LiLi’s Survival Guide for Conventions – Introvert’s Edition
Ah, conventions. An exciting environment where geeks can let their fandom flag fly proudly. A magical place where vendors, artists, and big names throughout the Geek-verse come together to celebrate all that makes our little microcosm that we’ve built in society for ourselves so special. Panels, and cosplay, and guests, OH MY! But there is another side to conventions, both gaming and otherwise.
The overly packed floors where an elbow to the face is more common than a ‘hello’, the sour smell of sweat seems to be an entire entity that dominates the show, the over-priced food, and the continuous barrage of loud noises – This is for that side of the convention spectrum. I’ve been working press for many different companies at many different types of conventions and I feel like it’s time to spread some of that knowledge around. So, my fellow introverts – this one is for you. Here is the Introvert’s Survival Guide to Conventions.
Take that however you will. Whether it’s a beer or a friendly chorus of Kumbaya, figure out what gets you the zen-iest zen you can be before throwing yourself to the wolves. Conventions are busy. They are loud, they are packed, and there is a lot of different energy floating around as the excitement buzz becomes palpable. Just because you’re an introvert doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Zen out, my friend. Know what you are about to walk into and do whatever it takes to prepare yourself before hand.
I know, what a ‘mom’ thing to say but it’s true! Staying hydrated will help you combat the uneasy feeling that comes with being smooshed in an overly crowded, often hot, area. A good bottle of water will help cool you down and keep your head straight.
21 and over peeps – if you partake, find your nearest bar
Ok, ok – I don’t mean let out your inner Courtney Love, I just mean if you are old enough and enjoy this particular past-time, don’t hesitate to go for that beer. I tell you what, a good cocktail can do wonders for an impending panic attack. I usually find my good friend Jack but I am also known to stray towards the more Ale-ey brethren of this particular cool-down activity.
Again, another totally ‘mom’ thing to say but it is so easy to lose yourself in the many wonders conventions have to offer. Suddenly you’re feeling light-headed and maybe a little nauseous? When was the last time you ate? Ahhh … don’t forget to do that!
Also, if you can, eat BEFORE the convention. The food is usually sub-par and far too expensive. Hit up a Micky-D’s before you go – Dolla’ dolla’ (menu) bill y’all!
Find your safe place
Most conventions have areas specifically designated to be “relaxation zones”. Whether it’s a little food area or simply a blocked off area on the floor – find these places BEFORE you get overwhelmed. That way, if you start to feel that panic creep out, you know you have a safe place to turn to in order to feel more like yourself. There’s no shame in sitting out on a panel. Take care of you – enjoy the convention but don’t abuse yourself doing it.
Have a networking battle plan ready
Conventions are known for people that will get in your face with business cards or other ‘geeks’ that are just looking for some new buds. If you are the type of introvert that panics at the thought of unsolicited social interaction … that’s ok, make your battle plan.
Conversation is going to happen. Sorry, that’s just the way it is. Whether it is a random passerby or someone working a booth, at some point – you are going to have to talk. Scary, I know. Get comfortable with what you are willing to talk about. Games, Comics, Anime – have a few hidden conversational cards up your sleeve for when the unavoidable encounter occurs. Ask questions, engage, listen – and don’t hesitate to step away (respectfully) if you begin to feel uncomfortable.
Networking can be an amazing thing – especially for cosplayers or journalists wanting to meet the right people within the industry. If you are prepared beforehand, your impact (whether professional or personal) will be infinitely more positive.
It is entirely too easy to drop some mad cash with all of the cool memoribilia that fills the halls of convention centers. Look at where you are at financially and see beforehand what you are willing to spend. Take that amount and head to your nearest ATM to withdraw exactly that amount. No more, no less. That’s your budget. Allocate it for food, drink, and loot. That way, you still get to take a little piece of the comic con experience home with you without breaking the bank.
If possible, attend the convention with friends that you trust. Friends that understand that you may not be 100% when it comes to overcrowded areas and over-all shenanigans. Let your buds help you out. Relaxing conversation, laughter, bonding – the works. Friends don’t let friends con alone.
MOST IMPORTANTLY – Have fun
There’s no point in going if you are not going to have fun. There is no right or wrong way to “con”. Panels, booths, photo-ops – it’s all there for you to enjoy as little or as much as you want. I’ve worked conventions where I literally did nothing but peruse the general showroom in between my interviews. Do what you want, when you want it, and have a blast.
Stay geeky, my friends.
Liana Ruppert570 Posts
With an arguably unhealthy obsession with Mass Effect, Liana has been an avid collector of gaming and comic memorabilia for well over two decades. With a passion for writing, gaming, and comics - she is currently working as Editor-in-Chief for the revival of Prima Games, with previous managing editor experience with several gaming publications including ComicBook.com, THQ, and other outlets. She is also the Co-Owner and Managing Editor for DFTG. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, as well as several Facebook communities online.