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July 13, 2017

ConnectiCon Continues To Try To Ruin Its Own Fun

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Written by: Luis Correa
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Perception is a very important thing when writing opinions about something like a convention and often it’s best to attempt some sort of critical thinking when diving into an opinion article about a convention you’ve attended.

I’d like to preface this with stating that I’ve been an avid ConnectiCon attendee almost since it’s inception. It’s where I’ve met some of my closest friends, where I took an old girlfriend to so that she could see cosplay up close and a place where I took my first steps into photography. So I have a lot of feelings and memories mixed up into this convention and always took a lot of complaints with a grain of salt.

If I were being honest, many of the complaints I’ve heard often came from people who exploited the locations numerous entrance points to skirt paying for badges (pre-rate hike) and access the convention for nothing. Sure there were a lot of other, much older complaints but for the most part they lack any real relevance to the here and now. I’ll instead focus on personal observations and interactions that I’ve had that reflect my own views of the convention.

One of the consistent positives of ConnectiCon is the cosplay. Pictured is Carley Winn Cosplay.

One of the consistent positives of ConnectiCon is the cosplay. Pictured is Carley Winn Cosplay.

The Connecticut Convention Center has always been a modern center with ample space to host a small to medium-size convention. Its floor plan is multi-tiered which allows for ample movement throughout the location. With the addition of the bridge a few years back that connects the Convention Center to the Science Center the exterior space around the Convention Center has doubled.

Across the street you have some really tasty (and sometimes pricey) places to eat, a place to watch movies if you want to catch a flick with friends (I watched Spider-Man: Homecoming there) and several bar/dance locations for those real late night parties. Now that River Fest coincides with the convention the con goers not only have access to the much loved Science Center and its grass covered photo locations (see the featured image above) but also access to local food trucks, music and other events outside of the convention. A beautiful fireworks display on Saturday helps to punctuate the cheerful, positive atmosphere and really caps what could be an incredibly memorable weekend for people attending the convention.

I began with a lot of the positive things so that I can now dive into the meat of this article. The oddly inconsistent nature of the convention staffing makes for a difficult situation with the con goers. Speaking from personal experience, I attempted to talk with a few staffers to gain assistance (in locating a possible nonexistent bag check) and was ignored the entire time. One staffer walked past me within two feet and ignored me while they fiddled with their phone. I called out several times and was still ignored until I snapped at the staffer only for them to turn — to which I exclaimed “You seem to have HEARD that” (but with more swears added in).

Walking through the convention I saw similar situations happening where attendees were either ignored by staff or staff members were completely indifferent to the needs of the attendees. I watched staffers and core members of the CTcon staff deflect or dismiss questions about locations of panels and autograph sessions without so much as a suggestion as to where someone could locate any of that information. Communication with friends became a larger issue with the overwhelming noise of the karaoke set up in the mezzanine space between the floors. I don’t take issue with the karaoke itself but the incredibly loud audio system left it sounding terrible from any distance beyond five feet from the podium. It was incredibly overwhelming and made talking a chore especially on Friday when it was raining and an exodus to the outside to escape the annoying sounds was impossible. Throughout the day the noise from that floor made it so people moved further and further away from the main floors. A more preferred method might have been to move it into a room where it could still be fun but isolated and thus not so loud for all the attendees. The audio system seemed to either not be high quality or the audio was not handled in a way that allowed for the music and singing to heard over the  loud squealing and clawing noise that hurt the ears.

Accessibility problems
Something more serious came to light as I observed a wheelchair-bound con goer attempt to access entrances for the handicapped only to find them locked. Even worse, the con goer had been directed to access the exterior elevator and told to take it down to the patio. Never mind that this con goer clearly had an attendee badge displayed — the very nature of what they had required that those doors be accessible and not left as an impediment to the differently abled. This was made worse when the elevator broke and forced people to take the exterior stairs anyway.

A better alternative would have been to place a volunteer staffer at the entrance who then could monitor the door and allow anyone disabled access to the second floor of the convention center while keeping an eye on that floor for any issues that could be reported. In fact, any other alternative would be more fitting than just locking a door. That seemed to set the tone for the entire con with so much indifference to the attendees and their needs.

The biggest issue I observed directly and also constantly heard about is not just the lack of communication by the people managing the convention but of the overflowing divide between the management and the community itself. Sure perhaps they might see the complaints and even entertain them to a degree yet there lacks a distinctive, focused outreach that addresses a lot of the underlying issues. The ‘kitchen sink’ strategy of just throwing anything to keep the peace is no longer a viable approach. There needs to be more people committed to proper discussion with the attendees.

I’ve seen people being told on forums that if they wanted to make a change at the convention then they should volunteer and yet simply volunteering will not solve these long-running issues. We don’t need to see people banned from conventions for voicing opinions (be they good, bad or aggressive) and others told to be silent and carry on as if everything ran smoothly. To paraphrase a mentor of mine “a business’ only actions should be to continue being polite on social media or if the situation grows incredibly worse then sue for defamation.”

At the end of the day, I still believe that ConnectiCon is a good place for friends to meet up. The Convention Center is a good place to host a convention and have a good time but I won’t pretend that those ‘good times’ come from the convention but from my own arrangements while at the convention. As it is, I’m debating if I’ll be attending the convention next year. Even though it’s close to my home and the most affordable convention (for me), until I see actual change come from it then I’ll be keeping my distance and scrutinizing any changes that might be announced, if any.

I implore the management to have an actual sit down with people of the community and listen to them, offer up real reasons for issues and not just dismissive half apologies or gaslighting and make real attempts to implement more changes before attendees start to hold onto their hard earned money and look at better-run conventions.



About the Author

Luis Correa





 
 

 
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8 Comments


  1. hardcopy

    Great write up. I agree fullheartedly. It seems to me that the convention goes through a strange pattern: good one year, not so great the next.


  2. Turan

    I agree with many of your comments about the convention this year – however, I find it extremely unprofessional to see a published article with so many misused instances of “its.”


  3. Dan

    Thanks for publishing this on a website. The standard Facebook feedback does not appear to be absorbed appropriately by Connecticon. I think it is probably correct that the biggest problems stemmed from lack of communication between, management, staff, and congoers, and also staff turnover. But that is just a general feel I got. I mostly enjoyed the karaoke from a distance but I would agree the audio quality seemed low. Come next year anyway!


  4. Crash

    Thank you for the input. ‘It’s’ sort of a habit of mine. My editor struggles with controlling my rampant errors. That’s why I pay him exposure bucks.

    Cheers m8.


  5. Crash

    I can only hope it changes to good next year.


  6. Crash

    It’s tough. I am upset about it but here’s hoping it changes. I have someone communicating from the con staff who hopefully push for change.


  7. Optimistic

    The accessibility issue is even a staff problem, and there has to be a better solution to these things. 🙁


  8. LongtimeAttendee

    Please do not forget that Staff for this convention is a group of unpaid volunteers who stay up for 4-5 days straight making this event and all that needs to happen on either side of it happen. I’m not excusing the behaviors I keep consistently hearing about (I did not attend the last two years, but have attended each other year since the con’s time at UofH and have many friends who did attend this year) but I am in fact wondering if this model needs to change considering the size and breadth of the event these days. Some volunteers are just there to fulfill a free badge requirement while others pour their heart into this con year after year. Do not mistake the actions of one or a few Staff as the attitude of the con in general. Is there a better way to Staff this con? It would cost attendees more to have paid staff, but perhaps it would improve the climate to have vetted folks in these type of roles where there would be consequences for poor work.



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