My first day at my first gaming convention was both thrilling and disappointing. I had traveled with my friends Scott and Jay from D-Verse Publishing, LLC. along with artist Michael Rechlin a little over 9 hours to get to Columbus a couple days before. We had spent the previous day setting up the booth for Nexus and that night we stopped by a meet-up for a while. The hotel was just shy of a mile from the convention center which we walked to and from — something I am not conditioned to do — but the excitement of being there kept me going. Needless to say, anticipation and anxiety kept me from sleeping well.
We arrive at the convention center an hour and a half before the doors open to the public. The time slips through our fingers fast as we make last minute adjustments, preparing printed materials, setting up the demo area ,and vacuuming the black carpet (yea bad idea) before the show. A steady, low roar is building from the hallways outside as people line up to get in. An announcer comes over the loud speakers and I hear “Origins 2018 is now open!” followed by sounds of yelling and cheering from the exhibitors as well as the eager public. The crowd comes flowing in the doors, rounding corners, and melting into the exhibit hall almost like a viscous liquid. Excitement is high as people rush to their “first hit” list to make sure they get the limited editions, coupons, or other rarities before they run out. Passing by the exhibitors’ booths, the enthusiasm is high as stuttered and stammered sales pitches, still not quite perfected try to catch the attention of passersby.
There is nothing I want to do more than to walk around and watch all the people. My legs and feet are so exhausted from all the walking and preparing the booth and everything over the last couple of days, I just can’t muster up the strength to make a lap right now. So, I sit here in a chair and watch as people flow by me probably wondering why this guy is sitting against the wall typing on a laptop at an awesome tabletop gaming convention. “Maybe if I just sit here and rest for a while I’ll be able to make a few laps in a bit” I tell myself. Knowing damn well I could sit here for three days and not have the physical strength to walk around without pains in my feet and legs. I can’t help but think about how many people are walking by, so many stories I’m not catching. “Later” I tell myself, “there will be time later once I can get some rest.” But that feel-better moment never came as I was struck with another dose of reality. Stimulus overload.
Being a natural introvert, I recharge my batteries being alone. Normally, just an hour or two alone can give me the charge I need to function at a high level. On this trip, there is four of us staying in the same hotel room, going to the conference, and eating together 24 hours a day. There is no alone time and I am starting to feel it on the first day of the convention already. The sights and sounds of the exhibition hall are intoxicating and I am constantly looking and listening, trying to pay attention to every detail to make sure I don’t miss out on something really cool. This high-focused intensity leads to me becoming more and more mentally exhausted and I can hear myself stuttering and searching for words when I speak — something that rarely happens to me. I had to find a quick-charge somewhere. Luckily for me, there is a first-aid room right next to our booth that no one is using — and technically I do need some aid. I sneak off in there from time to time to escape the sights and sounds for a few minutes of time to pull myself together, but the reprieve never lasts long. Like a 5 year-old, I don’t want to miss out on any of the things!
Right now you might be saying, “Come on Tim, we get it, you were exhausted. There has to be some upside to all of this. Right? ” That is where you are correct. The old silver-lining, lemons into lemonade stuff starts to come into play here.
If you have kids and have ever been to Disneyland, you probably have seen one of your young ones being so excited they wear themselves out and end up falling asleep on one of the benches during a 5 minute break. I was honestly afraid that someone was going to bust into the First Aid room and find me snoozing away hours after the show had ended or something. Being out of shape has its upsides though. Being lazy goes hand and hand with finding creative and easy solutions to problems. I found that if I just sat still in a chair off to the side, others were tired as well and would sit next to me. Conversations would pop off about the show, how tired we all were, what booths we couldn’t wait to share with one another, and a myriad of other topics. As it turns out, tired people are everywhere at the convention and they wanted someone to talk to as well. So I ended up spending most of my time right there against the wall which allowed me to meet people I would have never otherwise run into.
As I said in the beginning, the first day at my first gaming convention was both exhilarating and disappointing. The sights, the sounds, the booths, the people were all incredible and were better than I could even imagine. My disappointment came with my own physical and mental limitations and the expectations I had placed on myself being unrealistic. I knew I was going to learn a lot at Origins this year, but I didn’t think my big takeaway from the first day would be facing my own shortcomings and resetting my own expectations of myself the rest of the trip. The good news is that I was able to reset those expectations and make the best of my time there and I was able to capture so many great things to write about. I just had to go about it a different way then I had planned and narrow my scope and reach.
I didn’t set out to make a blog post all about me, but this really was the big story for me personally the first day. It is my hope that it might help some other convention newbie prepare themselves in the future and give them the expectation that you are going to be tired, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of it.
Next time, I want to share with you all the things I noticed from someone that is not in the gaming industry. Things I found surprising and unlike other industry conventions. I think you’ll find it as interesting as I do.
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