Now, recently I went to MCM London on Saturday (alas I am poor and could not go the entire weekend). It’s always to fun to go and take pictures of Cosplayers or see interesting panels or buy awesome merchandise. However, there is an art to surviving the Con. You might think that there are dangers in Nerdland but there always surprises lurking in the plushie stands.
As someone who has been to quite a few Cons over the years, I have developed a system to having a fairly decent time. I would now like to take the time to impart wisdom on any thinking about going. Here is a list of things to consider when skipping off into the land where it’s socially acceptable to dress up as someone else when it’s not even Halloweens.
- Book your tickets early. There is nothing worse than planning to go somewhere and not have the tickets to get in. I booked mine as soon as they were available to avoid standing in the queue until the end of time. I might be British but standing around for three hours would even test my patience. If you are too late to book tickets, then turn up at the crack of dawn.
The test of a true Englishman!
- Go early. On Saturday, I was up at the ungodly hour of six in the morning. The sun had not even risen yet, making it feel highly unnatural. However, it proved to useful when I arrived at the Con. There were less people to shuffle awkwardly behind like you’re the polite undead and you enter the gaming booths quite quickly. It’s easy to do a circuit around the place to see what you want to visit.
RIP alarm clock. You fell in the line of duty. The wall didn’t help either.
- Bring your own food. Unless you have a big budget, take food you can grab at a corner shop or Tesco’s. As much as I like Japanese cuisine, I was not going to hand of my first born child for the taste of noodles. I only brought enough money to buy comics and a plushie. If I had more money, I would have run to the first sushi stall I spotted.
- Take money with you. Do not attempt to cash out at the Con unless you are there stupidly early. This is another ploy to get you to test how British you can be. The queue time is not worth it. Bringing money ensures you are prepared and know what you want to get.
- Taking a big bag would be useful. If you’re taking food, then it’s the best thing to bring a rucksack. It allows you to store all your stuff in one place without wondering if you left a bad behind. This way you don’t accidentally leave something important on the train.
- Always ask permission. It seems fairly basic but you’d be surprised how many people don’t follow this rule. Whether it’s to pick up someone’s art work or take a picture of a cosplayer, make sure they are ok with it. Some people have taken a lot of time and effort to put together their costume. It might be delicate in some places and you don’t want to wreck someone’s day by bursting their stuff.
Always ask permission. Running away is an option too.
- No pushing in. Again basic but some people are prats. They think their more important or that they don’t have the time to wait. Well, everyone is waiting so don’t be a dick about it. If someone does barge in front, say something or inform the guy making sure the line keeps going.
- Know when you can take photos. Most cosplayers are OK with people taking photos. They’re proud of what they’ve made and want to show it off. However, some might just want to do it for fun and don’t want a camera pointed their way. It’s a bit creepy to turn around and see a lense pointed your way. A couple of stalls might have ‘no photography’ but it’s better to ask first.
- Let things be sold. On occasion, I stop to have a chat with the people who sell comics. Don’t be that person who hogs the stall. If it’s fairly slow or no one seems to be stopping, then it’s ok. But if someone looks like they’re about to ask something or pay, then stop the conversation.
- Don’t push and be wary of your backpack. There’s nothing worse than the butt who thinks their time is more important than everyone else’s. Early morning MCM is fairly open so you have time to walk around. However, around the afternoon it gets really packed and you will be squashed in the masses. Also, for short people, bags will hit our heads a lot. I did spend some time in a line where I guy kept swaying and hitting me with his bag. Don’t be that guy.
- Be nice to the workers. They are trying to make sure things keep running and that everyone gets a far go at things. If they ask you to move from somewhere, do what they ask, they have a good reason to shuffle you somewhere else.
- Try not to be snooty. There have been some occasions where people have judged me for either being a console gamer, for TV shows that I watch (Yes, Vampire Diaries is hilarious and that is why I watch it) or being interested by gender politics within the video game industry. If someone states an opinion either counter it or discuss it further. Don’t brush it off or call this person names, you’ll just look like an arsehole.
And that’s my own personal guide to the madness that is MCM. Some rules you can ignore if you have plenty of money (my purse is still weeping, I don’t know if it will recover). Whether you cosplay or not, it’s always a good time and majority of people that go are fairly awesome. I hope at least some of this advice is helpful. After all, you’re free to ignore it. Tune in for my other article which discusses the games that I tested.