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Theft-proofing consoles,etc for conventions?


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Thought:

 

What could be done to various consoles to tether them/lock down when they are for public play at conventions? 99% of the time said hardware's going to be safe anyway, but what about an extra precaution so it won't get swiped off the floor like a stack of CDs?

 

One would think of addtiions to a console, but not alterations(no Dremeling) where it would have holes permanently cut in it, etc.

 

Maybe a safety wire +washer on screw connections? Dunno. Then lock it down to the exhibit table.

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I had a recent thought of concern as well with this and even being present the entire time doesn't exactly mean you'll catch someone swiping something. Thankfully I've not heard of any issues in the past and hopefully it'll remain that way. With really small conventions it shouldn't even be an issue but with things growing to thousands of people at one event spread across several days, it's hard telling.

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I've been arranging 13+ retro gaming exhibitions of which at least 10+ featured a partly unattended gaming area, ranging from 8 to 30 different systems. I think there may have been in the range of 1-3 items which have disappeared when everything was packed down and inventoried. Of course that is 1-3 items too many, but generally the vast majority including small children and rowdy teenagers seem to respect your gear. I have also participated on another 10++ similar exhibitions where I was not an arranger, and from what I've heard they had the same rate or less.

 

Handheld games of course are good to fasten with a wire, and if you can, stick with just one multicart per system so no need to have loose games on the table. We've tried to both having games so people can change them on their own (and indeed people understand that they must power off the system to replace a cartridge, even without us specifically instruct them to!), and have a manned "loan desk" where all spare games were kept. The latter is good if you have a bigger library than you have room for on the table with the system, but tended to make people less interested in changing games, or maybe they didn't know that option existed.

 

YMMV of course. Good luck!

Edited by carlsson
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IoCOgbe.jpg

Wrap each consoles with this and run thick cable through all of them to table's leg. Can't be removed without cutting (and triggering nasty alarm) or having key. As someone said, use multi-cart, they can be left inside console and the strap would make removing game carts from most console very hard.

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Where are you guys having your exhibitions, at correctional facilities for criminals adjusting to a lawful life? Or is the general theft rate that much higher in the US than over here, that it is impossible to leave an item unattended? I suppose at a convention, most people have paid an entrance fee, so they have actually invested something to come and play. It is not the same as signing a contract to not disbehave but kind of similar.

 

People like Albert should probably be able to voice in, even if he and other AtariAge staff likely attend their tables at all time during exhibitions which should scare at least the insecure thieves some.

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The most common thing I see at my conventions is less about the systems and more about the attendees. There's two tables when you go into the console room: one for cart checkout, and one 'doorman' who takes your bags and con badge when you go in. They note what game & station you're at when they take your badge. You don't get it back until you turn in the game.

 

It's not a perfect system, there's always a guy or two who gets in with a badge- but since games are tied to badges, someone is losing their con privileges if a game goes awol. It deters most folks.

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Where are you guys having your exhibitions, at correctional facilities for criminals adjusting to a lawful life? Or is the general theft rate that much higher in the US than over here, that it is impossible to leave an item unattended? I suppose at a convention, most people have paid an entrance fee, so they have actually invested something to come and play. It is not the same as signing a contract to not disbehave but kind of similar.

 

People like Albert should probably be able to voice in, even if he and other AtariAge staff likely attend their tables at all time during exhibitions which should scare at least the insecure thieves some.

Unfortunately, it only takes one low-life out of a thousand to steal or damage things. And sometimes young kids do things accidentally like pick something up and carry it off to another table without thinking (or maybe being supervised).

 

On the other hand, I've exhibited 4 or 5 times, do keep an alert eye out, and had no issues.

 

I know some guys get kind of worried, though, especially at the bigger shows. Also, some of the rare games are starting to get kind of pricey, so multi-cart sounds like a good idea...

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Ding ding ding we have a winner. Many Americans have an entitlement complex, are untrustworthy, and normally unreliable. Yes I am a US citizen.

Although many, many more are not self-centered jerks, I can't disagree with the above statement.

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The most common thing I see at my conventions is less about the systems and more about the attendees. There's two tables when you go into the console room: one for cart checkout, and one 'doorman' who takes your bags and con badge when you go in. They note what game & station you're at when they take your badge. You don't get it back until you turn in the game.

 

This is fine for small events but it wouldn't work at all for much bigger events like Play Expo in the UK with 15,000 people through the doors over a weekend.

 

I've exhibited at quite a few events (of all sizes) both in the UK and abroad (AC in France and eJagFest in Germany). The European ones have been the best for feeling that your stuff will be OK, but they were considerably smaller than Play in the UK. The only time I've had something stolen was from the AA stand at CGE in 2010. That never stopped me from demoing my stuff though.

 

At Play Expo, you have to watch people like a hawk, which can be difficult if your friends or other people want a chat. Luckily there are normally a few of us on the homebrew stand which makes life easier. People with drinks are always a concern though. Attendees don't tend to think of the systems being played on, as belong to an individual. Several times I've seen people fiddling with systems, pulling on cables, examining peripherals and going through the menus on multi-carts or SD based drives instead of just playing what we want them to play.

 

As long as you attend these things with your eyes open and take some simple precautions you'll have a good time.

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This is fine for small events but it wouldn't work at all for much bigger events like Play Expo in the UK with 15,000 people through the doors over a weekend.

Actually, the smaller of the cons I've attended in the last few years averaged 15-20,000 while I was going. Pax Prime/West has around 75,000 attendees.

 

You don't really have to plan for the whole con, just the size of the room your stuff is in. Plus, the badge-taking seems to be pretty effective... nobody really wants to give up their time at the con to get a free game. (Plus, with the smaller cons, you typically have to give your name & address to get a badge. Even if you ran out with a stolen game, they'd be able to check your abandoned badge, pull your registration, and call the cops.)

 

Like I said- it's not perfect, but it seems to work.

 

 

At Play Expo, you have to watch people like a hawk, which can be difficult if your friends or other people want a chat. Luckily there are normally a few of us on the homebrew stand which makes life easier. People with drinks are always a concern though. Attendees don't tend to think of the systems being played on, as belong to an individual. Several times I've seen people fiddling with systems, pulling on cables, examining peripherals and going through the menus on multi-carts or SD based drives instead of just playing what we want them to play.

I will admit, I can be guilty of this- not cable-pulling, but menu fiddling & general system prodding. Usually, it's because I'm interested in buying the system in question & I'm trying to get a feel for what to look for on a working unit. I remember pulling out a tape measure once to figure out how much room I'd need to accommodate a Saturn someday. Of course, I'm always careful to not pull cords or otherwise stress the system- and I always get back to the game before I leave. I don't want to mess up anyone's stuff. It's just kinda hard to get to try some of these older machines before you buy one, y'know?

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I've been displaying systems at Midwest Gaming Classic for years now, and I'm fortunate to be able say theft has never been a problem for me.

What is becoming a problem for me is ever-increasing numbers of people who don't respect the machines on display, and take it upon themselves to bang on them, fiddle with things they don't know how to use, crash software, break parts and components and drives, etc. Oh, and let their unattended children run around and do likewise.

People-proofing my stuff is more of a concern for me than theft-proofing.

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You don't really have to plan for the whole con, just the size of the room your stuff is in. Plus, the badge-taking seems to be pretty effective... nobody really wants to give up their time at the con to get a free game. (Plus, with the smaller cons, you typically have to give your name & address to get a badge. Even if you ran out with a stolen game, they'd be able to check your abandoned badge, pull your registration, and call the cops.)

At the larger Play Expo we've always been out in the main area with other homebrewers and the Indies, and that space is huge. Play Expo don't do badges either, just wristbands. So as I said, you take all the precautions that are sensible for you to have fun too, otherwise its not worth the stress.

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A guy I know donates his consoles and games to the retro-game room at PAX East each year, including his Vectrex(!). I know I'd be uncomfortable letting the public at large handle a relatively rare and fragile console like the Vectrex.

 

I don't recall any anti-theft measures on the console hardware at PAX East. Games on the other hand required turning over your driver's license or other form of ID. I don't recall hearing any stories of theft or mistreatment in the console rooms, I think people generally are pretty respectful when there is a modicum of accountability (in the form of the ID hostage taking.)

 

Unfortunately, some people did take advantage of the packed expo hall this year to swipe stuff from vendor booths. I recall one vendor telling me he tried chasing a kid who snatched and ran off with a copy of Zelda: Four Swords.

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