On top of this, a cosplay contest and fan variety performance really showed off the talents and creativity of fans from around the world - as did a number of fan art stalls where selected artists were able to sell their fan art creations. One artist in particular ended up catching the attention of internal SEGA Japan staff! Playable demos of upcoming title Sonic Generations, massive signing times for all of the guests and an on-stage quiz show rounded off the activities for the day.
It was an absolute pleasure, despite barely having time to run around and take care of the show?s organisation on the day, to see hundreds of fans enjoy each other?s company and meet with friends old and new. This is what the Summer of Sonic is all about, and the reason I created it back in 2008 with co-organiser Kevin Eva - it?s difficult to arrange meetups with people you know on the internet. Even harder to have friends who are into the same sort of things as you.
Summer of Sonic is primarily a means for fans to meet up in the flesh - although the content we provided and the guests we secured were beyond fantastic, really all of the rest is an added bonus. You always get a few fans that come just for the signings or the new games or the free goodies, and that?s completely the wrong attitude to take. If it would make anybody turn up, I?d probably sooner have an empty hall and let fans come and chat.
But the majority of fans that turn up understand the nature of the event, and have a blast being social and enjoying the company of one another. And it makes the day even more special when we are able to prepare treats for them. Right at the very end of the day, we had a musical singalong called Club Sonic which saw the crowd chant and hum every single track that played. As a final surprise, Sonic Team music director Jun Senoue came on stage to play a selection of songs that made the audience go absolutely crazy. Here?s one of many videos taken of the reaction.
There are two more moments that made this day even more magical for me. The first is a marriage proposal that took place towards the end of the day. It was an unexpected turn of events (well, not for me organising it, hehe) that really wowed the crowd. The second was during the second Q&A for Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka, where I was joined by Jun Senoue in wishing Sonic the Hedgehog a Happy Birthday with the audience. The crowd?s chant was recorded, and it will be used in the European version of Sonic Generations.
It?s fair to say that the success of the Summer of Sonic 2011 far exceeded anyone?s expectations - most of all my own. SEGA Japan, SEGA Europe, SEGA of America and Sonic Team were all invited to the show to see first-hand the full power that this event has and the benefits it produces for the Sonic the Hedgehog brand. For Naka-san and Iizuka-san, they had a rare chance to see such a concentrated number of adoring fans ask for photos, signings and kind messages of thanks.
For my part, I was simply shocked at how popular Summer of Sonic had become since the previous year. At the end of every convention, I come away with a long laundry list of things to improve to make the show a more comfortable and enjoyable experience. 2011?s show, although undoubtedly the greatest we ever had, was no different. While we were expecting around 800 fans to turn up prior to the Saturday, what we actually had was a total of more than 1250 fans coming in and out of those doors throughout the day - plus even more who never actually got to come in!
It just shows that Sonic the Hedgehog may have had his ups and downs in his extensive 20-year history, but that hasn?t affected just how popular the little blue critter still is. Summer of Sonic 2011 was an amazing success, and proof positive that SEGA?s mascot is, to quote the marketing catchphrase, still unstoppable after 20 years.
It's safe to say that this years SoS was one of the best days of my life so far. Everything from having a laugh and making new friends while queueing outside before opening, to the proposal (most nerve-racking moment of my life, haha), and the Iizuka/Naka Q&As, was all perfect. I had an unbelievable amount of fun, and felt right at home the entire day. I must say thanks to all of the team who helped organise SoS!
Elson 'Darkspeeds' Wong29 Jun 2011 15:19
I tried my best not to feel bittersweet about the fact that I couldn't go this year, I knew it would have been extremely special but alas I can't take away my job and career in the hospitality industry for it (well maybe next time I'll do it... XD). Nevertheless the best thing I can do is to get involved in continuing to support it all the way - whether it be through word of mouth (via deviantART/DJ Darkspeeds/Skype/Twitter/Youtube), donations, journal/blog posts etc.. If I could spread the word of your amazing crusade to bring Sonic fans together for that very reason you've beautifully described here:
"Summer of Sonic is primarily a means for fans to meet up in the flesh - although the content we provided and the guests we secured were beyond fantastic, really all of the rest is an added bonus..."
... Then I would be happy and proud to be a Sonic fan too.
Anyways keep up the incredible stuff mate, I'll be sending you and the rest of me mates (who are Sonic fans) one last thing tomorrow before I go for my holiday. *thumbs up*
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