While going to a Gaming Convention can be the highlight of any pop culture nerd’s year, there are some pitfalls that enthusiastic con-goers can avoid. Knowing how to prepare for your Gen Con, PAX (PAX West, PAX East, PAX South), Comic-Con, Origins, UK Games Expo or Dragon Con depends on you being aware of your own pitfalls. That, along with some bits of common sense, can make your experience much more fun. It doesn’t matter whether your convention takes place in North America, Australia or Europe.
Here’s a short list of the top ten things to avoid when going to a gaming convention:
It’s important to check if the gaming convention you’re going to has a quiet room or other accommodations that you might need. Even if you don’t have special expectations or it’s your first time going to a convention, it can’t hurt to scan out the area around. You should check both where you’re staying and the gaming convention center to know what’s around. Also, check if there are places to eat or drink and the like. Be sure to read the attendee FAQ and check out the weather in the area. If you were planning a cosplay, make sure you aren’t dressed too light. Speaking of cosplay, make sure you have comfortable footwear. If your cosplay doesn’t allow for flats or sneakers, then get some sort of inserts or moleskin wraps. This way your feet will have as much fun as you.
Not making a game plan
There is a lot going on at every gaming event and you don’t want to miss anything that’s important just because you didn’t check your schedule. Most bigger conventions, like Gen Con or Dragon Con, have apps with the most updated schedule at hand. Even if they don’t, their websites or Facebook pages will definitely help. Adding things to your phone’s calendar with alarms also helps with making plans with friends, events, and panels.
Do you forget to eat when you’re in the middle of exciting activities? Or are you not getting enough water intake while waiting in line for the event registrations of major gaming industry conventions like Gen Con or United Kingdom Games Expo?
Not being at your very best health wise at the convention leaves you susceptible to the dreaded ‘Con Crud’. This is the general illness that many participants catch from being in close quarters with so many people from so many different places. But the solution is easy. Just take care of yourself, get enough rest, eat good food (not just snacks), and drink enough water. Use a backpack or a versatile portable card case to stock up on food and drinks alongside your personal belongings.
Gaming Conventions are a great place to shop for gifts. Both for yourself and for your friends who share the same interests. From convention exclusives, new board games, upcoming games, rare vintage collectibles, fan art and commissions from artists hard to find in person otherwise, the gaming event is a commerce heaven. But with all that good stuff to buy, you have to make sure you don’t blow your money getting all the swag. The gaming industry has a special focus on game conferences. You will find there at least one appealing role-playing game you will want in your collection. The easiest way for you to safeguard your bank balance and keep to the budget you set down before, is to use a budget management app, This will help you keep organized.
This is the perfect moment to make friends, regardless if the gaming convention is in your hometown or if you traveled for it. While you stand in lines for panels or meet and greets, sit in gaming halls, trying a new tabletop game, check a comic book or walk around the convention floor, don’t be afraid to talk to people. Get to know them if they are open to it. You might make friends who are already into some if not all of the things you are already interested in. Put your phone aside for a moment and leave the important messages and chats for later.
Not getting involved
Most gaming conventions have volunteer programs where con-goers can, during downtime, help out with the production of the event. By giving the staff some help while gaining a behind the scenes view of the event you could, in some cases, become part of the staff yourself. If you have a love of the convention beyond just the event itself, offering your help to make it happen might be the right thing for you.
Bringing the real world into the gaming convention
Leave as much of your outside world at the convention center doors and focus on your new board games. Don’t look at work emails or take calls that would stress you out. The weekend is about you, about having fun and trying different event types. You don’t need to mix them up with the problems that you encounter during the rest of the year. This is your personal fun time.
Getting burned out
Gaming conventions are a marathon of fun events, shops, fan art, and panels. However, you should never forget, despite the cosplay you might be in or the game developers you meet maybe for the first time, that you’re still human. You need rest, both sleep at night and breaks as the day goes on. If you get burnt out early on Saturday, how will you enjoy the rest of the convention?
People, possibly including yourself, spend hundreds of dollars on costumes and equipment to take on the mantle of their favorite characters from pop culture. One of the many draws of any gaming convention is the photo shoots that happen around the event. However, cosplay does not imply consent. Always ask before taking pictures of cosplayers, and respect them if they decline to stop and pose for you. Never touch cosplayers without them explicitly allowing you to. Same goes for game developers, game designers or any other industry professionals.
This is this the polite way to behave. Doing otherwise, as the convention world tries to become a better place for everyone, could cause you to be ejected and your pass confiscated.
Not enjoying yourself
Do what makes you happy. Even if that means you might not be with your friends who join you regularly. If there is a tabletop game / roleplaying game you want to try or a panel you want to go to, that they don’t, just go. You can see them later. Your gaming convention is about yourself. Nonetheless, you might experience interesting things to share with them later when you touch base again.
Bonus: Leaving your Quiver Time Playing Card Case at home
I know we promised 10 hints, but here goes the 11th.
The chances for you to have an exceptional gaming night at a gaming convention are very high. Especially if you come prepared and have your favorite games with you.
And what better way to keep them safe and easy to carry, if not with your Quiver Time Carrying Card Case? Just don’t forget your Quiver at home!
Share your hints with our community!
Would you like to share your lessons learned with the tabletop community?
Write them down in the comments section below. Sharing your own experiences and contributing to the community will help everyone learn from them.
Happy Quiver Time, everybody!