Locked out!

I arrived home on a Sunday morning after a very early start at the markets. It was after 10am, I got comfortable and ready to watch the Crown Championships of Cosplay at C2E2 in Chicago. Like many others, I wanted to cheer on our very own Adelaide cosplayer, who was representing Australia at this year’s event.

I went to the website, followed the links to the live-stream, and was greeted with this:

This annoyed me: an international competition, featuring contestants from all around the world, and yet the official stream was region locked.

A friend gave me the heads up about SyFy Wire‘s Facebook stream, and so I hunted down that link but I discovered something odd… it didn’t appear on their Facebook page but was only discoverable through FB’s search results.

Okay cool, I thought, they weren’t able to region lock this one so I watched on, prepared to see our amazing Aussie up on stage. But roughly 30-minutes into the stream, it was shut down and never relaunched.

You can still see that first half hour here…

C2E2 Crown Championships of Cosplay

We're live with the C2E2 Crown Championships of Cosplay.

Posted by SYFY on Saturday, 23 March 2019

But the YouTube stream continued as far as I knew, not being able to watch it. What ended up happening was that at least a couple of people live-streamed the live stream for us thanks to either VPN or being in a different region altogether. It wasn’t ideal but we eventually got to watch along with the rest of the world.

Glad we did too because our very own The Dingo Ate my Cosplay took out THIRD PLACE in the world championship!

She had already done us proud simply by making it to the world finals and representing Australia. We were already so happy for her to experience this wonderful trip, that it didn’t matter if she placed or not. She looked awesome up there and absolutely owned that stage!

But we would never have known that had a few people not circumvented the region lock. Sure we would have found out the result eventually but that’s not the same as collectively cheering her on with other fans and cosplayers around the country, nay the world, showing our support and living that moment with her.

From what I can tell, this was the second year C2E2 had partnered with SyFy Wire to host all their videos and live streams (previously it was Twitch). And although I didn’t get to watch last year’s Championships, many Aussies did get the chance to tune in live.

This year however, the live stream to the Main Stage was restricted to the US (and possibly Japan), which is odd because the one for the Live Stage (smaller panel stage) was accessible to everyone outside the US.

The Facebook live video link was advertised on their Twitter account and that one worked for folks outside the US.

That leads to the Facebook stream not the YouTube one

And as I said before, it was shut down after 30 minutes. Pure speculation on my part here but I reckon they realised the FB stream was going out beyond the US and they deliberately shut it down.

A few of us kicked up a stink yet nothing was officially said about it as far as I could find. The closest we got to having it addressed was apparently a DM exchange with C2E2‘s social media manager. And allegedly they had zero clue that it was being restricted.

I think we can all agree that this was a major dick move on the part of SyFy Wire. I mean, I really should not have to point out again (especially to those who say we should just use a VPN) how ludicrous it is to region lock an INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION and restrict it from the countries whose contestants are competing.

And for ReedPOP and C2E2 not to realise this beforehand is a massive oversight. And none of this makes any sense no matter what excuse is given: If it was simply a mistake then that doesn’t explain the FB stream deliberately being shut down. If it’s a contractual/advertising requirement (ie a business decision) then why was the Live Stage stream accessible to everyone?

How did we get here?
Back in December of 2017, ReedPOP were caught with their pants down and forced to announce that they were pulling Oz Comic-Con out of Perth and Adelaide due to reasons that made little to no sense.

With their attempt at a quiet pull out undermined, they modified what were originally their OzCC “after dark” event plans to host the Perth and Adelaide heats of the National Championships of Cosplay in the form of Press Play in May of 2018 (which was a band-aid solution but also, as I’ve said, a really fun night).

Fast forward to September 2018, at Oz Comic-Con Sydney, and Adelaide’s own The Dingo Ate my Cosplay takes out the major prize in the national final. She gets to represent Australia in Chicago competing against some of the world’s finest…

And that made a few organisers a tad sheepish. Imagine making the decision to abandon the very city that was now about to represent the country on a world stage. In fact there was little fanfare about it on OzCC‘s social media. EVERYONE ELSE was celebrating this win though.

It’s a fan thing
I honestly hesitated about writing any of this because I didn’t want to undermine the fantastic achievement by The Dingo Ate my Cosplay, whom we’re all so super proud of, so I left it a while. But my continual frustration at how little these organisers give any thought to the very people they are selling to just keeps building.

This “mistake”, this “oversight” or “error” just reminds me that large corporations aren’t your friend regardless of whether you have friends working for them. For all the talk about building communities and such ultimately it comes down to business. But this isn’t even about the bottom line.

It’s not the effort and expense of putting on a giant show in another city, it’s not the juggling act of organising international guests, nor the mammoth logistics of transporting equipment.

It’s a simple fucking setting. The tiniest, the simplest of things but they couldn’t even give us that!

Adelaide still has a couple of major pop culture events in the form of AVCon and Supanova but even then both these shows have teetered on the edge. AVCon under-performed in 2017 and only regained any ground the following year thanks to the absence of OzCC. Supanova themselves admitted had it not been for the surge at the 2017 show (which featured Stan Lee’s final ever trip to Australia) they too were considering pulling out.

But it’s not about the events this time. For all the bullshit Adelaide fans have to endure at missing out, whether it be pop culture or music events, it feels like an extra twist of the knife at us being locked out of supporting one of our own.

Not allowing us to be part of the community of fans around the world just feels petty on the part of the organisers.

Just a final word to Zoe, aka The Dingo Ate my Cosplay… YOU WERE BLOODY FANTASTIC. Do not let my resentment of the organisers or their shortsighted choices tarnish the awesomeness you have achieved. I witnessed myself so many Aussie fans struggling to find ways to watch the live stream and were cheering you on when we finally did. We loved what you did and you made us all proud. Well done!

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