This past weekend, we went to the Game of Thrones Official Fan Convention in Los Angeles. The convention was over three days (December 9-11) in the convention center downtown. Billed as the first officially licensed fan convention commemorates HBO’s iconic and world-renowned series Game of Thrones”. The event hosted some top Game of Thrones talent, such as Kit Harrington and Paddy Considine, as well as other memorable figures from the Game of Thrones universe. 

What makes the Game of Thrones Official Fan Convention Special?

As a veteran of cons, I will say that this was by far the most intimate one I have ever attended. There were limited attendees and events. This meant that people were able to get up close and personal with the talent and creators of the Game of Thrones universe. There were panels, as well as meet n’ greets and autograph signings, and even a dance party. 

At Comicon or Dragoncon, it’s not unusual to spend two or more hours in a line for a quick autograph and photo with your favorite actors. However, at this official fan convention, the longest lines were only 30 minutes. The actors were more than happy to truly interact and engage with their fans. That is always a treat to spend time with your favorite characters and not feel rushed out the door. 

The con also hosted some great visuals, such as props from Game of Thrones (the dragon eggs, a note from Tyrion to John Snow, and even costumes a couple of the characters wore). There was also a reproduction of Balerion the black dread, and a giant Iron Throne for photo ops. There were also professional photo opportunities making you a White Walker or the next to sit on the Iron Throne. As décor in the small section of the convention center there were various standing banners with behind-the-scenes explanations and photos from both Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon

During the panels, due to their intimate nature, guests had no problem asking questions from virtual and in-person presenters. It was truly an experience for fans who were wanting to interact with Game of Thrones world actors and showrunners. We even got some exclusive treats! The showrunners from House of the Dragon gave us a sneak peek of some scenes they had to cut for time.

However, the convention isn’t without its flaws

While I truly appreciated the small and intimate nature of the Official Game of Thrones Fan Convention, I was, however, disappointed by how little there was to actually do at the event. The organizers arranged two rooms for panels and presentations. These ranged from Q&A’s with actors and producers to presentations from game producers and lessons on High Valyrian. However, there was a lot of downtime.

As a fan convention, I feel like they missed a great opportunity to really enlist the fans. For example, I would have loved to have seen panels on fan theories around the series. Even a panel or two hosted by some great fan podcast series, or even a workshop on doing the cosplay braids on your Targaryan white wigs. Instead, we found ourselves wandering the convention during these large intermissions with nothing to do.

The Out Of Control Nickel and Diming, and Lack of Good Merch

While I understand the need to pay for meet n’ greets, every other activity at the Official Game of Thrones Fan Convention was also for pay. Whether it was a photo on the Iron Throne, with a dragon, or even the silly ones where you turn yourself into a White Walker. I’m talking $40 a photo. There was nothing fun to do for free at the convention, and those prices add up really quickly. However, I did catch fans sneaking pictures when the professional photographers were on break.

The vendor floor was also a disappointment, with only four or five “official” vendors to be seen. One of my favorite things to do at conventions is wander the vendor floor and spend money on cool t-shirts or expand my Funko-pop collection. For this one, I left it (disappointingly) empty-handed (although my wallet was probably happy about that). 

The Official Game of Thrones Fan Convention definitely has a lot of potential, but still is in the midst of its growing pains. If this convention makes the rounds again next year, my recommendation would be to expand your panel opportunities and truly open up the fan experience. Let us spend too much time debating what the dragon has three headsmeans or how the writers will adapt Fire and Blood into season 2 of House of the Dragon. Give fans fun, free exclusive souvenir-type fun to take home with us like the silly photos as a White Walker! It could be as simple as a free photo booth where you text yourself the picture. And please, expand the vendor floor! We want to come home with swag we don’t need to impress the other fans who couldn’t attend.

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