Here I sit a month after the CON, mulling things over. I’ve let the whole experience sink in–this is definitely not a case of me being lazy by waiting almost too long for this post to be relevant.
I’ve been in attendance since 2010 ( barring 2013), and this was my fourth SDCC. Each year has been a whirlwind of activity, with a combination of late nights, smelly attendees, celebrity run-ins, and much more—thankfully not always in that order.
Quite a few things have changed since my first con in 2010. I’m sure the real SDCC veterans of 10 plus years can speak more to how it has evolved, but everyone knows SDCC is now more a Media-Con then Comic-Con. I don’t think that in itself is a bad thing. Yes, yes, bring on the pitchforks.
My belief is that these changes have opened the Con up to varied interest and really brought a sense of unity and camaraderie. When waiting in one of the many lines, I’ve had and also overheard multiple conversations on a broad range of topics. Very rarely do these conversations degrade into condescending chatter, which knowing nerd culture, is a pleasant surprise. Albeit there are always “those people” who are zealots of whatever they like and your interests are stupid. To put it in a more visual perspective, I’ve seen Jedi and a Captain Kirk clad cosplayers posing for pictures together.
More to the point, change is good if it is managed properly. Unfortunately the SDCC org has failed to manage the changes. With attendance increasing every year, the lines are getting longer and the hoops you have to jump through are ridiculous. I’m not kidding when I say that there were lines simply to get into other lines. My group and I dubbed the event “LineCon 2014”.
More than frustration from waiting in lines was the fact it seemed like the staff had no idea what was going on. We asked the same question (Where is the weapon check security station?) from three different staff members and received three different answers.
Another point of frustration was badge pickup. The instructions on the website and all the info sent via email directed us to a hotel circle that was nowhere near the convention center. The whole ordeal was not only a logistical nightmare of traffic, poor signage, etc., but the icing on the cake was that another part of our group just walked right into the convention center that night, and picked up their badges there.
Several inconsistencies in the instructions soured the really experience. For example, it was communicated via email and on the official SDCC website that overnight camping for Hall H or the convention center was not allowed.The reasoning given was to make it fair for those who were still arriving from out of town or didn’t have the opportunity to go to such lengths. However, several times when my group was feeling optimistic, we arrived extra early only to find tents, blankets, and sleeping bags already in line. Everyone who’s ever been to the Con knows about the dreaded Hall H line. But this year the entrance to the Con line was just as bad wrapping around the entire convention center, bleeding into a tight snake pattern in the parking lot of the marina. This line was also filled with campouts, which left me feeling an encampment war could spark up at any second.
All in all I still had a great time and I will definitely be back next time. I just hope that what I’ve experienced are growing pains that will be worked out. Although, I will mention that Bandai America needs to get their shit together at the SDCC booth. If you are going to sell something that I can only get at SDCC that also requires me to get in line for tickets somewhere else,please just tell me when the tickets are handed out instead of a noncommittal “Well, we can’t guarantee the time that tickets will be handed out” nonsense that I got from your staff. Because fuck you, that’s why.