The Maryland-based sci-fi convention Farpoint has been around since 1993. Due to restrictions caused by the pandemic, Farpoint 2021 has taken an even more sci-fi route to provide fans with an immersive and authentic experience.
Farpoint 2021 will take place on February 20-21, but instead of traveling to Maryland, guests can gather at a virtual town using the platform GATHER. Farpoint’s GatherTown will allow convention-goers to interact with each other just like how they would IRL with the help of modern-day technology.
You are probably scratching your heads wondering how it works. I know I did when I first read it.
How it works:
● Gather is a video chat platform that has avatars that move around a map. As you get close to other avatars, your videos will pop up and you will be able to chat.
● Move around the space using the arrow keys.
● By moving your avatar around you can have spontaneous conversations with those around you. These can be either one-on-one or small groups depending on how many people are around your avatar.
● When your avatar moves closer to an interactable object, it will glow yellow and there will be a notification that shows up saying ‘Press x to interact with -object-’. This can range from informational flyers, playable arcade games, integrated Zoom meetings, and more!
What you need:
● A desktop/laptop with a microphone and camera.
● A web browser (Chrome or Firefox are recommended).
● We highly recommend using headphones to help prevent audio feedback.
Now that you know a bit about how the GatherTown works, I bet you are wondering what is in the virtual town.
Farpoint’s Virtual Town Includes:
● The Pool – two hot tubs areas where you can hang out and chat
● The Art Show – featuring links to artists’ websites
● Gaming – walk up to a table and join a game!
● Green Room – for panelists to hang out (requires a password to enter)
● Staff Room – for staff members to hang out (requires a password to enter)
● Access points to the Lower Level
● Panel Rooms – check the sign in front of the room to see the schedule of panels going on in that room. The sign will glow yellow and there will be a notification that shows up saying ‘Press x to interact with -object-’; press x on your keyboard to “attend” the panel!
● Dealers Area – featuring links to dealers’ websites
● Ballrooms – check out the virtual Ten-Forward happening in the Valley & Hunt Ballrooms – with a music playlist courtesy of Vic’s Place and the Pack Ratz!
For more detailed instructions and information on how to access the GatherTown, you can check out this PDF for all the details.
Along with the virtual town, Farpoint will have a Discord server for attendees to use. There will be two channels available upon entry. The rest will become available once you read and accept the Code of Conduct. The first channel is called Help! This is if you are having problems accepting the Code of Conduct or any other technical issues. The second is 01-START HERE! This is where you should start. In that channel, you should see a message that has the Code of Conduct. To accept the code of conduct, click the thumbs up directly below that message.
Once you click this, you should see more channels show up, including Channel 02-Interests which should be your next place to go. In this channel, you’ll see the categories: After Panel Discussion, Fan Tables, Dealers, and Gaming, each one with its own icon. Clicking on that icon below the message will turn on that category so you can see it in the sidebar. Clicking it again will turn it off. This is so that you can see only the content you are interested in. You can come back at any time to change these choices.
Farpoint 2021 takes place on February 20-21 and is free to the public. To see a full schedule for the convention and pre-register for events you can use its scheduling app.
If you need any additional information, want to get more detailed instructions for the discord and GatherTown, or just want to learn more about the convention, visit Farpoint’s Official Website!
What do you think about Farpoint’s use of a virtual town? Do you think this will become more commonplace until the pandemic is over? Chat with us in the comments and online.