Convention Season Survival Guide
We are in the middle of convention season and with LadiesCon around the corner we thought that we would share some great conventioning tips that we have learned over the years and help you prepare for successful conventioning. Here are our top fifteen tips to help everyone enjoy conventions.
- Wear Comfortable Shoes
Whether you are going to a smaller convention like LadiesCon or a large convention like GenCon, comfortable and reliable shoes are a must. You will be walking a lot. Keep this in mind if you’re planning on wearing a costume as well. Those platform heels might look amazing, but after 2 hours walking the con floor, your feet will be screaming at you!
- Stay Hydrated and Well Fed
Eat regular meals and carry a water bottle around with you at all times during the convention. Super important.
- If You Want to Take a Picture with a Cosplayer, Ask Permission First
People who cosplay (designing, making and dressing up as their favorite characters from literature/TV/films) take great pains and effort to be as accurate and detailed as possible. Usually they don’t mind if you take a picture and even have poses ready….as long as you ask first. Ask politely and make sure that if you are complimenting them to focus on the costume. This leads to a very important point.
- Remember: Cosplay Does Not Equal Consent
This is key. Cosplay does not mean that it is okay to touch, ogle, make comments about body parts or catcall. Sadly, every convention season, we see articles or first person accounts on social media about an individual who was sexually harassed at a convention. Cosplayers have the right to refusal to interact with convention goers. If the individual does not want to interact, leave them alone. Don’t be rude or entitled. Be kind. Be courteous.
- Respect Other People’s Space and Body Language
If you are speaking with a person and they are projecting body language that indicates that they are uncomfortable or trying to exit the conversation listen to their body language and conclude the conversation. If the creator of your favorite game has listened to you talk about your character for 20 minutes and now they are trying to back away or looks like they are looking for on their way out, end the conversation by thanking them and walking away.
- Check Convention Rules Before the Big Day and Plan Ahead
Look at the website of the convention you are attending and look for rules or a code of conduct. For example, LadiesCon has their safety and anti-harassment rules clear as day on their website. This will help you prepare for the day and leave illegal items (like actual weapons) at home. Also print a map and plan your panels and shopping time so that you know where you need to be and can plan your steps efficiently. Also, highlight the bathrooms and quiet room. These are two of the most important things to know location wise.
- Use the Buddy System if You Feel Unsure about Your Comfort Level at a Convention
At larger conventions, Lady Diceacorn often will not go into the dealer hall or a common space without a buddy (usually Lord Diceacorn). It is more of a comfort measure than a necessity. If you feel uncomfortable going anywhere at a convention, bring a friend and have a buddy.
- Practice Good Hygiene
Those who don’t shower give convention goers a bad name. Use soap, use deodorant and bring some for a reapply. Let me tell you we appreciate your effort. And don’t use an excessive amount of perfume/body spray/cologne. Others may have allergies!
- Bring Cash
Some of the smaller retailers in the dealer hall will only take cash. Bring a little stash of cash so you can support your friendly local businesses.
- Be Aware of People Around You
The next few tips come from Lady Diceacorn’s friend Hans Cummings (his whole blog post is here and three of the tips are being repeated in this blog with his permission). When at a convention, be aware of people around you. If a person at a convention has a backpack; it is on the same level as a person who is in a wheelchair. That person would prefer not to be hit in the face. Also stopping in the middle of the crowded aisle makes it hard for people to get around you. Move to the side or to an aisle end so that people can move around you.
- Give Wheelchairs and Other Mobility Devices a Wide Berth and Do Not Step Over Them
This speaks for itself really. Give these devices room to move around. And don’t step over their feet to try and get somewhere faster. You are more likely to step on the legs or feet of the person on the device and if they have a disability that makes their nerves extra sensitive then it is very painful. (Lady Diceacorn has seen this in person. She still can’t believe that this happens.) Be patient. Don’t be a jerk.
- Do Not Tie Up the Wheelchair Accessible Stalls in the Bathroom Unless it is a Bathroom Emergency and be understanding of Invisible Illnesses.
Wheelchair Accessible stalls in the bathrooms are designed for those in wheelchairs or who have other different bathroom needs than those who are able bodied. Do not use this stall to put on your cosplay. Leave this stall available for them to use unless it is an emergency and you have to go to the bathroom really bad. Also be tolerant of bathroom related illnesses. Lady Diceacorn, who suffers from IBD carries a card to show if she needs to use that stall. Generally people are understanding about this, but there are times when they are not. Also, in a lot of bathrooms, that’s where the diaper changing station is located, so be aware of parents dealing with a diaper blowout as well. (Meepline has had to wait with a poop-covered child for someone able-bodied to finish using the larger stall even though there were other stalls open.)
- Try to Avoid Con Crud
The dreaded concrud is a sickness (usually a virus) that people get after being in an environment with a lot of people, some of whom are still sick when they attend a convention. Stock up on juice, wash your hands a lot during the convention, use hand sanitizer and rest the day after returning from the convention are great ways to try and avoid concrud.
- Know your Limits
Everyone has their limits and when you are at a convention the urge to do it all at once is great. Fight it. When you are feeling overwhelmed, find the quiet room where people go to meditate, sit for a bit, play a quiet game or let the sensory overload subside. Then you can go back and enjoy the convention without feeling like jumping out of your skin. Conventions often have a kid’s space with a movie playing and geeky crafts too. This is a great break for both you and the little ones.
- Most Importantly - Have Fun!
Conventioning is about fun. These tips are to help you, but really just remember your good manners, be polite to all and be as inclusive as possible. Have a wonderful, happy and healthy convention season.
There is no featured game this month as there is no September game day, so in lieu of that, we are going to tell you about a game we love that we have not featured there. We do hope you will visit us at LadiesCon and come and see our panel about being the only woman at a gaming table.
Games we Love:
Lady Diceacorn: I love a good strategy game and a good tactile game and my new favorite game is Azul by Plan B games. In this game you are artists looking to create beautiful Alhambra inspired walls for the Royal Palace of Evora. In the game, players take turns drafting colored tiles from suppliers to their player board. At the end of each round, the players score points based on how they've placed their tiles to decorate the palace. The first player with a vertical row built triggers the end game. The player with the highest score wins.
Meepline: I’m a huge fan of games that have different gimmicks, and a new game in the Meepline home is Mansions of Madness, one of the Lovecraftian games by Fantasy Flight Games. The “gimmick” of this game is the app needed to play it. The app is essential; if you’ve ever played Betrayal at House on the Hill, you know how convoluted having a ton of pieces, cards, and books can get. With the app, you don’t need as many physical pieces! It tells you everything you need to know about everything. And if your game is running too long, you can save it! (I recommend taking pictures of your individual characters, though. The app doesn’t track that.) There are also expansions that you can buy, and then input them into the app. Can you defeat whatever evil the Mansion throws your way? Good luck, and don’t go too crazy.
That is it for us this month. We hope you visit us at LadiesCon on September 22, 2017 at the Armory of the Arts in Somerville. Until next time- May all your hits be crits!