Not everyone who likes going to conventions likes convention crowds. And for some it isn’t an issue of like or dislike, it is a simple issue of capacity. Introverts often feel anxiety, fear, or massive energy drains in large crowds. Others just need space alone. The necessity of finding calm moments when these tides threaten to overwhelm you is requisite for self-care and maintaining a capacity for full enjoyment of a large gaming convention. However, despite the most bustling schedules there are places you can go and things you can do to find a little bit of peace…
5 Small Sanctuaries for Big Cons
We polled veteran con-goers and combine the top 5s we got with our own favorite alternatives to reading back at the hotel room:
- Miniatures Painting Workshops – This is one of our favorites. It can be a creative, calming experience that still gives a con-goer a great keepsake. The activity is seated, fairly quiet and generally very personal unless you ask the facilitator for help. You can be non-verbal and engage entirely different parts of your creative process allowing your social batteries a needed recharge.
- Screening Rooms – In the darkened space of an exhibit hall it is possible reduce the audience to just another laugh track in the dark. Many cons have cult classics, sneak previews and crowdsourcing efforts that great emerssive dunks into a lovely deep-dish escape from crowds and a singular audio experience to focus on.
- Cosplay Areas – Designated cosplay areas are usually another audience experience and as a primarily visual art, they tend to quiet crowds as people strain to listen to the artist or watch in-character performances. Additionally, designated cosplay areas often have attached craft, workshop or repair areas that are often even quieter and off main areas of traffic. Still, don’t forget to respect their cosplayers art and privacy depending on the area.
- Niche Panels – A sad fact of so much awesome going on at a Con is that sometimes not every event fills up. Ghosting the seminar areas it is often quite possible to find interesting panels with very light attendance or small audience size allowances. Dipping into one of these quieter experiences can be just what the doctor ordered if you are feeling the overwhelm. A little lurking can be good for the soul.
- “Valve Events” – When scheduling events, pick a few events you aren’t sure you want to go to but sound interesting enough you wouldn’t mind. These events can be double wins for the taxed introvert who either a) Feels less pressure to attend an event creating a greater sense of agency or b) Exercises agency by skipping an even altogether. In either case you regain a much needed sense of control and are likely to engage the “optional” event with more energy or take the needed stepaway if you skip it.
Creating space for yourself in a Con is challenging but far from impossible and can go a long way to making your con experience awesome! Remember to be candid with travel buddies if you have energy management issues otherwise you might find the hardest fight is against those people that you came with.