A Retrospective Look at BLOXcon Chicago

July

15, 2013

by JacksSmirkingRevenge


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bloxcon2I imagine I’ll update this article sporadically as I write it. Right now, I’m hovering at 40,000 feet in the air between time zones, making it impossible to know exactly what time it actually is. It’s early. I’m traveling back to California at approximately 537 miles per hour (thanks for the useful info, United in-flight magazine!), and am nodding off occasionally. I am exhausted. In a good way.

You see, the 2013 version of BLOXcon is something we’ve never done before. We’ve had conventions, sure. Last year’s ROBLOX Game Conference here in the Bay Area was a blast, and a success! But it was practically down the road; this year, we’re traveling to three cities, all thousands of miles away. And if our time spent in Chicago was any indication, we’re a third of the way through one heck of a journey.

And that journey should be documented. That’s part of what Andrew and I are here to do: document the happenings and developments of ROBLOX–whether that’s here at HQ or in another city where we temporarily set up. To that effect, expect ongoing coverage of each and every BLOXcon–we caught it all, whether through video, sound bites, or pictures. We’ve only had one out of three events, and feel confident that even now, we could host our Virtual BLOXcon. We recorded 128 GB of video in a single day, on three separate cameras. You want BLOXcon coverage? You got it.

For now, I thought I’d take some time to document my thoughts after this incredible event. I saw and did so much. I suppose, for the sake of simplicity, I can describe the gamut of thoughts and feelings on a per-word basis. Let’s give it a shot:

bloxcon4Overwhelmed: The morning of Chicago BLOXcon, at approximately 8:57 AM Central Time, a line had formed outside of the venue that went as far as the eye could see. There were throngs of people, from all walks of life, and all ages. I ran down the line with a video camera to capture it, and by the time I had reached the end, I had broken out in a sweat. And once everyone made it inside, the excitement continued. Constant interaction. Feedback. Interviews. Game sessions. Video recordings. Pictures. Autographs. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Hours fell of the clock. There wasn’t enough time in the day to take it all in.

Motivated: Thank you all for coming–builders, gamers, fans and supporters. Your enthusiasm kept us on our feet, kept us engaged. I spent several hours in the R&D Lab interacting with our builders, and the motivation, the universal passion for building and creating new and wonderful things with ROBLOX, was contagious. Builders were meeting other builders, shaking hands, and showing off their creations. I talked to hundreds of attendees about what they love about ROBLOX and where they think we should go. They argued their points with confidence. Their motivation kept me motivated, even toward the end of the event, when my legs were shutting down (no lie, I was limping after BLOXcon ended, and still kind of am).

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Dave stayed long after both Main Stage Presentations to answer questions from builders.

Knowledgeable: I wasn’t the only one who went into BLOXcon wondering whether 20-odd ROBLOX staffers could pull this off without a hitch. By the end of it all, that question had subsided. With the excellent planning of ReeseMcBlox, we delivered what we promised. In addition, we learned more about how to do this sort of thing, and are better for it. We learned a ton about you, our buildersDave spent time after both Main Stage Presentations collecting feedback from passionate builders, who waited patiently in line to ask their questions and voice their opinions. Builders showed me creations they were in the middle of that were unique and beautiful. I found myself saying, “How did you do that?” at least 10 times, while gazing at the laptop screens in the R&D Lab. Our crowd is an amazingly smart bunch, and taught us all many things about our core audience, and building in general.

bloxcon5Inspired: Through the magic and mystery of the written word, let’s shift time. I’m here, back at HQ, bright and early, and I’m excited. The feeling from BLOXcon hasn’t fully worn off yet. We’re all still slightly aglow. That’s because meeting and talking with every one of you, in person, was inspiring. Your ideas and feedback have always played a big role in our development process, and we want to continue to build situations that encourage dialogue between us–we’re willing to travel far and wide to hear what you have to say. I talked with builders who dream of putting together a front-page game–who have the ideas and tenacity but are still learning the scripting skills they need to get there. I talked with Lua Learners and Pinewood Builders, who had set up booths to promote awareness of their groups, and showcase some of the work their intrepid members’ work. Everyone there had aspirations, hopes and dreams. It was truly inspiring.

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“It was great to see all the enthusiasm that the builders have. Builders of all skill levels were working hard to finish the challenges–some were even building for the first time! I think overall it wasn’t so much of a contest of who is best, but just testing their skills and being able to say, ‘I did it!'” -Tarabyte on hosting the Hackathon

On a personal note, this event meant a lot to me because it made me think on how far we’ve come, from a communications stand point. Last year, RGC 2012 took place the second week I worked here. It was a great event, and I had a blast. But so much was confusing. I hadn’t fully grasped what ROBLOX was. It takes some time to fully understand the core of our platform. tylerbloxconA year later, I’m proud to be here–I’ve come to appreciate the values we carry and our place in the gaming industry. As many of you probably know, I am in constant contact with the innovators of our platform. One of my favorite parts of this job is logging into ROBLOX and checking my messages (I read them all), to see what’s new. Whether it’s a bug complaint, a suggestion for a place visit, or just a simple “hello,” I love hearing from you. To replicate that same feeling in real life, with real-life builders, was remarkable.

bloxcon6So keep an eye on the blog to follow all that went on at our first BLOXcon (we’ll be announcing Hackathon, BLOXY Award, and Hall of Fame Award winners later this week!), and all that is going to happen in the coming weeks. Thanks to the Museum of Science and Industry for providing us with a beautiful venue and helpful staff. Thanks to all the hard-working members of the ROBLOX team who put together this incredible journey. And finally, thanks to the wonderful city of Chicago and all of you who came out to be a part of BLOXcon 2013. Can’t wait to see what London has in store for us.