A page a day, day fifty-three: Let’s talk about gaming… Squirrel!

I’m at a loss as to what to write today and inspiration has fled me so I’m afraid you’re going to get another post about games.

I tried to attend a table top game group tonight but very few people showed up. It was awkward. Two guys were playing some wizardly battle game that was a fairly blatant rip of Magic but “not a collectible game” they claimed. Whatever, they still had folders of cards in protective sleeves, they were still marshaling mana and attacking monster to monster. The rules, from what I overheard, were vastly over-complicated. They had rule books like an RPG, they had a playing field, and they had a tackle box of sorted tokens. The board, as nears as I could tell, added nothing to the game beyond a colorful background. They did move cards around to face off against each other, so there was an element of miniature play, but the board did not have any delineating marks or anything to specify differing areas or distance. They might as well have had the cards out on a plain table. I confess I may have been missing something, but the game just looked like a game of M:tG with excessive complexity designed to sell playing pieces.

Not that M:tG isn’t a cash grab anyway, but at least the game is still fun to play.

I had a brief chat with the owners about the upcoming expo. The store owners were packing up their wares to sell in the dealers’ room. They’ll probably do really well.

As I was getting up to leave one of the duo made some comment that I found incredibly puzzling. He felt it was unfair of the media guests to charge money for their photos and signatures. While I do confess to thinking that the prices they charge are insane, I don’t agree with his philosophy that they shouldn’t be allowed to charge at all. He felt that him paying his entry fee should be enough, and that he should just be allowed to walk up and ask for an autograph.

Well… in an ideal world, perhaps, but when you get the level of popularity that some of these performers have attained the logistics of setting up free autographs would be a nightmare for everyone involved. Hell, they’re charging hundreds of dollars for photos and autographs and the organizers still face a nightmare of crowd control.

All that aside, the ultimate point is this: These people have something of value and they’re selling it at prices people are willing to buy.

That’s it.

If their photo opportunities and signatures weren’t considered of value by those paying for them, they wouldn’t be able to sell them. It’s really that simple. If Shatner came up and demanded $50,000 per photo, he’d be sitting in an empty hall by himself. Alternatively, if he were giving it all away, he’d either be working 72 hours straight or there would be a riot as we tried turning people away after his standard two hours.

And, ultimately, nobody is entitled to anybody’s time. You’re paying to attend the convention because it costs the organizers to host it. They’re not getting the space for free, and given what the Stampede is charging for things (their fee for internet access for three days would get me high speed internet for over a year at home) they need every penny they get.

That ticket does not entitle you to anything more than the right to attend. Period.

The stars are their own business, and their product is their time and their fame. They’re allowed to set whatever price the market will bear. There is no reason anybody should EXPECT to gain time with them for free. The only way that works is if they feel your time is at least as valuable to them as theirs is to you, and that’s just not going to happen.

Now, that being said, most of these actors do their best to be as gracious and open as they can. After all, the value of their fame depends on people actually liking them in the first place. If people get turned off then suddenly that hundred bucks they placed down for their chunk of time feels like a rip off. The stars know this, and until they get bitter and jaded they do their best to maintain their popularity.

Some of them… well, okay, they’re actors, so they all thrive on attention, but some of them absolutely adore their fans and are geeking out about the whole experience as the audience is. Those are the best ones to sit and listen to, because they’re often just as excited as anyone to be there and will happily engage the audience of as long as they’re allowed.

Wow, okay, look at that… started with one line and totally dove into a tangent. Cool.

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