Ah, conventions. This summer, people will be rushing to overcrowded hotels in cumbersome costumes to hear panels, watch some anime, play some games, and try to figure out how to dance in a fur suit or Gothic Lolita outfit (it's not easy).
These are an important time for anime fans and people in similar nerdy subcultures, like bronies and gamers. It's important because not only are they fun, but they're a good time we have to socialize and to professionally network. (Which means my friend Rocco Ryg gets to hawk his books and I get to do a little schmoozing to promote my blog and everybody wins, right?) People meet people at cons, and personally I find it to be a time where I feel more free to socially interact, so I act less introverted and have less social anxiety. This is because it's generally easier to open up a conversation with someone when you share intense like of the same thing.
Bad behavior of con-goers however, is going to be a stain on every con experience. I just kind of laugh it off or make a joke out of it usually, but sometimes, people are so uncouth that they can ruin the fun of everyone else. Don't be that guy or gal. Also, some of these convention dont's that I'm putting on here are also pro tips that will be helpful for your own sake, like number 10, which is not spending too much.
10. Don't Spend Too Much
Personally this is the problem I have most often. The dealer's hall can often have some rare and valuable finds, but it can be too easy to go over your intended budget and buy crap you have no real use for.
9. Don't Forget Personal Hygiene
Take a deep breath, relax. There is time to shower. I know that the bigger conventions especially make you feel like it's go go go and that you have to rush from activity to activity constantly because there's always something exciting going on, from panels in the morning to parties and gaming sessions into the wee hours at night. But prioritize. Take some time off from the con by skipping something that's not super important, go back to your room, and have a shower. Then, when you go to the Cards Against Humanity tournament that is super important to you, you won't be the one who funks up the room. Don't be that guy/gal. Just ew. And wear deodorant!
8. Don't Sexually Harass Other Con-Goers
Girls and guys should know, it's quite simple, no means no, ignoring you doesn't mean yell louder. Personally I haven't witnessed this problem, but just remember to be respectful, flirt and approach women if you want, but respect their rejection too. And wearing a slutty costume doesn't necessarily mean she's interested in you particularly, or even that she's looking to hook up with someone. It gets hot at those conventions, and also she might just happen to admire a character whose clothing is skimpy. I don't like feminists anymore, but they are right to say, cosplay is not consent. Don't ruin the fun for other people by being an asshole.
7. Don't Crowd Too Many People Into One Hotel Room
This is an important one. Yes, inevitably, there will be those crowded rooms where random people pass out after some drunken Naruto debating, but you don't want too many bodies crammed into one small space. It's unhygienic, gross, but most importantly, unsafe. You have to keep the room-partying to a minimum number of people, so that everyone can get in and out of the room quickly and safely in an emergency. Also, hotels do not like it when you have too many people sleep in your room beyond the 2 people the room is intended for. It might even cause some hotels to decide they don't want the anime con-goers there next year, so be aware of that.
6. Don't Take Photos In Walkways
Many conventions have a sky bridge thing to go between buildings. People often like to take pictures of other people's cosplays. Don't do it in those walkways! Those are for accommodating thousands of people who are trying to get to places in the convention center or hotel on time. They don't want to be late because some jackass is blocking the hallway just to take a selfie with a person dressed like a character from their favorite video game. Just don't. If you see them in the walkway, chances are, you'll see them again when they're in a space that is a little less claustrophobic. Don't take up already limited space. There are cosplay photoshoot meetups for a reason.
5. Don't Run A Panel Badly
Now, some of running a good panel is hard to do and takes a lot of practice. My advice is to start at a small convention with a short panel running time (like 20-30 minutes), and gradually build up to being at bigger cons, dealing with a larger audience, and speaking longer. But basically, to be effective, be prepared. Don't be late, be early. Test your computer and speaking equipment and projector before hand. Rehearse your speech the night before giving the panel. Organize your presentation so that what you're going to say flows smoothly. I've sat through (and quietly and politely walked out of) a lot of panels where the speaker was unprepared, unprofessional, or just not very interesting. Drink water, project from the gut when you speak, make eye contact with various audience members. Interact with a few people in the front row. Vary your pitch, tone, and sentence length. Put passion in your voice, make them care about the thing you're talking about as much as you do. Be succinct, and focused on the topic at hand throughout the time that you talk. It's not easy. I've given panels. It can be distracting or discouraging when people walk out, but realize that most of the time they're just leaving because they want to get to something else on time, and it has nothing to do with you. Try to maintain focus and confidence even if you get temporarily distracted. It's hard, but practicing it as a panel-giver is rewarding and can help you build valuable skills for the real world. It just contributes a lot to the success of the convention as a whole if the panels are good.
4. Don't Bully Others
This should go without saying. The good thing is, most of the time, anime fans are tolerant, inclusive, and open-minded. But, debates about anime and fandoms can get a bit intense, and sometimes the neon-colored fur flies. You swear that in your headcanon two characters are lesbians, and someone else flips out on you because that's not canon and how dare you blah blah blah. Or you get into an argument over new vs. old versions of the same anime, or new vs. old anime in general. Debates are fine, and a natural and healthy part of a community. But bullying isn't. Don't be tyrannical, or inflammatory for the sake of purposely offending people just so you can make fun of them for being offended. Just don't be an asshole. Simple.
3. Don't Have Oversized Costumes or Props (All The Time, At Least)
I know, the protagonists in many anime have many clothing items and weapons and accessories and such that are huge and ridiculous. And it's cool to show off your craft skill by making a said ridiculous but awesome looking thing. More power to you. TAKE UP ONLY ONE CHAIR. And don't make it too hard for people to see over you if need be. You will most likely be in a space where people are packed in like sardines. It's not good to wear something big that takes up too much space, or to carry a prop that's too big.
What you could do is save the bigger outfits for a single event, instead of wearing the big, showy stuff to regular panels. This will make you more comfortable and be more courteous to people around you. For example, last winter I went to a convention that had ballroom dancing, and I wore a dress with a hoop skirt. I only wore the dress to and from the ballroom dance event, and wore something much more comfortable the rest of the time (my Kyoko Sakura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica cosplay). I looked damn good in that outfit, but no way was I going to inflict a big hoop skirt on others during the crowded panels I'd attended earlier. It's just common courtesy.
2. Don't Ignore Safety Concerns
This is more a convention tip for newbie convention staff. Ok to be honest I just really wanted to add a thing to have ten things. You got me. But basically, remember that fire hazards are a thing, so you can't clog the room with too many people, and you have to make sure the big lines are organized so as not to block pathways to exits in case of emergencies. If con staff tell you to move, that you can't get into a full panel, or something like that, it's for your safety and that of others. Don't get pissy or rude with them.
1. Don't Bring or Carry Real Weapons
Most people trained in weapons use know this, and it's just common sense, as well as being written policy for many conventions. But don't bring a real gun, sword, knife, throwing star, etc., anything dangerous. The exception is really only if you're selling them in the dealer's hall, and then it is your job to make sure everyone buying from you is over 18 (for swords and knives at least, I never see gun sellers or think it's something that is usually allowed at most conventions).
And don't take the idea that they sell a certain item at the dealer's hall to mean that the convention endorses you taking it out, waving around, or wearing it. Even if you've been say, fighting with nun-chucks for 8 years, there's no need to wave them around or have real ones as part of your costume. And if a bow is part of a costume, don't notch an arrow or draw the bow back. It's always better to be safe than sorry.
While I'll always enjoy cosplaying and going to conventions, from time to time we all run into "that guy" or "that girl" who need a serious lesson in hygiene, etiquette, or both. Don't be like that. Make the convention experience fun for yourself and for everyone else. And be responsible. I'm just grateful that most of you, most of the time, are not "that guy" or "that girl". Keep it up! I'll see you at the next con!