With the convention season coming up, and us hard at work on Otakon plans, we decided to to re-post our Con Survival Guide for everyone to use! While the full blown con season does not start for a little while yet, you must remember that planning months in advance is the most important thing you can do if you are in charge of a group going to any anime con (even if your group consists of only one person). So if you are thinking of attending any cons this year you should look over the posts because you just might learn a thing or two and avoid some common convention mistakes we all make.
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder is famous for saying that, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” This is especially true of any and all planning done for cons. I have yet to go to an anime con where everything went exactly as planned. Something or someone will always fall through often at the worst possible time. Vital items will be forgotten or left behind. The posted schedule almost always changes day to day sometimes hour to hour. Oddly enough though even though this is a truth you are doomed if you don’t have a plan for going to a con. A small amount of planning can turn a disastrous or boring anime convention into one of the highlights of your year.
But therein lies the problem, if there is no plan nothing will get accomplished. The plan will inevitably change. No matter what. The only way a plan can run perfectly is for only one person to be involved, so unless the con is just you in your basement it will involve others. If you are going alone you still have to worry about traveling (which involves all manner of other people) and the con itself may not run smoothly so your plan even less so.
I will tell you that Narutaki is correct. I was the only person at Hisui Con 2007 last year in my basement and it went off without a hitch but I found that it had no atmosphere what so ever. Roald Amundsen said that adventure is just bad planning. My friend Ben’s infamous road trips always stick out in my mind as to what happens when you take no care to plan you trips in advance. Ben is famous in my little circle of friends for spontaneously planning road trips at the last second and having many a horror story because of it. Tales of him driving half asleep in misty unknown parts of North East while trying to find somewhere to stay for the night before falling asleep at a rest stop to find people rather creepily staring at him when he awoke immediately spring to mind. So much of Ben’s interesting little “adventures” could have been avoided by some planning before setting out.
Disaster can be averted! The first thing you do, is decide to go. So let’s start now! Okay, so the first step has been taken and you haven’t broken a sweat. So why not take the bull by the horns and plan your trip yourself, leave it to no one else!
I myself have up until recently have been more of a passive participant in convention planning. I have always been fortune enough to either have anime conventions near me or to have someone in charge of planning things for me. Narutaki is usually our group’s main chief of planning. But when CLAMP was at Anime Expo 2006 Kohaku and I were forced to make plans for ourselves. It turned out fine but it was the first time I had to fend for myself. I’m also had to plan out my solo journey to the Providence Anime Conference. I will say the the less people you have to plan for the easier it is but the more good friends you bring the more likely you will have a good time.
I have worked with people to plan for 20 and to plan for 2. I’m slowly but surely becoming a seasoned organizer for these types of excursions. Every year something new is learned and every year something unexpected happens. So our guide will be a multiple post, ongoing series initially coming out once a month (the last Monday of the month).
The Con Survival Series:
- Room and Board
- Tickets and Transportation
- Money and Packing
- Schedule and Time Management
- How to Run a Panel
- How to Navigate the Dealers’ Room
Why are we doing this? As the average age of the typical anime fan gets younger and younger while the number of people going to anime conventions increase it means that many con goers are totally green to the con going experience. Just look at any message board for you local con and you will invariably see a thread asking for advice and suggestions. Having the battle scars of years of mistakes, failures, learning experiences, and triumphs we have decided to pass along our wisdom in hopes of teaching first time con attendees what to do and what to avoid in planning their first con experience. Heck old timers might pick up a new trick or two as well.
Okay, yeah, we are going to tell you the mostly overly detailed way of doing things. To the point of madness at times, but this is just a guide not a set of laws. Heck, we may even forget to do some of the things we’re going to tip you off to. The goal is to remember all the great stuff about the convention, not the screw-ups. So hopefully a little help from us you can accomplish just that!