3 Tips for Your First Gaming Convention
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A common rite of passage on the gamer’s journey from casual to diehard is the attendance of one’s first convention. This is the journey my two brothers and I embarked on last year when we attended Origins Game Fair 2019.
The trip was a gift to my middle brother, Grant, for his 19th birthday, and as the chief planner, I tried to give us a taste of everything. Even though we only attended Saturday and Sunday, we participated in a world-building workshop, bore witness to the prestige of the cosplay competition, attended a chapel service led by Derek White, the Geekpreacher, and played SO MANY GAMES.
However, attending your first convention can be daunting, so here are 3 tips from my first convention to help you on your own quest towards gaming greatness.
Set Limits on Your Spending
I’ve visited many markets and bazaars in my travels around the world, and this is the closest thing I can compare to the main floor of a convention. My eyes had never seen so many wondrous treasures from around the gaming world before. Hundreds of vendors beckoned me into their temporary abodes to entice me with their geeky treasures. The vendors’ high charisma scores combined with an invitation to try new games for free can create a strong magnetic pull on the wallets and change purses of the unwary.
The best way to avoid seeing your money disappear into the void is to — like many things in life — know your limit. If you go into the convention knowing how much you want to spend or how many games you’re willing to buy, then you will fare better when it comes to paying for necessities like meals or your hotel room. When I attended Origins, I was saving up for a ring for my girlfriend, so keeping my spending in check was essential. If you still feel the constant tug of your precious dollars trying to flee your pockets, take advantage of the many free products offered during the conventions. Several vendors are offering promotional materials for their games, and you can scour your conventions coupon book for other special deals happening.
Communicate with Your Fellow Gamers
Another culture shock for attending conventions is realizing that most attendants all share a proficiency in the geek language. Whenever I talk with my family or fiancée about game-related things, I often feel like they aren’t quite getting what I say. Not so with other convention-goers.
Conventions are a great opportunity to talk with fellow gamers, cosplayers, or general geeks. You can swap opinions on board games, costume tips, and lots of other things. It’s even better if you can catch attendants in their natural environment. My brothers and I took part in a short D&D session with other gamers where we played an adventure based in Kobold Press’s Midgard setting. We got to roleplay with them, fight with them, and run from giant sea monsters with them. You get the idea.
Keep Track of Time
Conventions take place in a strange time paradox — time passes in the outside world, but you only feel the effects minimally. Since most of the event happens in an environment with no sun, it can be easy to ignore bodily needs such as food or sleep. And FOMO is also definitely a thing — every minute I spend trying to find food is a minute I’m not playing games! I remember getting very hangry during a game of Pandemic and accidentally taking it out on my brothers.
The key to avoiding this is to build time into your schedule for breaks and actually stick to them. I was in charge of the itinerary for both days we were at the convention, which meant I was always cognizant of what time it was, but I didn’t always act on that knowledge. I did build time in for meals, but it’s easy to justify skipping them when there’s so much else we could’ve been doing. It’s also important to pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you. If you’re hungry, go eat, and if you’re sleepy, take a nap. All of the good things will still be there when you get back. Hopefully.
I hope that this list helps you as you’re preparing for your first convention. My brothers and I absolutely loved our time at Origins last year, and I’m looking forward to attending more conventions in the future. Now it’s your turn. Do you have a favorite convention that you attend? What advice would you give to a first-time convention attendee? Let me know in the comments below! Cheers!
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