14 thoughts on “Found this linked to from another article about the current SXSW shenanigans.

  1. So, (and full disclaimer, amateur economist hour here) I’m not sure it’s entirely that simple. I recently learned about positive externalities and I think they might be relevant.

    These are like negative externalities (such as they what companies don’t have to pay to pollute, they just foist a cost onto everyone), but in reverse, a benefit that nobody pays for. (An example, apparently, is the way bee-keepers wind up helping pollinate nearby orchards, but don’t get anything for it. Or, for that matter, paying more to drive a environmentally friendly car.)

    Positive externalities are great when they happen, but the problem is there’s no slippery slope to help them happen organically, so often there are benefits that simply don’t get produced.  (Nobody pays kids to go to the park, even though having lots of kids at the park makes it a more happening place for all concerned.)

    Anyways, this is a long explanation not to sound preachy or condescending (because really, I’m just grappling with ideas I’m not that conversant with), but to let you know where my head is at when I say that it’s okay for people who pony up money and effort to make a positive thing happen to get some money from it.

    I guess a more down to earth example is BW Con. Luke & co. got everyone together to play games, and you could make a similar argument that they underpaid the GMs, whose unpaid labor was instrumental. (Let’s pretend for a bit that the entry fee generated a profit for BWHQ, which for all I know might not at all be the case.)

  2. Mark Delsing Yes, I agree, there’s a point at which the organizers have enough control and an information advantage (they know what their costs/profit is, nobody else does). The network effects make it hard to start up a competing con that competes.

  3. I’m sorry Mark, I didn’t make my point well. My point is I think this is how a lot of conventions are run; PAX, Comic-con, Gen Con, etc. If the practice is evil, we should be denouncing everyone, not just the convention we’re presently wanting to harm socially or economically. People undervaluing their labor for free tickets seems to be the standard of cons.

  4. Clyde Rhoer Oh, I agree. But, like I said, I think there is a tipping point. E.g., I can’t fault not getting paid to run games at Forge Midwest; nobody makes money off of that. But GenCon? Yeah, I can see making an argument.

    I think this also relates to the current debate about diversity at conventions and on convention panels, i.e., if the only people who can afford to attend your event are affluent and white, then your event is going to be pretty monotone.