With the summer now upon us, a slew of conventions will be heading our way. Whether it’s the small anime con held at your local university or the day-long journey to Comic Con, everyone tries to make it out to at least one. But while cons may be the highlight of the summer to some, there are always those who find it an unpleasant experience. I’ve certainly heard my fair share of people complaining about cons. As someone who has always had a good time at cons, I’ve started thinking about ways you can make it better. So for everyone who’s had a bad experience – and for those who might be attending their first con this summer – here are five steps you can take to ensure your next convention is a great one.
1: Be Prepared
Yes, I’m throwing the Girl Guide motto at you first off. It’s gotten me far in life. There are lots of practical things you may forget in the hectic preparation. Not all cons will let you bring water or snacks, but look it up beforehand. If you are allowed to bring in a water bottle, definitely do that, and if not, buy one immediately. Cons can get hot, and it’s easy to get dehydrated. You’ll also want to make sure your money is in a safe place, along with any ID or important documents. A bag may not go with your outfit, but no one’s going to complain about it. If your bag has a cool print, if anything you’ll be complimented. Although this first tidbit may see like a buzzkill, it will prevent you from that stressful realisation of “Gah! I forgot something!” later in the day.
Some people may balk at the idea, but it is much less complicated than you think. If you’re already an avid cosplayer, and have a beautiful, well-crafted outfit, that’s great. But if you don’t have the time, resources, or courage, it isn’t hard to throw on a football jersey and cosplay Eyeshield 21. In the words of a cosplaying friend of mine, “it doesn’t matter how you look, if it’s big or small, if you look like the character or not. What matters is how you feel.” Cosplays are great icebreakers, conversational topics, and give you a guaranteed compliment that will boost your morale for the day.
3: Study Beforehand
It may seem a little boring and tedious, but knowing what you’re up against can take away half the stress for you. Beforehand knowledge of who’s going to be there, when, and what kind of events are going can help avoid awkward conversations such as, “So…what do you want to do?” If you meet a cool person, instead of standing around trying to keep a conversation going, ask if they’ll join you for such-and-such. And having a semi-solid plan of how you’ll spend your day is a great method to make sure you don’t waste your time. Much like planning a vacation! Another helpful tip: when you first receive the official brochure, take a moment to sit and study it. Put a star beside the things you want to do. If you want, you can even track your estimated path around the con, the way you would the rides at an amusement park!
4: Social Events
While a lot of us, myself included, are more introverted and don’t enjoy social functions, there’s never any harm in simply scoping them out. There’s more than one kind of event at cons. Dances, speed dating, walk-offs, and glomp-games name a few memorable things you can do. Even if all you do is awkwardly stand off to the side, after a time you’ll gather up the courage to join in. And even if you don’t, no one will give you two looks about it. After all, half the people there are just as awkward as you.
5: Have Fun!
This may seem like the cheesiest possible thing to say, but in all honesty, a con is what you make of it. If you go in with a negative attitude, complain about every little thing that goes wrong, and pay attention to the worst things only, you will leave feeling dissatisfied. This is a really simple fix – just be happy and see the bright side of everything! Going alone? Make new friends, always easy when surrounded by people who like the same things you do. Stuck in a long line? Chat with those around you and take pictures of all the cool costumes passing by. The special guest you really wanted to see couldn’t make it? Look at what else is going on. You may end up finding something new that interests you, something you may not have known about before.
A con should be a fun experience you look back on fondly. Follow these steps and see if your next con is more fun than you thought it would be.