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Posts posted by LittleHobbit13

  1. 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.

  2. 3 hours ago, CarolineAndJustine said:

    They pushed us forward a few hours when we asked but it was still well after the typical room clear - that combined with hearing other panelists report getting grilled about 18+ content when requesting a schedule change didn't exactly bode well. It's possible that there's a few people involved making less than ideal choices (again, anecdotal grilling) but I'm extremely relieved to hear that the organization won't let it happen again.

    I understand it's frustrating and stressful, but again, I think this is a situation where "assume noble intent" should probably be applied. Remember that there are two sides to the story and you're jumping to implications about erasure and exclusion without knowing the other side of the story. Again, they were literally handing out ribbons -- something that costs money to produce, so they chose to spend part of their budget on it -- so people could identify their pronouns on their badges. That doesn't sound like an org that's actively trying to squash LGBTQIA panels to me. I've been attending for a very long time, and Otakon has generally always put an active effort into creating an inclusive space.

  3. 4 hours ago, CarolineAndJustine said:

    LGBT panels this year were fewer in number and were all initially scheduled late at night regardless of whether or not they were actually 18+. A few were either added off the wait-list last minute or rescheduled to earlier time slots, but at least one of them had to do extra lobbying to prove their panels were "appropriate" for general audiences despite having already clearly stated so on the application. 

    I'm trying not to read too much into this, but given the current political climate this makes me very very nervous. Gender and sexuality are not inherently adult topics, and there are already rules in place that can be enforced if someone is inappropriate in an all ages panel. Treating LGBT content this way is both a new thing for Otakon and very concerning for a place that is traditionally full of celebrations of LGBT+ identity (and also a ton of crossdressing, which IMHO makes this futile). I sincerely hope this is either a fluke or a one-off. 

    They explained at Con Feedback that a lot of this had to do with trying to accommodate when panelists were available. Many of them wanted time slots in the evening, and that created some scheduling challenges once you mix in available of spaces and trying to get panels into rooms of (hopefully) appropriate size for their expected attendance. There was absolutely no ill intention and they said they would be more mindful of this sort of thing in the future. As always, scheduling is one of the more complex activities they have to work out. If your gut is saying "this is unusual for Otakon", it's probably worth it to trust your gut and assume noble intent. Hard to argue malicious intent on this one when they were literally handing out pronoun ribbons for attendees to put on their badges.

  4. 9 hours ago, Clutch said:

    quick edit: Better signage at the security check-in would help get people through more quickly. Put up 3-4 static signs in the line path saying to put your electronics on a specific side, to make a gap when approaching the scanner, to hold your arms apart at the scan, and to approach the guard check if you get a red light. That would make the security check people a lot happier than having to repeat the information over and over and over.

    Fully support more signage, at the entrance and at main thoroughfares. I think it would both groups, staff and attendees alike.

  5. On 8/1/2022 at 4:56 PM, Attendee7000 said:

    I couldn't hear other rooms but I could hear what was going on in the hallways.

    Also stayed in the Renaissance, and concur on the noise. We actually had a group right outside our door at one point at like 1 in the morning, it was quite loud from inside our room. Didn't love it given the time of night, but at one point they suddenly stopped so I imagine another room must have said something to them. We've been in Renaissance each year since coming to DC and generally never have complaints (besides the sliding bathroom door, which like you I hate, lol). My only issue this year is that the room we ended up in had only a single semi-transparent shade to pull down over the window and we couldn't pull the curtain the length of the window, so we could still pretty clearly see all the city lights from outside at night when we were trying to sleep. We never had this experience before this year. Otherwise my friend and I have always found the hotel to be clean and comfortable, and the staff friendly and helpful.

  6. 6 minutes ago, CarolineAndJustine said:

    I have no idea how to fix it though since it's not feasible for the con to vet someone's entire presentation ahead of time. Maybe allow some kind of panelist feedback after the con from attendees so at least it can be brought to people's attention?

    Yeah, it's a difficult one to find a way to mitigate. Even as I request it, I genuinely don't expect the Otakon content team to be giving content that intense of a review with their limited time. I like your idea of some kind of post-content feedback feature. "Did the summary match the content, Y/N" would be easy enough to include with a handful of other questions.

    • Like 1
  7. Good: 

    • Covid protections. I'm glad that Otakon was firm about their Covid safety requirements. It made me feel safe in such an enormous crowd, and I hardly saw anyone flouting mask requirements. Between staff, vendors, and attendees, it really felt like everyone was on the same page about encouraging health safety at the convention.
    • Friday lines were so well organized. I remember thinking it was probably some of the smoothest lines I've ever seen from Otakon. Everything flowed, it was almost always clear where you needed to go (that one stairway by Downtown being closed off was a surprise), and the staff (center and convention alike) were all generally pleasant with attendees.
    • Having the checkpoint for the Marriot Marquis connection PAST the photoshoot rooms. Great change. It always annoyed me having the checkpoint by the escalators so you got stuck in a check-in line trying to get back to the main convention if you wanted to go to a photoshoot.
    • Seating for panels/workshops. Felt like the rooms were generally well-matched to the number of people who showed up, and staff was polite and organized about getting people into seats.
    • Pre-reg pick up at select hotels. I really great way to help alleviate some Thursday badge traffic! My only critique is that they only had badges, they did not have the booklets, but that was easy enough to remedy by visiting Badge Services on Friday.
    • Downtime seating. I've always felt the WEWCC was noticeably limited when it came to places where people could just sit and chill, which often leaves people sitting on the floor against walls. In the past I've seen more instances of people getting told they couldn't sit certain places even when they were out of the way, but I feel this year was more relaxed about letting people be as long as they weren't in the way. (Someone at Con Feedback suggested maybe moving autographs to another location for organization, and I think if that happens I would love to see some of that space in Dealer's go to more seating instead of filling it completely with additional vendors.)
    • Printing hall hours on the badge. I know it was primarily so nobody could say they had no idea Dealer's was closing at 6pm on Saturday (because it's definitely been open later in past years, I swear! lol) but it was actually really helpful for me. I always lose track of time, and it was way easier to just flip my badge over to see times then it was to get the Guidebook app open and flip through menus to find Hours of Operation.
    • The weather! Not that Otakon staff control this (that we know of🤔) but it was so nice to have an Otakon weekend where we weren't all drowning in our own sweat.



    • Downtown dining still closed. I weep.
    • Stairs by Downtown/Reg/Hall A were closed off. I don't recall them ever being closed off and it confused the hell out of people and also created bottlenecks for crowds now being forced to use a SINGLE area for changing levels. Need to have those open again next year.
    • Content summaries. There were several panels/workshops I attended that seemed like they were going to be about one thing but then ended up being not quite that in reality. I would love if there was a way to get some improved review of those summaries to make sure they remain accurate to the content in their quest to also be attention grabbing.
    • The Wifi. I work in IT, I know the limitations of wireless connections ("available seats" as someone at Feedback put it), but I felt bad because a number of vendors (especially in Artists) mentioned struggling to complete purchases for people because they could only take cash when they expected to have Wifi available to them for cards. 
    • Photoshoot crowds, conditionally. I know it's the job of the people hosting the photoshoots to organize the people who shows up, but I went to a couple of the bigger ones where a) the size of people who showed up just didn't fit the space, and b) there were people sitting up front who weren't even taking pictures, and people who were taking pictures got left to cram in the back struggling for clean shots without other people's arms or heads in the way. I would love if we could find a way to adjust for this, whether that's a periodic reminder from staff to make room for those actually taking pictures, or finding some slightly bigger spaces so people can spread out more. (I know some of it is tied to scheduling and the never-ending struggle to accurately guess which things need more space, which is why I said "conditionally".)



    Three words: Saturday crowd control.

    I understand it was due largely to drastically unexpected attendance numbers mixed with limited staff, but Saturday morning it was almost like Otakon staff had never seen a line in their lives (like at all, not just at Otakon). When I hopped in line that morning around 11-ish, the lines outside were utter chaos. There was initially no one with end-of-line signs. The line for people with badges somehow ended up in the middle of a folded line for people without badges, making it difficult to discern where the line was and to reach it. There was also some outreach group set up right next to the line adding to the confusion by greeting people and telling people to ask them if they had any questions without providing any context. More than one person asked them for information about the lines by mistake and then just obviously got turned away, which created visible frustration. I get in normal circumstances that's a good place to set up but these people really needed to read the room and realize they were adding to the chaos by confusing people who were looking for help. Some people tried to enter through the hotel entrance because the line was shorter, but quickly realized that line wasn't even moving at all. Just as the badged line hit the ramp for the building, it became apparent that part of the reason it was moving slowly was because people coming from across the street were just hopping in line right at the front instead of going to the back, and there were no staffers around to stop them. I paused to mention this to a staffer outside the doors -- that they could really use someone over there -- and as she gave me a flustered "we know, we know, thank you, we know" she looked liked she was about 2 seconds from a full-blow panic attack, like she was just not prepared for the stress of line/crowd control. The stress seemed to be the general mood of the few staffers I saw outside. 

    Crowd control inside was no better on Saturday. The entirety of those 40k people were getting funneled through the single set of escalators since the stairs near Downtown were blocked off. At one point there were so many people going up the escalator but not clearing the space that we got backed up and for a few seconds people were stuck on the escalator even after they'd reached the end and I was genuinely panicked that disaster was about to occur with people getting injured. The hallways on the lower level between Dealers and Artists was PACKED and so disorganized that people could barely move. Perhaps they were lost in the crowd as well, I couldn't more than one or two staffers around trying to get people sorted into directions in the hallways. Not nearly enough for that particular area. If there's going to be a single funnel going up and down, then that space needs extra staffing attention. Ideally staffing with loud voices. Groups of people (regular attendees, from what I could see of badges) also kept getting gestured to enter Dealers at Hall B instead of going all the way down to Hall C, and then seconds later other people who tried to enter there would get shouted at that they couldn't enter there. It was confusing. Otakon has been pretty good about trying to stay on top of lines in past years, which is why Saturday this year felt so atypically and excessively bad.


    Despite issues on Saturday, this was still overall another great Otakon. I had a ton of fun and an awesome weekend.


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