$10 an hour for GenCon staff "volunteers"
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Posted by qwaserity

I was just looking over the positions for working at GenCon and noted that they now pay the volunteers. Is this new or did I miss it last year?

I'm an old hand at conventions so I can say "Been there, done that, understand why..."

Is this why tickets went up $20 this year? I'm curious but truthfully, if it is then good!!! I've seen what con volunteers have to endure.  99% plus of the attendees are completely agreeable, mild and wonderful to service but those aren't the ones that make for customer service volunteer horror stories.

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Posted by zazamos

I'm pretty sure this has something to do with it. At least more so than the reason why badge prices went up again.

Badge prices go up just because they go up. The cost of doing business--convention site costs, convention site laborer costs, inflation, Gen Con staff wants more money, etc...

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Posted by trace_sl

The hourly rate was there last year and I think the year before.  I do not think it has to do with increase in badges, feel that is just more dealing with the increase in space needed to hold all the events but would not be surprised to hear it. 

Everything is wrapped together in the cost of the con; travel, shipping, setup, square footage, entertainment, services, etc..., just a lot of details behind the scenes that we do not know about and any increase in those can impact the cost we end up paying.  
 

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Posted by austicke

No, the paid Event Team began last year. 2016 was the final year with volunteers.

_____________________________________
Alec Usticke, Fans of Gen Con Facebook Group

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Posted by nascragman

so do volunteers need to buy a badge?

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Posted by mikeboozer nascragman

nascragman wrote:
so do volunteers need to buy a badge?
 
Captains and Deputies do not need to buy a badge.

All other Event Team members do need to buy a badge. Apprentice level Event Team members have their badge reimbursed after the show.

You can find out more information here:

FAQ Event Team

and here:

Event Team policies

Mike Boozer
Customer Service & Event Team Manager
Gen Con LLC
 

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Posted by garhkal

So at 10$/hr, a volunteer would need to work 9.5 hrs to get a 4 day badge..

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Posted by bithlord

I'm confused by the usage of "volunteer" here.

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Posted by qwaserity

Bithlord, your confusion is understandable. "In the good old days" people used to volunteer to work various parts of a convention: herding attendees, check in folks, security, etc... They did it because they loved the conventions and wanted to help out. There are also some perks to working a convention as well.

A few years ago, some BLEEPs who had worked for years as judges for Magic: the Gathering decided that they weren't being paid enough according to California law. Even though they had been judges for ten years, at no time did they think, "Hey, I should be paid more for this!" (I'm not sure what the current status of this argument is but...)

Recently, some Comic Cons have come under fire for the same reason. According to some courts, you can't "volunteer" for a business that isn't non-profit; you need to be paid the minimum wage. So even though there are hundreds of "volunteers" at GenCon, they are actually working for a for-profit company and deserve to be paid.

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Posted by garhkal

So i wonder will that ever apply to those who 'volunteer' to DM games, even though they ARE compensated (via badge + possible room)?

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Posted by mhayward1978 qwaserity

qwaserity wrote:
Bithlord, your confusion is understandable. "In the good old days" people used to volunteer to work various parts of a convention: herding attendees, check in folks, security, etc... They did it because they loved the conventions and wanted to help out. There are also some perks to working a convention as well.
A few years ago, some BLEEPs who had worked for years as judges for Magic: the Gathering decided that they weren't being paid enough according to California law. Even though they had been judges for ten years, at no time did they think, "Hey, I should be paid more for this!" (I'm not sure what the current status of this argument is but...)
Recently, some Comic Cons have come under fire for the same reason. According to some courts, you can't "volunteer" for a business that isn't non-profit; you need to be paid the minimum wage. So even though there are hundreds of "volunteers" at GenCon, they are actually working for a for-profit company and deserve to be paid.

Yeah, friggin' BLEEPS, always looking to get paid for their labor!  They're the worst!  I tell my boss to keep his money, I go to work for the love of the game, just like you!

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Posted by ryric

The issue is, while I imagine most game conventions operate in good faith and the volunteers really were there voluntarily, you can't trust other businesses not to abuse such a loophole if it exists. Imagine a fast food place or big box store asking for "volunteers" to work extra hours instead of paying overtime, oh, and there's the looming threat of the worker losing their actual paying job if they don't "volunteer" enough. Intern work is sketchy for the same reason and it's beginning to get looked at as well.

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Posted by nascragman

So $10 an hour and eventual badge reimbursement.

Let's say you work 4 hours per day so you earn $160 gross (Minus taxes/FICA/etc).  Maybe you take away $120.  even in a cheap hotel you'll be $200 a night out of pocket.  So then its the old "how many roommates can we pack in a room" game.

If instead you ran a 6 player game for 16 hours - 96 player hours I think you'd be about at the same place, maybe a little better off. 

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Posted by nscott garhkal

garhkal wrote:
So i wonder will that ever apply to those who 'volunteer' to DM games, even though they ARE compensated (via badge + possible room)?
Independant DM/GM’s  are likely considered independant contractors under employment regulations. As an indepedent DM/GM you can charge whatever you want on top of the base Gen Con price for a ticket to a game you are running.

Where it gets murkier is “volunteering” with the number of companies out there that are contracted by the game companies to run events featuring their product. 

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Posted by knuteski

I'm not in favor of minimum wages whatsoever.  They had their place but in today's day and age, I feel it holds back people from paying more because they don't need to.

Anywho, since there is minimum wage, I 100% support this ruling to eliminate convention volunteers and make them paid employees.  To take what Ryric said a step further, I actually don't think that there's a difference between fast food and big box stores and Gen Con besides the simple fact that I get more enjoyment out of Gen Con.  But there are plenty of people who love fast food...ever heard of weddings at White Castle?  I have.  I know lots of people who go to game stores and just hang out.

 If a convention is in the business to make money, it's the very definition of a for-profit and should be subject to the same rules.  If a convention doesn't care about profits and is just there to enrich the gaming world, well then I'm 100% comfortable with it being a not-for-profit and not paying its volunteers (heck, I went to a not-for-profit coffee shop yesterday).

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Posted by braewe

I used to work for fast food (McDonalds, general manager) I can tell you that they WILL pay more than minimum but only in areas where they cannot get people to work for less--closers, or areas where factories are, etc.

In a depressed city if they COULD pay less, they absolutely would. They are in business to make money. There have been incentives to lower the average wage of restaurants, (ie you schedule those with higher wages fewer hours, encourage employees who have reached max pay rate to leave, hire more minors(usually they can be paid a good deal less than minimum)etc) so my belief that employers are 'held back' from paying more is nonexistent. Employers pay what they have to in order to attain and retain the skill they require and nothing more.

If I could get a highly skilled surgeon for $150,000 a year instead of $450,000 a year that is that much more money I could use to acquire new equipment, upkeep what I have, etc.

But enough of that. If there actually IS coercion to 'persuade' someone to 'volunteer' or lose a job, then certainly that shouldn't happen. But of course it does, and in more situations than a gaming convention. We were 'encouraged' to 'donate' our time to the local Ronald McDonald house. I ended up happy I did, as it is a very worthwhile charity, but I would have preferred to have made that decision myself. We also had 'meetings' that were actually volunteering at a childrens food charity. 

I mean. I am glad the volunteers are getting paid, and I think many folks would get paid less or not at all without minimum wage.

As someone who volunteers for a gaming company however, I just like getting the badge, swag, and running games. It is almost entirely for just my own enjoyment. I LIKE running games.

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Posted by roganca knuteski

 
knuteski wrote:
I'm not in favor of minimum wages whatsoever.  They had their place but in today's day and age, I feel it holds back people from paying more because they don't need to.
Hard to quantify how asinine this sentiment is on a national level, but yeah, as far as the convention goes, it makes sense to pay with connected housing, which is the best currency there is between August 2 and 5 in Indianapolis.

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Posted by qwaserity

I'm glad the folks are getting paid. I've seen and worked every level of conventions and have had a variety of experiences:
Magic Judge, one day tournament: Work 16 hours. Paid: food and a box of cards from the latest set.
Magic Judge, four day convention: Work 3 days and tear down. Paid: Room, badge, 4 boxes of cards.
Magic demos, WOTC/GenCon 2010: Work 4 days and tear down. Paid: Room, badge, MUCHO SWAG, 3 dinners including dinner with famous folks, con SWAG.
Volunteer, local con: Work 2 days. Paid: Badge.
Tournament Organizer, local con: Work several days including spreading fliers. Paid: Badge.
Volunteer, Major convention: Work 4 days. Paid Badge, board, $8 per diem.
Volunteer, Major trade show: Work 2 days in Las Vegas. Paid Badge, board, travel, steak dinner, about $600 in games.
Director, Major convention: Work 4 days. Paid Badge, board, travel, $8 per diem, pizza dinner, about $600 in games.
Volunteer, Major trade show: Work 3 days in Las Vegas. Paid: Badge, board, travel.
Volunteer, local comic con: Work 2 days. Paid: Badge, $100, food, $100 in games.
Director, local comic con: Work 4 days. Paid: Badge, $300, food, LOTS of prestige.

The bottom line is this: If I didn't want to work a con, I wouldn't. But for some folks, it's the best way to afford a convention. I'm very happy that they are getting paid. I've been there and done that and that is why they get my respect for putting up with the con crowds.

 

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Posted by ytuni

Last year there was a debate over the legality of True Dungeon's "volunteers". It would stand to reason that since they are a for-profit company they would have to pay their "volunteers" as well. I don't know if housing, a badge, and a stipend qualify as payment or not. Hourly payment seems a lot more legitimate if you ask me, and I doubt that the "stipend" equates to the minimum wage requirements.

On another note: the minimum wage in Indiana is currently $7.25/hour so Gen Con is actually paying its "volunteers" more than a fair wage for their time.

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Posted by ladyimm

Of course, then the 'volunteers' will have to find their own rooms if they are getting paid an hourly wage -- or else the cost of housing will have to come out of the hourly wage... just a thought.

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