Every epic hero has to have a dynamic villain. Villains are what motivate heroes and make hero-ing more fun right? Right. Unless the hero is the con that you have been waiting to spend your vacation time attending, and the villain is a super slow, annoying new security protocol. California Con-ers, I introduce to you your newest and most nefarious villain: The RFID badge (muah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha)!
Okay, so I have a flair for the dramatic; so kill me. This does not take away from the actual issue at hand. This past weekend at Wondercon 2016 the Comic Con organization rolled out the RFID badge. This badge keeps track of who is inside the convention center and where (in general) they are during the convention. The idea seems simple enough; you get your badge and tap a little sensor in and out of whatever areas that you are headed to. No big deal, except that it is.
Conventions can get crowded. While Wondercon isn’t the biggest convention there is, it can get pretty busy in there! That wouldn’t be a problem, except that this new system limited the amount of entrances and exits that attendees could use. For example, the con show floor hall had several entrances, which prior, anyone with a badge could enter or exit. Now, with the tap-to-enter RFID badges, the entrances and exits were limited to only doors with scanners… which there were only two. As you can imagine, those passages got pretty slow and congested. The crowding could be a little uncomfortable, especially when you are standing next to a guy in a cosplay so wide he can barely get through at all (this did happen, btw. The entrances were a tad narrow where some cosplays were concerned). The worst part is that not only did you have to endure this drudgery to get in, but to get out too! Those lines generally weren’t as bad, except at and near closing time.
Don’t get me wrong, I get it. In light of all of the security threats and shootings that have taken place in our nation over the past several years, we have to be careful, very careful. Security is not something that can be taken lightly, especially at events like these that draw large crowds. Wondercon draws about 60,000 attendees and San Diego Comic Con pulls in a whopping 130,000! With these numbers, keeping up with security is a big deal. I was in San Bernardino during the terrorist shooting in December; I know how scary that is, so I do get it. I am just not sure that this is the best way to go about it. There are still hundreds of people in the lobby at Wondercon posing and taking photos, and there will be lots more at SDCC. I don’t think that having large crowds of people huddle around tap-in machines is really the answer.
Here is the thing—we know that Wondercon was the first run. It is my sincerest hope that the show runners really paid attention. I hope they saw the lumbering crowds and hold-ups at the doors. I hope they will use this to at very least expand the system so that it can be used at all entrances and not just a few, allowing the process to go smoother and more quickly. We all have enough lines to wait in at these events. The RFID badges were annoying at Wondercon. If they are not rolled out well, they will be a nightmare at SDCC. Comic Con International may need some super heroics to save us come July.
Vanee is an author, reader, writer and teacher that lives at the corner of coffee shop intellect and text book geek! She loves cons, comics and camaraderie, as well as fantasy, fiction, and fandoms. Vanee is a Black Girl Nerd!