be a success? We'll find out on Saturday 28th August 2010. To everyone that's going, have fun! If you can, share the fun with those who can't go with posts and pictures on the event!
Oh, and one more thing: There are some people out there who believe that those who go to this event, costume or not, are low-lives who dedicate themselves too far into the game. And with those feelings comes the hesitation of those who have all the means to go, yet don't want their friends or school mates finding out they're going to a convention dedicated to their game. Don't let that stop you from going! This is absolutely one of the historical landmarks for RuneScape and Jagex, and being a part of it is nothing to be ashamed of.