Ah, NerdCon. (Comicon, Gencon, TrekCon, etc – you know what I mean, any gathering where the original Boomer from Battlestar Galactica shows up to sign autographs.) I love NerdCons. I have loved gatherings of what I call My People since I went to my very first TrekCon and bought a communicator pin that made the chittercheep noise. The featured speaker at that event was some lady whose claim to fame was having been an extra in ST: Original Recipe, TNG, and DS90120. It was AWESOME.

Before I get to the real proof of my love for NerdCons, I need to explain something. Some companies spring for the extra billion dollars it costs to put a foam pad under the booth carpeting. I’m not exaggerating by much. Convention planners know they have you at a disadvantage, and folding chairs can cost hundreds of dollars, let alone foam padding. I guess the profit margin on an eight dollar hot dog just isn’t enough. Anyway, I have never actually worked for a company that sprung for the padding. Don’t spend all your snickering dollars at Mythic’s door, either; I did trade shows for years before Mythic was a gleam in anyone’s eye.

Without the foam padding, the pain starts in your feet no matter what kind of insoles you’ve inserted into your sensible shoes. Then your ankles swell up. Shin splints are the next stop on the tour. Your knees start to crackle and throb at the point where you lose feeling in your feet, so it’s not all bad. And just when you think you’re going to die, it’s finally your turn for a thirty minute break, during which you have to run to the end of the center, get in the ginormous line for an eight dollar wiener and a forty dollar caramel macchiato, skim, and fight your way back to the booth through the aisles of teeming humanity completely mesmerized by the guy in the stormtrooper outfit who has a Leia-lookalike on a leash. Or Spiderman.

You’re hurrying back to the booth so you can hear for the millionth time that your game looks like WOW. If you have gotten feeling back into your feet, and the person speaking is very young, you can gently explain that the art they are seeing was designed in the early eighties, before the accuser was born. Whatever you choose to do, however, it will be difficult to muster the desire to react as pleasantly on Day 4 as you did on Day 1. A true professional keeps in mind that while it’s the millionth time he’s heard it, it’s the first time the speaker has ever said it. But he still thinks it sucks the sweat off an elephant’s testicles.

Or maybe that was just me.

At the end of the day, your feet are so swollen that it’s easier to crawl into the bathroom than to walk, but you wind up soaking your feet and going back out to say, every Irish pub within walking distance of the hotel.

I LOVE the cons. Being paid to go to a NerdCon was like being a kid in a candy store AND a stripper in a drug evidence locker AT THE SAME TIME.

The cons are usually in interesting cities you’d like to explore with your friends that are also working the booth. And the longer you’ve been on the dark side of the force, the more people you know from the media, the playerbase, and the other companies, and you never get to see each other except for conventions. But it wasn’t just that, for me. I found the entire environment invigorating. There is nothing like the energy from thousands of people who have a lot in common. Everywhere you go at NerdCon, you’re rubbing elbows with potential friends and co-conspirators. Also, there are toys! And autographs! And pretty jewelry! And new games to play! The entire week is one big exclamation point!

Being at NerdCon as an exhibitor is a double rush. Instead of just consuming, you’re a contributor. You’re part of building something that other people will love. You’re putting back some of the fun that you’ve drawn from the cons.

And when you add in the “virtual world” factor, and you know that the thing you are contributing is going to be a place where people make friends, meet lovers, and start wars? Yowser. Better than any high on earth.

But you can love something with all of your heart and still want to gouge out your eyes. And we only tease the ones we love. Therefore, one of the finest ways to pass the time is NerdCon Bingo.

Really out of shape Batman

Hobbit feet

Really well-done pointy ear prosthetics

Generic Renn Faire costume

Nazgul outfit

Someone actively playing V:TM

Costumed infant in stroller

Guy wrapped in rags and an inside-out t-shirt acting broody

Slutty anime costume (must show nipple)

Cloak with MMO emblem

Surgically implanted horns

Cat eye contact lenses


Celebrity lookalike

Borg costume made from a vacuum cleaner

Leashed male with leather-wearing mistress

Urban kilt wearer

Pair of Stormtroopers

Actual celebrity

Pirate with live bird

Star Trek officer uniform

A furry

Mexican wrestling mask

Star Wars Family (two adults, one kid minimum)

Vampire teeth

Note: Some of these categories are intentionally vague, because nothing is more fun than a spirited discussion among exhausted and punchy comrades on whether or not nipple was REALLY visible.



  1. numtini said,

    June 8, 2007 at 9:56 am

    Thanks for a friday smile.

  2. poena.dare said,

    June 8, 2007 at 10:00 am

    MacWorld 1989-1995 (2x a year). I was prez of the company and we _always_ sprung for the foam padding. It allowed you to crawl 4 extra blocks every evening.

    Good times.

  3. mystery said,

    June 8, 2007 at 10:11 am

    I’ll say that there’s something better than being a vendor at a Con: Being a distributor. For a few years, I helped a friend at Gen Con work his connections as a distributor of M:tG and a number of other card games, when Magic was at its height. As soon as the vendors knew you by sight, you were a freaking god walking down the exhibit hall corridors. My friends and I ended up eating dinner with the WotC team that year at the Hyatt.

    You know those commercials on TV where the people get home from their cruise, and they sit there, looking out the window and say stuff like: “I would have gilded truffles delivered to me at 9am each day.”? ….coming home was like that.

  4. Servitor said,

    June 8, 2007 at 10:49 am

    Yikes! Horrid visions of the Moscone are coming back to me! We had double padding in our booth, and my ankles were still swollen like a lady nine months pregnant at the end of each day.

  5. Garth Schwer said,

    June 8, 2007 at 11:36 am

    I don’t often feel like I’m a nerd, in my country we don’t have the cool nerd culture that seems to exist somewhere in the US.

    But when I look at Nerd Bingo! and understand what Nazguls, the Borg and V:TM are referring to, I realize who my true status in the world… sigh

    I think I need to go throw a football around now, to sustain in my non-nerd illusions about myself 🙂

  6. Cindy Bowens said,

    June 8, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Sanya, you should market this little bingo game. I would have bought it for everyone I had working at every event. Nothing like making light of your surroundings when you are exhausted and ready to drop after a few days of manning a booth.

    I also loved working at conventions. But I also totally identified with your description of the exhaustion. There have been many times that my feet were sore and swollen for days after an event. Unless you have done it, it’s hard to imagine the amount of energy that goes into these things. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

  7. Apache said,

    June 8, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Those custumes also work well at KinkCons

  8. Tovin said,

    June 9, 2007 at 1:09 am

    I’m printing that card for my July trip to Comi-con. Growing up in San Diego I was surrounded by crazies. (Hey, I’m one of ’em, I can say that!)

    My husband has led a more sheltered life and I feel it’s important to introduce him to costumed movie premiers (Harry Potter in July), Comic conventions (Comi-Con in July), MMO game get togethers (SOE Fan Faire in August) and truly rabid fanatics (The Rocky Horror Picture Show in October). We’ve been married a year now, it’s time he learned!


  9. Alaric said,

    June 9, 2007 at 11:19 am

    After reading that i cant help but think my, there sure are a lot of nerds out there but then when I read the bingo board and know exactly what you mean for each item I have to point the nerd finger at myself.

  10. Alex Weekes said,

    June 9, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Oh, that’s brilliant! I’ve been to such a diverse array of shows over the last couple of years and really enjoyed every single one, from the smallest RPG event right through to the Games Convention in Leipzig last year (that was interesting, there’s me not speaking more than a handful of words in German spending a week on a booth and developing a nasty head cold half way through). They’re all the same and yet at the same time every one is different.

    One memory I will never forget was spending a day opposite a War of the Worlds booth that had not much on display … but did have a CD player and speakers blaring out the same few snippets of the John Wayne musical version over and over all day.

  11. Eric the Grey said,

    June 9, 2007 at 9:27 pm

    Mmmm, cons. I miss them.

    Being a dedicated member of the lowest echelon of the IT world, the Operator, I tend to miss them all because I work nights, and weekends. We don’t have a lot here in the Denver area, but next year, we get to host Wold Con, and I’ve already planned on taking the week off for it.

    The LARP group I belong to, are planning on running an information boot, and probably some demos, so I’ll actually get to see it from that aspect for a while at least.

    I’ll have to print this out and save it… We’ve already done “buzzword bingo” during a few board meetings… 🙂

    Eric the Grey

  12. DragonPup said,

    June 9, 2007 at 9:46 pm

    Being a attendee of a number of ‘NerdCons’ myself, they are always a great experience. What I find interesting is watch the crowds at the start of day 1, and compare it to the last few hours. You go from nerds ready to trample their own mothers to get first in line to see a glimpse of the new Zelda or for a small stuffed Pokemon doll, to walking wounded in the end. Some degree of masochism makes these events all the more fun, because the crash is part of the fun.

    I still have some rather memorable moments from most of the Anime cons and E3s I attended.

  13. John said,

    June 12, 2007 at 9:49 am

    You really should try DragonCon (Labor Day Weekend) in Atlanta, Sanya. It’s a nerd riot!

  14. Nathan Johnston said,

    June 14, 2007 at 4:50 am

    I was an Exhibition Hall Manage/Plannar/whateveryouwanttocallme for a mid sized Anime convention up here in cold-cold-oh-so-cold Edmonton. As such I had done the costs, designs, and layout of the Exhibtion Hall for the marketplace.

    Now since this was for a non-profit and I was volunteering my time (I am sucker for this), I tended to make the actual costs of the hall cheap for exhibitor since I knew they had to pay for things like hotel, flight, booze, and well more booze. This lead to me to believe the wonderful opinion that floors/padding/carpet were those little extras that other convention planners ‘sold’ as luxury item that costs it weight in gold bullion. Thus I never offered the option because why pay fo something that really can be offset by a simple furniture rental of say… a lazy-boy or comfy couch, or maybe if you are lucky some of those hundred dollar folding chairs.

    I never understand why some of these conventions cost what they do for the exhibitor and the attendee as base operations never seem to be that miuch. Granted I do live the land of oil and honey where the magical Canadian dollar can buy much at low low Canadian prices.

    Anyways… I never knew that the padding was actually appreciated.

    -Nathan J.

  15. July 31, 2007 at 4:39 pm

    […] tower of… Isengard! I just finished reading another very entertaining writeup over at Eating Bees where Sanya talks about her experiences attending and working various conventions over the […]

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