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Unread 08-06-2012, 10:36 AM   #1
ShiroChaan
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Why do people keep going to Otakon?

I know this seems weird and perhaps a bit rude, but seriously:

WHY do people keep going to Otakon?

Between their incredibly rude staff, insanely strict artist alley rules and tendency to act pretty elitist and asinine, why would anyone want to attend their con?

Personally, I have never been and never intend to go. I have heard too many horror stories to have any desire to attend a convention where I'm going to be sheparded around by security and staff to that degree. So how can others that inhabit the same internet I do read the same stories I have and still feel the need to give the con their money?

Is it just an amazing con aside from the staff being completely unreasonable?
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Unread 08-06-2012, 10:38 AM   #2
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I personally have not had any troubles with the staff there. I just avoid con staff as much as I can to be honest. So I've gone for 3 years and it's been a great con every year. But this year the organization was majorly lacking.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 10:39 AM   #3
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I've personally never been so I can't tell you what it's like, but let me give you some advice: People on the internet like to exaggerate. A lot.

Not saying every horror story is an exaggeration, but if it were really that bad do you think so many people would keep going?
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Unread 08-06-2012, 10:53 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J_Otaku View Post
I've personally never been so I can't tell you what it's like, but let me give you some advice: People on the internet like to exaggerate. A lot.

Not saying every horror story is an exaggeration, but if it were really that bad do you think so many people would keep going?
Exactly! That's my point! I keep hearing these stories EVERY year about oppression in the artists alley or toward non-anime cosplayers and I think-- if it's really that bad, why are you GOING?
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Unread 08-06-2012, 11:01 AM   #5
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I haven't been and probably never will, but it's more of location that's a problem. I haven't heard any bad stories about it, and Nintendofangirl seems to love it. ^_^
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Unread 08-06-2012, 11:01 AM   #6
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People like to bitch, simple as that. We live in a generation that thinks the world owes them everything on a silver platter; so, i would seriously take everything you have heard/read about this con with a grain of salt.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 11:04 AM   #7
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Well as far as oppression of non anime cosplayers go, I'd say that it's basically non existent. I cosplay only from live action and I am just as accepted as any other anime cosplayer. So yea, people definitely over exaggerate.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 11:40 AM   #8
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Otakon as an organization isn't the best, it's true. I've performed in skits on two occasions there, and because of how they set up their skit performance requirements it's an ordeal that eats up all of your Saturday (and frequently Friday night as well). I've heard horror stories about the artist's alley, since that division's head is a nightmare of a man who seems to enjoy power-tripping and bullying the artists that sign up. The artist alley policies are intensely enforced to the point of detriment.

However, I've also regularly done a panel for 3 of the last 4 years and their panel organization system is a dream. They give you plenty of notice that your panel has been accepted, consistently notify you of the panel time and location a couple of weeks before the con, and treat you like a king - a special lounge room, free badges, skipping the registration line entirely ...

With the exception of this past year, I've never heard of particularly awful experiences within the con doors for regular attendees; organization and participation aside, if you've come to attend a few panels/signings, the concert, the masquerade, see the AA/Dealer's room, etc, the con is a good one. It's very crowded (32,000+ attendees will do that), but it's pretty smooth sailing. The bad experiences I've heard of have been related to alcohol/room parties, heat exhaustion, the dangers of downtown Baltimore/drunk baseball fans, and other non-organization issues. This year, however, I've heard from a variety of people that the security was rampant in inappropriate places (why do you need a badge to *leave* the convention?), the prereg line was atrocious (dude you cannot have people standing outside for an hour when they're not prepared, not in a Baltimore summer), etc.

Overall, as an attendee and a panelist, Otakon has always been a lot of fun for me. It's not the best con, but it's certainly not a horrible one. I would question whether or not it's worth the $80 at the door, though - if I didn't get a free badge for running a panel, I probably would not continue to attend.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 11:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhoenixStarr44 View Post
Otakon as an organization isn't the best, it's true. I've performed in skits on two occasions there, and because of how they set up their skit performance requirements it's an ordeal that eats up all of your Saturday (and frequently Friday night as well). I've heard horror stories about the artist's alley, since that division's head is a nightmare of a man who seems to enjoy power-tripping and bullying the artists that sign up. The artist alley policies are intensely enforced to the point of detriment.

However, I've also regularly done a panel for 3 of the last 4 years and their panel organization system is a dream. They give you plenty of notice that your panel has been accepted, consistently notify you of the panel time and location a couple of weeks before the con, and treat you like a king - a special lounge room, free badges, skipping the registration line entirely ...

With the exception of this past year, I've never heard of particularly awful experiences within the con doors for regular attendees; organization and participation aside, if you've come to attend a few panels/signings, the concert, the masquerade, see the AA/Dealer's room, etc, the con is a good one. It's very crowded (32,000+ attendees will do that), but it's pretty smooth sailing. The bad experiences I've heard of have been related to alcohol/room parties, heat exhaustion, the dangers of downtown Baltimore/drunk baseball fans, and other non-organization issues. This year, however, I've heard from a variety of people that the security was rampant in inappropriate places (why do you need a badge to *leave* the convention?), the prereg line was atrocious (dude you cannot have people standing outside for an hour when they're not prepared, not in a Baltimore summer), etc.

Overall, as an attendee and a panelist, Otakon has always been a lot of fun for me. It's not the best con, but it's certainly not a horrible one. I would question whether or not it's worth the $80 at the door, though - if I didn't get a free badge for running a panel, I probably would not continue to attend.
I bolded the things I've heard of that made me question it, but thank you for agreeing that I'm not just blowing up some rumors. If it's a fun con to attend, by all means go-- but I have yet to figure out why artists keep thinking they can go without being tormented. Apparently they have a 50/50 rule on fan art and even if you have 12 pieces and 6 of them are originals, they consider you as a violation? How?

But you've put it in perspective. This is more what I was looking for. Apparently just the security and AA are bad. If that's the case then I get it.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 11:52 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhoenixStarr44 View Post
Otakon as an organization isn't the best, it's true. I've performed in skits on two occasions there, and because of how they set up their skit performance requirements it's an ordeal that eats up all of your Saturday (and frequently Friday night as well). I've heard horror stories about the artist's alley, since that division's head is a nightmare of a man who seems to enjoy power-tripping and bullying the artists that sign up. The artist alley policies are intensely enforced to the point of detriment.
However, I've also regularly done a panel for 3 of the last 4 years and their panel organization system is a dream. They give you plenty of notice that your panel has been accepted, consistently notify you of the panel time and location a couple of weeks before the con, and treat you like a king - a special lounge room, free badges, skipping the registration line entirely ...

With the exception of this past year, I've never heard of particularly awful experiences within the con doors for regular attendees; organization and participation aside, if you've come to attend a few panels/signings, the concert, the masquerade, see the AA/Dealer's room, etc, the con is a good one. It's very crowded (32,000+ attendees will do that), but it's pretty smooth sailing. The bad experiences I've heard of have been related to alcohol/room parties, heat exhaustion, the dangers of downtown Baltimore/drunk baseball fans, and other non-organization issues. This year, however, I've heard from a variety of people that the security was rampant in inappropriate places (why do you need a badge to *leave* the convention?), the prereg line was atrocious (dude you cannot have people standing outside for an hour when they're not prepared, not in a Baltimore summer), etc.

Overall, as an attendee and a panelist, Otakon has always been a lot of fun for me. It's not the best con, but it's certainly not a horrible one. I would question whether or not it's worth the $80 at the door, though - if I didn't get a free badge for running a panel, I probably would not continue to attend.
Ugh, if that's true than I have no interest in going.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 12:09 PM   #11
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I've personally never had problems with staff. Usually when staff sees me as deadpool with all my weaponry they have a field day with being assholes. But they just looked were like "alright go have fun!" that was it. My personal problem is the location. I'm from the middle of nowhere's so I don't do well in cities. let alone Baltimore that charges you up the ass if you wanna park. And if you do wanna park you gotta be ready to search over an hour for parking unless you stayed at a hotel and just left your car there (smarter choice) So all in all I wouldn't say the con itself is bad (except the badge price. 80 bucks for 3 days? you kidding me? I also hate how they try to justify their prices. no it's ridiculous, you have thousands upon thousands of attendees, you should be able to lower it. Not even New York Comic con charges that much for 3 days.) So as a personal stand point, unless I fly in, or stay in a hotel further out and just use a cab, and if they don't lower prices. I won't be going next year.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 12:17 PM   #12
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I personally have never had any run-ins with staff and the few I asked were generally helpful and seemed pretty excited to talk to someone who was not screaming at them. Keep in mind that there are a ton of people on staff so it is only a handful of people who made it into "horror stories". Not everyone on staff is a raging douchebag, same with any con really. You are always going to find the power-tripping people and the people who actually like what they are doing.

I cannot speak to the Artist Alley but it is rather large and I am sure that is a task to manage etc. so they probably are not as loosey goosey as other cons with the rules, setup etc. I can say I have met a ton of amazing people at Otakon each year I go and have had a decent time. So no, the entire con is not one cesspool of rage, elitism, douchebaggery, and angst. It depends on who you surround yourself with.

Sometimes you have to go to gatherings and events where you do not know anyone or sometimes you have to brush up some courage and go say hello to that other person who seems pretty cool. There is always the option of doing a few things outside the convention itself like visiting the aquarium or one of the many restaurants in the area for a "con break". The convention only provides venues of entertainment, it is up to you to find something to keep yourself entertained with.

Better yet, everyone who has heard horror stories but never attended should perhaps give the con a try before judging it to be a completely negative experience and waste of time and money.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 12:34 PM   #13
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The only times I've gone to Otakon was back in 07 and 08.

The first time was with friends. Here were the only issues I had
1- Our hotel was a little distance away from the convention center. So to get to the convention center, we had to go through the Baltimore airport and catch the lightrail that would take us to the convention center.
A funny story (though I didn't witness it), one of my friends was dressed as a samurai and was carrying 2 wooden swords as he walked through the airport. He got picked up by anti-terrorist security and had to be questioned.

2- This story is mostly because of my dumb ass, but it's still good for kicks and giggles.
At one point on friday, I decided that I wanted to go back to the hotel to put on some deoderant. So I went to get on the lightrail. But little did I know that there were 2 different lightrails going to 2 different places, and I was on the wrong one. So instead of going to the airport, it takes me to some parking lot a good few miles away from the airport. So kept getting on different lightrails to try and get back to the airport. At one point when I'm waiting for it, 2 homeless people come up and start asking me for change. So to get them to bug off, I gave them both $2. SO I finally get on the right lightrail to the airport. Now I find 2places where people are coming and going and I don't know which is the pickup. So after asking around, I go to the pickup and call my shuttle to go back to the hotel. As I wait, there's 2 lanes of heavy traffic at the pickup and I can't tell which is my shuttle. So finally I got so fed up that I decided to go back to the convention center and wash my armpits with handsoap


The second time I went to Otakon was because one of my friends was going by herself. I didn't like that idea, so I decided to go with her. So for the trip over, we take a Greyhound bus. We left at 11am and didn't arrive until 1am. Thankfully our hotel was within walking distance to the convention center.
One problem happened on friday and saturday. It was nighttime and I wanted to call my friend to tell her that I was going back to our hotel to get my badge, but I couldn't get ahold of her because she was in a dead zone, which got me a little worried for her. On saturday, the same thing happened. I tried to get ahold of her after the masquerade, but she was in another dead zone.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 12:37 PM   #14
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I've never had much of a problem with con staff,though some people I met who had a table in artists alley had problems with a specific staff member-none of the other ones. A few people have issues with convention center staff, but from the stories, they were being particularly out of control, so I don't blame the staff in that point.

I've heard horror stories every year about most of the cons on the east and west coast from friends, or stumbled across them in blogs, but the one's about Otakon have also been complained about at most of the other cons on the east coast. Staff members are only human and are subject to bouts of pissyness, interpretation of the rules, and just deciding they don't like someone, as much as it's unprofessional. It happeens to someone every con out there I would bet and it always causes someone to not go to the con in question.... that and dramatic con-goers do have a habit of blowing things out of proportion in their con blogs. So I take everything with a grain of salt.

I'm not going to stop going to one of my favorite cons because some staffer had a bad day and went after someone for dancing on the escalators. It's just not worth it.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 12:38 PM   #15
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Every year I go to the big three cons in July: Anime Expo, San Diego Comic Con, and Otakon. Since I live in California, it's easy for me to go to AX and SDCC. Otakon is more difficult, and airfare each year seems to get more expensive. Not to mention that the pre-reg. price for Otakon was $70, which was a good amount of $$ just to show the badge to all the Baltimore Convention Center staff to go inside the BCC all weekend. I didn't attend any panels, didn't go into the Dealers' Room once, didn't go to the Masquerade, etc. All I did was do photo-shoots of friends & cosplayers all weekend in the sweltering heat and humidity. I took a lot of nice pictures so that was the pay-off for spending the $70 for me.

To answer the OP's question: Why do I keep going back to Otakon? I do it because despite all the complaints I've been hearing about rude staff, long lines, etc. I didn't encounter that this year at-all. I barely had any encounters with the staff, and when I did I never had any problems with them, nor did I see any staff members harassing or yelling at any attendees. Same with the BCC staff. True, my gripe this year was that the side-doors by the Indoor Fountains were closed all weekend, so going up those small stairs, out, and around was quite bothersome, but I coped.

As for pre-registration, I myself am not crazy to spend Thursday morning (or even Wednesday night) in-line until 3:00pm for pre-reg. like all those people did in that heat & humidity, so I went in at 4:00pm when the line outside died, and got my badge within 5 minutes. It sux that those who tried to pre-reg. on Thursday night at 10:30pm were denied, and even worse for those who had to wait for hours outside on Friday.

And while I don't really do too many hall-cosplay pictures and gatherings anymore at cons since I don't represent cosplay.com anymore, I still go to see my friends, get pictures of their costumes, and meet new cosplayers. The last time I saw most of my friends was at Katsucon, so I'd hate to wait until Katsu 2013 to see them again.

Bottom-line is: I'll still attend Otakon as-long as I am having fun, and as-long as I don't have any problems that would frustrate me to the point where I will stop going. This is my feeling for all the cons I attend each year. Not encountering any rude staff, not waiting in long lines, not having any drama, etc. made my Otakon this year a good one. Will I go back next year? Hard to say because D23 is the same weekend, and it's being held in CA. I'll have to compare costs for both conventions. So we'll see..
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