If there’s one game I really enjoy and still play up to this day, that would be Overwatch. I love it to bits. I can’t say I’m good at it though (forever stuck at Plat-Diamond hell) but there’s really something about the game that keeps me coming back for more. Maybe its the variable gameplay and the rich lore, one thing is for sure though – I definitely like the characters. They give so much life in Overwatch that they really deserve their own TV show or something.
That’s why when I found out that ComicCon Asia was bringing four of the Overwatch voice actors and actresses, the fanboy in me was immediately excited. Yes, I am aware that the convention was plagued with controversy right from the get-go and a lot of my friends didn’t even bother to go because of personal reasons… That really didn’t stop me because come on… This is Overwatch we are talking about! I couldn’t care less about the other attractions. I went because I wanted a piece of that OW pie.
So here we are.
NOTE: The views and opinions in this article do not represent UnGeek and the publication.
Ok so let’s backtrack a bit. Days before the event, CCA’s Facebook page made announcement that those who pre-purchased their tickets can get it a day early at the SMX convention center. Being the boy scout that I am, I went to Mall of Asia on Friday to get my shiny new RFID bracelet (which is a first in these types of cons, I believe). Aside from the fact that it should eliminate the possiblity of waiting at a line, I had another agenda in mind why I claimed by badge early. More on this later.
So I got my badge. No mess, no fuss. Immediately I asked the staff if I can pre-purchase an add-on for signatures to spare me the time and trouble the next day. The one I talked to wasn’t sure how to answer so my inquiry was escalated to a higher staff member, to which he told me that I can purchase it easily during the event itself, saying that purchasing upgrades via their RFID bracelets will be fast come event day… At the back of my mind, I can’t see the reason to WHY I can’t get the extra stuff right then and there, but the staff seemed convincing enough so I didn’t bother to argue. Plus, I came there from a 16-hour work shift so at that point I really wanted to go home as my mind was already drifting to my bed during that time.
Boy… do I regret that choice.
ComicCon Asia Day 1 – March 24 (Saturday)
I arrived at the SMX Convention Center at exactly 9:00 am. I wanted to get a good parking spot so I didn’t mind being there 1 hour early. Outside the building, there were already a lot of people lined up outside… which I actually expected.
Heading up to the ticket booth (ground floor), I saw that there were already two long lines that zigzagged – one for the walk-in guests and another for those who pre-registered. First thing I did was approach a staff and asked what time will the Overwatch meet and greet start – 12:30 pm great, I actually have lots of time to walk around inside the venue.
Or so I thought.
The next question I asked was where can I avail for add-ons for autographs, to which I was directed to (guess where?) the very long line of people snaking up towards the pre-purchase booth. My fears became reality. I had no choice but to practically start from the very beginning AGAIN and endure the pain along with the rest of the people.
So why did I even go the day before in the first place? That was really both a waste of time and resources. And the best part in all of this? I had to essentially do it all over again!
11:00 am (And yes, it was really hours later)
I was still at the line. Word got out that their RFID system was stalling. I’m hearing complaints left and right. The stress of waiting for hours is evident both inside and especially outside the convention. There were kids, senior citizens and PWD’s (persons with disability) who were in the same situation as I was. As much as I feel bad for them, I also felt bad for the staff and volunteers who were neck-deep in doing their jobs, not to mention getting most of the flak from the con-goers. It was really that bad.
Their RFID badge, as good as it probably sounded on paper and was expected to being the be-all-end-all in terms of simplicity and function, turned out to become a primary source of inconvenience and hassle for everyone. I was already at the nearing the counter and observed that the staff are already resorting to good ol’ fashioned pen and paper for the registration to proceed. Talk about slowly moving the payload.
I finally went in front of the counter and got my add-ons. What’s not-so-surprising was they didn’t even bother to scan my fancy bracelet to reflect the new stuff, let alone give me a receipt. So what did I get from them? Just their word that my new purchases went through successfully. I was already too tired at that point to even argue. Plus, there were still hundreds of people behind me with the same sentiments as I have so I gave them their turn and didn’t take much of everyone’s time. I went back to my car, got all of my OW merch, and headed straight to Function Hall 5 at the 2nd floor.
11:45 pm (Function Hall 5)
With all my stuff in tow, I saw that there still wasn’t any line yet for the meet and greet (it was scheduled at 12:30 pm). After talking to one of the volunteers they gave their word that once the line starts, I’ll be the first fanboy there. Cool. So I found a seat at the corner, sat and stretched my legs for a bit.
They were already calling people to line up. I noticed that there were still a few people gathering up behind me. I initially wondered maybe there wasn’t that many people who availed for this opportunity… But then it came to me. There are still people lining downstairs and moving the payload. At that point, I was worried for the others who should be here but instead are still waiting for their badges.
One of the staff went up and handed a print-out copy of all the names who would participate in the photograph/ autograph session. Along with small baggies with little colored paper pieces inside it. Looks like they gave up in using the RFID and went full-analog when they used claim stubs.
Checking the print-out list, my name was at the front and I instantly recognized that my recent purchases (Additional Symmetra and Pharah signatures) were not reflected on the page. I brought up my troubles immediately to the volunteer in front of me, I was escalated further to his supervisor, then another one who seemed to be directly in charge of the system concerning purchases.
So where did that leave me? In the middle of all that trouble concerning my issues, they were already letting people in ahead of me. I was first in line, remember? Not anymore.
At this point, my stress and anxiety levels were at an all-time high but I tried to be emphatic. The event was already starting late as it is and there I was still waiting for an update from them.
Finally, a lady from the staff went to us and resolved to just give me the additional stub I needed. She took the initiative (and my word) that I really purchased those extra autographs. God bless her.
Finally, I got in and the meet and greet proceeded… But this was the sight that greeted me. It looks like a lot of people were still waiting downstairs to get their badge. Check out the picture above. There was supposed to be a short Q & A with the VA’s, but I guess due to time constraints it didn’t really seem possible anymore. I had a lot of questions prepared for them but sadly, it was best to just move on at that point.
There were only a few people at the first row of the hall. After a few more minutes, they finally gave the GO signal to line up at the right side of the stage. I kind of felt bad for those who sat at the left-most seats (who I think were probably the first to go in, although I could be mistaken) because the ones who seated at the right got to line up first.
To make matters worse, some of the lithographs that were supposed to be free, were coming in late. That would be bad for those who didn’t bring any stuff but still, the event continued. For those who didn’t get signatures the first time, they would have to fall in line again or wait for the free lithographs. Whichever came first.
Finally, I got the chance to meet my video game idols! Everything felt better now. I would really give the biggest props to these wonderful people. They really took the time and effort in meeting and getting to the people who came. They were really chatty and full of hugs for everyone, to say the very least. I got everything I expected from them and even more.
I exited the stage but still didn’t get my free prints. The OW fans were already coming in batches. I told the staff I would be back later to get it after loading all my stuff at the parking area. Using the small window of time, I went inside the main halls of the con to meet up some of my friends.
Going back to Function Hall 5, outside the line of people was longer than ever. As I went inside there was an even longer line which eventually split up in two – one for the meet and greet and another for claiming the lithographs. They prioritized the meet and greet first so surprise! I had to wait again. Instead of being that grumpy old fan, this time around I actually chatted with a few fans and made some new friends. Best to just make something good out of the experience. 🙂
3:00pm +++ (I already lost track of time)
After waiting for almost everyone, I got my prints and shook my final handshakes with the cast. I then went outside to register my e-mail for the photographs. There was still a line but, thankfully, it only took like 5 minutes. Another mad set of props to the VA’s again, because they are still inside and on (insert Overwatch announcers voice here) “Overtime” with no signs of fatigue or slowing down with the fans. It looked like they were on Nano-boost.
That RFID badge system they did seemed really cool at first but was one of the biggest issues ComicCon Asia had. While, of course, tech hiccups will always happen, I would suggest that certain contingencies be put in place just in case things like these go down. This system led to almost a whole day of just waiting and is definitely something that ComicCon Asia should aim to simplify and streamline should they attempt this again next year. Thankfully, the Voice Actors came through and, to see them go the extra mile for their fans, was simply heartwarming and was the saving grace of the experience for me. Given all of this, I still do look forward to ComicCon Asia 2019 because I do hope that all these learnings will strengthen the convention and make it into something greater.