The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

The Battle for SDCC 2014 Pre-Registered Badges

Written by: Laura Hong-Tuason, CC2K Comics Editor

The battle for San Diego Comic Con 2014 badges commenced once again this past Saturday. For those already freaking out, don’t worry. These badges were made available only for pre-registered members who attended SDCC in 2013. You’ll still have your chance.

I was one of the thousands of people participating in pre-registration who survived to tell the tale. After all, there’s nothing I love and hate more than San Diego Comic-Con. I’ve attended the convention four times in a row and I always tell myself it’ll be my last. But with the level of difficulty in getting tickets getting worse each year, and my pre-registered advantage, it’s hard to quit the addiction. Sometimes though, I’d really wish I’d lose this battle. Then I’d be free of SDCC.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the horror stories about purchasing SDCC badges. For the last year few years, Comic Con International has used EPIC registration to facilitate the purchasing of badges. It’s all kinds of complicated, with people needing to race to the infamous online waiting room by 8am Pacific Time. The sooner you’re in the room, the higher your place is in line. Then you wait… and wait… It could be minutes. It could be 2 hours. Badges quickly sell out. If you’re lucky, you get your badge(s).

Of course, it’s all pure chaos. The EPIC site crashes, links don’t work, user error occurs… The list is endless and anger ensues. I’m a public relations graduate student and I can tell you that I’d hate to be the PR team for SDCC. Props to them!

Every year since I’ve attended, Comic Con International has been trying to find ways to improve the badge registration system and alleviate the fury that refuses to be contained. This year was no different and the following new changes were put into place:

On Saturday, pre-registered members had to click a link between 7am-9am Pacific Time, which led to a page where you entered a unique registration code. This then led you to the waiting room. It didn’t matter what time you arrived because at 9am, the system would randomize who got to the registration page. This was an important strategy because it would prevent people from trying to get into the EPIC system all at once, slowing it down in the process.

After 9am, it was the same old waiting game. All in all, I think the new process was a step up. There was less rushing and panic, and as much as I wanted to ensure I got a ticket, I thought the randomization was a fair deal. It took only two hours and 26 minutes for all pre-registered badges to be sold. Based on my Twitter search while I was waiting, people seemed less angry than they had in prior years. The downside to this new system was that we were no longer told what place we were in line. Last year, if we were #2000, it gave us an idea of when to return to our computers. This time, we were left in suspense for an indefinite amount of time.

Let me now share with you my epic experience with registration that I’m sure all other SDCC goers can relate to.

I have a friend named Tiffany who is an SDCC expert. I thought I was good, but she’s better. She’s my own personal SDCC email notification, strategizing badge and hotel registration and utilizing Google Docs. Some may call her crazy. I think she’s awesome.

This year was something else! While I am always a part of the ongoing email threads, I normally get tickets on my own with my boyfriend. But because of the new randomization process, the probability of getting badges was lower and unpredictable. In came Tiffany with her Google Doc, which listed who was getting tickets for who, backup buyers, and everyone’s badge preference.

Who knew that on the day of pre-registration, I’d get put into a Google Chat with about 6 other people, most of which I didn’t know. In total, we were trying to get about 21 tickets. As pre-registration unfolded, we formed an unbreakable bond. Together, we calmly waited and read the yellow bar of updates:

“Thank you for your patience. Our goal is to make this process less frustrating for you. We won’t always succeed, but we will continue to try.”

But as more updates came and an hour passed with no one having luck, we got antsy and sarcastic together:

“We’re sorry, but the option to purchase Preview Night has sold out. But don’t worry, there are still four other fabulous days of Comic-Con to attend. Did you know that there is a full slate of programming from 10:00 AM to 5:00Pm on Sunday at Comic-Con? It’s a great day to attend and walk the Exhibit Hall Floor!”

We all laughed that they thought Sunday could appease us. Then we got frustrated and started to panic:

“It looks like Saturday badge inventory is running low, we promise to keep you updated. Thank you for your patience while you wait in line”.

Then we started to go crazy and feel entitled…

Finally, we eventually got the badges of our choosing. However, of all the people who did not yet get a badge, it was our ringleader Tiffany. All of a sudden it turned into a dramatic battle scene, where our noble leader was in peril.

In unison, we knew what we had to do. Those of us who already had tickets purchased by someone else could have said our goodbyes and left the waiting room. But no, we all steadfastly waited. Even those who already went through registration waited. Then it happened: Tiffany got into the registration room.

Once Tiffany announced her 4-day badge purchase, we all cheered and popped imaginary champagne bottles. We exclaimed nonsense such as, “We have defeated the enemy fleet” and “That torpedo hit the enemy flagship in the knick of time”. We were hysterical, but we were happy for each other. Sure we sound over the top, but it’s funny how purchasing SDCC badges can form such a resolute bond. I didn’t know most of these people, but I sure as hell would have bought them a badge if they needed me to.

When I later relayed this story to another friend, she had asked: “Who was the enemy? The other thousands of people in the waiting room?”

No. It was Comic-Con. And we won.

This crazy pre-battle may be over, but the second battle of general registration is only beginning. Happy badge purchasing everyone, and may the odds be ever in your favor.