Yes, thank you for letting us all know about this.
We can't be too careful, and I am always asking parents of our kids to be vigilant and INVOLVED.
We watch your Monday show at our camps ... so this coming week, I'll also be talking to them about how to do their own 'detective' work around stuff they see or hear about that might look 'too good to be true'. Yet another learning opportunity.
Putting the Con in Convention
This is an outright scam, even the most disorganised convention run by volunteers would manage to decorate the place with some signs and posters.
Some other signs it's a scam:
1. No vendors selling stuff attending, this is how most conventions help pay setup/running costs, rent out space to retailers.
2. Starting time, most conventions open in the morning if it's for the entire day, with setup the day/night before.
3. Doesn't ask for help with anything in the lead up, even if it's stuff like putting posters up around town, most conventions have something they need a hand with.
I wish Florida would do something about fixing their anti-scam / consumer protection laws, I don't even live in the US, and even I know it's the centre of much of the email spam, fly by night operators and other dishonest businesses.
"never blame on malice what can be explained by sheer incompetence"
I mean was this his first convention that he organised? Because I see also a lot of beginner mistakes and I can garantuee that even the more experienced organisers still make mistakes. Rule 1 of those mistakes is "As long as the audience does not notice".
There are more questions, From organising a convention (www.animecon.nl) a few questions rise, I mean, professional security, insurance, first-aid, catering, how about volunteers, are you going to pay them and with what and how much (mind you in the Netherlands there are strict rules on what is allowed and what not), questions, questions.
First, for the posters above who say "well, the victims deserved to get scammed because they didn't successfully protect themselves": That's a griefer's excuse. And I see exactly the same thing in Minecraft: "If you don't protect your server/stuff/whatever from griefing, you deserve to be greifed." Or, in short, if someone can successfully perpetrate a crime against you, then you deserve to be a victim of a crime. Robbed? You deserved it. Carjacked? You deserved it. Murdered? Yeah, you deserved to die. If you didn't, you wouldn't have been in that theater in Aurora, you wouldn't have been in the Twin Towers, you wouldn't have been at Fort Hood. But you were, so it's your fault, not anybody else's, that you were murdered. Malik Hassan, James Eagan Holmes, and an assortment of Al Quaida terrorists, didn't do anything wrong. It's all the fault of the people they murdered.
Ridiculous, isn't it? It's a comforting thought to have -- "I'll never be a victim because I'm too smart to let it happen." But it's not that easy. Someone who's just as smart, if not smarter, than you are might want you to be their victim, and when it's them versus you, two or three or ten versus one, you may very well lose, even if you think only people who aren't you are ever the targets of successful crimes.
In any crime, you have two people with opposing goals. Let's say, for instance, that Al wants to break into Zoe's house and steal Zoe's TV. Zoe, on the other hand, does not want her house broken into nor her TV stolen. They both take steps to accomplish their goals. Zoe locks her door, and Al breaks a window instead. Al succeeds in his goal: he breaks into the house and steals the TV. Would you seriously say that this is Zoe's fault? Al succeeded in what he set out to do; Zoe failed in what she set out to do. The outcome was what one of the two people wanted, not the other, and it's the person who wanted it that way, and worked to make it happen that way, who gets the blame (or credit), not the person who wanted it to be some other way.
Now, specific to MOTM and the situation.
First, some background here: I have been a member of the convention committee of two separate science fiction conventions. I have worked as a volunteer -- including security -- at numerous others. I was a volunteer staffer at the professionally-run Game Developers' Conference for two years. I have been an exhibitor/vendor at multiple conventions, from college student-run conventions in spare rooms of the student union building to GenCon and Dragon*Con. And I have attended dozens of volunteer-run SF, anime, and comic book conventions over a period of decades, from student cons to Worldcons. In short, I have a lot of experience with conventions, both behind and in front of the scenes, and this speaks directly to that experience.
It's obvious that the guy is lying from his own words.
Quote from Kevin Roman »
My wife and I, just like many other parents, were bummed that our children were unable to attend the official Minecraft Convention - Minecon, back in November of last year, being as though tickets sold out in a matter of seconds. In response, we thought it would be a nice idea to create our own Minecraft gathering....
Okay, so his kids couldn't go to MineCon, so he wanted to create his own. I can see that. But if that's so, why did he decide to also do the same thing somewhere else -- NYC -- too? If you're doing something for your friends and family, you do it near home; you don't do another one in a major market because that's not where your family is.
Now, as for the claims in his statement:
He says that there were no decorations, no displays, no nothing, because the attendees stole all of them. They apparently even stole the signs from the walls and the decorations from the ceiling, and of course the table drapes, curtains, etc. But if that's the case, how come all of the videos show people standing around in a barren room, and none of them show people hauling all this stuff out the doors? I haven't seen a single picture of someone stealing so much as a "Welcome to MOTM" sign. Is it a 1024-person conspiracy against Kevin Roman or something? He says that this was a success because only 10% of the people who were there have complained on Facebook. So all those other people who didn't complain (and by his logic, therefore supported him), they must have videos, or at least stills, of attendees stealing everything that wasn't nailed down and prying loose that was. Where are those pictures? Where is the evidence that would support him? For that matter, where are his pictures of a beautifully-decorated convention venue before they let the paying customers in? You don't do all that work, set everything up, and not at least pull out your cell phone camera and get a couple shots of how nice it looks. Yet he expects us to believe that all this stuff existed, and was set up, and nobody took a picture of that, and then after the doors opened, it was stolen, and nobody, not one of the 1024 attendees, not one of the volunteers, and not him, took a picture of that either.
Now, the matter of how people could steal all of that stuff in the first place: Where was his security? I'm not talking rent-a-cops (though given the location and the expected attendees, it wouldn't have been a bad idea to hire a couple) but convention volunteers. I've been one, multiple times. They're the people with the little red "Security Staff" ribbons hanging from their badges who say "Hey, don't mess with that!" when someone tries to walk off with something -- and takes a picture of them for future identification if that doesn't dissuade him. Where were those people when this massive wave of theft was happening? Convention security is something that anyone who is trying to put on a convention -- even if they're just a student SF club at a small branch state university -- has, because if for no other reason you need someone to check to make sure everyone coming in actually paid. I'm pretty sure he made certain that the attendees had shelled out the required $50, and he certainly had some way of ejecting everyone when he shut the whole thing down after 2 hours (probably when his venue rental was up), so how come those people were unable to stop -- or even report on -- this massive theft of, well, everything?
He says all the rest of the stuff -- the LEGO sets, the PS4s, etc. -- that he promised to give away was in a back room so people wouldn't steal it. Fair enough; I've done my time sleeping on the floor of the video equipment room at an SF con so that people wouldn't make off with the equipment overnight. But how come when he did giveaways -- remember those pens? -- he didn't give away THE LEGO SETS instead? He was doing a giveaway. Whatever the setup, whatever the circumstances, he was doing a giveaway. He had a choice of what items to give away: "Let's see, should it be these Minecraft LEGO sets that I bought and advertised? Or should it be some spare boxes of pens that I got at the dollar store for the staff to use?" Then he chose the pens. He's expecting us to believe that he left the advertised items on the shelf and gave away junk instead. He already had those LEGO sets (or so he claims) but he didn't give them out; instead, he gave out boxes of cheap pens. Why not use the LEGO sets, if they existed, and make people happy instead of angry? The only reason I can see for this is if the LEGO sets never existed at all.
I've seen screwed-up conventions. Even a screwed-up Worldcon. I have a pretty good feel for what screwed-up conventions look like. And this doesn't look like one. If he'd told the truth, I'd be able to accept it as a huge screw-up. But he didn't. As I demonstrated above, just from his statements in his own defense of what happened, he lied, liked, and lied some more. That's not what people who make mistakes do.