Katie's Game Corner: How to Survive a Board Game Convention

Katie's Game Corner: How to Survive a Board Game Convention

You’re going to a convention, it might be your first time ever or you could be going somewhere new. Maybe you REALLY don’t know what to pack or you may just be feeling a little anxious or nervous about going, hopefully I can help.

As somebody that suffers from social anxiety, I can often find the initial planning or the first day or two of a convention very stressful so I like to be as prepared as possible. I thought it may be useful to create a list of tips and tricks to help you when you attend a convention, some of these might seem obvious but it can be easy to forget the little things.

I hope you will find some of these useful!

1. Create an Instagram and Twitter account.

Yeah, most people are already on these sites I know but if you aren’t, do it now. Create an account, follow people that have the same interests as you and start getting to know people. If you’re going to a convention alone, or would like to make new friends before you go, this is one of the best ways of doing so. I have met most of my boardgaming friends and people that share the same interests as me on these two websites.

I’ve attended a lot of conventions in my time and knowing that I have friends there already has definitely helped. The boardgame community on the whole is a very friendly, inclusive place and will definitely welcome you with open arms. 

2. Make a ‘want to buy and where to buy’ list.

From experience, if there are games you know that you definitely want to buy at the convention, create a list and find out where the vendors are going to be. You might just want to browse and see if there is anything you fancy buying which is fine, but if you know of something that you definitely want, know where to find it because it could very well sell out. I had this problem at BGGCON last year, I wasn’t very prepared and two of the games I wanted sold out in 15 minutes. I eventually got them after the con but it would have been nice to get them at the time.

With conventions like Essen Spiel or conventions that are mainly trading halls, it is essential that you do this. It’s a huge convention and can be very overwhelming so being as organised as possible with the games you want to purchase is a must. You can usually find a map on the convention’s website which will tell you where each trader is going to be which is really useful.

Also, if you are on a budget or want to watch how much you buy, it’s always worth browsing all of the halls before you start buying games. Then you can decide what you want to buy, if anything.

3. Plan what you are going to eat when you are there.

Now, I’m not saying plan every meal but you will probably want to find out what there is going to be food wise there. Some conventions have a lot of food stands, which can sometimes be overpriced and will definitely be really busy which isn’t ideal when you want to be playing games and enjoying the convention as much as possible. I usually try to locate a supermarket near to the convention and on the first day go load up on snacks and food that will see me through the convention. 

It’s also worth finding out which restaurants are near, if any and how to get to them. It can be very easy to skips meals and forget to eat at conventions but this is definitely no good when you are trying to concentrate whilst playing games. You’re probably going to have some late nights too so you make sure to look after yourself and keep yourself well fed and watered.

4. Sleep IS your friend. 

Of course, you are going to want to spend as much time gaming and hanging out with your friends as possible and it’s not realistic to say that you’re going to get a full night’s sleep every night but do try to get a normal nights sleep at least one or two nights if you can. I get so stressed and grumpy if I don’t have enough sleep, so this is a must for me but you will definitely feel better for it and you will be more focused when playing games. 

5. Mental health breaks are a must!

A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health. It could be a five minute pause from hanging with friends or a half hour break inbetween games but it’s really important to give yourself a little break. Conventions can be very overwhelming, there is a lot going on and it can get stressful for some people so if you need to take a bit of time out then that is fine and you absolutely should!

6. Always make sure you take some cash with you.

While some of the bigger booths will usually have card payments systems, many smaller companies won’t so the only way to get their games is with cold hard cash. Setting a budget and only bringing that much money is also helpful so you can  watch how much are spending. Always keep some emergency cash too, you never know what could happen.

A lot of conventions will have ATM machines but if it is a huge convention, they can easily run out of money or again have massive queues which is annoying.

7. Don’t forget to pack the essentials. 

It can be easy to forget certain things when packing for a convention, luckily Patrick Hillier (@overthehillier) has written the perfect Convention Preparation list. Click here to check that out for more tips.

These REALLY are essential, not every convention will be near a mall or a store so it’s really important that you are taking the things that you will definitely need with you!

8. Have fun!

The most important thing to remember at a convention is to have as much fun as possible, meet new people, create new memories and do the things that make you happy. 

I have been lucky enough to travel around the world for different conventions, I have met so many amazing people and have had so many opportunities to do things I never thought I’d get to do. Try something new, talk to people you wouldn’t usually talk to, play new games and enjoy yourself.

So there you have it, I hope this will be useful to some of you.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed and see you next time. 

Katie. 

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