Adventures in Comic-Con Part One : My Events are Where?
I’d like to take this moment to apologize for not getting this article done in time. I spent the past 4 days at the San Diego Comic-Con, and was busy running events the entire time. During the whole trip, I had roughly two hours when I could have written the report on Sunday, but I had just come back from the import video booth, and instead had the guilty pleasure of watching Shaolin Soccer instead.
It was worth it, honest.
So, without delay, I now present to you, my report of San Diego Comic Con!
Well, ok, let’s start a little before San Diego Comic Con, so everyone can understand what I was doing there. Last year, I had run all of the events for Wizards of the Coast for Comic Con, including some Magic events, some Star Wars, and kind of the last farewell to Pokemon by Wizards. Most of the Pokemon events were run by Mike Gillls, Damon and other WoTC staff, and I just scorekept, but it was a busy weekend, made more busy that for that weekend the family came along, so it was pretty stressful, but still fun.
This year I e-mail Wizards early and asked if they wanted my help again. They agreed, and I submitted a potential event schedule for Magic. Wizards added Duel Masters. Then they added Risk and Acquire events. Fun times. This was all fine by me. Most events at comic con are rather small, so even with multiple events going off at the same time, odds are high just a couple of experienced staff can handle it.
Enter Jay Webb and Ben Blier. Both of these guys have run several of my events with me before, and specialize in “Road trip” events for me. They are both level one DCI judges, are extremely trustworthy, and able to handle the… flexibility of these kind of events. When you are a Tournament Organizer, there is staff that is good because they know their job (normally judging), and are very good at it. Then there is a whole new level of staff that is flexible to do “what needs to be done” in any situation. They understand that, while they are there to judge, they may need to fetch lunch, or wake up another staffer, or carry product to another site, or scorekeep, or take the digital camera and get pictures of hot girls in costumes at San Diego Comic Con.
Jay and Ben exhibit those qualities, making them infinitely better for me as staff. The fact that they are also good friends makes it a clear and simple choice to ask them to help whenever I can.
Also, I was originally slated to help out with the Upper Deck 10K Vs System event being held at the con, which fellow columnist Scott Gerhardt played in, but due to financial issues, we just couldn’t work out it out, and I stepped out of the project, leaving it to Nevada Organizer Karl, and Southern California Organizer Chris, with the amazing Matt Tabak judging.
Wednesday Evening was the departure time, and off we went to the site. I, as an Organizer, had several missions to complete at the event:
Not a horrible list, and certainly doable.
Well, except for our location.
Due to scheduling issues, we were in the Omni hotel this year, which is located at 6th and L Street, which is actually right across the street from the far end of the Convention Center. Normally, Wizards books in the Gaslamp Hilton, right across the street from the middle of the Convention Center, and right at the crosswalk where you have to cross to get to the convention center. This would be no big deal if we were at the Hasbro/Wizards Booth, which was almost directly in line with the crosswalk.
But we weren’t. Due to some scheduling issue, the Wizard’s of the Coast Event Room was on the Hyatt, on the Fourth Floor, in the Randle Room D, the furthest room from the elevator.
To give you a feeling, I have drawn this amazing ASCII Map for you.
C= Convention Center
B = Wizard’s Booth
M = Marriott Hotel
H = Hyatt Hotel
O = Omni Hotel
W = Crosswalk
G = Gas Lamp Hilton
Rough estimate of distance from Omni to Hyatt: .93 miles (according to Map Quest).
To add on to this joy, you have to understand that the Hyatt had no lockable storage, which meant we could not just leave product or materials at the site overnight.
Every morning, we would get up, grab our event supplies (like my printer and portable), head to the Convention Center, pick up the product we needed for the day, and walk it down to the Hyatt. Then when we were done at night, we had to do the opposite. The most polite thing I can say about this process was that is was good exercise. There was no one really to blame here. Wizards obviously did not want their events in another building. Comic Con obviously did not know there would be no lockable storage there. The Hyatt did not know we would need lockable storage.
But yeah, still really annoying.
Also annoying, for some reason, our gaming was not listed in the program book. Wizards, in a rush, created some fliers of the event schedule to hand out to people who asked, and we took one with us to post at the event. When we got to the site and did initial set up, we pulled up the e-mail we got from Wizards of the Coast giving us the sanctioning numbers for out events and started creating the event files, where we hit yet another problem.
Apparently, the Sanctioning Schedule did not match the schedule Wizards was handing out at the booth. Further checking showed that even more interestingly, neither of those schedules matched the actual schedule I had, which is the schedule I had used to plan my staff around. So which schedule do you use? The one Wizards is handing out at the booth has to become the schedule we use. We can fix the sanctioning later, and I have a staff that, fortunately, is very flexible, so I can modify my staff, as I need to.
So, to recap, the events weren’t where I thought they would be, and in fact, weren’t on the site at all. The schedule wasn’t what I thought it would be, and the only way anyone would know the schedule at all is if they visit the Wizards booth. My staff schedule was shaken up and the process to open and close had gotten much more difficult for every day.
Sounds like a horrible event, eh? On the contrary, it was incredibly fun, everything went well, and there were some good stories over the weekend...
But you’ll have to tune in next week to hear them!
E-mail me at rayp-at-primenet.com.
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