A Women & Girls Guide to Gen Con
There are scads of blogs out there which offer up fantastic tips about packing, food, safety and such out there regarding Gen Con Indy attendance. I’ll start with listing some of my favorites:
- Sean K. Reynold’s Gen Con Tips
- Ben’s Tips for Gen Con: What to pack?
- Ben’s Tips for Gen Con: What to buy?
- Gen Con Do’s & Don’ts
- Helpful Conventioneering Tips, or “How to Survive GenCon”
Many people tend to lose common sense when they’re at a convention, especially if it is one’s first big show. The tips above cover health & hygiene, how to be a good Con attendee and other tips. No, I don’t want to hear about your character and neither does anyone else. Just sayin’.
None of that really has much to do with my original thoughts on this blog post. I spend a lot of time talking to women who play games, but never want to attend Gen Con (or other game conventions). I actually don’t do a lot of gaming when I attend Gen Con; I spend the majority of my time talking about games. It might seem odd, I suppose.
However, that is one of the biggest reasons people attend a big convention. It’s not just the shopping for awesome things, but the opportunity to see old friends, play new games and meet new people. Not to mention, start new traditions with these people.
I’m an old pro at conventions; I’ve been attending and volunteering them since I was in high school. Wow. That’s over 30 years! Not just gaming cons, but all sorts of conventions & conferences. The most rewarding and the most frustrating are gaming conventions.
The frustrating part? It hasn’t always been the most welcome environment. Not on purpose, of course. Hardly anyone is intentionally unwelcoming. It is almost like people don’t consider that all the women & girls who attend, would be interested in playing.
I’ve spent many years wandering expo halls, looking for game demos or trying to get a turn at a video game. I run across touchy-feely men. I’ve been told that “girls don’t play strategy games/war games”.
Thankfully, a whole ton of people don’t think this way. While I talk about how I wish more game companies and demo’ers reach out to me like they do to the passing dudes, I have no problem stepping up and being heard and seen.
When I find an unwelcoming environment, I turn my back and look for a welcoming one. A lot of times, people are so engrossed to what they’re doing, they just don’t notice. I get that; we all concentrate on what we’re doing. That being said, if you’re hosting, leading, demo’ing or whatnot, you should reach out to everyone. Even if they’re not your target audience.
On Twitter, someone reached out to the Gen Con Twitter hash tag that they’re bringing their 15-year old niece to the convention. The question was “What shouldn’t she miss?”. I tried to think of anything which would say “15 year old girl” but then thought that she should like the things everyone likes. At 15, she is probably already a bit geeky (or a lot) if she’s agreed to attend Gen Con. So finding something she’d like, will probably be easy.
So. Advice for women & girls? Read the program. Sign up for things you feel are interesting. If someone ignores you, move to the next booth or table. Try something different. Something might not seem welcoming, but when you check it out, it might be the game of your dreams. Tired of games? Check out miniatures painting. Don’t think you can paint? Try it anyway! All the instructors are patient and helpful; you also can take home your model!
Take in a Seminar. Participate in the Zombie Walk. Reach out to the other women & girls who are gaming and find out what they like. While I *loathe* the name “Spouse Activities”, there are some great classes, crafting, tours and more if you’re up for a non-gaming activity.
I could go on and on! If you see me wandering around the con, wave at me and I’ll drag you into all kinds of places!
One final note. If someone touches you inappropriately or threatens you, it is NOT okay. Look for other women, especially anyone wearing the Back Up Project ribbon. I’ll have mine on my badge and I will be handing them out to other women who are interested in helping women back up other women.
If you’re a dude, it is isn’t your personal dating grounds. While people do hook up at cons, it is not appropriate to hug someone you don’t know, or touch them without permission. Don’t be “that guy”.
Gen Con and Indy itself is a pretty darn safe place. Let’s all remember Wil Wheaton’s saying, “Don’t Be A Dick”.