About two weeks ago I was at MAGfest and had a blast. It was so much fun. There were a lot of panels, a big arcade, and everyone I met was friendly and getting into the convention spirit. One person I met there who I had a great time hanging out with, my hotel roommate and fellow Retroware TV writer Jeremy Pierce, told me that MAGfest was his first convention. As we talked we both agreed that MAGfest is a pretty good con to start out with, but not all newcomers we observed had a good grasp on how things work at a convention. This led me to make a list of rules for convention etiquette.
1)Marketplace Rule: If you’re not holding it, it’s fair game.
I saw this happen a few times while I was wandering around the marketplace room. Someone picks up a few items they want, puts them back as they browse the rest of the booth, then get upset when someone else buys the items. The simple truth is if you are not holding onto a game or any item you want as you are browsing, then it is fair game. If you think you might want something, hold onto it as you browse through the rest of a dealers selection. Don’t tuck it away and hope to find it later. You will be disappointed. If you need to leave a booth before you can purchase your dream game, ask the vendor to hold onto it for you. Most will be willing to tuck it away for a brief period of time.
2) Pictures and Costumes: Ask first.
If you are taking pictures of anyone, weather it’s one of your favorite online personalities, someone cosplaying as your favorite character, or just some random guy, ask first. If you walk up as pictures are already being taken, it’s usually ok to jump in and shoot a few pics of your own, but when in doubt, ask. It takes fifteen seconds and it makes things far less awkward than a flash to the face as you run by. You’ll get a nicer photo too. If you are taking pictures of someone in costume, DON’T grab or pull at the costume. Some people spend months working on them and they can be fragile, and even if not, it’s just plain creepy. I know I’ve cosplayed before. It’s happened. Don’t be creepy.
3) Games and lines
Don’t be that guy. Please, don’t be that guy. You know this guy, there’s one at every arcade, and at a gaming convention, there’s more than one. The guy who has spent like twenty minutes at your favorite arcade cabinet as a long line builds, who keeps squeezing in one “last” game. People will hate you. People will get angry. People will remember you, target you, and beat your ass at every game they can. They will make sure you never get a turn at DDR. Ever. No one likes the guy who won’t give up a game. Don’t ruin your and others weekend by being that guy.
4) Respect (It’s not just a catchy song)
If you want come back and enjoy your convention next year, then you have to do your part to make sure there will be a next year. This means respecting the convention center space and the staff. First, be nice to the staff. A lot of them are volunteers and the better they are treated, the more likely they will be working next year. Second, treat the convention center and hotel nicely. Keep noise levels as respectable as you can, take care of your messes, don’t abuse equipment or resources. Treat things the way you would like to be treated. This is the golden rule, and it’s first grade material people.
And last but not least…
5) Shower Dammit.
This is simple. Shower. Please, for the love of god, shower. People will notice if you don’t. There are several thousand people shuffling around and if a good lot of you don’t shower, your gonna have a bad time. We’ll all have bad time.