The San Diego hotel room lottery, known variously as #hoteloween (by a few old timers) and #hotelpocalypse (by the current generation), took place this morning and it was a terrifying new version that found the randomization previously used for badges not applied to hotel rooms. Travelplanners, now renamed On Peak is still handling the process, but the heavy webload and spinning beachballs of the past gave way to this streamlined lottery.

In other words, the caffeine-fueled autofill and hotel selection reflexes that I’ve been honing over the last decade now matter nothing.

For those new to the process, you entered a waiting room any time between 6 am PDT and 9 am PDT.

For the next few hours you stared at this:

Official Housing Waiting Room.jpeg

However in an incredible twist, access to this gave you a TRAINING SCREEN where you could practice picking your hotel rooms and filling out the form, just as skiers and other athletes mentally train for a tough course.

Comic Con 2016.jpeg
Further clicking even gave you a tantalizing hotel list:

Comic Con 2016_sample.jpeg
In the event, as in past years, once you got through it was all over in a few minutes. As I understand it, people in the waiting room were randomly put in line to get into the hotel selection room.

However upon finishing the list, they were then informed that rooms would be assigned ON A RANDOM BASIS…

…which makes it sound like you were randomly selected to be randomly selected. Talk about rolling a saving throw!

Confirmations will be going on on Friday, with a TWO NIGHT deposit needed to secure a room. That’s somewhere between $600-800 so make sure you got some scratch for it.

While the fall out from this new system is yet to be seen, it is easy to see how a determinist philosophy among, say, journos and comics pros who want to be close to the action — the magical thinking of “I’m fast enough to get a room!”—has now been replaced by a universe of random chaos. It is not nice to feel powerless.

There are still various ways to get a room, however. In recent years, most comics pros I know who MUST be there have been teaming up with exhibitors and other room hoarders to get rooms. (The exhibitor hotel room lottery takes place very early in the year.)  While replacing fast fingers with “it’s who you know” seems like another kind of unfairness, it’s simple evolutionary biology.

At any rate, as I’ve been saying every time I write this piece every year, you wanted a lottery, YOU GOT IT!