In my post last Thursday, I remarked that I was up to something relatively interesting over the weekend. That something was Genericon, the very first fan convention I have ever attended. I went in the company of my friend Cat, and while there connected with my friends Rachel, Jack, and Jaclyn.
It was an interesting experience. Having never attended a con before, I could only go by what other congoers told me I could expect...most of which turned out to not be true in the slightest. I ran into a number of difficulties, but like a true philosopher, I'm trying to regard them as learning experiences rather than potholes on the road of life. I'm not saying I didn't have fun, because some of the weekend was awesome, and those are the parts I'll remember in the long run.
As a philosopher is wont to do, I thought I would share some of my newfound wisdom with my readers. Those of you who really don't care about cons (hi Mom) will probably be bored for the next two or three posts because I'll be spreading out my 'post event report' over a course of days. This will allow me to sort through everything I experienced and make sense out of it. So if there's anyone out there preparing to attend their first con, here's what I have found to be true; and for those of you who are seasoned vets, feel free to argue with me in comments. This is based entirely on my own perceptions of the past three days.
1. Stay hydrated. This is a rather serious one, and I've seen it on other people's lists of what to do at cons. However, because it's currently February and the con was in upstate New York, it's very very cold there. We even had a snow squall on Saturday afternoon that scared me into thinking we might be stranded. So hydration didn't really cross my mind. Then when I did remember to take liquid refreshment, I realized just how insanely thirsty I actually was. Seriously, guys, carry a bottle of water or juice at all times. The rooms are cramped and humid and you will thank me later.
2. Stay CLEAN. Again, I've seen this on other people's lists. There's a certain smell called "con funk" which I can't describe. It must be endured to be understood. I'm not even going to try to explain it; if you've been to a con you know exactly what I'm talking about, and if you haven't, enjoy your ignorance. I miss mine. If you're going to a con, the best thing you can do is to at least attempt not to contribute to the funk. Shower.
3. The map sometimes lies. This was perhaps an anomaly rather than something to really concern future congoers, but since I had no warning, I'm trying to leave you in a better position than I was. The school where Genericon takes place put some of the events in a completely separate building. It could not have possibly been more separate from the rest of the con -- it literally required taking an elevated bridge across a main street to the other side of campus. The problem was, this room was not on the official con map, nor was its location explained in the official con guidebook. So before you start exploring a con, make sure that you have a complete map and understanding of where in the world you're supposed to go.
4. Do not go alone. In the words of the original Legend of Zelda video game that I love so very very much, "It's dangerous to go alone." Okay, maybe not dangerous exactly, but trust me when I say you will want numbers. I spent a few hours of the con by myself, because Cat was in an event that didn't interest me and she couldn't leave, and I was bored to tears. There isn't always going to be a panel happening that you'll want to attend, so you're going to want at least one other person with you at all times. This guarantees you someone to play with in the gaming rooms, or to squee with you over something you find in the dealer rooms or the artist's alley. It's lonely to squee by yourself. And the more people you can get to go with you, the better, because then you can break into smaller groups and do different things without anybody feeling left out.
5. Carry cash. Speaking as someone who lives off her debit card as a general rule, this was a personal failing. Some of the vendors only accepted cash or checks, neither of which I had on me. This may have been a good thing, really, since it prevented me from buying things I didn't need, but it would have been nice to have the option. Try to compromise; get a set amount of cash, guard it carefully as you explore (pickpockets go to cons too), and enjoy yourself.
6. Don't fear the people. Congoers are weird folk, no question. But some of them are incredibly friendly. If you see somebody dressed up as one of your favorite characters, don't be shy about asking for a photo -- as a general rule, they will be so flattered that you like their costume that they will go to ridiculous lengths to pose with you.
7. Take a chance with the celebrity guests. I wasn't sure what to expect on this score, but I did get the opportunity to meet and chat with Vic Mignogna, mostly in my quest to get his autograph for my friend Andrea. In a way I was a little scared to talk to him, until I actually saw him. He is, unquestionably, one of the nicest people I've ever met in my life. I'm so glad I took the risk of speaking with him, because even without ever having watched any of his voice-acting work, I became his fan in about five minutes. (If you're not sure who this guy is, incidentally, click on that link to go to his personal website. He's done a lot of anime voices; I daresay he's most famous for voicing Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist. But he also composes and records his own music and does a bunch of other stuff, and he's incredibly sweet and cares a lot about his fans, so definitely do check him out.)
And one more...
8. The alarm function on a cell phone works much, much better when the cell phone is not left on vibrate. I'm just sayin'. *cough* Cat. *cough*
Next time: Some of the photographs I took of the cosplayers (that's the geeks in costumes), including one that was taken of me. Care to guess who I was dressed as? I'll give you a hint: I didn't need a wig because I have hair a lot like hers. And for those of you who know me from certain websites, no, I did not cosplay as Lady Norbert...although I certainly could have, I suppose.