Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by heyscot, Feb 3, 2016.
To be fair, Game Hole con is only a 3 day con.
Actually, I had that based on a 4 night stay for GHC. Real cost would be around $437 for the 3 days.
Here's my two cents:
On the environmental: I think it's unfair to try to compare Garycon with other conventions. I think one of the *inherit* things about Garycon is the presence of a number of folks who had their hands in the roots of all of our shared gaming experiences. You don't often have a chance to get into events with some of the folks who are at Garycon for any number of reasons.
On cost: I've also been around long enough to see any number of conventions struggle with solvency. If Garycon's expense is 10-20% above other "comparable" conventions I don't care one whit. If that means that the infrastructure costs are being stayed ahead of then that's fine by me. I would rather attend a profitable great show than a great show that runs out of money and vanishes after a year or two. Depressingly I've seen show after show struggle to meet their obligations because they were too afraid to raise admission prices. Garycon is growing and succeeding and doesn't need to reduce it's costs to meet a market condition that doesn't exist.
Tiers of attendees: You have to have some form of VIP/VIG program. Not having one simply turns a blind eye to the market and how nearly every other show or event operate in this day and age. Nearly every concert I've bought tickets for in the last few years has offered, for those willing to pay the price, access to performers for a photo op of some kind. Higher tiers of badges at conventions are a norm and present both sides of the equation with things each are looking for: $/access.
"Fair" is often a bit like the blanket Linus carries around. It's something we often apply to things we don't like that are out of our control. Most of the folks at higher badge levels didn't get some sort of distinct advantage regarding what events they wanted. Two to three people had two guaranteed seats, the others at the platinum level had 1 seat. This means that out of a possible four events a day over four days each premium badge got into either two or one guaranteed. The rest of their coins were spent the same way as everyone else. They paid a premium above anyone else to get those one or two seats and there isn't anything about that situation that's wrong.
No one registration scheme will ever be "fair" but you can come pretty darn close with one that is evenhanded, doesn't favor one level of participants above another and plays to the strengths of the event. All in all I think this year came very close to doing that.
There are so many great games at GaryCon that it is hard to choose. If I ranked my top 12 games each year, I am happy with getting half of them. About half of the 12 sell out and half do not. There are still years and years of great games to play. I try to do at least one Legends of Wargaming each year. This year will be Legends of Wargaming: Sturmgeschultz & Sorcery (still has 2 seats left) and I try to get into a game that may not show up again. Last year I was able to play in Heidi's game where she was assisted by Duck. That game did not sell out either. I also played in Ducks game which again did not sell out. My first game I registered for last year was Frank Mentzers GM Master Class which did not sell out either. There are other games that I was lucky to get into that did sell out but the GM on some ocassion was able to accommondate an extra player or two. I have also had the fortunate to be able to sit in on a game that has sold out due to the generosity of the GM and other players. This year I have tickets to 6 different games. 3 are sold out and 3 still have seats.
The registration system this year seemed as fair as any sans the errors, etc.
If you want to keep separate badge levels then I would like a further seperation of GP and SP more closely scaled to cost just incase someone wants all GP or all expensive SP events with their badge. Possibly consider staggering registration to give more expensive badges earlier access to spend their coin.
I'm staying off-site (not because I'm cheap, the Grand Geneva was full)...I will be driving out, so I'll have my car. (I don't drink.) I figure it will cost me ~$750-800, including the ~2200 mile round trip.
Let us not lose sight of the fact that money changed hands and a business transaction has been conducted. Many of us are not as upset at the environment or lost opportunities as we are with the way customer service is being handled. I suspect $185 (the combined cost of my wife's and my own badge), coupled with transportation, hotel, and the commitment of vacation time is not chump change to most of us.
Gary Con is the ONLY play convention I attended. For the last seven years I've run 12-16 hours of games each Gary Con; I'm not just showing up for a game of Jenga and a beer. All the other conventions I attend, I do so in a professional capacity; i.e. they're WORK. There is a certain level of professionalism and service I expect for the investment of my time, energy, and resources. I'm certain I'm not the only one dissatisfied with the way things have been handled the last several years. Excuses of "Oh, this is the first year with new software" fall flat after a while and when you have a vacation that you were looking forward to for a year suddenly become a source of stress and dread, it tends to dampen one's enthusiasm. Taking into account the harassment I've endured from other attendees simply for voicing concerns about the process and communications...
Frankly, the attitudes of certain attendees towards other customers regarding their criticism, concerns, and game preference has been atrocious and insulting. I can appreciate how passionate people are about this convention, but I guarantee you, if the people with complaints didn't care about Gary Con, they would have kept their mouths shut and silently stepped away (and I have no doubt this has already happened). Having non-staff attendees jump on my case, whether in jest or not, made me come damn close to canceling all my events and demanding a refund because it made me feel Gary Con was no longer a welcome place for me (and I will stress again that none of the incidents were perpetrated by Gary Con staff that I'm aware of).
Well, let's just say my future attendance at Gary Con will be determined by the events of the next month.
That. This is my second Garycon...also my second event registration disaster. I am halfway between disappointed and completely disgusted.
If it helps to fund a smoother, more capable registration system and maybe pay a few people to keep on the ball with updates, I am more than fine with scrapping the GP/SP system in favor of individually priced events. Its not like the GP/SP is 'free', its figured into the price of your registration fees.
As for events being higher priced to play with VIP's, I think the market will be the end judge of that. If people want to play in those games with a particular GM, they will pay for the privilege. No big deal - a few sheckles spent at a Con that you go to once a year (if you are lucky to go each year) is not so bad to help out someone you are a fan of...Probably less than you would spend going to see a movie opening at the theater.
I just found this on FB...and I was, frankly, a bit surprised....
"In the future we will be using the same system as GenCon and Gamehole. We will charge per event and this will resolve many issues. Sorry to have inadvertently caused so much havoc. The intent was customer oriented, but it was not feasible."
This saddens me. The GP/SP system is one of the eccentricities of GaryCon that makes it unique and special.
I will admit I was among the first to grab a torch and start hollering about the registration/lack of communications, but still...You end up realizing it is a game convention after all and its not that huge of a deal in the end. Of course I am just a D&D/Gygax/Mentzer fanboy and not a paid professional to run events there. I can understand you being upset over things not working out, so I wouldn't blame you for pulling stakes and trying out a different arena to host your talents.
As to the criticism you received for voicing your opinions, some often attack without thinking - dont let that stop you from saying whats on your mind. People on the internet can be silly, no matter what age they are. Some get even more silly the older they get.
Hope everything works out for you.
I agree and I loathe pay-per-event. Boo.
One more vote to retain the GP/SP. I am not a fan of pay-per-event.
Very good feedback.
This isn't 100% concrete, it's an intent. Also, the intent is to use 'system' as in the 'software' that ties registration to event management, not necessarily the pay-per-event vs. GP/SP. How we manage the event economy is a separate problem from the software controlling it. Right now the software is our bigger problem.
Hey, @brendar , will both you and @mwisconsin be at Gary Con? Beer's on me in general, but I have some pretty specific software engineering thoughts that I'd like to bounce off of y'all.
Aye. I'm the admin for the Adventurer's League room. If you're interested in participating in the software for next year, we (or, I should say, I) could always use another set of paws. Make sure to approach me slowly, holding out the beer in front of you.
Yes, I'll probably be looking and acting a lot like an angry dwarf that hasn't had a drink in too long. I don't imagine I'll have a lot of free time at the Con- my job is to keep everything running so Luke can rub elbows and look pretty- but you bet I'm gonna do my best to find the bar in the evenings.
Also, to second Thomas's point- we're watching the threads in which there are technical discussions. Good stuff in there. Of course we have our own lessons learned and notes for next year, but we're always on the look out for good suggestions. And we will definitely need more skilled volunteer help to keep the back end running, in more areas than just software. Part of our post-con dissection will include personnel needs, and those will be posted publicly/individuals reached out to when we're ready to do so.
Well, I've got a room Sunday night, so Sunday afternoon/evening wind-down is probably a good bet. If history is any guide I will be found shooting the shit with Dave Wesely.
brendar: don't take this the wrong way, but as a guy who has been working in IT at a high-level for almost 20 years, I can say with certainty that a complex database/registration system (LAMP, or whatever is being used) is not something that should be left to a "volunteer". GC has the resources to either farm this out to a professional web designer/DBA, or they can use Warhorn.
Garycon is going into its 8th year, and should be (according to my math) pulling down $65,000+ in revenue this year depending on attendance. If I had that kind of revenue I wouldn't be using volunteers for mission-critical things. I would be paying people.
I mean, much as it would be fun to write a ticketing system (and I may do so this year anyway, because my wife's dog training club could use something better than what they've got, and they really don't have a budget, and they are another order of magnitude smaller than Gary Con), I do pretty much agree with @silas .
If you have zero budget....well, at least keep track of how many people cancel and demand refunds because of registration snafus, and figure out how much money that would have been, and then shop around and see if you can outsource ticket sales through an event management firm for that.
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