Superheroes have taken over theaters and HBO had to shut down bars from showing Game of Thrones. We’re reaching peak geek culture and things like conventions, once an easy punchline about losers, are now grounds for beautiful people to have sex .
If you’ve never attended a single convention but find yourself curious, it can be overwhelming not knowing what to expect. Not all conventions will be the same — San Diego Comic-Con this July is a pretty different experience than the New York Comic-Con in October — but these rules apply everywhere.
Here are five do’s and don’ts for you, the Level 1 rookie, to learn and level up for your first convention.
Celebrities! Artists! Gaming tournaments! Panels! Mixers! Raves!
There are loads of things to do at conventions that go beyond gawking at cosplay. The well-organized conventions post their show schedules online at least a week ahead. Plan what you want to see, who you want to meet, and what you want to do. Structure allows you to make the most out of your convention weekend so that even the free time to goof off and walk around can be productive. You’ll never know who you could run into.
Bring a lot of cash.
Veteran convention goers always anticipate spending a lot of money. Why? Are the hot dogs in the convention center really that expensive? (Yes, they are, we’ll get into that in a little bit.)
Conventions are an amazing place to buy vintage toys you forgot from childhood or original pieces by talented artists. This stuff isn’t cheap, and if your money is out of sight it’s out of mind. If you don’t see how much money you’re spending you might spend more than you wanted. Bring cash to ensure you buy only what you want to.
Bring a bag to carry stuff.
Speaking of buying things, you have to carry that crap around for the rest of the day. Bring a backpack or a lightweight but durable drawstring bag to carry new swag without letting it become a burden.
Have a place to crash, change, or leave things.
If you don’t live close enough to the convention (shorter than a ten-minute drive), book a hotel room. Which you should have done months ago.
Conventions are surprisingly exhausting. You walk around so much you don’t realize how tired you are until, well, you’re tired. You’re also exposed to so many who practice varying levels of hygiene. Have a place to freshen up, change, and leave your new action figures and autographs safely. You’re now free to go out when the convention ends and the real fun begins.
Research the area.
Like baseball stadiums, the food at convention halls cost half your year’s salary. Or at least they feel like it. You saved money to buy an autograph and a photo-op with Hulk Hogan, not a nasty cheeseburger.
You have a computer in your pocket now, ignorance is not an excuse to be clueless on the locale. Search for delis, restaurants, and bars to go to when hunger strikes or you want to toss a beer with friends.
In fact, some of the convention’s celebrities go to these same spots when the show is over. If you ever wanted to do shots with your favorite Power Ranger, this is your chance.
Don't be rude.
This is a general life rule, but at conventions especially you’re dealing with all kinds of people looking to get something out of their free weekend. No one wants it spoiled.
If you want to take a picture with a cosplayer, ask politely. If you want to meet celebrity guest, be patient on the long line. If you want an artist to draw you an original piece, be kind. They could be doing something way better with their time and talent than drawing your dumb self as Superman.
Don't be shy taking pictures with cosplayers.
An extension on the last point: Don’t feel shy about asking for pictures from cosplayers. They wear elaborate threads to get noticed, and taking pictures is kind of why they’re there in the first place.
Do practice courtesy if they appear tired or agitated. The better-looking the costume, the more likely they’ve spent most of the day posing and not enjoying themselves. But otherwise, smile and say cheese. And don’t be a dick.
And don't harass them.
Seriously, don’t be a dick.
Don't tell guests your sob story.
Compared to red carpet or TV interviews, convention Q&As allow stars to let their hair down a little and goof off. They're a lot of fun.
Asking Stephen Amell a question about playing the Arrow or a show’s writer about a plot hole is fine. Telling them about your dad divorcing your mom when you were five is not. You bummed everyone out, and now they’re uncomfortable. Just ask the question.
Don'y forget to enjoy yourself.
Above all else, this is your free weekend. You’re spending it indoors around people instead of getting blackout drunk at a beach. And it’s worth it.
Conventions are a gathering place for fan enthusiasm and passion. If science makes life go on, art makes life worth living and conventions turns that art into a good party.