Important Message Regarding U-Con 2020

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the difficult decision to convert U-Con 2020 into a virtual convention and cancel our physical event for 2020.

Like many organizations, we have been watching the COVID-19 situation with concern. We feel that it is unlikely that we would be able to hold a face-to-face convention in November without endangering our attendees and staff. If we did try to run it, there is a significant risk that we could be legally barred from holding it on short notice.

But this is U-Con. We have 32 years of history. We didn’t cancel in 2011, despite having to switch sites on three months’ notice. We’re not going to cancel this time either. Our team is flexible and resilient, and we’ve been doing contingency planning on a virtual U-Con since March. In addition, several of our team members have already run or worked on smaller virtual cons. We will be holding a virtual convention, which we hope will be a good substitute until we can all physically get back together again.

Q: Isn’t this a bit far out to cancel?

A: No, because organizing a con – even a virtual con – requires lead time. It would be reckless to wait until the last minute. We need to focus on this now.

Q: Why aren’t some other cons making a decision this early?

A: While we can’t speak for other cons, hotel contracts for events generally have cancellation clauses which can make it catastrophically expensive to cancel an event unless (1) you’re legally required to or (2) your venue is willing to negotiate. We are fortunate to have an excellent relationship with Eagle Crest as our partner in hosting U-Con, and they have been very understanding about the need to not hold the 2020 con in person. We hope to continue working with them for many years to come.

Q: How will a virtual convention work?

A: We will still have a convention website, and you will be able to submit and sign up for scheduled events. Instead of a room and table location, you will get a “virtual table top” (VTT) link, a URL, to take you to the online service on which the event will be held. You will then be able to play via the internet. We are looking at how we can provide support for those who are not familiar with this technology. Stay tuned for more information.

Q: Have any of you actually tried gaming online? Does it work?

A: Yes, a number of us have been playing and running games online for some time, including tabletop RPGs, board games, and card games. Some gaming can be done through the same online video conferencing services you’d use for a work meeting or a class; other types of games make use of specialized sites which provide graphics, dice rolling, board game components to move around, etc. It takes some adjustment, but it does work.

Q: Will U-Con be charging admission?

A: We intend to go with a Pay What You Want model at registration. We understand that many in our community are struggling right now, so this will ensure that everyone that wants to participate still can, while enabling us to offset the more limited expenses associated with running a virtual convention.

Q: Uh oh! I’m going to have a gap in my U-Con t-shirt collection!

A: No, you won’t. Stay tuned, we would never deprive you of a commemorative t-shirt (real, not virtual).

Q: Do you plan to hold face to face conventions in future years?

A: Yes! In fact, we are signed with Eagle Crest for 2021 and 2022 already (that’s as far out as we can go, because we have to work around the UM football schedule).

Please stay tuned for more details on Virtual U-Con 2020, and how you will be able to sign up to run and play games. We look forward to seeing and gaming with you, even if we can’t do it in person. We hope you’ll join us for this experiment, and that we can all get together face to face next year.

Virtual U-Con 2020 will be held on the same days as the physical con was scheduled: November 13-15, 2020.

Joe Saul, U-Con President
Fred Paffhausen, U-Con 2020 Chair

On behalf of the U-Con Board of Directors


1 Comment on “Important Message Regarding U-Con 2020

  1. Well, that is very disappointing. I was really hoping that by November we would be able to have a safe convention. However, THANK YOU for doing the responsible thing and cancelling. I am glad that this convention is concerned about its community, and willing to make the hard decisions. Even if November rolls around and it turns out that we can be safe (which nothing in the current news suggests is at all possible), I believe this is the proper decision to make. Looking forward to re-uniting with everyone at the physical space in 2021!

    Also very glad you have such a good partner in Eagle Crest, willing to preserve a long term relationship with UCON. Kudos to them!