The opening of cities across the country represents an opportunity to restore a sense of normalcy to us pale, multiplayer-deprived gaming types: Conventions! Finally, a chance to reconnect with likeminded gamers around a shared affinity for a particular game, artist or spin off TV show. Before venturing forth into large, empty convention halls, heed these warnings on in-person etiquette you may have forgotten over 15 months (not that we blame you!):
Don’t skimp on reconnaissance work
Days spent at conventions are scheduled to maximize time waiting in line for autographs and minimize time waiting in line in your car, on the highway, late for your first haircut in what feels like half a century. So scour the map of the convention center and lay out your ideal route. At which points will you begin your loop past the marketing departments of your favorite game designers? Where can you score free bottles of water, and at what times can you guarantee maximum hydration? Where are the vending machines and when are they restocked with Famous Amos? Those convention center schematics and blueprints aren’t placed in a file cabinet in what turns out to be an easily accessible desk safe in the back of a government building because they weren’t meant to be seen by know-nothing strangers such as yourself.
Polish and shine the goods
You haven’t spent more than an hour around a stranger who isn’t your new cat in more than a year; you can be forgiven for letting your sense of smell fall by the wayside. But we have bad news: Ya reek. Bad. Turn those rusty shower knobs to “on” (you’ve forgotten how temperature gauges work) and let yourself feel what it’s like to not have dust molecules orbit your periphery like Pig Pen in old Charlie Brown cartoons. Grab a stick of deodorant—no need to open the packaging itself; don’t feel rushed—and give it a big whiff. Remember, this is preferable to whatever’s happening currently below the pits. While it’s true that not all gamers are disgusting slobs, it’s also true that you don’t want to become one.
Select a costume
Dressing up for gaming conventions is half the fun (with the other half being waiting in line), so strap on some cardboard and hot glue and fashion yourself a fun costume representing your favorite game. Select bright colors so as to be easily identified by any friends who attend with you and may have been lost in a crowd. Make sure you can move your arms and legs, as well. Meeples are able to travel from booth to booth with only minimal tripping—but a backgammon piece might just sit there at the booth of a lonely stained glass artist mistakenly booked at this gaming convention.
And finally, have fun
The last year and change has been pretty ridiculous, it’s true, but not something many of us would call “fun.” Did it create lasting memories? You betcha. But don’t let these memories deter you from transforming into the fun-loving person you used to be. And certainly don’t let memories of crowded halls and long lines at gaming conventions deter you from attending a gaming convention as soon as it’s safe. At this point, we’d play a board game against a wall if somebody stapled an instruction manual to its side, let alone an actual person. What’s another few hours standing around?