Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Origins Gaming Convention, Part 1

I'm a gamer.  I make no bones about it.  I enjoy fantasy role play (FRP) games, as well as board games.  About the only thing I don't enjoy (game-wise) are head games, especially with members of the opposite sex.

So last week I, along with my two brothers from other mothers, attended the Origins Gaming Convention in Columbus, Ohio.  We've all attended Origins before, and so understand the dysfunctional system that the organizer mistakenly calls registration, but this year the glaring errors in the process were worse than ever.

The Origins Game Fair is organized by the Game Manufacturers Association, or GAMA, a non-profit organization based in Columbus, Ohio.  Origins is held in the Greater Columbus Convention Center Hyatt Regency (GCCC/Hyatt). About 15,000 people attend the convention over five days, June 3rd through June 7th.  Given the number of people, online preregistration is strongly encouraged.

The problems we encountered at Origins started with the online registration system, which might have been designed by an SJW suffering the effects of mescaline and PMS.  The design is just this side of completely dysfunctional, but the worst part about the design is that one person isn't able to register several people for an event at the same time.  So if you have a group going to Origins and you all want to attend one particular event, good luck.  You must all register separately and hope that available slots don't fill up by the time the last person in your group registers.  Making things worse is the downloadable event grid, which is in an *.xlsx format.  If you don't have an up-to-date version of Micro$oft Excel, forget about trying to open it.  Mind you, GAMA could have published this as a PDF file, which everyone can read, but I guess they didn't like that idea.

When you have trouble with the online system, you can try emailing GAMA.  They won't answer any emails, but you can try.  Mike sent GAMA four email messages and was ignored all four times.  While one email message might get lost in the shuffle, two is improbable and four is just plain rude.

The three of us managed to register more by luck than anything else, and received an email message confirming our registration and providing us with a barcode that we will presumably scan when we get to the con.

The registration line at the convention is long.  It's always long, and this year is no exception.

Registration at Origins

The Long Line for Registration
I'll give GAMA credit where it's due.  Although the line was long, it moved right along and about 15 minutes later we had tickets to the three events we'd registered for, along with our badges and passes for the board room, an exclusive gaming area.

The printed version of the events list is not organized correctly.  GAMA separates the list by genre, then by date and time.  So, if you're trying to find out what might be available on Saturday morning, you end up flipping back and forth between sections of the program and getting more frustrated by the minute.  Again, this is a simple fix that GAMA refuses to provide.

As I looked through the program, I noticed that several authors I admire were going to be present at Origins, but that none of them were holding a seminar.  In particular Timothy Zahn was here, but he wouldn't be speaking anywhere. All the seminars were being held by someone whose name I didn't recognize. Then I discovered that Michael A. Stackpole was here, but not listed as a speaker. I found that very odd, as Stackpole is a high-energy sort that will hold a seminar for anyone.

I made a few inquiries and found out that the man in charge of printing the program had quit in 2014, just before the convention opened.  His replacement was responsible for the myriad errors in the program.  This is something that GAMA had one year to fix, and they couldn't even get this one right.

Then Mike pointed out the problem with the tickets.

Event Ticket 2015
This is a ticket for an event at Origins.  Note that the ticket displays the name and number of the event, the date and time the event is held - but where, exactly, are we supposed to go?  The locating is listed as the GCCC/Hyatt, but the room number and the table number are conspicuously absent, as is the name of the game master (who supplies the game, does the set up and teaches the rules as necessary).  We went from the customer service booth to a large gaming room where we spoke with another official, who cheerfully admitted that GAMA screwed the pooch on this one and directed us to the correct table.

I mean, tickets, right?  You'd think that someone would have proofed the tickets before printing and spotted this little error.

Tomorrow I'll be writing about the gaming experience we had at Origins.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool! Crazy they sent you on a treasure hunt to find the right location. LOL