This is the end?
Posted on February 5th, 2015 by Grim

Hardly.  But we are going to revamp our website in the next couple of weeks.  Most of our updates and stories will go out on our various *social media outlets while this site will be used for more “permanent” information.

However, we have decided to give one last long form column of insanity as a way of thanking you, the Dragon Con fan, for hanging out with us all these years.

As you may or may not know, one of the features of the Dragon Con App allows you, the fan, to send feedback to the track directors (that’s me).  Lest you all think that it goes off into the ether, unread and unloved, I read every single piece of feedback that I receive.  Some of the feedback gets a knowing nod or a silent “thank you”.  Others are so strangely written that I feel like I need to study Sanskrit.  Others are just so mindblowingly unhinged that I have a good laugh.

At any rate, I’m going to share, and respond, to some of my favorite bits of fan feedback.  No names, since I don’t know them anyway, but I will not edit or change the feedback from the form in which it was presented to me.  You’re going to see it in its original form, typos and all.

Question line down the middle completely obscured my view and I never could figure out who was talking. Interesting content, would have been nice if the line was better planned.

That’s actually a pretty fair point.  We (directors) get so used to “question lines” in large ballrooms where sight lines aren’t really an issue that it is easy to forget that track rooms have a different dynamic to them.  Thanks for a great suggestion.  We will try to have those lines go along one of the sides of the room, space permitting.

A good panel! Often difficult to hear the questions though, and a couple of presenters as well in spite of the microphones.

This is one of many comments on the sound quality in our track room.  We have an idea on how to address this for next year.  This is an example of “Well, if we are noticing it, it is a sure bet that our fans are too.  We need to fix this.”  Unfortunately, we won’t know how good our idea is until this year’s convention.  It’s not like we get to do a trial run beforehand.

yay another panel for video games that is ALL MIDDLE AGE TO OLD WHITE GUYS!  Is there NO diversity to be had here at ALL??  Also, question and answer was handled really badly, question was not repeated, answers from panelists were without context, mics were not loud enough from panelists.

Since we’ve already addressed the mic/sound situation, let’s talk for a minute about “diversity”…

It’s not like we’re going to have quotas of how many men, women, Asians, African Americans, blondes, bald guys, fat guys, handicapped people, whatever we can have as guests.  Guests apply, we look at their resumes/credentials, and we offer guest spots to those we feel can contribute to our programming.  Yes, Richard Garriott is a “MIDDLE AGE TO OLD WHITE GUYS”.  Mike Capps is a “MIDDLE AGE TO OLD WHITE GUYS”.  Ian Frazier is a “MIDDLE AGE TO OLD WHITE GUYS”.  But you know what else they have in common?  They designed games that our fans love to play.  They have the kind of experience that lends itself to the panels we’re trying to present.  We have plenty of women who do outstanding panels at Dragon Con, but if the subject is “World Design: Video Game vs Table Top” then we are more worried about getting designers of game worlds than we are about the demographics of our panelists.

If you want to see more non-“MIDDLE AGE TO OLD WHITE GUYS” in industry panels, by all means, encourage your favorite non-“MIDDLE AGE TO OLD WHITE GUYS” to send in a guest application.  We would love to hear from them!

By the way, Richard and Ian.  No offense meant by “MIDDLE AGE TO OLD WHITE GUYS”.  Mike?  Well.. maybe a little offense. 🙂

Needed mics for questions and a much bigger room! Video game track rooms have been standing room only

This is another common bit of feedback we get.  Coincidentally, so do most of the other track directors.  Here’s the problem.  If you ranked all of the track rooms in all 5 host hotels by size, the Video Game Track rooms would be ranked #1 and #2 by a pretty good margin.  The only larger rooms we could possibly get are already being used for Main Programming. (you know… Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, James Gunn…)  We try to put our largest events in Main Programming rooms, but so is every other track.

What I’m trying to tell you… is that there are no bigger rooms.  They don’t exist.  We’re in the two largest track rooms at Dragon Con.  If someone would like to build a convention hotel somewhere in the vicinity of Dragon Con, might I suggest giant conference rooms, at least 3 floors worth of them.

This next bit of feedback needs a little “setup”…

We had a panel on “Women in the Video Game Industry” with 5 very talented ladies and an outstanding moderator.  Of the dozens of feedback statements we received, all of them were some variation of “The panel was well done and the panelists really had interesting stories and knew their business. Right to the point. Congratulations to the panelists and the organizers.”  except for one.

This was the worst presentation I’ve ever been to at DragonCon.  One hour of foul-mouthed panelists complaining about their careers.  Truly awful.

Unfortunately for this guy (and yeah, I’m pretty sure it was a guy.  I’m pretty sure I know who it was.), I was actually at this panel.  I actually heard the panelists and the moderator speak.  Many of my volunteer staff were in attendance as well.  When I showed them this bit of feedback, we spent the next few minutes scratching our heads trying to figure out what the hell he was talking about.

That inspired me to give you guys a bit of advice about sending us feedback.

Try and remember.  We were there too.  It’s one thing to say you were bored or that the panel didn’t interest you.  Please don’t bother telling us things that didn’t actually happen.  You’re wasting your time.  Feedback helps us put on a better show for you each year.  You’re not going to get someone fired.  You’re not going to ruin anyone’s day.  Good or bad, the thing that is most useful to us is honest criticism.

Never able to get into the ball due to the exceptionally long line.  Very disappointed. 

The Heroes and Villains Ball… Oh dear.  We got a lot of these this year, and I’m very sorry that we couldn’t get everyone into the party in a timely fashion.  Mr Fire Marshall was giving us the stink-eye almost as soon as we opened the doors.  The good news is, we definitely have a plan to alleviate the lines AND the crowding for this year’s party.  Ironically, the idea came from another piece of feedback we received through the app.  I can’t release the details yet, but I wanted to point out that many of our best ideas each year come from you, the fan.  Your feedback IS important.

Mark Meer, in particular, strikes me as an asset to the con. He’s hilarious, and so enthusiastic about the con itself.

This is wonderful feedback for us!  Calling out individual guests lets us know who we should invite back each year.  Calling out guests who were NOT awesome is just as valuable.  We’re not going to invite back guests who no-show panels or who don’t contribute anything to our programming.  I’m not going to name names for those who were “too drunk to show up” or “skipped out after 5 minutes”, but we know who they are, and they won’t be coming back for a while.

One last note.

Every year, we try some new things as part of our track.  Some work, some don’t.  Some are ideas that worked well in theory, but were not executed as well as they should have been.  We’re always working to do better, and we appreciate your feeeback, good, bad, or otherwise.  App feedback is wonderful, but that shouldn’t stop you from coming to me or any of my volunteers if you have concerns that we can address for you right then and there.  “My door is always open” (Except for September/October after con because dammit, I need sleep once in a while!)

If you have something you’d like to address with our volunteers or myself, I encourage you to contact us through the website.  I will do my best to answer every email I receive. (but I have enough sunglasses, honorary degrees, and herbal viagra, so you can dispense with those emails)

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