In the same way Pokemon masters rely on their team to defeat the Elite Four, so should you rely on your team to help you get the most out of your San Diego (or any) Comic Con experience. First, make sure to communicate with your group about what your plans and goals are for SDCC. Last year, I quickly found out that I had a difficult time staying with the group in the Exhibit Hall. It amped up my anxiety to try to herd us all and I frequently split off to wander alone – sorry guys! It’s nice to know in advance that one person absolutely cannot miss the Game of Thrones panel, so they’ll be up at 4 am, and someone else has to get to the Sons of Anarchy signing, so they’ll be… doing whatever you have to do to get autographs. I actually don’t know much about that process, oops!
I’ve put some thought into what makes the “perfect” convention team to navigate all of these different activities and interests over the four days of SDCC. Four people comfortably fit into one of the SDCC hotel rooms, so I’ve picked out four essential roles that should be filled in any group – more people means double the support, less people means having two or more “specialties” – but regardless of group size, here are the roles that I think would be most helpful to figure out pre-con.
This is not my role. Personally, I have zero sense of direction and my solo navigation of the Exhibit hall consisted of, “Funko is in that corner… I think… I see the Legendary sign over there… Where was the Fox booth?” If you aren’t me and can actually stay with your group, having someone to easily and consistently navigate the Exhibit Hall will probably cut down on time spent needlessly wandering. Your time and feet will thank you later!
But the Exhibit Hall will probably not be the only responsibility of the Navigator, they should also be well-versed in figuring out public transportation if you’re staying outside of immediate walking distance of the convention hall. That also helps if you are staying within walking distance, but want to pick up your badge on Wednesday night from the Town and Country hotel. That’s a trolley ride or a ride on one of the SDCC-provided buses. The Navigator should also be able to direct your group around the outside of the convention center, as so much happens in the Gaslamp area outside of SDCC. Having someone to point out where Nerd HQ is being held or where that great hole-in-the-wall restaurant that you all wanted to try can be found or offsite events like last year’s Godzilla Encounter eliminate a lot of stress of not being a native San Diegan, as well as saving time and distance – both things you’ll need to make the most of SDCC!
Twitter, twitter, twitter is all I have to say about SDCC, even if the connection can be dodgy at times (thanks to so many of us being on our phones at once)! Find the most technologically savvy of your group, make sure they have an external battery for their phone, and let them get all of the tweets direct-messaged to them – or have them help you set this up for yourself if there are particular Twitter handles you want to follow throughout the con! If you’re after as much swag as possible, this might be the most crucial member of your team, as they can get the notification and you can all go rushing to the loot.
Last year, I had tweets from @thenerdmachine and @Legendary text messaged to me throughout the con. The Nerd Machine for notices about Conversations for a Cause panel tickets that would pop up at random and Legendary for the swag they were giving away at their booth. I also had @GeekyHooker tweets coming to me because I so desperately wanted one of her critters (I was so close to Chewie!). She’s already mentioned some of her plans for SDCC this year, so keep her critter hunt in mind if that’s something you might want to look out for!
— Hall H Line (@HallHLine) April 10, 2014
Before the convention, I had @MichaelAusiello tweets on my phone to make sure I got the notification for when I could try to get into his exclusive party. I was successful, by the way! I also used Twitter before SDCC to get on the list for the Breaking Bad Fan Party by following @BreakingBad_AMC. If there’s a favorite show or actor that you like, it doesn’t hurt to follow them on Twitter and have their tweets sent to you during SDCC – you could score some sweet swag or a nice shout-out that way. At least one person in your group should be a master of technology, but it doesn’t hurt if you’re all well-versed in the teachings of Twitter. If for no other reason than to follow @HallHLine!
I’m an introvert by nature and I like to observe and figure things out on my own – this mindset does not work for conventions, especially if you’re on the hunt for that one piece of swag that you have to have. Last year, my group wandered near the Dracula set up for fifteen minutes, passing multiple people with those cardboard chairs, trying to scope out where they came from before we finally stopped to ask someone. It turns out they’d probably stopped giving them away just on the other side of where we’d been wandering. If you want it, ask (nicely) about it. If you’re like me, and you don’t really want to ask about it yourself, having someone in your group who has no problem asking people where they found this or that is going to save you a lot of time and arguing.
The Patient One
There’s going to be a lot of waiting around at SDCC – everyone’s going to end up needing to draw on their patience at some point – but deciding on someone in your group to be designated the ‘patient one’ (for lack of a better term) at certain points might shortcut some of the processes. As long as your group is observing line-etiquette (if there’s ten of you, seriously, please don’t just have one person in line – at least half of you should be there waiting), the patient one can hold down the Hall H spot or the Starbucks line at breakfast time. Even just sitting down and being the designated bag-watcher can be extremely helpful from time to time. This may be the least fun “role” your team has to fill, so make sure to tag-team and swap out on this one, no one wants to waste their entire con being the patient one while the rest run all over the convention floor.
At SDCC 2013, my group consisted of three people, including myself. I, personally, tried to be a jack-of-all-trades when it came to fulfilling roles. I was the main one on Twitter who alerted everyone else to free things as I got them – that’s how we scored It’s Always Sunny t-shirts and Sons of Anarchy keychains. I didn’t ask about things as often as I should have, but I did camp that Hall H line and put in my dues as the patient one. Fellow Nerdophiles bloggers Therese, Sam, and Jane were in a different, rotating group of seven to nine people and did seem to handle dividing and conquering the swag better than my smaller group.
If nothing else, be sure to discuss budgets, sleeping situations, and goals for the overall experience when picking your team for any con. Know your strengths, your weaknesses, and your tolerance level for these people you’re with before embarking on a sleepless five day manic mission of con-going. And don’t be a Debbie Downer! So you didn’t get that one piece of swag that you absolutely couldn’t live without – 500 other people missed out too – don’t spoil your con because of it! Relax, have fun and make the most of your time together!