With the convention season mostly over and the larger conventions out of the way, the only thing left to do is start planning for next year.
If you've always wanted to attend a gaming con, but were too afraid, overwhelmed, or plagued by sanity to go; we can help, but we have both good news and bad news for you:
The Good News
With discount sites, group rates and a bit of shameless, unabashed, straight up moochery, you don't have to be stinking rich to afford an amazing vacation:
The Bad News
It takes more than a fair amount of planning and saving if you're not looking to spend all of your cash getting there. Getting stuff for cheap can be a lot of work, but you'll want the savings as you'll need every penny you have to stay completely ripped off your ass on booze for the duration of your stay.
As a seasoned Con-Goer, I can offer the following three tips that every Con Attendee should know:
Tip # 1: Travel and Stay
Right off the bat - you're going to want to fly. There are dozens of travel sites that offer discount flights for insanely low prices provided you're willing to pay in advance and give up a few luxuries like "personal space" and "staying in the air for the entire duration of the flight".
Driving to a convention might seem like a great idea, but in reality you just become "guy with a car", which is NOT a costume you want to be seen wearing at a crowded convention, unless your idea of a good time is a Klingon puking up a gut full of Gagh in your back seat.
The hotels usually charge con fees, valet fees, and daily storage fees, which as we previously noted: take away from your "self-inflicted alcohol poisoning" funds. Plus, after a long con, driving home kind of sucks in that whole "a week's worth of fast food" kind of way, if you get our drift.
Hotels themselves, no matter how expensive or ritzy can be purchased on the cheap with services like Hotwire or Priceline, as long as you pay in advance and are willing to gamble. If you've never used these sites, this is how they work:
You tell them what you want, they show you a list of what they have within that area, and you pay for one. Then and only then do they tell you where you'll actually be staying. It sounds risky, but there are plenty of consumer watch websites that give you odds on what hotel is up for grabs on any given day.
And besides, even if your room doesn't contain dead hookers at the beginning, the likelihood that it will at the end is pretty much a given. Am I right? Guys?
Tip #2: Costumes and Companions
Find a travel buddy.
Sure, some people solo these conventions and have a great time doing it. These are also the same people who won't leave your hotel room despite the fact that you've used your "polite cough" so many times that you make the CDC's watch list for consumption. By attending a Con with a friend or group of friends you'll have the opportunity to strengthen that companionship through the cruel and heartless mocking of others. Rousing games of "that's not a costume" or "dude, I don't think that's really a chick" can transform people watching from a quiet pastime to a wetly snorting giggle-fest in less time than it takes for that really bad Princess Leia to snarf down her 6th chili-cheese dog.
Travel buddies are also contractually obligated to assist you in the time-honored tradition of holding your costume accessories while you pee.
As for costumes? Anything goes, but we strongly suggest that you stay away from the more common and popular ones if you're not the absolute personification of that character. Unless of course you like being reminded that you aren't a unique or beautiful snowflake six gazillion times a day.
The key here is balance: You want a costume that is unique enough that you won't run into yourself a thousand times a day, but not so obscure that you risk becoming an unwilling participant in "that's not a costume".
Or, just take any concept and Steampunk the f**k out of it. That seems popular.
Tip #3: What to do if you meet a celebrity. (Alternate Title: Don't be a goddamn spaz)
Chances are pretty good that you're going to bump into, meet, or crowd-spot a celebrity. In the past I have met childhood idols, actors, famous geeks, and this year I totally betrayed and killed Richard Garriott at Tracy Hickman's "Killer Breakfast."
And I'd just like to say that in every meeting, I've always acted in the most calm, mature and professional manner that a well adjusted member of society could behave in. I'd LIKE to say this, but at times I feel I've been less professional and more, well...
Which, as you can imagine, tends to weird them out just the tiniest of bits.
The worst thing you can do is scream really loud and point at them before charging like a horny rhino. At the very best you're going to make them extremely uncomfortable, and at worst you're going to get tasered in the face before you can even offer them your undying loyalty as a man-servant.
If you are lucky enough to meet a celebrity, the only advice I can offer is "Keep it short". Be polite, apologize for your sudden and probably sweaty appearance directly in their face, and KEEP IT F**KING SHORT. They're human, (okay - MOST of them) and they're just as uncomfortable at being randomly approached by a guy in tights screaming movie quotes while brandishing a plastic lightsaber as you or I would be.
Ask them if they have time for a quick picture or signature, thank them, and then leave them alone. They don't care about your take on their character, and they don't want to argue the rule-set of a game they created 20 years ago, no matter how life changing it was for you. They just want to get out of there, throw on a mask, and get back to making fun of the 600 pound guy in the He-Man costume exactly the same way we would.
Conventions are a great way to meet up with friends and guild mates. They're a neutral meeting ground that appeals to the core of the group without the threat of having someone taking permanent occupancy on your couch, or even knowing where you live.
They can be done on a budget, and if you actually take the time to plan them out, can come and go in the blink of an eye leaving you to wonder how it all passed so fast, and if hotel rooms are on sale yet for the next one.
But I recommend waiting a bit so that they have time to get the dead hooker smell out.
Febreze can only do so much.