NOTE: This is the text version of the audio discussion between my friend DJ Killzown and myself on the same topic. The link to the YouTube will be provide below.
Conventions are a wonderful place to have fun and let loose with fellow nerds. However, conventions can also be overwhelming for newcomers, lacking knowledge on what to do. So, out of the kindness of my heart (and because I need to clean my public image), here are a few things to do at conventions!
Wanna learn interesting tidbits and facts about your favorite series, gain knowledge that’ll set you apart from your peers, or learn more about your favorite voice actor or creator? Go to a panel! Usually, conventions will have four types of panels: Fan, Interactive Industry, and Guest.
Fan panels are run by passionate and all-knowing fans of a series, sharing their expert knowledge to others fans and newcomers alike.
Interactive panels are panels in which you can partake in the action and/or have an hands on experience in relation to the subject. Examples include sake tasting, sewing tutorials, murder-mystery solving, cooking anime inspired foods, and hypnotism panels.
Industry panels are run by industry guests such as Funimation or Viz Media. Industry panels will host series reveals, news on upcoming projects, and the industry hosts will answer your questions about what’s currently going on in the industry. Sometimes, industry guests will reveal get exclusive news andcontent about a project first at their panels before the rest of the world get the information.
Finally, guest panels. Guest panels are of course hosted by the guests of honor. It’s worth your time going to one as you can learn about your favorite voice actor on a more personal, learn how they got their start, and even learn how they feel about their co-workers that they normally wouldn’t say in front of their face (did you know that a lot of America voice actors hate Vic Mignogna?).
One of the best experiences of a convention is meeting your idol and having them autograph their materials for you! To start, learn when and where the guest(s) that you want to see are hosting panels and autograph sessions and attend them. Did they make your favorite manga? Get that shit sign. Are they a voice actor you really love? Get your DVD signed by them! Do you want to know how your favorite voice actor got their start? Go to their panel! Be aware that popular gusests tend to have a long waiting period for autographs sessions. Be sure to have fully charged cell phone or a book to read on standby while you wait!
Higurashi and Umineko cosplay meet
Met new friends within you fandom and show off your cool (or trash) cosplay!! You can find information on meet ups in the program booklet or on the convention social media and website. Showcase your cosplay or just chill and kick with fellow fans and make new connections.
The dealers room is a hall or room full of offical merchandise, fanmade items, wigs, cosplay materials, etc. They’re open all weekend but it’s best to wait until Sunday for the best deals and discounts on products, as merchants want to reduce the amount of items they have to take back home Sunday or Monday.
Play video games here with other cons goers (or be that one asshole who hog ups the console all day because you couldn’t even make friends at an convention) Setups can range from the old school, current games, arcades, or a mixture of all three. Tournaments (such as Street Fighter, Project Diva, Mario Kart. etc.) are often held here, so you should try to join in a tournament if you’re confident in your skills.
Relax! You’re with like-minded people! Cons are a great place to make new friends and networks that can last for life (or a few years until some petty drama comes up and ruin your friendship)! You are all here for a common passion and love. By networking and befriending fellow comic book nerds, weeaboos and otaku alike, you will build a network that can help you find and learn about more conventions in the area and other cool nerd shit outside of cons. Who know what new connections can lead you in the world of convetions.
For you bloggers, vloggers, etc – make sure that you have a business card if you’re networking with others in your field (thanks for that DJ Kill Zone)
Dress up as your favorite character and join the cosplay gatherings and meet. Take pics taken of you in your cosplay, never to find them online! Cosplay is a wonderful hobby that will bring joy and new people into your life! At least do one cosplay in your life if your curious about it!
That wraps up my “What do do at cons” post! I’ll hope our tips will help you enjoy the con!