Going to conventions is a way of life for us geeks. From sci-fi to horror to comics, there's a convention that caters to our geeky delights. Like most people, I want my convention experience to be as smooth as possible, but it seems that many people show a lack of convention etiquette, which makes things more frustrating, In the first part of our guide, we discussed panels and arriving and leaving the con. Now let's discuss some other aspects of attending a convention where we should all exercise convention etiquette.
Many of the things that drive me crazy at a convention occur when I'm walking to and from events. As we all know, conventions get crazy crowded, and anything that disrupts movement sends me into a frenzy of rage if it could have been avoided. Here are some suggestions to remember when moving around the con.
- Don't text - This is probably the item that sends me into a murderous frenzy at a con. I hate it when people text while walking around. The reason is that when people text, they don't watch where they're going and they walk much slower. If you need to text, then go somewhere out of the way and do it. I might only have two minutes to run across the street to get to my Firefly panel and getting stuck behind you because you're texting about how much you love vampires makes me want to grab your phone and smash it.
- Don't stop - This is when movement is restricted, such as a walkway between two buildings that has just enough room for a single line going in each direction. If you see somebody you want to talk to, either switch directions if you can or just yell at them that you'll talk to them later. Keeping the flow of traffic going is imperative. Stopping the flow of traffic should be punishable by death.
- Don't take pictures - This applies to the traffic flow discussed above. If you're in an area where there's plenty of room and you're not disrupting the flow of traffic, then go ahead and take pictures. But if your picture taking will stop the flow of traffic, then don't do it.
We all need to use escalators and elevators when going to a convention. When using an escalator, don't stop or slow down when you get off. Remember that you have a conga line of people behind you, so step away and keep moving. Also, don't loiter around escalators as you'll just impede traffic.
If you're using an elevator, squeeze in as much as you can so as to fit as many people as you possibly can. At a con, it's fine to play human Tetris in an elevator. If you see someone coming and there's room, hold the elevator for them. If you see someone that's handicapped, let them get on the elevator first and let them get off when they wish. Few things anger me as much as seeing perfectly healthy people rush past someone in a wheelchair to grab an elevator. Show some basic human decency. If you're able to, take the damn stairs to ease congestion.
This is another pet peeve of mine, and my brother and I bandied around quite a few suggestions for proper convention etiquette for taking pictures.
- Don't be a creep - It's perfectly fine to take a picture of a pretty woman in costume, but it's not fine to be a creep about it. I'm talking about the guy who takes hundreds of pictures from every conceivable angle. You're not a world renowned photographer shooting a magazine spread. Take your picture and if it turns out ok, then move on.
- Move on - Usually people in costume are having a lot of people taking their picture. One thing that drives me batty is when someone takes a picture of someone (let's say that the subject is a woman dressed as Wonder Woman), then they go up to Wonder Woman, show her the picture, and then wait for her to comment on it. By doing this, you're being a jerk and blocking other people from taking a picture. Again, take your picture and then move on.
- Ask permission - You should be polite and ask someone if it's ok to take their picture. They might be in a hurry going somewhere and not have the time to stop. Also, compliment them on their costume.
I'm pretty sure that some people may get angry over this, but I don't really care. If you're disabled and require a scooter to move around, you have my sympathy and I have no argument with you. However, if you're using a scooter because you're just too damn fat to walk around on your own two legs, then I really wish you would stay home. Every year, I see more and more people on scooters zipping around conventions. Scooters tend to disrupt foot traffic a great deal and clog up elevator space. I've been run over a few times by them and have dodged a great deal more. I know that some will tell me, "How dare you! Those people need scooters to move around." My rebuttal is that no they don't. If a person is handicapped, then they do need a scooter or wheelchair to move around. But a person who's just too fat to walk needs to get in shape. I'm a fat guy and have been my entire life, but I'm able to walk around just fine. I don't move as fast as most people do, but I'm able to get from point A to point B on a consistent basis. If you're physically unable to cross a street due to just being overweight, then get some help to lose the weight. I understand how hard it can be, and I want everybody to be able to get around on their own two feet. Don't be the equivalent of an obese Dalek.
There is one last item I want to bring up. The basics of convention etiquette is simple manners. You can't go wrong by being polite and using manners. Watch your language and be respectful to others. It really is that simple.
This ends our guide to convention etiquette. Is there something I missed? Do you think I'm a total jerk? Let me know in the comments below and I'll amend the guide if need be. Just remember to follow this principles in order for you, and others, to have a pleasant con experience.
Jeff Francis has been a lifelong geek, be it for toys, comics, games, Star Trek, D&D, classic horror, or Doctor Who. He once owned a game shop for over a decade and has been an online gaming journalist for over seven years by the moniker of Jeffprime. You can visit his personal website at Starbasegeek.com to read more of his mad ramblings.