Surviving a Convention


It’s been a while since I’ve attended a convention of any kind. Gaming and other geek conventions differ from writing conferences and business convocations in several ways. They tend to be a bit more fun and free-form. It’s easy to lose track of time, belongings or personal needs & hygiene in the encapsulated environment of a hotel ballroom converted into a parlor for the celebration of geekdom. And when you’re away from it for a while, as I was, it’s easy to forget a few of the basics.

Hopefully, this will be helpful for others as it could have been to myself, say, yesterday. Hindsight is 20/20 and I’ve got my butt-shades on.

Bring Your Own Food & Water

A few dollars spent at a grocery story can go a long way in extending your convention enjoyment. A few bottles of water, some snacks and the means to make easy food like sandwiches or maybe a salad will likely cost you the same as a meal at the local fast food joint. Not to mention the greater degree of control over your consumption means you can make healthier choices.

For the record, the next time I come to one of these shindigs, I plan on picking up a six-pack of water bottles, some baby carrots and almonds, a bag of chips or pretzels, a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly and marshmellow fluff. Because fluffernutters are awesome.

Be Prepared

Gamers can be a fickle, impatient lot. Go over the convention schedule, know what you want to do and where you have to be at what time to do it. Otherwise, you may find yourself administrating an empty table.

If someone else failed their time-comprehension check or they have a loved one hacking up a lung, it doesn’t hurt to bring some entertainment of your own. A laptop or portable gaming system can amuse yourself, but conventions are supposedly social occasions. For the sorts of conventions I’m discussing, bring card games: Fluxx, Chrononauts, Three-Dragon Ante, etc. Feel free to toss a couple Magic decks in your luggage as well, just in case another planeswalker appears.

For Cthulhu’s Sake, WASH

This hasn’t been much of a problem of late, but I remember attending a few conventions where someone decided to keep the fun going all night long and neglected to take ten minutes to wash some of the funk off in the shower. It’s common courtesy to not stink up the joint, after all. I tossed a stick of deodorant in a plastic bag just in case I found myself rooted to a table for hours and completely lost track of time. That didn’t happen, but it falls under the “Be Prepared” rule.

Tomorrow I’ll give more thoughts on my current con experience, and Tuesday we unbox the Dungeon Master’s Kit before I subject my victims players to its contents.

1 Comment

  1. You are right on the money with packing your own food and drinks. When I did X-Con a few weeks ago, I forgot to do that on the first day and I was miserable. I needed a sugar fix after a while and had to pay $1.00 for a small cookie. A standard sandwich like I could’ve made in my own kitchen for a few cents was selling for $5.00 and I wasn’t paying that. The second day, I was able to eat the sandwiches I brought from home and drink my bottled water from home. I was much happier.

    Another thing I forgot to bring on that first day was extra dice. I only brought a small number of dice that weren’t d6’s (since I was facilitating Fiasco, I brought plenty of them, but not much else). I had to borrow some dice to play in another game when one of my games didn’t make. The next day, I brought my dice tackle box and was able to return the favor by loaning dice to another player during a game.

    At X-Con, I noticed that the majority of the con-goers were not at all time-conscious. They did not show up at the appropriate times for the gaming track and didn’t use the sign-up sheets at the registration table. They would just wander into the gaming area at random intervals and look for a game. Since there were usually extra GM’s sitting around this wasn’t a problem, but it was frustrating to have a 1:00pm game not make, then have 5 players show up at 2:45pm and ask when you were starting, then have a shorter time frame to play in order to keep the possibility of another game at the next appointed time slot. I think this was both a result of the organization of the con and the general Myrtle Beach laid-back lifestyle. By the 3rd day, we took turns going out into the exhibit hall to round up players and bring them back to a waiting GM. This seemed to work for this particular con, but was not a desirable solution overall.

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