This past weekend (Sunday, specifically) we had the chance to attend a new-ish convention in the Dallas area. This convention is none other than Walker Stalker Con, a convention dedicated to zombies, horror, and all things The Walking Dead. Now if any of you gamers out there are fans of The Walking Dead, then you’ll know that there are a handful of games out there that celebrate the much-loved television show and comic series. I wanted to attend the convention to see if it had any potential for drawing those from the gaming community in for some brain-eating mayhem. I’ll get to my findings in a bit, but in the meantime let’s take a look at what the con had to offer.
Walker Stalker Con is an event that spans 8 total locations across the country. It takes place in Atlanta, New York/New Jersey, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Orlando, and Dallas. Since we moved out to Texas, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to check out this new convention coming to the area. The con started off as a podcast between Walking Dead fans James & Eric, and it became successful after the duo acquired funding for the event via Kickstarter. The first convention took place in 2013 and now the event spans across the country and is in its second year.
At the convention fans can expect to meet and greet the actors from the show, attend Q&A sessions, and see a myriad of vendors that setup in an exhibit hall. Attendees will have the chance to get photos with the cast, obtain autographs, and meet other Walking Dead enthusiasts from their area. Not to mention, there’s all sorts of room for cosplaying, which attendees didn’t seem to skip over.
Now that you know a little bit about how the convention got its start, let me share with you my experience with the event first-hand. Starting off, while I wouldn’t consider myself a con veteran I have been to my share of conventions over the years. I know enough that photo ops and autographs cost money up and above your badge purchase and that most of the time conventions have a lot going on under their roof. Walker Stalker Con surprised me in more than one way, especially when it comes to what’s happening behind the con doors.
The event in Dallas was set up at the convention center in one giant room. In this room you had an exhibit hall where vendors set up booths, concessions were off in a corner, there was a section for Q&A, and there were areas where you could stand in line to meet the actors from the show. Unlike other conventions I’ve been to, there were no seminars, workshops, or other events going on for attendees to check out. Sure, there were a couple of places where you could pay to shoot some zombie targets and whatnot, but as a con-goer I feel like Walker Stalker Con missed out greatly on some opportunities here.
I would love to have seen a seminar on analyzing the characters of the show. How about a workshop on home defense during a zombie apocalypse? What about a seminar on what it’s like to write for The Walking Dead? I could think of so many more options that the convention staff could have offered for those who were general attendees. You see, that was an issue in and of itself: people who purchased general admission badges really didn’t have much to do. Many attendees who picked up a two-day badge found themselves only visiting the convention for one day. In fact, one reviewer stated that he saw everything he could within three hours, leaving the rest of his two-day badge going unused. I feel that if the convention staff took time to setup a specific event staff to help coordinate some seminars and workshops that it would not only help bring in more attendance, but it would help offer a better overall experience for those who pick up general admission.
When it comes to I:T and the gaming community specifically, I see a lot of opportunity here. I think that if there were some tables or a specific area setup for gaming that it would help out greatly. People would have something to do, they could relax and enjoy some gaming, and there would be a new door opened for a whole different demographic for the convention. I’d personally love to offer demos on the floor of the Walking Dead board game, or even other zombie games in general. There’s a lot of potential here to blow the doors open. I do plan to attend in later years (as I’m a huge Walking Dead fan myself), and I personally am going to try and see about getting some gaming into the convention and make it a great experience for everyone.
Some attendees had issues with meeting actors from the show, but they were different problems from the convention all together. It seems there was a miscommunication and some of the actors showed up later than expected. Of course this caused issues with attendees, specifically those that purchased a more expensive VIP ticket to see the actors first. Along the same lines a lot of attendees were upset by having to pay up and above their ticket price for autographs and photos. Of course, any con-goer will understand that the actor’s management sets up and admins the pricing of all photo ops and autographs, but first-time attendees might not get that concept. This wasn’t a fault on Walker Stalker Con as much as it was what I like to call “con ignorance”. Still, with better management some of these issues may have been avoided.
All in all I had a pretty good time at the convention. If you’re someone who really enjoys cosplaying, has a group to go with, and has saved financially for an event like this, I think Walker Stalker Con would be perfect for you. However, if you’re simply a fan of the show, want to see some cool things as well as meet other enthusiasts and attend a Q&A session or two, I’d suggest only hitting the con for a single day. General Admission will only get you so far, which is why I hope to see the staff put on more events in the future. On top of this, attendees need to know the state of things when they attend a convention like this: the lines will be long, it will be expensive to meet all the actors you wish, and it could take you all day to accomplish the things you want.
That, however, is such the life with conventions. I think there’s a lot of potential here for Walker Stalker Con, and I’d like to see it explode over the next few years. I would personally volunteer to run some Walking Dead game demos, or anything else for that matter to make it a better experience for all who attend. The cosplay potential is through the roof, and the event could turn into something just amazing. I think the convention is getting its legs underneath it for now, and once it begins to walk it won’t stop – just like those herds of walkers moving across the remains of what we once knew as our previous life.
For more information on Walker Stalker Con, check out the convention’s official website. For more photos, check out the gallery below.