Cons, short for Conventions, are a staple in the anime/video game/comic/general geekery world in the 21st century. I can honestly say that many of the Cons that I’ve been to have been some of the most fun experiences I’ve had, it’s great to be surrounded by people who you know already have some sort of shared interest with you. The atmosphere at a Con is fantastic and I’ve seen some of the hands down, most creative costumes and artwork ever, done by fans. However, Cons, like most places in the world with lots of people, have some unspoken rules and some rules that probably should be spoken more often because following them helps everyone have a more pleasant experience. Here’s a few of those:
RULES FOR CONS
1. Be polite.
Just because it’s hot and sweaty in the room and you’ve been awake for 18 hours, doesn’t mean you don’t have to say please/thank you/excuse me to people. It’s amazing how quickly people forget even the most simple of rules. I don’t care if you’re dressed up as Haruhi Suzumiya, god of all, that’s no excuse to be rude to people.
2. Don’t shove.
Again, you would think it wouldn’t need to be said, and I’ll admit sometimes I’ve been guilty of this myself if people simply refuse to move. Being stuck behind one guy who decided to take up the whole aisle getting a picture of his all time favorite cosplay group seriously sucks.
But in all seriousness, everyone is trying to get somewhere, and shoving your elbow up Inuyasha’s nostrils isn’t going to make anybody any happier, or get anyone anywhere faster. It just makes people annoyed, frustrated, and now you have a snotty elbow. Congratulations.
3. Don’t gawp or follow people around.
Stalker behavior is not okay. I don’t care if you think the guy dressed up as Captain America is the sexiest thing since buttered toast or if you’re trying to figure out if that girl is actually Scarlett Johansson. Don’t stand around staring at people, and do not follow them around the Con. It’s creepy, invasive, and you will probably get security called on you. As they say, take a picture, it’ll last longer. Which brings me to my next rule…
4. Always ask permission to take someone’s picture unless it is a photo shoot.
Be polite and just ask someone, “Hey, is it cool if I take your picture?” Most people will be flattered, and I’ve never personally heard someone turn down a request for a photo. This gives people time to actually get into a pose or fix their hair or have a friend hold their badge so you will get a betterpicture than you would just by ambushing Ichigo at the water fountain.
Photo shoots or specific group photos are different, if there are several people already taking pictures or if it is a specific photo event, it’s still polite to check but you can feel free to just snap away.
5. No lewd comments.
I’ve been hit on more times at Cons than I have been in the rest of my life. I’ve also been leered at, been a target for creepy and terrible pick up lines, and witnessed tons of sexual harassment and I don’t think it’s because nine times out of 10 I wear a miniskirt. Not to say this sort of behavior is frequent, but complimenting someone on their costume by saying, “Hey, I love your costume!” is 10 times better than “Nice tits, Megumi,” or, “Hey Tarzan, I can see your junk. Looking good!” Again, this will probably get security called on you and, as in life, is not OK.
A (male) friend of mine also had girls ask him to grope them. Not cool either. I know, some people think that rules at Cons are more relaxed, or that it’s a time to sort of cut loose, and while it is a great place for people to be open and exuberant, this is still harassment and it is still not OK.
6. Don’t jump on/hug people without their permission.
Personal space bubble! Not everyone who goes to Cons is super touchy feely. I don’t care if that is the only Musica cosplay you’ve ever seen in your entire life and he looks like he stepped off of the manga pages right out of heaven, ask before you hug someone; don’t attempt a 50-yard flying tackle hug. And no matter how drop-dead gorgeous Black Canary is, don’t try to sneak up behind her and grab her for a hug.
I have a friend who almost sat on a fangirl this way because she tried to ambush him and I’ve seen people knocked over or nearly knocked over because Crazy Mary Sue decided she absolutely needed to dive-tackle Spock. I’ve also been hugged without my permission, which makes the skin on the back of my neck crawl and it will not do you any favors.
7. Don’t nitpick people’s costumes.
If you don’t like it, you don’t have to say or do anything, just move on. People have put a lot of time, effort and money into their costumes, just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean that they’re not proud of it. It may be the worst ever Ezio cosplay you’ve ever seen and he might look like an Italian Renaissance hobo, but that doesn’t mean you have to comment on it. If you don’t like it, move on. No one is forcing you to stand there and look at it or be around this person; everything at a Con is completely voluntary (except going through security checkpoints).
8. Shower/wash hands/wear deodorant.
Some people sleep in bathtubs when they go to Cons and still don’t bathe, I do not understand this. Cons, for those of you who don’t know, usually have indoor areas for shopping, artist’s gallery and panels even if there is outdoor space for people to congregate. There will always be too many people crammed into a tiny space and no one needs to smell your BO, particularly if a wintertime Con strikes your fancy. If you have to, stuff deodorant into your bag so you can reapply throughout the day. I’m sure your friends would rather you run to the bathroom for five minutes than have to smell you for five hours.
9. Social cues still apply.
If you think someone is trying to give you the cue to leave, please take it. While you may want to stay and rehash the entire mythology of “Ghost in the Shell” and its 10 billion spin-offs with the cosplayer you just found, please accept that they might not be quite that into the show as you are or they might be busy. I myself have been followed around a Con by a guy who just couldn’t take a hint that I wasn’t particularly interested in going over every single piece of Batman lore that there ever was. On the other hand, if you want someone to leave you alone, don’t be rude about it and let them down gently. Some of these people just may not take the hint, if that happens you can also use an excuse like “Well, it’s been nice chatting with you but I have to go meet my friends,” or “I’m so glad you liked my costume, I’ve really got to go to a panel now though. Have a good rest of the Con.” This goes back to rule numero uno of “Be polite.”
10. If you must make snarky comments, wait until you’re out of the convention hall or FAR away from people.
Just because you think it’s loud enough that they can’t hear you saying “What an effing weirdo furry,” from 10 feet away doesn’t mean you’re right.
I understand, sometimes you just see something SO completely ridiculous you can’t keep it to yourself, or someone in the most bizarre getup ever and you want to talk to your friends about it, but chances are they love their outfit/being a furry/breaking out into random dance stops in the middle of the hall. So, if you feel the overpowering need to turn to your friend and go “Man, I just don’t get people who dress up as Grell,” leave the room first.