This is a new segment I’m going to try to do regularly. It may be a huge tutorial, it may simply be a link to an article elsewhere. No matter what it is, I hope you’ll learn something helpful.
I don’t know about you, but I’m gearing up for Templecon 2012. Templecon 2011 earlier in the year was my first convention, ever and I’ve been looking to repeat the experience at every opportunity. Templecon 2011 was an adventure since I went on a whim, and made that decision far too late in the game.
I’m hoping this article will help you learn from my mistakes and make the most out of your next convention experience. After all, the point is to have fun, so be sure to make that happen!
Don’t Over Extend.
One of the biggest mistakes I hear about is trying to do too much. Most conventions offer around the clock tournaments and events, and while that’s fabulous, it’s way too easy to over extend yourself. I suggest picking one event a day. Whether that’s a tournament, a seminar or a social party, just pick one for the day.
Balance Cost and Comfort.
At Templecon 2011, we had 5 or 6 in our room with two beds in it. We all figured since there was stuff going 24-hours a day, there’s no way everyone would be in the room all at once sleeping, right? Wrong. I got a spot in a bed two of the three nights, and was on the floor the third one. I slept OK in the bed, but I didn’t sleep at all on the floor.
By all means, split a room, but don’t get caught in the “more people = lower cost per person = more money for toys” spiral of doom. This year, we’re splitting a room 3- ways, and that’ll be about $100-120 a person for the entire weekend. That’s a fantastic nightly rate if you consider that it’s all of $35 a night.
Food at conventions can be rough. Usually it’s not the greatest (unless the hosting hotel has a restaurant) and it’s typically expensive since it’s the most convenient option. Don’t fall prey to their scams! Find a place nearby that has better food for lower costs. Have pizza or subs delivered for you and your room mates. If you drive, swing by a grocery store on the way in, and grab sandwich materials (pre-made ones if nothing else) and fruit / vegetables. A great example would be baby carrots or celery and your favorite dipping medium (Peanut Butter for me). It’ll be cheaper and it’ll be stuff you know you like, so you’ll be happier all the way around, plus it’s a shorter break than if you had to wait on delivery, so you can get back to the gaming sooner!
Take Care of Yourself.
Gamers are notorious for smelling bad and completely ignoring their personal health for the sake of not being interrupted during their game. There’s a motto for conventions: 3-2-1. It’s pretty basic, and describes what you need to do every day:
- 3: Hours of sleep per day, minimum. Yes, a human can survive for several days without sleep, however you have no excuse for doing so. You paid for a room. Use it.
- 2: Meals a day. Remember to eat! If nothing else, bracket your sleep time with food. It doesn’t take long, and you’ll have all the energy you need to get right back in the game.
- 1: Shower a day. Usually right before or after you go to sleep, preferably both. I usually like to unwind from a long day with a hot shower and cold beer (Thx PolarBearCub). I also find a hot shower in the AM helps wake me up and give me energy for the day.
Try Something New.
My last piece of advice for you is to be sure to stretch yourself a bit. Conventions usually have people running demos of games, and this is a great chance to try something new, and it’ll only cost you time. At Templecon 2011, I let myself get talked into playing Civilization, the board game. I’d never really cared much for Civ the video game, but my feet hurt and I was a bit burned out on Warmachine, so I gave in. By the time we finished our first game, I had no idea we’d been playing for four hours. I ended up playing another game because I had so much fun the first time.
So, what conventions are you attending, and what’s your favorite part of a convention?