Dragon*Con 2003, part 1: introduction to the tale

My name is Amy, and I am a tech staffer at dragon*con.

You don't know me, and you don't see me at dragon*con room parties. The only time you might see me at dragon*con is while I'm running equipment from room to room, or while I'm standing backstage to help load out a band's equipment. Even then, I am faceless; a woman in a plain shirt and jeans, with a radio clamped to my head and equipment in my hand.

You don't see me, but I see you, both your good side and your bad side. We - all of tech staff - do, and if we do our jobs right, you never notice.We are not year-round staff. There are others who work dragon*con all throughout the year. In the summer we meet three times, and possibly a fourth for official planning; in that time there are those who meet on a daily or weekly basis to hammer out the logistics of hundreds of guests and thousands of convention-goers coalescing into the physical spaces that are the Hyatt and the Marriott.

Make no mistake, though; the moment you walk into the hotels during 'con-time, you are ours. It's okay, though; the blue-haired freaks of tech staff rather like it that way.

First, a definition for you. We are "technical operations," which is generally shortened to "Tech Ops", "techops," or just "tech." If it plugs in, needs setting up, takes electricity to run, or produces light or sound, it's ours. We poke fun at staffers from other departments who work as close to twenty hours as possible and then drop their staff badges and become 'congoers, because many of us get our Officially Required Twenty Hours Of Work done on the first day, before many of the 'con-goers have even checked into the hotel.

In techops, there is a nebulous, poorly-defined group of people that are regarded as "core staff." They are self-described masochists who return, year after year, despite the fact that they almost never attend any actual convention events. They log somewhere between sixty and a hundred hours of on-site work at each 'con not because they have to, but because they feel they have a personal stake in making sure the convention runs as smoothly as possible.

Core staff isn't a choice. As a few people would say with a good dose of laughter, it's a sentence. You cannot quit; you can only be set free. The final event at 'con each year is Thomas ritually setting us free by pronouncing us fired en masse.

Over the next few days, I'm going to attempt to do something I've thought about doing for three years now, but never truly tried: a full documentation of what dragon*con tech staffers are, where we come from, what we do, and why we do this job every year.

I have been set free, and now it is time to tell the tale.


I try every year to figure out a way to describe what we do to my uninitiated friends. This series might just help define who we are and what we do to those who are not in the know. I know that plans for a video fell through this year but a photo documentary was definately recorded. The good...the bad...the ugly....and the downright disturbing. Amy....you are the best. We lubs j00.

I know that feeling too. With 4 cons I go to EVERY year and a couple more I'm considering adding to my roster - none of which do I attend as a regular congoer - I also have alot of trouble explaining to my more mundane friends why I would bust my ass to ensure a fun and memorable time for a bunch of smelly fanboys. I'm never designated techops, but I don't quit after my 20 hours either. A friend and I run scavenger hunt for 2 cons which takes planning ahead and about 20 hours in itself at con. And after that I just play gopher, doing whatever needs to be done when there's no one else available who knows how to do it or where it is. I actually got to attend a panel at AKon, I was amazed. And I got to go to Cosplay too, but we had to to hand out Scav hunt awards so I guess that doesn't count.

w00t. *thud*