I attended my first convention twelve years ago. I’ve been going to cons off and on ever since, but the reasons have changed almost every year.
Initially, cons were great opportunities to see screenings and merchandise I couldn’t find anywhere else. Back then, streaming video meant two frames per second in a window half an inch wide, online merchant sites were rare, and internet news sites posted sporadically.
As the internet evolved, my interest in conventions evolved into a panel-oriented experience. I’d got to a convention for the condensed explanations and advice available in the panels, often on topics that weren’t concisely explained in books or online. Plus, I could go up to the panelists afterwards and ask specific questions.
During this time, my connections into the community grew. I went to PAX East 2012 primarily because the Gamer Assembly would be there, running a panel. As it happened, I spent most of the weekend gaming with people I had chatted with for months online.
These are some of the reasons for the continuing success of physical conventions. Despite the benefits of email, Skype, Facebook, and Google+, there are myriad reasons to attend a physical con, and the cons themselves constantly evolve new benefits.