Comic-Con has just announced a change to their terms and conditions regarding badges. To wit, you can now be strip-searched and held for four days if you have a bootleg badge have your badge inspected and be asked for ID and other fairly real means of validating a badge.

SDCC may perform any of the following validation of badges on entry to any area of the convention. These measures are an effort to prevent illegal badge duplication and unauthorized reselling. SDCC may scan the bar code, require a photo ID that matches the name on the badge, scan RFID embedded in the badge, and examine the badge with other technological and/or physical methods to verify authenticity of the badge and holder. Before leaving any registration area please make sure that the name on the badge matches your identification.

Well, this is going to harsh the mellows of a lot of people (myself included) who played fast and loose with the “let me borrow your badge for a while” kind of thing.

We’ve heard on the grapevine that some other big cons are also getting a lot tighter about press and pro badges.

This is not fun jolly con times any more, people. It’s the Super Bowl.


  1. I was going to say “On the bright side, the people carrying out these orders will be ‘Elite’ Security,” but considering the Red-shirts working the con range from “whatever” to overzealous, it would be the lousy luck of someone using a Pro’s +1 badge that has a fake name or name of someone who couldn’t make it at the last minute to run into the overzealous type.

  2. For this year’s New York Comic Con, the price of an extra exhibitor badge has jumped from $45 to $100! Why? Because, as it was explained to me, there were exhibitors scalping their extra passes last year.

    Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us!

  3. Exhibitors at San Diego are typically given a certain number of passes with their booth and then charged for additional passes. When some exhibitors register their booth, while they know some of the personnel who are attending, others aren’t as set in stone and may even be new employees added to the company between registration and attendance. So there goes the badge for “Pat Smith?”

  4. I’m sure this additional security will be handled by the best couldn’t-hack-it-with-TSA agents available.

    But so much for famous people who would hope to go incognito using a fake name (“Hey look! This guy in the alien mask flanked by Agents J and K is Barack Obama!”) or a pro whose professional name doesn’t match the one on their passport (e.g. Jock, Frank Quitely).

  5. They’re just covering their asses, likely. Putting this in their terms means that they can do this legally, because by purchasing (even for $0) a badge you agree to their terms. Previously having a badge entitled you to entry according to their terms, as long as the badge was real, and you were under no obligation to produce I.D., they probably couldn’t even ask.

    While I have no personal knowledge, I’d say this is a legal protection and it’ll be another year at least before they’re scanning badges for entry, given how many new systems they’ve already implemented this year (and with varying degrees of success).

  6. to be fair, they are leaving an absurd amount of consumer surplus on the table with regards to the badge price. they just want to make sure no one else but the con goers benefit from their largesse.

  7. Blame HOLLYWOOD. If not for all the twi-tweens and TV shows showing up, it would be the fairly crowded but extrememly enjoyable COMIC CON and not shopping for a new movie con. Now people who don’t read comics but hope to see their favorite star show up.

  8. I doubt few if any security guards will actually be asking for photo ID, as it would make the process of getting into SDCC a nightmare logistically. If they really wanted to get serious they would ask people to include a photo of the person while buying the pass and print it on the pass. Even if the photo is in black and white, it would make it easy for any guard to do a spotcheck.

  9. I’m pretty sure the RFID technology is going to get more strenuous. Last year exhibitors were asked to wear a wrist badge the whole show which many balked at for hygiene reasons.

  10. I think this will also affect those who can’t stay for the whole con and so give their badge to a friend for free since memberships sell out well in advance. This is awfully close to the “show me your papers” laws.

  11. James Van Hise — it also works in reverse. I have an assistant who lives in San Diego and he often picks up my badges ahead of time (under my name) for me so I can hit the ground running when I get to the show (and he has the table set up).

    Now it seems like the +1 can get their badge, but perhaps not the exhibitor who made them the +1 in the first place. A small inconvenience, but one nonetheless.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think the folks at SDCC are doing a great job considering how they have to part the Red Sea every year. I don’t envy them and I’m sure many are taking advantage (illegally) of the badge system.

  12. RFID…
    1) If enough receivers are scattered throughout the convention center, people can be triangulated with a touch of a button.
    [Insert Logan’s Run graphic here.]
    (Yeah, imagine a soul gem/life clock embedded in your palm/forehead!)

    This would be most helpful when determining legal occupancy limits for each space.

    Also, by zapping Hall H every 15 minutes, the Con would have an exact census of how long each person remained in the room. This would allow the Con to review their policy of “room clearing”. When did the person leave? How long was the person in the room before that? How many people remained in the room for more than two panels? How many more people could have attended panels if the room was cleared after every panel?

    2) Exhibitors, using a portable device, could scan the badge for promotions. Or they could scan everyone walking by, but that would generate bad PR.

    3) I suspect, with large crowds entering the exhibition hall, that security will not be checking individual badges, but instead giving them a glance. This might even be true with less busy times.

    Or they could do passive zapping… set up an entry gateway where individual badges are glanced at, but which scans the tag remotely. Set up an exit gateway as well. This would give a real-time occupancy number, creating a virtual fire marshal for crowds.

    The Con could even set their own occupancy limits, to prevent crowding in the exhibition halls.

    I suspect they will be zapping people waiting in line for panels. They might even collate that data for later use by the panelists. Or collate the data internally, using anonymous demographics to see who attended which rooms when.

    4) The Con could use the RFID tags as a virtual ticket. Attendees could pre-register for panels, perhaps two a day. Each individual would then approach the “Maître d'” for that particular waiting line. The tag would be scanned, and if it matches the reservation, the person would join the queue for that panel. There could also be a bullpen for those without tickets.

    People inside Hall H with consecutive reservations could be scanned by staff clearing the room.

    The entire line could also be scanned remotely, with a list of interlopers displayed to the Maître D’. These individuals would then be culled, and possibly sent to the cornfield.

  13. “4) The Con could use the RFID tags as a virtual ticket. Attendees could pre-register for panels, perhaps two a day. Each individual would then approach the “Maître d’” for that particular waiting line. The tag would be scanned, and if it matches the reservation, the person would join the queue for that panel. There could also be a bullpen for those without tickets.”

    A couple of years ago Heidi noted SDCC was basically a full day’s attendance at Disneyland in a fraction of the space. About time we “Fastpass.” :-D

  14. Hmmm, I don’t have any official ID that says Christopher Moonlight on it, but that’s all my badge has ever said. I wonder what I’ll need to do to remedy that? I’ll have to ask Batton Lash what he’s doing? lol.

  15. “I’m sure this additional security will be handled by the best couldn’t-hack-it-with-TSA agents available.”

    Otherwise know as Elite Security.

  16. Look, as long as it doesn’t get in the way for me getting to meet Otomo (hopefully) and Shelton
    (Artist Alley?) at this year’s Comic-Con, I’ll grin and bear it— just one more part of the ‘costs’ of attending THE Nerd event of the year. By next year or so, I should be used to it… just like TSA airport regulations.

    I had felt a bit of trepidation about my decision not to attend this year, but now I feel completely comfortable. Thanks.

    You’re welcome: it’s one more SDCC ’12 pass available to someone who wants to attend! (But see ya next year?)

    This is not fun jolly con times any more, people. It’s the Super Bowl.

    Well, at least NYCC and other Cons are still available for Pros, Exhibitor and Press to game the Comic-Con Passes situation— just like they used to in the bad old days of pre-“Medieval” SDCC of yore? Dammit: I SHOULD’VE taken advantage of those opportunities available to me…

    #SDCC coverage

  17. Seems like they are taking it way too seriously, obviously it’s a business and it’s big money, but I don’t want to walk through TSA grope fest to see people that draw comics. I mean the point will come when a creator that whole bunch of people expected to be there isn’t allowed in so these business men can make an example. I think you have to know what business you’re in, I don’t think the SDCC knows and cares they probably hired someone to legitimize it and now it’s just another high security no fun beyond this point kind of situation. The whole show is already way too commercial so really this isn’t that big of a stretch, I just don’t think they are doing this for the right reasons which makes it illegitimate.

  18. The reality is CCI has to figure out crowd control and revenues. For way too long we(fans and exhibitors) have played the system and passed badges on to our friends and family. God only knows what the real attendance numbers are for the con but maybe this will show what they actually are.

    If you’ve never had the experience of putting one of these things together, even on the smallest of scale, the logistics alone are enough to make you question your own sanity.

    And one additional thing about the Red Shirts working security, they will have seen a few thousand idiots before you and will have the pleasure of seeing yet another thousand or so. Just smile, show your badge and keep moving. Let the next stupid doof behind you be the one NOT getting in to the show…

  19. That SDCCI is a big business with all of the overhead and liabilities and, yes, revenues that go with it is a given; as such it’s understandable that they’re trying to manage that business in what they see as a logical manner. The question, however, really is how much of this heightened badge security is legitimate or necessary? Are there REALLY badge bootleggers out on the street hawking SDCCI passes along with fake Rolexes? I’ve never heard of or seen any evidence of it.

    Likewise you have to wonder what real economic harm there is to a long-sold-out event if a badge gets shared. Whomever is wearing the badge at that point is only occupying the same bit of ground as the previous wearer and not adding another body to the crush, but it’s conceivable that exhibitors are benefiting from an additional customer spending money that might not otherwise be in the hall.

    When bean-counting and rule-making becomes more important than the experiences of the guests (meaning exhibitors and attendees alike)…well, that’s when you start to see something like, say, Trixster spring up as a concurrent, more positive in tone alternative.

    So with that in mind, my opinion is that their emphasis should be more focused on ensuring the badges are legitimate (if, indeed, they’re contending with fakes and this isn’t some sort of artificial bureaucratic worry) rather than who is actually wearing it.

  20. Maybe I’m the only one that’s happy SDCCI is taking things seriously?? I went through a lot and paid a lot to get my 4-day passes for me and my family. Why should cheaters be able to get in with a fake badge?

  21. I think another big issue is duplicate badges. People running around with a badge that belongs to someone else not because they borrowed it, but because it was duplicated. The building is supposed to handle only so many people, I wonder if that is a reason for this whole thing.
    @ Arnie, as for bootleggers, check out ebay or craigslist. I think it’s better now, but there’s still people selling bar codes, badges and other stuff.

  22. Well everything has gone so smoothly this year that I’m sure nothing bad will come from this. FACISTCON 2012!

    It’s way beyond capacity. Vegas already.

  23. @Torsten – RFID work in varying distances. It depends on frequency. I am not sure what costs are involved with each frequency but they can be as responsive as a foot or so or 1500 feet or so.

    The chip itself isn’t the major expense, the hardware that goes along with it is where the cost comes in. The tech, software and so on has a very real hard cost. Obviously much of it is a one time cost in for the system. But I’d bet it’s phased in and more tech is added over the course of a few years.

    All that said, it’s actually pretty easy to clone an RFID so it is far from the end all be all solution to anything in the realm piracy. And likely this is being implemented as more of a marketing and demographics system. The value of the data that can be collected about panel attendees, booth attendees and more is the holy grail as far as marketing departments are concerned. Just imagine what CCI can do with it? No room to go into it here, but conceptually there is a limitless amount of ways to use the collected date both by CCI and the exhibitors themselves if they choose to invest in an RFID reader. Or if CCI or a company employed by CCI rents the tech.

    LOTS of possibilities.


  24. oh and one more thing. The type of RFID tag used determines the type of RFID hardware used to track it. A passive, inexpensive, RFID is likely what CCI will employ [think anti theft stickers on electronics]. Those do not have the range as other types of larger, bulkier, and more expensive RFID tags.


  25. just shows how much the con has changed, used to be attendees and even the con original creators used to walk around with names like “Fred Flinstone” on their badges just for the sheer enjoyment of it but now with corporate con entities involved con is about the money not the experience

  26. Sorry you can’t blame Twilight, as much as I hate that crap, last year there was still room in the hall after the line had gone into the hall for Twilight. It was Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and other TV shows that had lines that were 2,000 deep waiting for a chance to get in to full hall. I got there every morning at 6:30am and still ended up near the back each morning(though after each panel I did move up when people left)

    People were actually suggesting that the movie hall switch with the tv hall for this year.

    So yes Twilight sucks, but it no longer is to blame.

  27. This is the point in the conversation, every year, when I remind folks that Comicon remains a “non-profit” organization that runs two of the biggest pop culture based shows in America, the San Diego and Wondercon shows. Their proximity to Hollywood has made them cheap promotional vehicles, dump-trucking what was once an exciting, must-see Mecca experience for comic book fans. I’m truly sad about the absurd commercialized behemoth SD has become, catering to big business interests, the antithesis of a non-profit.

  28. So long as IDing doesn’t take more time than I have to get from point a to point b, I guess it will be fine with me…

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