Do congresses take health and safety seriously?
With the accumulation of recent Gen Con 2022 issues, this has opened up the question of whether conventions are taking health and safety regulations seriously.
Everyone around the world is trying to get back to normal, following the COVID-19 pandemic that has been raging since 2020. One of the popular events for pop culture fans are conventions. Slowly the big conventions returned while others decided to keep waiting for a safer time or a better time, like the big gaming expo, E3. With so many other big events like Gen Con and Twitch Con slowly returning, the question remains: is it still safe to attend these events?
Gen Con Indy is back this weekend (August 4-7) in Indianapolis and is known to be the largest tabletop convention in the United States – the last Gen Con in 2019 drew around 70,000 attendees. Even before the convention started, some fans have already expressed their opinions on how safe they feel at the convention. And while some fans may be excited to once again share their pleasures in the tabletop gaming community, some have been concerned about Gen Con’s recurring harassment issues.
On August 2, Monte Cook Games community manager LaTia Jacquise tweeted a screenshot of text messages from an anonymous person who claimed to be Gen Con security personnel. The anonymous person claimed she had “everyone’s number” as she was part of the “security team”.
Jacquise confirmed her phone number was not publicly available and others have received other harassing text messages and emails. This proved that the suspect involved in these targeted and mass harassing messages may well be someone on the staff or volunteer list who leaked private information. Convention staff confirmed that the stalker messaging people connected to Gen Con was not part of the team.
Gen Con issued an official statement two days ago, stating that convention staff would only contact attendees via “the official email address (ending in gencon.com) and would never contact via text or email. telephone without prior authorization”. The Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council and Safety Consultant for Gen Con, Kelsey “Magpie” Danger (@mx_danger)’s advice was “Don’t engage. In the most literal sense of expression, don’t feed trolls. Just report them.
Twitter users have already voiced their responses to Danger’s comments, specifically when they said, “Normally I really mean your truth, but in this case it may actually put more people at risk. Instead, you can reach out to me, the Gen Con political team, or any staff member and we’re here for you. Be safe there!”
Dr. Tanya Pobuda (@PobudaTanya) posted a wire disagree with the actions taken by Gen Con staff. She shared, “A few words about harassment at #GenCon2022 Telling abused people to shut up about their experiences, encouraging people to avoid discussing the issue is NOT good advice. Asking people to “can “trying to disappear a bit more” as a way to stay safe is…wrong.
While this Twitter post below may have seemed like something exciting and normal pre-pandemic, it could be concerning for those who are slowly feeling more comfortable being in public and attending again. conventions. Gen Con’s health and safety page noted that face coverings and full vaccinations were necessary, but may have missed the key element of physical distancing.
Public health concerns have further increased with the emerging dangers of monkeypox floating around the web from various conventions and convention venues. The latest was in San Diego, California, where an official state of emergency was announced recently, as one Twitter user noted: “Hey TwitchCon and potential attendees, San Diego is specifically now in a state official emergency response for monkeypox, as well as California as a whole. Again, COVID isn’t the only major public health concern. Just FYI.”
TwitchCon’s health policy has not changed from its “no proof of vaccination required” status and Twitch Con has yet to issue a statement. However, the lack of health guidelines has already discouraged some fans and potential attendees from going.
One Twitter user said: “For those who were thrilled I was at TwitchCon, it sucks to say I’m not going, current health guidelines (or lack thereof) have been brought to the fore, and their doubling down made it clear that Twitch is all about showing that they care about the well-being of their streamers, and that’s not a risk I’m taking.
Attention on monkeypox was even brought to the attention at Toronto’s biggest anime convention, Anime North this year, when several tweets warned of the potential outbreak of monkeypox that could have spread over the weekend of July 26-28. A tweet read: “Oh also to add to that my husband and niece and I caught Monkeypox from Anime North so if you’ve been to AN go get tested or keep your eyes peeled for symptoms here’s a catch screen of what it may look like, if you’re a woman you may need to be more demanding as I had to go to 3 Dr’s.”
Anime North has yet to release any official statements. They had only addressed long queues and bottleneck issues for admission lines, saying, “We identified where the bottlenecks were and things have improved significantly. We expect tomorrow and Sunday to be much smoother.
Over the weekend, the situation had improved slightly, but attendees still had to wait in the scorching sun with intricate but warm cosplays ranging from Genshin Impact, The attack of the Titans at A play, and more. The convention center only provided water indoors; the only way to refuel outside was to buy a drink from nearby food trucks or restaurants.
So the ultimate question remains: do the conventions take health and safety seriously? They can very well take all the precautions they could take on paper, if they follow the national health guidelines on COVID-19. When it comes to harassment issues, it seemed that the only solution Gen Con offered could help attendees not come across as easy targets… sort of? Seriously, if you’re at Gen Con this weekend and need help from real staff, contact this email address: email@example.com. Stay safe out there, friends!