So, friend, you have decided to head to your first con. That means you listened to my advice. Good job.
What? You’re nervous? You’re not sure how to prepare? Fret not, amigo! You will be just fine.
Here are some things you should know before attending your first convention:
1. Know what kind of convention you’re going to.
Before anything else, you must understand what kind of convention you are about to head to. It’s important because every con is different. Check out a few pictures or forums from last year’s con to get an idea of the expectations. Don’t forget to ask friends. Friends are always there to tell you what to bring, what to wear, etc.
2. You don’t have to cosplay.
Seriously, no one is going to judge you if you don’t cosplay. Especially at bigger cons, people dress comfortably because wearing a gown or holding a giant sword in large crowds is not only annoying, but you or someone else could get injured or stabbed or stepped on.
I didn’t cosplay to my first con and I loved it. Did I feel out of place-ish? Kind of. Did I have fun? YES. Were there others not in costume?Absolutely! It’s all good, fam! Dress however you’d like!
3. Know the weapons policy.
This is a really important one. If you are cosplaying, and your costume has a potentially
dangerous or fake prop, know the weapons policy of the convention before you show up with your lightsaber. The weapons policy is usually found in the FAQ or Cosplay section of the con’s website. If you can’t find it, ask a friend. You don’t want to get stuck in a 2-hour weapon’s check line because you brought your foam sword instead of leaving it in the car.
4. Bring food.
I cannot stress this enough. Bring snacks. You are going to miss them. Sometimes they prohibit outside food, but sometimes they don’t. When you want to get your first and only bite to eat at the con and it’s $4 for a water, $7.50 for gross empty mozzarella sticks, and $8 for a lousy tuna sandwich, you’re going to wish you packed a granola bar in your bag.
5. Bring cash.
This is also important, because if you do not have cash, you will be bored. At bigger cons, some panels and tournaments require an entry fee. Also, when meeting guests or celebrities, getting an autograph or a picture with the star can usually cost anywhere from $30-$200 (depending on who it is)!
Plus, if you see a T-Shirt or any other piece of merch that you find cool, and you think, “I NEED THIS NOW!” and you blew all your cash on empty mozzarella sticks and parking, you are going to kick yourself.
Merch ain’t cheap. Bring yer dough.
6. Take pictures, but try to ask first.
I know you are an upstanding individual who won’t take creepy photos of random people in cosplay without their permission, but some people do and it’s awkward. So, whoever is reading this: My gosh, man, don’t take pictures of people without asking!
Also, you’re going to want to treasure these memories forever. So go on! If you see a really cool cosplay, ask your friend to take a pic with the two of you and put it in a photo album.
7. Bring a friend.
When you’re at a con, never go by yourself. If you do, try to make new friends while you are there. Why? Because meandering around a convention without anyone to talk to, play games with, go to panels with, take pictures with, or cosplay with just isn’t fun! Trust me. I went to PAX alone and I didn’t last ten minutes by myself.
If you are cosplaying, when someone asks for a photo, you do not want to leave your bag unattended on the ground. That’s what friends are for: Holding stuff. (Totally kidding, but it’s definitely a plus.)
8. Bring a backpack.
Not a purse, not a little wallet, not even your deep-dish man pockets that can carry everything under the sun. Bring a good-sized bag to carry all the wonderful stuff you need and want. You don’t want to be stuck holding all the wonderful merch you just bought, or a jacket, or a poster FOR THE WHOLE DAY!
9. Meet people.
Con-friends are those people you will see again and again and again. Think of it this way: You have something in common with every single person at this convention. Whether it’s NYCC, or CampAnime. Everybody came here because they love being a geek, nerd, otaku, etc. We all love the same things, we’re all passionate about who we are. So why not introduce yourself and trade usernames?
And, of course —
10. Have fun!
I know this one’s a “duh”, but I’m totally serious. Some people mope around cons because they are tired or bored, when there’s so much to do. If you need rest, take a seat, head back to your hotel to take a cat nap, but don’t get all angry or upset. Go to a cool panel, buy something awesome, take pictures, go for a walk, meet people, and my gosh– GO HAVE FUN! YOU’RE AT A CON!
Peace out, fam. I’ll see you at the next convention.