If you recall from my previous blog post on SVCC, there were some issues that SVCC had to contend with last year, and I think they did an outstanding job in fixing many of their issues from last year:
- Crowd management --- they did a lot better in terms of crowd management. The lines for getting tickets / registration seemed to be better managed. Personally, we got our "badges" ahead of time (so much better than last year), and friends reported that getting their badges went without a hitch.
- Signage was a lot better this year and with the added functionality of their SVCC app for your mobile, it was easier to find things!
- Food options were now plentiful. SVCC reserved the local nearby park, closed it off, and had a plethora of food trucks available. This was good for the SVCC crowd, the Science March crowd, and any locals in the area.
- Panels -- there were lots and lots of panels this year, and they were easily accessible. The app made them a lot easier to find.
- Badging in & out --- For whatever reason, SVCC is still enamored with the concept of "badging" in and out of the convention center. (Nearly all tech companies require employees to use a badge to get into their buildings, so I suppose they are emulating that.)
- They also did a bag check before you could badge into the convention (which I don't remember from last year). At the main entrance, this caused a back-up when trying to enter (with the additional badge check).
- Badging in/out (especially in the main entrance while trying to leave). Sometimes the scanner/tablet didn't read the badge correctly, which caused further delays.
- LUCKILY, there were other small entrances (if you knew where they were) so you could get in/out without the crowd, but by Sunday, you were only able to badge out of those locations.
There were some pretty cool things they did this year.
They had a big tie into the Science March -- they had keynote speakers, provided the aforementioned food trucks, and reserved areas. Not only did them have a lot of STEM/STEAM panels, they had lots of interactive science exhibits for kids to do. They had hands-on exhibits from the SJ Children's Discovery Museum & Libraries, NASA ,and the SJ Computer Museum
For all ages, there was an entire area of free arcade games (e.g. Pacman, DigDug, Qbert, Joust, etc) for anyone to play. They also had old school console games -- older SNES, Ataris, and PC games.
Of course, there was a slew of panels to attend, ranging from specific STEM/STEAM related d panels (hosted by NASA scientists, the SETI institute) to cosplay to comic book related topics to Star Trek/Star Wars and other media panels. It was all sorts of awesome. There were definitely a few panels that I wanted to attend that were conflicted by others I wanted to see!
The Over 30 Cosplay Panel
Key note panels...boy, were there key note panels. Buzz Aldrin, the whole cast of Star Trek: the Next Generation, SETI institute, Adam Savage, and Tori /Kary from Mythbusters & White Rabbit.
TESTED filmed some of their episodes with a few of their hosts. It was neat to see them work, as well as many of the props they've built.
Overall, it was a vast improvement over last year; we were very happy with how things changed. Of course, there are small things here and there that can be improved upon, but that's true for any convention. We had a blast and are looking forward to next year!