Sometimes the issue at a convention isn't the convention.

I used to go to concerts and music festivals a lot.  Having been both a club promoter and a bartender in the past, it should be no surprise that I have seen an epic volume of live music.  I have been to so many shows, and traveled to so many festivals, that if I were to own a CD from every band I have seen live that the money spent on those albums could pay off my house.

Looking at the gross volume of music I have purchased, I think I could have purchased my entire neighborhood even before the advent of iTunes.

How can you frown when something like that is around?

How can you frown when something like that is around?

At these events, in particular the massive festivals, I used to always see at least a handful of people who were just straight up miserable. It could be warm, on the ocean front, with three massive bands playing, and low and behold someone would be sitting in a shitty fold out chair with a perma-grump plastered to their face.  I remember going to Gathering of the Vibes back in like 2005 or 2006 and seeing this blond woman who was so miserable that I could feel the negativity coming off of her.  Deep Banana Blackout was rocking on stage, I had just finished doing some serious spinning, and everything in the world was great.  This woman’s vibe (I swear I wasn’t on drugs at this point in time) was so heavy that I could feel her hate radiating like cartoon stink lines.

Then I heard her say to her friend,” This entire concert sucks.”

If only one of these people is frowning, and thousands are smiling, the problem isn't the event...

If only one of these people is frowning, and thousands are smiling, the problem isn't the event...

This stopped me for a moment.  I looked around and hundreds and thousands of people were in a wave of love and enjoyment.  The crowd was filled with people jamming on vibes and looking to have a shared concert experience that was filled with two parts awesome and 5 parts amazing.  There were people playing in mud, there were massive crowds being respectful of one another, there were people smiling and laughing, and cascades of glowing lights in the air.

And yet the audacity of this one person that everything else was the problem here, and not her.

Concerts and shows isn’t the only place I run into this sort of vibe.  Gaming conventions and gaming events is another time when I run into the ‘everything here but me is stupid’ sort of mentality.  You can smell it out on the internet, you can see it being loaded by trolls into their internet spite-a-pults, and you can always see that one person at an event who is not only miserable but wants *everyone else to know how miserable they are*.

Here is a hint: if an event has hundreds and thousands of people at the event who are having an incredible time, and you and maybe a couple others are nothing but grumble juice about what is going on, maybe you should consider your own existence and involvement instead of questioning the event.  The truth is, if the vast majority of people who attend an event are happy or more so, and if the outside individuals are nothing but shitstorms and negativity… chances are good that absolutely nothing short of a lightning storm of direct hit awesome is going to make those individual negative nancys happy.  Maybe they are stuck in a rut, or expected something different, or somehow believed the event should cater to specifically them… there are thousands of things that could make someone not have fun when the world around them is having a blast.

When I find that I am not having a good time at an event where everyone else seems to be having a blast, I normally ask myself a few questions.  I suggest you too try asking yourself these things before you blame a convention or event for the time you are having.

1) Am I being a dick?  No, really.  I ask myself ‘am I being a dick’.  If I am attending a convention and I am not having fun, I ask myself is my own head-space preventing me from having a good time?  Am I so full of grumble cakes (for whatever reason) that I am sitting off to the side and not having fun? Is my attitude and the way I am acting driving people away?  If so, I change up my approach or I leave.  Either I want to be there to have fun, and I am willing to change my approach to having fun, or nothing is going to change my pre-existing condition.

2) Am I being unjustifiably pompous?  Again, serious question. Not too long ago we were working a convention in Indiana, and we didn’t get booked to sleep at the primary convention hotel.  At the same time as the gaming convention, a Brony convention was happening at this other hotel that we were staying at. The Eschaton crew was celebrating having sold all of our books, and went into the hotel bar, to find it swarmed with Brony (Bronies, Broni?).  Anyway, between the Brony and the fur suit furries that were at the bar some of our group balked.  So we grabbed some seats, got some drinks, started playing games, and after a little bit hung out with some Bronies (again, brony?  Broni??).

And we had a fucking blast.  Sean got a drink that I am pretty sure gave him instant diabetes and I got kaiju building tips from the dude in the wolf outfit who could drink beer through his giant wolf head via tubes. We played rounds of card games with drinks flowing and occasional cheers.  It was awesome. 

So the moral is, get over yourself. Been in the gaming scene for 5 minutes or 5 decades?  There is no such thing as nerd hierarchy… only nerd seclusion.  So get over yourself and join in the fun. Otherwise you may miss a good time to spite yourself. 

3) Is this my scene?  This one is hard to figure out, and, it is a question that us ‘higher level’ (older) gamers need to figure out.  Sometimes I go to a game, or game event, and find myself surrounded by early teens who I cannot relate to on a social level at all. As a child that grew up remembering the 80s, the kids born in the 90s are a little strange to me.  Admitted, I still can interact with some of them, but when there is hundreds of teens around me and I am standing there you know what I am?  The chaperone.   I am not a part of the lingo, and community, that the early teen generation has.  If I can’t relate to these people, that’s on me… not them.  Instead of regaling them with stories about how it used to be I get involved with what they are doing OR I LEAVE.  Nothing wrong with passing on a group of younger gamers getting together to make the mistakes you made 15 years ago… however… if you feel outside due to separation this isn’t their fault.  They should not adjust to match you.

4) Did I set different expectations than what was delivered?  See, I used to think that New York Comic Con would be the BEST place in the world to check out new games.  When we ran booths there, I quickly found out we were one of the few card and RPG game companies at the convention.  Why?  Because the convention is a comic convention, based on comic culture, and I expected all of nerd culture to be present.  That was my expectation of the convention, not one they communicated, making it so that I put myself expecting something and sadly getting something else.  Once I realized that I was expecting something that wasn’t what they were providing, I was able to adjust my expectations to enjoy myself.  Admitted, I don’t do NYCC any more due to the fact that you get more personal space in a 50 person one bed orgy than you do in the NYCC aisles. 

5) Am I expecting too much?  I have a hard time going to games. Even before I started working in the gaming industry professionally, I analyzed game mechanics and systems to see how things operated.  I would compare how event staff organized things such as check in, badges, security, and room layout and I would keep a tally in my mind of great things I saw and less than stellar things I saw.  The issue was, I was traveling all over the world for events and comparing conventions at the same level.  The major funded conventions and the smaller fan conventions all were getting the same process in my mind and if the smaller conventions didn’t live up to the big event standards I would find myself getting frustrated.

It took some time before I realized the beer comparison of conventions.  Some conventions are mass produced and offer an unchanging taste.  Some conventions are home brews that offer great advances and sometimes bad after taste.  However, I could not compare all of these conventions against one another since they are all running on different scales and attempting to draw different audiences.  So instead of making a mental tally, I started just recording the outstanding things in my mind for future cribbing.