Q-Con (Queen’s Convention) is an annual games and anime convention, hosted by the Dragonslayers Gaming & Anime Society at Queen’s University, Belfast since 1994.
Influenced by the wider convention scene in Ireland, and across the ocean in the USA (E.g. Gen Con, Comic Con, etc.), Alan Neil and Matt Johnson decided to host a games convention in their university - It was the first ever fully-fledged games convention in Northern Ireland. They promoted the event by visiting other universities such as St Andrews and University College Cork, as well as using over a hundred Usenet groups - the early Internet’s “Social Media”.
Q-Con’s debut year was held at the QUB Students Union, in rooms such as the Snack Bar, Conference Room, Mandela Hall and Reading Room from the 17th to 19th June 1994. It had an attendance of 150 over the three days. Role-playing games, including Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Call of Cthulhu and Vampire the Masquerade took place. Wargames such as Command Decision by GDW as well as D.B.M were enjoyed. Live Action Roleplay Games like Paranoia took place and board games like Risk were played as well. Traders from the Dungeon (aka the Modellers’ Nook) of Smithfield beside Castle Court set up shop at Q-Con, selling assorted war game and RPG goods. Magic the Gathering became a standard tournament after all stock sold out at this first convention. It has since become a staple gaming event each year.
Over time the convention moved over to the Senior Common Room above the Ulster Bank on University Road and remained there for several years. Eventually consoles and PCs entered the fray with games like Doom and Command and Conquer/Red Alert/Starcraft, including consoles such as the Playstation, Xbox and Dreamcast, with linked play and PC LAN gaming.
After the Senior Common Room was removed, Q-Con 11 saw the event return once more to the QUB Students' Union. Cosplay and Anime joined the growing plethora of activities. Q-Con 12 saw over 400 delegates attend the Whitla Hall during the summer and from that point onwards attendance grew explosively. The Elmwood Hall became host to roleplay games and LARPS. Movies in the QFT took off and Ghost in the Shell was screened to an audience of over 200 people.
Consoles became ever more sophisticated and popular. Street Fighter 2 ranbats (ranking battles) tournaments took place. Also on offer were new and unique games like Johan Sebastian Joust, using Playstation Move controllers. This took place outside the Elmwood Hall before a bemused, onlooking public. There was also a tribute live-action game, in honour of the popular 90’s kids TV show Knightmare, with its own version of the green screen dungeon puzzle death trap.
From a starting attendance of 150, Q-Con grew to host over 10,000 attendees. It now enjoys the position of being one of the largest conventions for tabletop, electronic gaming and cosplay in the whole of Ireland. The convention has been supported by other university organizations, from UCC Cork, UMIST Manchester, Trinity College Dublin to University of Ulster. They have organised visits, participated and helped to run additional events over the years. Also each year visitors have come from abroad, some as far as Japan and the USA to pay Q-Con a visit and have some gaming, geeking out with fellow enthusiasts.
In its current form Q-Con utilises much of the QUB campus to operate, and we hope to be able to see a return to holding physical events soon. For over 25 years Q-Con has been a passionate, leading convention on the island of Ireland, and intends to keep on delivering exciting gaming and pop-culture fun.