Geek Etiquette: Convention Etiquette

The Geeky Hostess is gonna help you get your manners on! Each Monday, we’ll focus on a topic of etiquette. We’ll take a look at the classic rules (using Emily Post as a guide), and then evaluate the rules for our daily lives, creating a guide to “Geek Etiquette.” Have an etiquette question or topic suggestion? Email!

Emerald City Comicon, Norwescon, PAX East, and tons of other conventions are just around the corner. Are you ready? Here are some tips to make sure you have a safe and fun time without pissing anyone else off.

  • Get Some Sleep. Conventions often turn into an all day/all night adventure, which means you should stockpile your sleeping hours the few days before the convention. Try to get at least 8 hours, and eat well and exercise while you’re at it. You’ll feel better about those convention nachos and 10 hours on your feet if you’re prepared.
  • Drink Plenty of Water. Water will keep you feeling full, hydrated, less sluggish, and less hungover. It will prevent you from getting sick. It will make you popular when your friends don’t have any. Always make sure you have some on  hand! Water can be expensive and rare at conventions, so bring your own bottle or mark all of the water fountains on your convention map.
  • Wear Deodorant. Let’s get real for a moment. Geeks have gotten a bad rap for being smelly. Geeks aren’t smelly. Thousands of people stuck in one room that are on their feet all day and seeing really cool things that make them sweat with excitement are smelly. Including me. Wear deodorant. You may even consider picking up a tiny travel version to keep in your bag. Alternatively, don’t wear too much perfume/cologne. A lot of people have allergies.
  • Bring a Bag/Backpack. You’re going to be bringing a lot of stuff with you, and probably collecting even more at the con. Bring a sturdy bag/backpack/purse with you that you’re comfortable holding for a while. You may consider bringing a smaller portable bag to fill up once your main bag is full.
  • Bring Antibacterial Gel. Conventions, like airports, are a breeding ground for germs. If you’re at a convention where you’re touching the same thing as everyone else (think of the game controllers at PAX…), antibac gel is a must. You can find travel sizes at any drugstore, or you can pick up a nice-smelling one from Bath and Body Works.
  • Bring A Charger. Your phone/camera/DS/iPad WILL die. Be prepared with a charger or extra battery.
  • Bring Something to Keep You Busy. If you’re planning on trying out the newest game, attending that sweet panel, or shaking the hand of your favorite celebrity, you’re looking at waiting in line. Bring something like a book, Kindle, DS, or even a card game to keep you busy in line. If you bring a game that plays more than one or two people, you may even make friends with those who are in line with you!
  • Dress Appropriately. Make sure you’re comfortable at all times. This is no time for high heels. Wear comfortable shoes you can walk/stand in and dress in layers. These hiking shoes in review are as comfortable as shoes of those kind can get. I’d recommend a fun, geeky tank top or t-shirt with a sweater/sweatshirt/light jacket in case it gets cold. Cosplay is great if you want to get a lot of photos taken, but you may want to be prepared with a comfortable outfit to change into in case you get uncomfortable or want to go incognito for a bit. If you’re at the convention as Press or plan on talking more seriously with a celeb or convention representative, don’t cosplay. As awesome as you are, people may not take you as seriously. I’d recommend picking one day to do cosplay, and spend your other days wandering around in normal apparel.
  • Know how to talk to the celebs. Celebs are people too. Seriously! If you’re meeting a celeb, feel free to introduce yourself, tell them what you like about their work, and then allow them to move on to the next person. You will probably not end up their best friend, and probably won’t be able to take them out for drinks after. Whatever you do, avoid acting like a stalker. I once met Nicholas Brendan at a con and told him that his character on Buffy reminded me so much of my husband (then fiance), that it felt like I was engaged to him. Although I meant to tell a funny story, the stalker alarms were definitely going off. Learn from my mistake.
  • Take Plenty of Pictures! These pictures will end up being your Facebook profile pics for the next year. Take tons of them! Everyone at the con wants sweet pics, and most people will be willing to take a pic for you. Don’t be afraid to ask! If you take a great picture of someone else, ask them for their email address so you can pass it off to them later. If you see an adorable child in cosplay, make sure you ask their parents’ permission before taking their pic. You don’t want to be the creepy person photographing children.
  • Children First. This convention may be their first foray into geek culture. Let them have a good time! If they can’t see, let them go in front of you so they can. If the DC booth only has one free comic left, let the kid have it. They’ll be learning about con behavior based on how they’re treated; help create a generation of thoughtful attendees.
  • Set a Spending Limit. Comicons can be a scary place for your wallet. There will be limited edition art, sweet t-shirts, books and more to purchase. Decide before you attend how much you want to spend, and keep an eye on that limit. Some people just take out that much in cash, and will only use that at the con.
  • It’s Free Stuff, Not the Antidote. I’ve been pushed away and practically run over for free stuff at cons. I’ve heard of children getting toys ripped out of their hands. GUYS. STOP IT. It may seem cool in the moment, but what are you going to do with that tiny plastic tank or that XXL branded t-shirt once you get home? Assess the free stuff being handed out practically and only take what you’ll actually use.
  • WWWWD? If all else fails, remember the words of the wise Wil Wheaton: Don’t be a dick.

Do you have any tips I missed? Leave them in the comments!

What conventions will you be at? I’ll be premiering Job Hunters at Emerald City Comicon this Sunday, April 1st. Check out our panel in room 2AB at 2pm!

The next week, I’ll be speaking on some panels at Norwescon. Find me at “Gaming and Community,” “How to Sell Yourself,” “Privacy in the Age of the Internet,” and “New Media DIY: Video.”


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