There’s nothing quite like your first time…
… at a convention, that is.
The bright lights, the (sweaty and excited and anxious and sweaty) people, the atmosphere, the panels and guests and badges and signings and cosplays — everything about con-going is kaleidoscopic and chaotic and beautiful. With RTX Sydney 2018, the kickoff to a year of outstanding industry events, in full swing, we thought it apropos to look back on what it was like attending a convention for the first time. Highs, lows, unexpected moments, and some cringe — we faced it all when venturing into the unknown.
Since my first Comic Con was approximately 170 years ago in 1999, and I don’t really remember the details, I’ll write about my first convention since then!
It was San Diego Comic Con 2013, and I was absolutely not prepared for the crowd. At the time, my social anxiety was really bad, but I forced myself to start going to these geeky conventions to help treat my anxiety. The thing about these conventions is that you are gathering with people that are of a like mind. There’s no need for an ice breaker, as everyone under the huge convention roof is already on the same page.
So after my initial shock and spike in anxiety, I loosened up and ran into and met SO many friends. I realized this was how I was going to fix myself, and for the most part, over the next several years, I did!
One stand out moment was when my then new friend Jason, who also happened to be Clark Gregg’s personal trainer, brought Clark over to the Hot Toys booth to hang out with us. It was an awesome time!
I now make sure to go to every geeky convention in Southern CA, to reunite with the growing list of the friends I’ve made along the way.
I don’t remember my first convention in all of its details, but I’ve had awesome moments at conventions.Through cons I’ve been able to meet a bunch of actors, high-profile YouTubers, and other gaming journalists. I even once saw Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver) eating a salad. (I half-expected him to somehow craft it into a bazooka with a rubber band and a credit card.)
But beyond meeting celebs, my favourite moment of all time was when I was tapped on the shoulder by a stranger at my first-ever PAX who told me they read my reviews. It was a surreal moment; I knew people had obviously read my content before, but to actually hear that another human being liked my stuff was really special.
I was 16. I was cosplaying (barely) as an extremely low-rent version of Misa from Death Note (mostly because I had just died my hair a horrendous shade of yellow, but also because I thought she was genuinely amazing) and I regretted the pony-tails almost as soon as I walked through the main doors.
It was the summer of 2006, and MCM London was packed full with cosplayers and geeks far more committed than me. I felt quite out of place for the first few hours, which wasn’t a drastically unusual feeling for me, a mildly unstable teenager still desperately trying to work out their place in the world let alone a comic convention. As you can probably imagine, though, I found myself relaxing more and more with every booth I passed and every equally weird and awkward teenager that I bumped into. It wasn’t the same instant feeling of belonging that I felt at, say, Fright Fest, but it was the closest I’d gotten to feeling a little less alone than I had, at that stage, my whole life.
The experience kick-started a long run of convention attendances for me, but I’ll always look back on my first convention experience with a fond smile and also barely disguised cringe because, seriously, my hair was astoundingly awful.
My first proper convention was EGX in London when I was 17. A group of my friends and I took a weekend trip to London as our first trip away from our parents, and we hit up the U.K. gaming expo to check out what it was like. The trip was all kinds of messy — from staying in a really dodgy hotel to ordering about 10 KFC buckets from a night feast. As for the convention itself, it was great going to a place where a bunch of gamers shared the same kind of passion you have for these crazy nerdy things. It was a ton of fun playing games ahead of their release, but the best thing I got from that convention was a batarang from the Batman Arkham series, and it’s absolutely great.
It was 2011’s D23, which is a Disney expo! It didn’t have nearly the amount of hype and people that go now, but I dressed up as Jasmine from Aladdin and hung out with two of my friends the entire time. I just remember not reacting to people calling out “Jasmine” AT ALL, and I feel so bad about it. I really just wasn’t used to it! It was super unexpected when I was pulled to do an interview outside the convention center while leaving to do some introduction piece of the expo as well. I was horribly awkward, and the interviewer asked me questions expecting to get answers from my character, and I didn’t catch on that in the slightest since it was my first time cosplaying. Heck, it was my first time wearing just the amount of make up on my face that I was! I even had to wake up early to ask a friend to do the make up for me.
Overall, it was really fun, though! Seeing Disney’s plans for future films, the theme parks, and all the cool collectibles was great. It was a lot of firsts for me, and it got be hooked to going to geeky conventions.
What was your first convention experience like? Let us know in the comments below!