So if you've been on social media for the last few weeks and you're a gamer, there's a good chance you know Gen Con is coming up (next week). You've probably also seen a whole bunch of those, "[insert name here]'s rules for interacting with me at Gen Con." While I was tempted to post something similar, I decided to flip the script and give all of you some friendly, universal advice:
So, here's Jaye's Five Rules for going to any con.......
1) Be Considerate - It's not hard, to be honest. All you need to do is ask yourself, "Am I considering this other human's feelings, ideas, space, etc?" We, as humans, make all sorts of assumptions about one another; we have our own expectations for behavior, for social conformity, and so on. Worse, many of us live and work around increasingly polarized communities, and make assumptions based on those communities; don't do it. If you're unsure, just politely ask one another how best to proceed in a given social encounter/area.
2) Look for the best in your fellow humans - There's going to be 70k+ humans gathering for arguably the world's largest gaming convention, all of whom come from a variety of backgrounds, trials, struggles, preferences, needs, and... well... you name it. We're all pretty different with our own, unique approach to the universe. As a result, conflict will arise (edition wars, anyone?). So instead of focusing on what divides us, look at what makes us great; look for ways to connect to your fellow humans/gamers. Chances are, if you spend some concentrated time trying to find a bridge in your hobby, you'll be able to do so.
3) Don't make assumptions; if you're unsure, just ask - This is one I have to constantly remind myself of. I try to be polite and I love calling folks, "sir/ma'am" as a sign of respect (I spent a lot of time in the South where this is expected). However, in a community as diverse and broad as our own, that simple act of respect can be taken in the wrong light. Worse, with some individuals, issues of gender and identity are still being explored and in a lot of cases, struggled over. While that's not my personal fight, I also understand and respect that it is for others, so I have to practice being especially mindful (a good habit more of us, regardless of our struggles, would be wise to adopt), to ensure folks know I'm making an effort to be polite and respectful, not to force them into a preconceived social position/gender/identity.
3b) Don't assume folks are attacking you because of something they've said - If someone misspeaks or makes an assumption (we make harmless assumptions all the time as humans) about who you are, consider politely correcting them, especially if the conversation is friendly or otherwise respectful. Case in point: If I hold the door for you and say, "Here you go, [sir, ma'am, buddy, awesome human, or so on]" and that's not correct, spend the moment to politely correct me; I can absolutely promise you that I'm not going out of my way to be an asshole to you (I reserve that for folks who actually deserve it). However, if I say "here you go sir" and you're offended, turning and screaming at me is absolutely going to worsen that situation, not make it better. Of course, if someone is going out of their way to be an asshole, don't stand by and try and rationalize their behavior, either or worse, try and win them over. There's a pretty good chance they've already cemented their views; don't let them bait you into escalating any situation into something worse than it already is.
3c) Don't use terms you know are going to trigger folks - Just don't. If you know someone is heavily engaged in a particular social movement, don't go out of our way to argue with them, to try and prove a point, or to otherwise champion your social movement. We've got enough on our plates in America without all of us looking at one another and trying to actively make things worse. In short, don't be an asshole to each other.
4) Respect yourself and others - It's really that simple. Take care of yourself (bathe, get enough sleep, don't be grabbing on folks, etc). There's going to be 70k+ humans gathered in a city that normally supports 855k+ people, and that's going to make for some close quarters. So, make sure you're putting your best foot forward. If you're sick, cover your mouth and nose and avoid spreading germs. If you're been sweating in a car for 11+ hours, don't assume folks want to get close and personal until you've had a quick shower. Brush your teeth. You know, the basics. We often get lost in our excitement, both to see all the new games, see old friends, and in general - to dive into the culture we all know and love.
4b) Cosplay isn't consent - Don't go grabbing on folks. Ask before you touch another human, even if you're intent is completely harmless. I don't like everyone taking my picture or even hugging me, so don't assume it's cool just because someone is showing a little skin.
5) We're here for our hobby - Remember why you came to [insert Con name here] in the first place. Most of us are decent humans who just want to celebrate our hobby; gaming is an awesome hobby that can bridge gaps across a wide array of social fronts, and if we're willing to spend just a little bit of time getting to know each other, we can make our hobby a better place for everyone involved.
5b) Sure, I'll have a beer - And if you absolutely do want to impress me, showing up with a smile on your face and an extra beer in hand is definitely a good first step. ;)
I could probably go on, but you get the general idea. Be cool to each other. It's really not that hard.
If you are going to be at Gen Con and want to meet up, here's my schedule:
Wednesday - arriving at Gen Con; 6 PM+ Industry events.
8 AM to 12 PM; running games.
8 AM to 12 PM; running games.
1 PM - Storm Bunny Studios/Design Camp meet up: I'll be at the Hard Rock Cafe (49 S Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46204 for the GPS inclined).
8 PM - 1 AM; Gaming in the Sagamore with friends.
3 PM until 7 PM; in ICC 240, playing The Strange with some friends.
9 PM+ Industry events.
TBD; I'll likely be running some Bloodlines & Black Magic for friends.