In my previous post, I talked about anticipating XOXO 2018, which ended last night. Today, I am tired, happy, and trying to remember what to do for work when I’m not awkwardly wandering around a stadium full of 2000+ people.
This year I was overwhelmed by the size of XOXO in ways I hadn’t been in the past. To be fair, two years ago I was only a year into working from home, whereas now I’m 3 years a hermit, but still, 2000 people is a lot. It felt like 100-200 people were folks I either knew from Twitter, friends, or Slack, and the “should I wave or say hi?” feeling that keeps me from going to parties was hugely amplified here. Fortunately, there were good talks, and things that weren’t socially awkward to attend. Also, as always, having a friend or two around is a good salve fo my anxiety, and leaving the venue often to eat was vital.
The games were neat. I only played Plunge, but watching Neo Cab, and untitled goose game was fun. Also, Laura Hall’s very good ARG was silly good, with a chill payoff at the end. I felt lucky to do it early, before the 60+ person line after the Andys announced its existence on stage. Open Mike Eagle, Demi, and Janelle Shane gave particularly fun talks. I often felt like the bird in a psychological experiment that dies between two equidistant food bowls, but often just gave-in and stayed at the same thing for a while to avoid zipping to-and-fro.
The friends I caught up with were a huge highlight, especially folks I got to eat with and wander around with. It’s really helpful to have a small crew that are a known quantity, so when I was out of energy, I knew what to expect. I hosted two friends this time as well, and coming home with them was like returning home with some family. I made the choice more than once to eschew an activity for some time with a few people, and that felt very rewarding.
I hope the size of XOXO goes down again next year. If this means more sponsorship, community funding, and other methods for a quarter -> half of the attendees to not pay for a ticket.
I also hope that there is a little less parallel programming that isn’t recorded. Needing to use the restroom, take a break, or eat food often felt like a frustrating trade-off with wanting to see a friend talk or perform.
Karaoke was good, but the very talented musicians who performed drastically altered the room. Next year, more than one karaoke room could be rad.
I loved the free soda, but paid alcohol system, especially because it discouraged heavy drinking, I think.
The bathrooms were about what I expected for a stadium, but I hope next year they’re a little less brutalist/low-ceilinged.
I don’t know if Revolution Hall is a better venue, but I definitely missed the outside yard area, because grass fields are nicer than concrete pavilions.
Ultimately, I don’t envy the Andys any of the planning, listening, or responding they’ve spent years doing, and think they’ve put together an extremely good, complicated event. I will probably try to attend again in 2019, circumstances permitting. Community is hard. I think it’s worth it.