Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Spilling the Dirt

Since K. Bailey asked, I will expand upon the last two thoughts I had regarding the convention.

1. I only met one person I wanted to strangle with my bare hands

I will throw down, once again, the oft-quoted quote from James Malisewski: "There are a lot of really crazy people in this hobby." I will expand this to say that there are some really crazy people in sci-fi fandom as well. At conventions, you meet these people, often several. You know the types, and I know that you do. We often describe them as "That Guy."
At this particular convention, I met only one such individual. He was one of those types who latches onto you and begins a rambling, stream-of-consciousness diatribe about his personal gaming philosophies, how awesome his character is, and how he can like, totally wield a howitzer in one hand. This particular fellow's unbroken ululation of just how epically awesome his character is actually started jumping from game to game, so I got to hear about a howitzer wielding bounty hunter cyborg and a dragonborn warlord who can do so much damage and I honestly can't remember much of the rest because I went into my cave and found my power animal, a la Fight Club. Slide, motherfucker.
Anyway, this git wouldn't have been nearly so bad if he hadn't been goddamn omnipresent; first he ambushed me by the RPG sign up tables, then he came to a panel I was at, then he showed up while I was room party hopping- and let me tangent here- sci-fi convention or no, I do not want to hear about your goddamn character while I am trying to mooch free booze.
The other truly maddening thing about this dude, who was dressed up like some kind of SAS commando or something, is that he retold the same effing story every time he showed up. Same characters. Same tone. Same inflection. I heard about his totally awesome dragonborn character at least three times.

2. Normal People Being Awful
All my friends are nerds or nerd-friendly. Even the ones who do not game are into anime, or cosplay, or comic books or something like that. My immediate family think gaming is kind of weird, but they long ago learned to accept it as part of who I am. I forget, sometimes, how unusual some of my hobbies and interests are to folks who don't share them.
There were people at the hotel who murmured shitty comments like "They should warn people when they're going to have something like this" or "What a bunch of weirdos." There were people who wouldn't get on the elevator with a con guest because she was dressed in a Star Fleet uniform. They decided, suddenly, that taking seven flights of stairs was preferable. Shit, a Star Fleet uniform? Really? Out of all the people dressed in full body fur suits and dressed like Star Wars aliens and Final Fantasy characters and all that, they're freaked out about somebody dressed in a red shirt with a starfleet badge on?
I don't do costumes, and I can certainly understand the shock of suddenly finding yourself standing in line for the continental breakfast and being shocked to see a couple of Storm Troopers shuffle past, but some of the absolute contempt that was so thinly veiled for my fellow nerds made me feel a little ill.

...now, a disclaimer: not all of the non-convention guests were bad. One woman asked some Star Wars characters to take a picture with her small son. One lady in the hotel bar exclaimed "I love all these Star Wars people everywhere!" A team of high school volleyball girls became enamored with a young man in a Mandalorian costume. (Once he divested himself of his helmet, that is) I hadn't really seen such blatant nerd-hate since high school. I guess I thought that people got over that kind of thing.

And that's all I've got to say about that. Honestly the convention was great and I had a great weekend. The next one I plan to attend is at a convention center, so perhaps we will not be forced to mingle with non-attendees.


  1. Heh, heh…’nerd hate.’ This has to be the #1 thing keeping nerds like me one-foot-in-the-closet. I don’t have many “nerds or nerd friendly” friends…hell, they call themselves nerds for wanting to see the new Harry Potter or Star Trek.

    You are fortunate, man…we who are chained by our fear (living a don’t-ask-don’t-tell lifestyle) only wish we had the balls to go to a convention, costumed or not. Hate-mongers of any stripe are crazy, not folks wanting to enjoy a little costuming. Keep it up; maybe some of us closet nerds will be inspired enough to “get in the game.”

  2. Heh. I like con stories like these, though it's good you also managed to have fun.

    Well at least one thing good about That Guy is that he can make you feel normal and well-adjusted.

  3. I was there. You killed my character!


  4. Way late on this one.

    I can understand why seeing a lot of adults in fancy dress could come as a bit of a shock to someone who was not expecting it. If they went in expecting the usual hotel experience and instead got a gaming con it would change their whole weekend. If you gave them time to talk to and get to know some of the people then some of the people may get used to it but their initial reaction is still going to be defensive. Also, some of the people may never get used to it and that is ok too. For each person that enjoys dressing up like a Storm Trooper you have to expect that there will be another one who dislikes it just as much.

    Also, I don't think that just because someone doesn't like being surrounded by lots of people in costumes out of nowhere that you can just call it 'Nerd Hate'. 'Nerd' is a very broad term now that could include computer scientists, people into computer hardware, scientists, mathematicians, card game players, cult movie fanatics etc. Just because I feel uncomfortable next to someone in ass-less leather chaps and a waistcoat over his bare torso doesn't mean I hate all gay people. Or just because I feel uncomfortable next to some psycho ball of muscle and tats bikie doesn't mean I hate all people who ride motorcycles.

  5. Actually, I think that saying snide or mean comments to someone does allow me to call it Nerd Hate. You can feel uncomfortable standing near someone, but that doesn't mean you have to say something to them about it, and it doesn't mean you have to say something mean to boot. You should look at my more recent con post where someone actually said that the con people were going to "get their children."