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Unread 08-06-2012, 01:40 PM   #16
Marika
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I go because seeing old friends, making new friends, and the guest roster outweighs the "herding" that everyone talks about. With a crowd that size, and how hard it is to HEAR anything, I'm going to play devil's advocate and say that the herding NEEDS to be done or traffic jams would happen to the point where nobody can move. I can't count how many times I've had to yell at people to get out of the way and I'm just an attendee... who attends the con with a man in a wheelchair who can't get through when things get congested because nobody can figure out that a walkspace is for walking, not congregating.

The staff does it because it's a flow issue, not a "we're doing this because we're asshats" issue.

As for the other part, not once have I ever encountered a major issue with Otakon staff, and I've been going for the past... 10 years. The last two have been spent on the Special Needs list due to ankle injuries that make it difficult to get around easily with all the stairs. Come to think of it, the past two years are the only times I've ever run into a problem: 2011 was the year of the handful of staffers who took a look at my Special Needs sticker, gave me a once over (my handicap isn't obvious if I'm wearing anything other than sandals) and said "You're fine, you can use the stairs like everyone else." 2012 was the one guy at the autograph line who insisted that I wasn't the one with a handicap because I was with a guy in a wheelchair, thus making me stand for several hours in a line when my ankles don't really allow for that, and if I sit on the floor, getting up is difficult because they'll lock up on me. Never did get the autograph I waited for, even though some of the others in line were kind enough to try and tell him that I legitimately had a problem.

Those were the only real issues I've ever had, staff-wise.

I don't do Artist Alley, so I can't say anything on that. Tried it in 2004 and hated it because I felt as though I was strapped to a table and couldn't do anything else, so I never did it again.

Honestly, if you've never gone, you can't really judge it. It's all hearsay to you, all he-said-she-said, with no personal experience to back it up. It would be like me saying "Oh man, I don't understand why people go to AnimeEXPO! I've heard friends say it's too big and too expensive and you can't do all the things, so why go?" despite the fact that I've never gone. Maybe I'd like it if I did. Maybe you'd like Otakon if you went. Different strokes for different folks.

[Edited after reading through the other responses regarding AA] I used to help my mother organize and run with a local craft show that had about 150 crafters, 30 different food vendors, and at least 3 different entertainers. Organization for something of that size is not easy, and in order to maintain a level of professionalism and quality, rules have to be enforced. I've been the one who has had to ask someone to remove things from their booth because they were in violation with the contract they signed. It's not a nice feeling and it can come across as power-tripping because the artist doesn't want to remove it, especially if it's selling... but it's still a violation of the contract and thus needs to be enforced. Sad, but true, and craft shows aren't that much different from an Artist Alley. They're still shows in which people produce goods to sell at a table and spot they paid for. The only difference is venue. An artist who violates the rules could have their name given to other places with a "be on the lookout because they did X here", just like an artist can tell other artists to "steer clear of X place because they did Y to me". Either way, there's a side that isn't getting a voice -when those who run it talk, the artist cant' tell their side, and vice-versa. Sometimes, it's a legitimate power trip, and if that's the issue, then yes, people have every right to complain, but if it's a matter of rule violation that's another story unless those enforcing the rules do so in a manner that is entirely unprofessional and reflects badly on the organization as a whole.

Last edited by Marika : 08-06-2012 at 01:59 PM.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 02:20 PM   #17
Red Comet90
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This year was my first Otakon, and I'm going to be very honest, it was the best convention I've been to. The only problem I encountered this weekend was with my girlfriend's scythe for her Celty cosplay. We had to make it shorter because it was too tall according to the BCC's rules. Other than that the staff were nice and polite to us. Heck even on Sunday they let us use the elevators since my girlfriend was carrying a giant vending machine (giant prop) and it would be crazy to carry it up the stairs even though we ended up doing that a few times anyways.

I loved the convention and it sounds like these horror stories are from the very small percentage of people there who unfortunately get the short end of a stick. It happens when there are that many people. I'd honestly tell anyone to go and enjoy themselves.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 02:23 PM   #18
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Otakon has achieved self-perpetuating mass and will stay big in spite of its staff being awful.

I feel 100% certain that a significant minority -- or even a majority -- go just because it's the biggest con on the East Coast and our friends and great cosplayers are going. And as long as we keep going just because it's the biggest con on the East Coast, it'll stay the biggest con on the East Coast, in spite of the fact that it has stale panels, overcrowding, rude staff, artist's alley drama, terrible weather, long lines, lousy hotels, overpriced food, bad guests, small industry participation, etc.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 02:33 PM   #19
Scorpion89
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My turn-1st off to all of you who have never been my advice is to go till then you really don't have anything to back up any claims you might have heard.

2nd I have been attending Otakon since 1996 and have never had any major issue with Otakon Staff with the security at the BCC yes but any of us who have been going to Otakon for awhile have horror stories about the BCC Staff.

3rd As for AA they have very strict rules for many reason I suggest if you have a issue is to talk to the Senior Staff about it,also Otakorp like everyone else has to follow copyrights laws hece why certain things are enforced while other aren't. The 50/50 rules is their for a reason I suggest folks take it up with the Dept Chair to get a better understanding of it.

4th As for line's/panel ect. ect well you going to get these at any large Con take it from someone who staffs at SDCC and Dragon you want to talk about lines go to those Cons then go to Otakon.

And to answer the OP why do I still keep going to Otakon well simple because I enjoy going to Cons seeing old friends and meeting news ones.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 03:02 PM   #20
Mykaios
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhoenixStarr44 View Post
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.
To be fair, at least for those who have facebook, they did post about the weather being over 105 for Thursday. And for those who go every year, it should be known and expected by now. And yes, while Otakon should be prepared to accommodate their attendees in such high heat one way or another, honestly, is it that hard to check a weather forecast? not to mention, you're already driving or busing or taking the light rail to Baltimore and what not, as soon as you step outside, BEFORE you check in to your hotel room and BEFORE you head to the lines, you would feel that heat blasted at you instantly. One would think "Oh, I should get a bottle of water or something just in case" but apparently not. The heat thing should be common sense.... There were also a good dozen water vendors and ice cream trucks circling around for both con goers and baseball game attendees.

As for pre-reg, I'm not sure what everyone is talking or complaining about. We went Thursday afternoon or evening (I don't remember the time) and it took us 20 mins tops. We were able to see the line from our hotel room and while we had some errands to run around and do, so we took our time and weren't in a rush to get our badges. we just RELAXED a bit. I did see long lines for other days but keep in mind every year, there are more attendees. This year, is was over 32,000 people so some delays should be expected when trying to process ALL 32,000 people through the line. Though, at the same time, it's been going on 20 years (next year) for Otakon, so they should be more organized with better systems and what not. Years ago, the lines were worse, trust me.

We noticed a lot of more security and cops stationed in a good radius around the convention center this year, so having to deal with the drunks and peddlers or even see them wasn't a problem for us. We even go to the bar and don't have any problems with the locals. Now if you wander into the red light district (I got lost looking for the non existent Taco Bell one year lol)...that's a different story and one to be expected o_O

Staff though, they lack communication with each other and there are several departments that need to get their heads out of their butts and clouds and what have you. For example, my badge got stolen on Friday and this one other girl and I spent a good 45 minutes waiting for an escort over to...something similar to con ops, but I don't remember the name. Then, we waited another 2-3 hours for staff members running around trying to get their shit and information right because apparently NO ONE knew their badge replacement policy changed. And in the end, we ended up having to pay the FULL $80 price for a new badge.

As for why I go, I go with my friends. It's our vacation, sometimes we take an extra day and do something else that isn't con related - last year we went to the aquarium. We have a great time, we meet knew people. Some go for panels, some go for cosplay, some for the dealer's room (which unfortunately isn't as fully stocked as it could be since Otakon get's AX's and other cons leftovers), etc. Everyone goes for different reasons. Plus, for us, it's not a terribly far drive and the bf and I visit his parents and grandfather afterwards.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 03:23 PM   #21
PhoenixStarr44
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Quote:
3rd As for AA they have very strict rules for many reason I suggest if you have a issue is to talk to the Senior Staff about it,also Otakorp like everyone else has to follow copyrights laws hece why certain things are enforced while other aren't. The 50/50 rules is their for a reason I suggest folks take it up with the Dept Chair to get a better understanding of it.
So earlier I said 'I have heard horror stories about the AA', and while this is true, I wouldn't have mentioned it except that I was on-hand for a personal account of some of their 'enforcement to the point of detriment'.

My roommate's business partner put in for a table this year and was accepted. However, due to financial troubles she was unable to attend in person. She thus attempted to turn the table over to my roommate - who, again, is her business partner - they own a business together, which is in the process of being registered with our state of residence. The work sold would have been both of theirs.

Entering discussion regarding this, they were aware 'the table is non-transferable and non-refundable'. Fair enough, but it was also not made explicitly clear you can register as a company, not an individual. So really, it's a name change - from an individual to the company name - not a transfer. This is presented to the AA staff. The AA staff proceed to maintain radio silence until three weeks previous to the convention, only to come back with one-line answers - non-transferable, non-refundable.

After repeatedly refusing to even consider allowing the name change/transfer, there's finally a breakthrough and they agree that if they can prove they're a business, they can keep the table. Unfortunately, my roommate is still waiting for word back from the state capital, which could be a while. She instead presents all of the paperwork indicating that they are business partners, have a registered corporate code, etc etc.

The AA staff refused to even consider it, despite their previous booth at Anime Boston. They were denied, and the table resold(!?) to another individual. Again, I was witness to all of this as I am a roommate to one of the participants.

The only conclusion I can draw is the AA staff prioritized double-selling a table to considering a name change - not even a business/content change! - to good business practice. They are being reported to BBB.

Other stories that I have heard from witnesses, but did not witness myself, are:
-- a girl who had a death in the family preventing her from attending was denied a transfer
-- someone I roomed with at the convention was taken to task by the AA department head in front of the entire AA because she had a friend's art on the table to sell, and since it wasn't her art he told she was in violation of her contract and he could/would have her banned from the con. (It doesn't seem he went through with it, though.)
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Unread 08-06-2012, 04:23 PM   #22
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Why does anyone ever go to a con? To hang out and do fun things with neat people who share your interests. Obviously, Otakon is able to gather of lot of those people into one place, and so...it's considered worth it to many to go. Your con experience is often what you make of it, though I agree that some settings are more conducive to everyone having a good time than others. That being said...if it doesn't suit you, don't attend. There are other cons out there that might be more your cup of tea.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 04:53 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhoenixStarr44 View Post
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).
We do really try to minimize the amount of time involved with pre-show stuff (check-in, rehearsal, craftsmanship judging, etc.). Yes, rehearsal can and has fallen behind, as well as craftsmanship judging, but every effort is made to stick to the schedule. I know this year we were actually ahead of schedule with rehearsal.

We make rehearsal mandatory to give not only participants, but ourselves as well, an opportunity to work out all the final details of their performance. And that extra does really show through during the Masquerade itself.

Every process is there for a reason... it's not there just for kicks. And as someone who's been in the arena over 100 hours on Saturdays of Otakons past collectively and often skips meals for the entire day, I'm probably one of the first who would love to cut down the schedule. But it's all to put on a good show and make sure our participants are as comfortable as possible when it comes time to perform.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 05:39 PM   #24
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I never had any staff issues while attending Otakon. There are a few cons I can name that are known for the ego-tripping staff, but Otakon is not one of them (at least from my personal experience). Yes, there are convention staff EVERYWHERE and yes, they do enforce the badge policy strictly, but I'm glad for it - it keeps things fair for those who pay to get into the event.

I go because it's a great event for socializing. You get to meet a lot of other cosplayers and people, and see so many amazing costumes. There are plenty of places to eat around the convention area, which is a huge plus for those coming from afar with limited transportation. Speaking of which, the light rail makes things very convenient, as well. The good far outweighs the bad, so I will continue to come back whenever I can afford to, both financially and provided I have the time off to do so.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 06:20 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Babbit View Post
We do really try to minimize the amount of time involved with pre-show stuff (check-in, rehearsal, craftsmanship judging, etc.). Yes, rehearsal can and has fallen behind, as well as craftsmanship judging, but every effort is made to stick to the schedule. I know this year we were actually ahead of schedule with rehearsal.

We make rehearsal mandatory to give not only participants, but ourselves as well, an opportunity to work out all the final details of their performance. And that extra does really show through during the Masquerade itself.

Every process is there for a reason... it's not there just for kicks.
Thank you very much for the feedback! I'm happy to hear that the rehearsals ran ahead of schedule this past year as well.

I absolutely understand the reasoning for the process, etc etc. and I have no problem with it existing; indeed I think it's helpful to have the opportunity to check out the stage, for instance. However, I find that the process takes the longest at Otakon compared to other conventions - Anime USA, AnimeNEXT, Anime Boston, Katsucon, and Ohayocon are other places I've participated in the masquerade, and none of them are quite so lengthy (although they also eat up at least half of Saturday if for no other reason than Green Room time). If I recall correctly - and the last time I participated was Otakon 2009 - it's because check-in, costume judging, and rehearsal are all treated as separate events, and all three require some wait time, either because of lines or because of delays in organization (late to open up the check-in or start rehearsals).

I believe you run and accept more skits than any other convention I've been to, however, so I imagine the difficulty of keeping things running smoothly increases accordingly. I also realize you have limited control over participants being late or absent or taking longer than expected with XYZ matters, so I'm not specifically holding the Masquerade coordinators responsible for the full blame here. I've never been treated poorly in any way; I simply find the time investment to be a big one.

In all honesty the part I find the most frustrating about participating in the Otakon masquerade is the reluctance of Otakorp to purchase filming rights to the performance space! The best part of participating in a skit is getting to see the skit afterwards, and seeing how other people react to it via Youtube uploads, etc etc. You might have a sizable audience at the performance but getting to share with the rest of the world is half the fun, and being unable to do that makes me reluctant to put forth the time investment.

I realize you probably have no control over that, and I understand it's a financial decision. This is just my personal preference.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 06:29 PM   #26
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lol

I'm not anymore This past Otakon was my last one!
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Unread 08-06-2012, 08:39 PM   #27
Scorpion89
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Originally Posted by DespairedPheonix View Post
lol

I'm not anymore This past Otakon was my last one!
You'll be back
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Unread 08-06-2012, 09:39 PM   #28
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Why do we still go to otakon?

Because we are not a bunch of entitled little brats that think the convention is only attended by them and fail to function with a proper level of logic and common sense.

Now get off my lawn
/thread

Quote:
I have heard too many horror stories
Thats were I stopped reading the OP's post. If you want to take the internet as fact, be my guest, but, it pretty much nuked the rest of your post if the internet is doing the thinking for you. If someone plopped the most delicious cake in front of you, but the internet told you it looked like garbage and said your mom was a gutter snipe, would you not eat it?


Quote:
why do you need a badge to *leave* the convention?
I explained this in an earlier thread. Two people would go into the dealers room, one would take off their badge and give it to the carrier, the carrier would leave the center, give it to another person and then they would re-enter, essentially getting someone in for free. Repeating the process over and over you could get unlimited people in the center and past the initial security check on two badges. The exit checks were random and sporadic, but people making a hissy fit about it made it seem bigger then it really was, I only got checked once
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Unread 08-06-2012, 10:35 PM   #29
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This past Otakon was my 8th Otakon. Yes, I have been at Otakon where there were hiccups, usually coming from a lack of panels/screenings that interest me. But beyond a few minor hiccups, I have not encountered any of these horror stories I've heard about Otakon.

What you might want to think about is that bad stories spread far more quickly than good. There are hundreds, thousands even!, of people who can say that they had a great con. But the specific bad stories told by a handful of people are what really stick in your mind.

So it might sound like most people only have bad things to say about Otakon but the truth is that it's far easier to talk about things we didn't like in great detail than things we did like.
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Unread 08-06-2012, 10:39 PM   #30
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Honestly, Otakon isn't that bad so long as you are properly prepared for it. The biggest enemies are the heat and the homeless - if you can deal with them, it's a pleasant experience.

Walking several blocks from my hotel to the convention center in costume was bad, but that's just heat. Take your time, rest at places on the way. There was a nice smoothie shop between the convention and my hotel, and it made for the perfect rest stop amidst the heat. Finding places like that really helps.

As for pre-registration... I got it done Thursday Night, when it was raining hard. Apparently that rain drives the lines away, only had to wait a few seconds and registration was still going on for two hours after I had arrived. I had registered after sundown last year as well, with similar results but no rain. My advice? If you're per-registering, get there the day before. You'd have spent that hotel money on water during the line anyway.

Now, as for the homeless? I gave the first one I saw a bit of money, just like last year. He gave me a nod and a wink, just like last year, and every time I passed another homeless person, he gave me a respectful nod and wink. I'm pretty sure they have a network, or something... Or I'm magic and don't know it.
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