Report Otakon 2023: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly in Otakon 2023 Posted August 2 · Edited August 2 by LittleHobbit13 The Good Lines: The best line control I've seen so far since we moved to DC! Having different entry points for different badging (have vs need, bag vs no bag, etc) was perfect. Having staffers at the base of that one escalator to make sure people weren't stopping and causing a traffic jam was immensely helpful. Staff also seemed very proactive about getting lines in order for panels and autos. It was generally pretty clear where the ends of lines were thanks to that. Member Access: This is the first time I've had to make sure of Member Access services. Recovering from major surgery and still lacking some leg strength, I was a little nervous about how this weekend would go. It was easy to get hooked up with a ribbon which allowed me to use the elevators when I needed to. The convention staff were polite and helpful when I had to interact with them. Really no complaints. Photoshoots: Moving the photoshoots up to the Game Room was great for getting more space and better lighting. It was helpful to have more room to mill about ahead of your group's scheduled time without feeling like you were blocking other people. The shoots I participated in also did a good job of being respectful of the groups coming after them, making sure to wrap up on time and get out of the way. The tweak I would make, however, it to see if the space could be spread out just a hair more to accommodate the size of crowds showing up to some of the shoots. Guests: I loved that Colin Ryan and Bethan Walker were invited to the convention! I know a lot of us FFXIV fans were thinking about FanFest going on the same weekend, and it was a real treat that we were able to have our own little version at Otakon. Their joint panel on Saturday was well attended and lively with energy. My only critique is that we didn't get through that many questions because it took too long to choose them in the moment from what the audience had submitted. It would be helpful in the future to have the opportunity to submit questions ahead of time. I also attended Colin's panel on Sunday. It wasn't as crowded as everyone expected it would be, but it allowed us to be a little more informal and relaxed which everyone really enjoyed. We had some time afterward where a few of us were able to go up and say hi and everyone had a generally great time. I think everyone would love to have them back at a future Otakon. Makerspace After Dark: This was great! Usually Makerspace shuts down pretty early in the evening (like 8 or 9, I think?) but it was really nice that it stayed open later this year. Sometimes I don't have enough energy to keep going to panels (or maybe there are no panels catching my attention) but I'm not quite ready to be done for the day. The Makerspace is a great way to be at the convention but also be relaxing and having a good time. Everyone at my table felt the same way and was having a really good time working on their craft projects. It would be great if we could do this again next year. The Bad Photoshoots: The NOISE. Even when the coordinators had the mic and speaker, it was still incredibly hard to hear them sometimes if you were more than 10ft away. In the opposite direction, it was also hard for them to hear people attending the shoot in case there were any issues coming up. It was 3 very enthusiastic and large groups all right next to each other, who were also competing with the noise of all the game sounds and music, all in a large echo-y space. It needs some adjustments for next year if they're going to remain in the same space. Otakon Merch Booth: The line took FOREVER to get through. I've never seen it take that long, not ever. The problem ended up being that people were being asked to continue shopping from checkout. If they were over a certain dollar amount, there was some free swag you were able to get. I was lucky in that the woman who helped me told me while I was still in line based on what I was getting, but for most people they weren't being told this until they were already checking out. This held up the line while people scrambled to figure out what they wanted. If this continues at future Otakon, people need to be helped in making their additional selections before reaching the register. I also have to recommend Otakon think about numbering their sticker selection. Half the hold up was people trying to get staff to figure out which stickers they were pointing at. It'd be easier on everyone if they could just say "I'll take 2, 5, 6, 9, and 13" and be done with it instead of having to pantomime what they wanted at a distance. Vender Selection: Somehow the selection didn't feel as varied this year, though I know that could be a very subjective take and others may feel differently. I acknowledge that I'm an older attendee and I've seen plenty of these venders before, I know that's part of it, but there just didn't seem to be as many unique or surprising finds this year even considering that. The Ugly Photosuite: I understand from talking to the staff in the Suite that there were minimum photographers and then some issues that forced them to pause activity in the Suite a couple times which backed things up. However, it doesn't change that it left the Photosuite functionally inaccessible for a huge chunk of the convention due to multi-hour queue times. In my case, this was particularly devastating, not just because I love doing Photosuite to get a few shots of my costume, but also because it required a number of additional trips to their location that were punishment I would have rather not put my legs through with the mobility issues I was juggling this year. Problem is, there's literally no other way to get status on their queue except to physically go there. I'm not exaggerating to say I could barely walk by the end of the day because of all that extra walking. Suggestion: It would be helpful if Otakon could implement a kind of "shop while you wait" system for the Photosuite. If the wait is longer than an hour, you can leave your number and go off and do other things. When your turn is coming up, the system can ping you and then you head over. That way people are freed up to enjoy other Otakon content instead of being held hostage to a queue, and also people don't have to keep going back over to see what the queue is like. COVID: I'm going to echo what others in this thread have already said. I think Otakon should continue to have a vax requirement for the time being considering the crowd size. I think masks would be difficult to require and enforce at this point, but maintaining the vax requirement would be good for the safety of all attendees.