Tuesday, September 13, 2011

DragonCon 2011

While this isn't a story, it's where I was last weekend (I mean the last weekend I remember because I was sick through so much of the last 8 days), and can be a story in and of itself.  Conventions can easily be called a living thing, and DragonCon, the largest fan-run convention (at least in the South East, is it the world now?) is a monster.

This week's blog will be about my experiences at Con this year, and how I think they could have been improved.

Then, pictures, and Jonathan Coulton video.


I've been going to DragonCon since the end of high school.  The only year I skipped, was the year I was out of the country at the time.  It has grown, over the course of the last 12 years, into a right big monster.

At first, I went because my friends went, and it was an opportunity to see them doing their thing (and their thing was running the convention, so I did too).  Later, and more recently, I've been actually enjoying the con for itself--the costumes, the people, the stars...

What I actually did

Which isn't to much, because I learned a while ago, that if you try to do too much, you don't end up doing anything.

Thursday I got my badge in under 3 minutes (OMG Improvement over last year's just under 3 hours!).  Then I hung out at the hotel room.  It was nice.

I went to a Star Trek panel.  I went to a Buffy panel (asked a question, too).  I saw the Masquerade.  I was in the Parade.  I watched Christopher Lloyd and William Shatner on DragonConTV (not together).  I went to the NeedCoffee.com Gonzoo Fun Fest and won stuff for adjusting my boobs (I was putting my phone away, but I'll take prizes for that).  I went to the NeedCoffee.com Gonzoroo with Jonathon Coulton, Paul and Storm, Molly Lewis, with guest stars.  I tried to go to an academic panel, but got nasty looks and there was no where near the door to sit (lots of places across the room, but I'd have to walk in front of the speaker to sit down, and the nasty looks).  I cruised the Art Show, and the 3 Dealer's Rooms.

I'm pretty sure there was more in there, but I'm not sure what else just now...

The Good:

DragonCon is fun.  I will highly recommend it to any geek, because it has something for everyone.  There are dozens of tracks, with hundreds of speakers, both famous and not.  My personal favorites this year were Wil Wheaton, Brent Spiner, Christopher Lloyd, Eliza Dushku, and Jonathan Coulton.  There is something to do from Thursday evening until Monday afternoon.

The Not So Good:


Con has become crowded.  Uncomfortably so.  There were literally wall to wall people, on Friday, during the day, and a frightening number of people throughout the weekend.  I will say there were positives to this, however.  For the first year, the 4 hotels (because that's how big it is) hired outside security to help control the populous (because remember, one person can be smart, many people are dumb).  This helped immensely. Normally, throughout the convention, at some point, I run into the jerk-volunteer security guy who shouldn't be allowed out of his basement, let alone be put in a position of power.  This year, amazingly, I didn't run into that even once, and I'm going to have to give props to the hotel staff for that.

Personally, I think "security" at fan-run conventions have been a joke for years.  And yes, I did run with security for a while.  There are people who take their job seriously, and with dignity.  However, when you have a volunteer staff, many of your grunts (oh, wait, we're not allowed to call them that, because someone complained, which actually helps my point) are not people who should actually be given power over the masses.  They don't understand that yes, they are here to provide safety for the public, not to get their ego stroked.  Their job is to "Not be a dick" and to help the people who actually paid to get into the convention have a wonderful and incident free weekend.  Most of them, in my personal experience, and I'm talking about the majority, not the minority of good ones, don't have a clue what their job actually is, what authority they actually do have versus what they cannot do, need to remember to shower and sleep themselves, actually show up for shifts, and over all, need to remember to be polite.

For the most part, I haven't felt that security has been very secure in the past, and I'm happy that the hotels saw this as a potential disaster and did something about it proactively.  Honestly, I'm just waiting until the year (and it will be soon), where security for the whole con is privatized and the amount of people actually working "security" through DragonCon will just be liaisons, helping the official people know where to go and how to deal with geeks.  With how overworked the staff is in general, it really needs to happen.  It would make it better, and safer, for everybody.

Line up!

Okay, there are so many people in con, gone are the days where you can line up 4 hours ahead of time to be first, because someone else needs to line up in that spot for the panel 2 before yours.  There are too many people to start lining up that early.  So the convention instituted a 1 hour wait rule.  The line will not form until 1 hour before the panel/event/what have you.  This is fine, this is great!  I went to a panel with @absurdhero and @christomanci, and granted, we showed up about an hour and a half early, but we just hung out in the general vicinity, because we couldn't line up yet.  This is good.

However, other places and parts of the hotels were letting people line up before the line officially started and this is not good.

If you are going to make a rule, and a good rule at that that is for the safety of all of the people involved.  Make that rule.  Stick to that rule.  Stringently.  That way, people know the rules, and know that yes, they need to be in the vicinity, but cannot be in line for more than an hour.  Follow your own rules, or don't bother to have them.

The Masquerade

Yes, this actually makes the Needs Improvement category this year.  For 2 main reasons.

1)  The production side.

The guys hosting had no idea what they were doing.  They apparently had no warning or head's up what they were suppose to be doing (or they did, but didn't get it, which doesn't make me think too highly of them).  They weren't respectful, either to the costumes, and the people who had the guts to get up there, and the sponsor (which is fine, there's a sponsor?  But common.  Be adults.).

The video was edited badly (but hey, they had multiple cameras, which is an improvement.  Looking forward to better next year!).

No one seemed to know where they were suppose to be.  Lack of communication.

2)  The contestant side.

The showing wasn't that great.  It seems like the Masquerade has become a joke, the really good costumers don't want to be on stage with the amateurs, and it takes forever and is mismanaged.  The result of this being a problem for years is that the really good people don't do it.

And most importantly, they give you a time limit so you don't drag.  Don't use all of the time, just because you have a time limit.  Most of the performances seemed to be performances, just because there was a time limit and they seemed to think they needed to use all of it.  The whole pace of the thing slowed to a crawl.

For the tech, practice makes perfect.  And getting someone (with efficient help) who knows what their doing would help.

For the contestant, they need a revamp, or they need to just let it go.  Give a time range, and encourage people to not take the whole time.  Dance numbers does not a good cosplay make.  Find an incentive to get the really good costumers on stage.

Con Crud

I got sick after this DragonCon--my second year doing so.  This sucked.  I was around over 40,000 people this weekend.  Germs abound.  You have my prediction for where the zombie apocalypse starts.  That is all.

The aforementioned pictures!

I didn't take many, but have some picspam!

 Star Trek Panel with Garrett Wong, Gates McFadden (she's in theater now), Wil Wheaton, and Brent Spiner.  This was my favorite panel.  The chemistry on the stage was palpable.  They ribbed on each other the whole time.
 The 7th Doctor plays a mean set of spoons for Paul and Storm.
 Jonathon Coulton!
 Jonathon Coulton with Paul and Storm
More Coulton concert with Paul and Storm.
 End of the Buffy panel after I asked the final question of the panel.  :)  I asked if they could have played anything from anything, what would they have picked.  Eliza Dushku said Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors.  Mercedes McNab (Harmony) said Dexter (like actually Dexter, not just on Dexter).  James Marsters said now that Kubrick is dead, Alex from a Clockwork Orange.  Clare Kramer (Glory) said Daenerys from a Game of Thrones.  Julie Benz (Darla) said she'd like to be on a show I didn't recognize the name of.  Started with a D.  Said she loved it.  I cannot for the life of me remember what Nick Brendon said.  I just remember it was cool and respectable.  But I cannot remember.  Poop.
 Actual seat during Buffy panel.

 The best Batman prop ever.
 Does anyone else want to film a Scooby scene in the women's bathroom?
 Remote Controlled!
 The guy with the remote.
Neat female Wolverine.
 I found Samuel L Jackson!  I mean Nick Fury!
I don't think those 2 were actually together...
 But it worked!
 Really good Ursula.
 Cowboy Green Lantern.
 2 Face?
 Creepy Hannibal Lectors...
 Beauty and the Beast Set.

 The Swan Princess.
 My Favorite Ninjas.
 Real Chests!

Blurry, drunk Zangief!
 The best Kratos makeup I've ever seen!  Airbrush.

And finally, Video

If you want to just go to the youtube playlist clicky.

1 comment:

  1. The big curiosity I have is how much Disney's solution to the line problem cost them.
    I mean, you just hand out raffle tickets (different colors by event), and then security takes your ticket at the door.
    At that point people could reserve their seats as early in the day as they wanted. Like Disney you'd have to actually go to the place your event happens to get the ticket, but then people could have more time free. They'd be lining up ten or fifteen minutes ahead of time, mostly just those concerned with sitting in the front rows.
    More expensive (but less cheatable) is the option of including a bar code on everyone's badges (don't they already?) and giving the security scanners that add or remove a show from your schedule. Some concern that would be slower than people handing in colored tickets, but also less paper waste.