I Swear to Con! A comprehensive list of Con etiquette

April 20, 2016

On a recent Nerdbot “I Swear to GAWD” video, stars LokiHatesYou and his pet peeves during his experience at Wondercon 2016. Everyone will experience cons differently. A photographer will obviously experience the same event differently than a cosplayer, industry professional or your standard casual. As such, I’ve spent the last couple of days reaching out and talking to con-goers of all types. I have taken the liberty to attempt to build a comprehensive list of Con etiquette. 

To Everybody:

Navigating a convention can seem overwhelming at first but not to worry as I’ll be holding your sweaty hands for the entire ride.  

 

●    Cosplay is not consent.


●    Always introduce yourself. Building rapport and trust is key to any good photoshoot. It’s easier for them to get into character when they feel comfortable and you’re not being a creeper.

 

 

●    Make sure to bring snacks and water! Con food is expensive but convenient and nobody likes dealing with hangry people. Also, allowing yourself to dehydrate is dangerous.


●    When attending as a group make sure to designate roles. (food, time management, money, etc.) This avoids dumping all responsibility unto an unsuspecting friend and turning them into the “con-mother”. Most of you are adults and should delegate tasks as such.


●    If you’re going to crash a room at the hotel make sure you pay your fair share to the host. They are liable for any and all damages and an extra body in the room makes it all the easier to trash a room.


●    Personal hygiene is a musk! (badum-tsh) Lots of bodies equals lots of heat. Yes, it gets hot both inside and especially outside. Take the time to pack some toiletries (wet naps, deodorant, cologne, tooth brush) with you and take frequent breaks to freshen up. This one is more for the fellas.


●    Drink responsibly. Some conventions sell alcohol and no, that is not an excuse to get blitzed. These are family friendly events often with families and children present. I don’t like clowns because I’ve encountered one too many drunk Bozos at birthday parties as a child. Don’t traumatize the younglings with a drunk superman at conventions.


●    Wear comfortable shoes. You’re going to walk the equivalent of a marathon over the span of a day. Make sure you to wear something that won’t give you blisters. Building on this, do try to get some exercise in your daily life. These conventions last well into the late night and building up your stamina will be key for maximum enjoyment.


●    Do not sleep in the hallways. Yes, people do it. Yes, you will get tired. Take frequent breaks. Carelessly sleeping in the hallways blocks passage for other attendees and makes it look like skid row had a Halloween party.

To Cosplayers:

Let’s face it, some of us started cosplaying because it was an excuse to extend Halloween past October and pretty much every weekend just because you can and instead were introduced into the wonderful world of anime, video games and comic books. Now, you’re ready to debut your Mr. Manhattan cosplay in all his birthday suit glory but before you get escorted off the premises make sure to keep these tips in mind.  


●    Cosplay is not consent.


●    Photographers have a ton of pictures to go through so please be patient with them when it comes to receiving your photos. It’s okay to remind them if you have to, just make sure to include a detailed description of yourself and your cosplay. Sometimes they just forget or lose your contact info.


●    Constructive criticism is okay, putting others down is not. I.e. “You should sew these few seams closer so that it fits better.” vs. “You’re too skinny to wear that.”


●    “Good” cosplay is one that excels in one of three categories: Immersion, Accuracy or “Originality.” It does not need to be all three. If you are using a store bought outfit and you can make your friends believe you are that character then you have correctly cosplayed. If you have spent an insane amount of time detailing that really cool Adam Warlock outfit but somehow you’re still kinda awkward, and not so heroic than you too have cosplayed correctly! Wearing a meme as your cosplay or a sexy cross version of typically male character? Congratulations, you too have cosplayed correctly!


●    Please be supportive to your cosplay peers and inversely don’t be afraid to reach out to your favorite cosplayers. We cosplay because we feel a kind of kinship with these characters and everybody connects and empathizes differently and that is expressed in each of our individual cosplays.


●    Have a friend be your Ambassador/Assistant. Sometimes cosplay will garner you more attention than anticipated and it can be overwhelming. Add in a beautiful but flimsy cosplay and it makes for a stressful experience. Conventions will usually have a repair station that makes an awesome fortress of solitude whenever you need a break.


●    Do not equate the amount of photos that are taken of you as a form of self-worth. You are awesome for taking the courage to wear your cosplay.


●    Remember it’s called cosplay so go out and have fun but don’t get crazy.


To Photographers:

It’s not the length of your lens that matters, it’s what you do with what you got that’ll put a look of satisfaction on their faces. While the professionals know how to handle a crowded event here are a few tips for the hobbyist looking to become pro.


●    Cosplay is not consent.


●    Always introduce yourself. Building rapport and trust is key to any good photoshoot. It’s easier for them to get into character when they feel comfortable and you’re not being a creeper.


●    You’re not playing Call of Duty, don’t snipe.


●    Make sure you have your settings dialed in and locations scouted beforehand. The cosplayers are here to enjoy the convention and do not appreciate standing for a half hour while you run test shots.


●    If you see a cosplayer eating or sitting down taking a break, leave them alone. It probably took 45 minutes to walk 25 feet while fighting off the con-paparazzi. They need respite too.


●    Have your information ready. Pen, paper, business card, whatever you need in order for your cosplayer to find you and you them.


●    Run your ideas and plan by the cosplayer. Looking for that cool action shot of Shion from Sword Art Online? It’s best to see if they can pull it off in the first place, they might have some sort of injury or just don’t feel comfortable jumping off that ledge. Don’t push it. If they say “no” then the answer is no.

 
●    Most of the cosplayers are not professional models. Yes, a lot of them are going to be awkward and that’s okay. You can mitigate this issue when you have clear cut directions. Telling them to look “cool” isn’t going to get you what you want. Telling them to “Have an intense Clint Eastwood-esque-get-off-my-lawn thousand yard stare off to the side as if you spotted your long awaited rival.” is how you get that “cool” shot.


●    Show then tell. If you are still having trouble getting your cosplayer to understand what you want. Show them. Some people learn better from visual cues and seeing the photographer stick their ass out will also often put them at ease as it makes them less self-conscious because you are both being sexy beasts.


●    Ask before touching. Some cosplayers will allow you to get that pesky wig strand out of their face or untwist that belt loop as they pose. Don’t get handsy while trying to be hands on.  


●    Be mindful of your gear. More than likely you won’t have an assistant with you so you’ll need to limit the amount of weight you carry around. Carry too much and you’re liable to break your ass, your gear and your wallet.


To the Casuals:


First time to a con? Did the excitable girlfriend/boyfriend drag you in? Did you happen to stumble in and realize that this isn’t where you parked your car? Here are a few things to keep in mind.


●    Cosplay is not consent.


●    It’s okay to ask questions! In fact, whoever brought you here would love to answer all your questions! If you came in alone, it’s a great way to start conversations and make new friends.


●    We can be easily excitable and despite pop culture depictions we don’t always go into nerd-rage whenever we have a disagreement. Nerd rage is real though, but not to worry as those people are actually in the minority.


●    If you’re here and not a nerd you’re the weird one, not us.


●    No, we don’t have moment to hear the word of the lord. The helix fossil is our god and Miyazaki is his son.


●    Your significant other is going to buy a lot of stuff, you’ve actually been tricked into being their pack mule hope you haven’t skipped leg day.

Find this guide helpful? Think we missed a key point? Let us know in the comments below!


 

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