Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Dragoncon 2008 Review: Part 2

Any responsible project management involves some sort of cost/benefit analysis. Constructing and wearing costumes at science fiction conventions is not a task immune from this investigation. After DragonCon 2008, I had some time to think about this which is presented here by request, and as an exercise in over-thinking and psudo-economics.

Project costs include not just cash money spent putting the costume together, but also the time it takes to make it happen. The transporting of costumes to distant conventions has gotten more expensive now that most airlines have started charging for extra bags. There are also opportunity costs associated with presenting the costume, as while you are getting ready and posing in your creation, you can't be attending panels, or doing much else. Sitting in a dark panel room is not a suitable venue for ones costume, as it does not provide the same pleasures as public viewings. Also, going to the convention with full bags of costumes ensures that you won't be buying much to bring back.

The benefits of costuming are mostly intangible, but include the joy of completing a task, the emotional lift of wearing a fantastic costume, and "becoming" a beloved character. There is also the peer admiration and recognition, and the pleasure experienced in giving joy to others. All of this proportional to the overall quality and originality of ones costume.

To be a '"profitable" endeavour the equation Cost < Benefit has to hold. I expand this as follows:

Cost Creation + Time Creation + (Quality Programming )Tc + Distance Travelled + Costume Complexity + Costume Comfort < Joy Completion + (Quality + Originality)Tc

Where Tc is the time spend in the costume. The longer one wears the costume, the greater the opportunity for praise and pleasure, which also increases the costs of things not done while promenading and posing for pictures. There is a factor wherein too much exposure might diminish the impact of the costume, but I'm ignoring that term for simplicity. On further reflection I decided to omit the time factor completely. My equation, my rules.

Some hand-waving and three Advils later, I simplified the equation back down to manageable and near-quantifiable values, though omitting any proportionality gain terms.

CreationEffort + TransportationEffort + ConAwesomeness < Costume Awesomeness

This gives us some conclusions. Since ConAwesomeness is a fixed variable, or at least a value out of the control of attendee, one must balance the effort and awesomeocity of ones costume accordingly. In the simplest terms, the better the convention, the better ones costume has to be. The further away the convention and the more elaborate the costume, the better ones costume has to be. Sounds obvious, but it took me a long time to come to this point.

Previously on Slashboing


Anonymous said...

Very interesting breakdown, DH. I've been wrestling with many of the same thoughts lately myself....

One thing that I've been mulling around is that any con, and especially D*C, is a "2.0" endeavour: it is the user-generated content that really drives the Awesomeness of the Con.

So, the more awesome your costume, the more awesome the Con itself as a result. I might just be "affirming the consequent" here, but I've been thinking of user-generated content more and more lately.

Then there's the other side: not everyone can be in the parade, so to speak. If there's nobody on the sidewalk watching, the parade isn't a success. I'm stuck: do I want to be part of the parade or the cheering crowd? Each has its benefits and flavour of enjoyment.

Sadly, I can't decide which flavour is my favourite yet.

Looking forward to more post-Con posts,


Drhaggis said...

Thats the rub isn't it? What form of participation give the best outcome for the investment? The exhibitionist needs the voyeur.