Needless to say, Phoenix Comicon 2017 was a mixture of the usual geekery, fun, long-night galavanting, and a bit of chaos that comes with going to a con with kids. When comparing PCC 2017 to previous years the crowds have definitely grown in size, and political stances. As you may of heard, on the first day of PCC this year, a man was found with full body armor, load guns, and weapons that he planned to use to take down one of the actors there, namely the Green Ranger, AKA Tommy, AKA Jason David Frank.
This unexpected issue/scare sent the heads of PCC into a frenzy and they did their best to accommodate for the situation. What was an attempted way to protect many of the con-goers, turned Friday’s events into three-hour-wait-lines for con-attendees already holding their full-event passes and a discouragingly long hot morning for many. Attendees missed panels, events, signings, and much more.
As part of the hot, angry crowd outside the con on Friday, I understand where my fellow con-goers are coming from; Not only were they told they had to wait in long lines, but they had to go through individual bag checks, metal detection scans, and many cosplayers had to surrender their homemade props.
Many con-goers called PCC, “Do you know how devastated competitors in the masquerade are that they can’t bring an extremely important, FAKE AND HANDMADE, piece of their costume on stage? I’m taking part as well but luckily I don’t have a weapon. If I did, I’d be livid.”
I’m not going to say what PCC chose to do was wrong or right. What PCC decided to do protected Phoenix attendees and helped keep the fun going all weekend long. As with any event, when the unexpected happens and you’re short on volunteers and on-duty officers, it makes it really difficult to have everything run smooth or exactly like you want it to.
Phoenix Comicon staff deserve many props and high-fives for the hard work they put into the event before the con even starts, during, and after. It’s not easy putting on an event for over 100,000 people, plus managing exhibitors, celebrity guests, and panels. They did the best with what they were given.
Now, when it comes to next year we definitely have to say that this is something they can 100% put into consideration and have a better regard for prop-weapons and the use of them during the con. Let’s be honest for a moment on the pop-ban: What’s a Jedi or Sith Lord without their Lightsaber? What do you consider a character from Halo or Overwatch without their prop-weapons? Heck, we can even discuss the Rick of it all and say “Why ban a non-working portal gun?”
The rules for prop weapons need to be clearly defined and made cosplay friendly for those whose characters depend on these role-defining props. I have a few suggestions for PCC on their policies for PCC2018:
- Prop-weapons of all kind are allowed except for:
- Weapons made to exact likeness of guns of any kind
- Weapons containing metal
- Real swords containing any and all traces of metal
- Knives (obviously)
- Throwing Stars (more obviously)
To help con-goers remain in policy with their prop weapons have tighter security at the door where all prop weapons are required to be visible, tagged by a con-staffer or volunteer, and recorded.
1. It will may lines initially longer, but once it’s done attendees will have their props on record and tagged, helping to prevent and protect other attendees.
- Ensure that “Peace bonders” are patrolling the con and inspecting attendee prop-weapon tags. Standing behind a table does nobody any good, that’s how this whole fiasco could have been avoided.
- Over-staff volunteers. It doesn’t hurt to have more volunteers than you need, then, when the unexpected does happen you can send your extras out to the chaotic lines outside the con and help keep the people calm.
- Always have metal detectors at entrance doors. Allowing people to walk through them after bag/prop inspection will allow people to move through lines faster for 2018.
- Have better communication on Social Media. Myself included here, many messaged PCC’s Facebook page asking questions which weren’t really answered through emails sent from con-staffers or on-site.
- Require con-goers to read through policies and procedures before final purchase of their badges. Not everyone is going to do a 100% read-through, but it will help PCC in alleviating some of the stresses placed on crew members from attendees.
No event in the world is 100% safeguarded from terror or violence, but the event creators will always do their best to ensure the protection of attendees, even if it’s a new policy that may make a few hundred people upset. As an attendee to events like this make sure that you gather a greater understanding before jumping to conclusions and lashing out at the people who work year-round on the event for you.
Lastly, as a mom of one and an Aunt of many, knowing staff and crew are working as best they can to keep us safe while attending, is more important to me than the portal gun I worked on.
Peace among world’s y’all.
Do you have a positive policy suggestion for PCC? Share in the comments below and we’ll help your voice be heard.