The Sonic Stadium is eight years old today (and it was Cephrien’s birthday a few days ago too, so happy birthday to you too). It’s hard to imagine that this little site of mine would be so involved in an international community like this, but we’re here today amongst other awesome websites like Sonic Retro and Sonic Fan Games HQ, and man is it all good.
As you may be aware, I’ve been chronicling the years of TSS, from beginning to end (we’re at 2001 at this moment in time, but over the course of the next week you’ll learn more about the last few years too) in celebration of what this website has achieved in its lifetime. Needless to say that (trumpet blowing time) the impact The Sonic Stadium has made on the Sonic the Hedgehog community is nothing to be scoffed at.
The Sonic Site Awards gave smaller Sonic sites (including TSS at the time) a chance to be seen amongst the big boys. The approach I made to Sega Europe in 2005 has led to the publisher gaining an interest in their target audience, which led to the creation of their Community department, the Sonic City website and the arrival of everyone’s favourite neighbourhood Sega-man, AAUK, to take pole position of what’s going on worldwide. The TSS Network helped raise the profiles of numerous fellow sites, including FastFeet Media and Sonic Cage Dome.
And then of course, you have my latest creation. Something that I am probably the most proud of besides TSS itself. The Summer of Sonic, which can essentially be called two creations under one name. Originally a website, it was born out of a concept I had waaaay back in 2001; that there should be a Sonic fansite where every single prominent webmaster should contribute to. At the time, the idea was to have a Community website that involved myself, Tristan from TSSZ (who was a lot less controversial than he is now arguably), Sonic HQ, The Sonic Foundation, Shadow of a Hedgehog… it would be a site where the whole community got involved and contributed to.
Of course, back in 2001 such an idea was never going to fly. Mainly because webmasters have their own website duties to attend to without focusing on a collaborative project, but also because it seemed absurd at the time that everyone would even bother to get together. At the time, there were plenty of large Sonic fansites and a lot of rivalry to go with it. It was also quite naive of me to propose that webmaster just apparently give up their projects/information for the sake of a brand new website.
So the concept lay dormant until 2006, Sonic’s 15th Anniversary. I wanted to do something to celebrate that was a bit out of the ordinary, and I had remembered the idea I had five years ago. Because TSS had a bit more clout in the community then, it was easier to try and pitch the idea to fellow fansites. Of course, the idea would need some tweaks; it would be a website that was open for a limited time, with original pieces written by community leaders and an emphasis on contribution from as many people as possible. With the concept refined down quite perfectly, it became an exciting project that everyone wanted to be a part of.
Fast forward to 2008. I’m sure everyone in this forum and beyond has had daydreams about a ‘Sonic the Hedgehog Convention’ and to wonder what it would be like, to meet online friends face to face and to see the latest Sonic games. I certainly have, and year on year I felt more confident I could stage such an event, with the help of some of my closest online friends. TSS and Sonic Wrecks had staged the first ever London gathering of Sonic fans in May 2007, and subsequent meetups were getting bigger and bigger.
I felt that it was all leading up to this – a huge gathering of fans in one place casually chatting about Sonic and getting to know each other. AAUK suggested reviving the Summer of Sonic name for the event, and between the two of us we arranged a miniature convention that was not only an awesome experience for everyone involved, but was so popular that the demand grossly exceeded the humble hall we had hired out. A wonderful day as it was, I was never really ready to commit to another convention.
I’d like to announce that The Summer of Sonic will definitely return for another convention in the London area. Better yet, I can tell you that it will happen next year, instead of a few years time. “Even better than that”, SoS 2008 is said to have really impressed Sega Europe, even going so far that Sega Japan luminaries are aware of it. Even Jun Senoue knows about it. Because of its impact this year, Sega are very much on board to be more involved with the organisation of next year’s event than before (this year they ‘Supported’ it but took a step back to see whether we could make it as good as we said we could).
This doesn’t mean that a once-community event is lost to the wiles of the ‘money-grubbing’ Corporations though. It’s still very much my show. AAUK is still the Sega waypoint man, and together we’ll still be focusing on getting everyone involved in the proceedings. All it means is that this time, AAUK and I will have some proper help. This will make Summer of Sonic 2009 some very, very cool shit. If I ever said that you needed to be a part of SoS 08, I’ll just say that you need to be a part of SoS 09.
I can’t tell you any more details I’m afraid, as proper planning is not due to begin until January. But you know me, I’m already drafting everything that is going into next year’s event, so I’m not sitting on my thumbs over here. Regardless, all I’m able to say is that you should prepare yourselves for a return of the world’s first Sonic the Hedgehog Convention. 2008 started something very special, my friends. It now begins.