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  • Writer's pictureDawn Dalton

The Gamer Girl's Guide to Surviving Conventions


It's that time of year again where everyone is starting to register for their favorite conventions. For the first time since 2018, I'm going back to Gen Con! We took 2019 off and went to Origins instead, but decided this year to go old school. I've been doing conventions for years so I thought I'd impart some of the wisdom I've gained over they years.


Do Your Research!

Take some time early in the process to figure out where the convention is being held and where your hotel is. How are you getting there? Uber, walking, driving yourself? Make sure you know how to navigate the city you're staying in.

In addition, find places to eat, especially if they are off the beaten path. Nothing sucks worse than being hungry and having to wade through a sea of people to get a terrible sandwich.


Don't Wait

Waiting until the last minute means you will be staying at a hotel super far away (unless you get seriously lucky) and possibly not going at all. Badges do sell out.


Make a Plan

And be prepared to throw it out. Not everything is going to go perfectly. Traffic happens. Events get canceled.


Schedule Some Events

It will be tempting to think you will spend all your time in the vendor hall. There is a lot to see and do in there, but generally there isn't enough to keep you busy for four days. Nothing sucks worse than wandering around for hours with nothing to do. Find something fun to do outside the vendor hall.


Leave Some Free Time

Don't cram your day so full of stuff that you don't have some down time. Explore the city around you. I like to art crawl wherever I go because there are interesting bits of sculpture out there to be found. It also allows you to get away from the crowds and decompress.


Do Your Research!

Yes, this is on here twice on purpose. Before you head out to the convention, check out the vendor list. Is there a new game you can't wait to get your hands on? Where in the vendor hall is their booth? Where are all of your events? Don't get caught running from one end of the building to the other in a panic because you didn't leave yourself enough time to get there.


Dress Appropriately

Layers are your friend. Wear what you want, but be prepared for the convention center to be miserable hot or that one room to be freezing cold. Pack an umbrella if you've got a long walk from your hotel.


Wear the Right Shoes

And break them in ahead of time. It might be tempting to wear a fancy pair of heels or boots, but your feet are going to kill you by the end of the day. If you're in cosplay and have a very long walk from your hotel, maybe think about wearing a pair of sneakers until you get to the convention just to save yourself some pain.


Cosplaying

There are two part to this. One where you are the cosplayer and one where you are not.

Cosplayers. Be prepared to be stopped over and over to have your picture taken. It happens, especially if you have a particularly amazing costume. But take pictures respectfully. The con is not your private photo shoot, don't block aisles and stairs just to get the perfect shot.

Non-cosplayers. Be respectful of people taking pictures. Don't just walk through the shot. Ask before taking a picture of anyone. Consent is king. Be respectful of the people around you and don't block aisles.


Spatial Awareness

Realize that if you bring a huge backpack, you take up a bigger space than normal. I can't tell you how many times I've had to pull a matrix move to dodge a backpack because the person wearing it whipped around without paying attention to anyone around them. Spaces are cramped. Watch out for other people and don't block aisles, especially in busy areas.


Hygiene is Your Friend

I can't believe I have to bring this up, but realize you're going to be doing a lot of walking and it's going to get warm. Wear deodorant and clean clothes. Shower and make sure you get all the stinky parts. Your fellow gamers will thank you for it.


Hydrate and Eat

You're going to be tempted to cram in as many games and seminars as you can, even if it means skipping on eating. Don't. Bring a water bottle and fill it up at the water fountains. Pack some snacks if you're trying to save a bit of money. Hitting day three or four on minimal food and hydration is not pretty. Do your body a favor and give it fuel.


Sleep

Do it. Don't think you can game all night and keep going the next day. There is a limit to the amount of caffeine your body can handle. Trust me, you will be better for skipping a game for sleep (or at least a nap).


Have a Convention Kit

In my backpack, I carry a spare battery, charger, and cords for my phone. While I rarely use it, lots of other people in the seminars I attend have borrowed it. Don't get stuck with a dead phone. As an introvert, I also carry a small coloring book and markers as well as headphones so I can find a quiet spot to unwind. Snacks and a water bottle. A notebook if you are planning to do seminars. Just be sure to leave space for your purchases.


Have Fun!

This is the time to be around a lot of like minded people. Enjoy it. Try not to blow all of your money on day one.


What tips did I miss? Let me know!

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