Welcome to Convergence

A Brief Introduction For The First Time Con-Goer

or I am a Convergence, and so can you

By Baron Dave Romm

Updated for 2017 CE: I'm trying, in this iteration, to make the document more generic, to make it more applicable for any con, not just CVG, and so I don't have to update every year. If you're reading this after 2017 and the links aren't working, go to the main con web page and find the topic. For now, I will update the links and add a few bits. The advice, snark and jokes are largely the same.

Claimer: I'm Dave Romm, aka DavE or Baron Dave. I'm on the Convergence Committee in a different capacity but this document has no direct relationship with the convention. I've been to all the Convergences, and to scores of other conventions of various sizes. Come to my Convergence panels (if any). Many people have asked about coming to Convergence: What should I see? What is there to do? Why is there a watermelon there? Let me take you on a short guide, from a personal perspective.

Welcome to Convergence! Convergence provides a What is CONvergence page, but it's a very big convention with lots going on. I'd like to you to know all the stuff I wanted to know for my first con, and what I didn't know I wanted to know. The major thing about fan-run science fiction conventions: Everyone is amazingly friendly and will be happy to answer any questions you have. Just be prepared to get different answers from different people.

I'll note here that the Convergence itself likes to be spelled CONvergence, but I'm too 20th Century. The con's shorthand is CVG, good for texting or keeping things short. Unlike here.

What To Do At Convergence Part I: Planning and Arriving

So, you're coming to Convergence. Welcome!

What To Do At Convergence Part II: Things To Do

There is a lot of stuff going on at Convergence. More than is listed here, though I've tried to cover the major events. Look around! Ask questions! Follow rabbits down a hole!

What To Do At Convergence Part III: Meet People, and Be Met

Let's pause for brief word about etiquette. Generally, people are friendly and happy to talk to a new person. Approach with a smile or a question. As always, be polite and respectful, and realize that many are very busy and can't spend more than a few minutes on a conversation. Here are a few hints. Remember that everyone is a little different and you can catch good people in bad moods.
Don't Harsh the Squee. We're here to have fun and enjoy ourselves among like-minded people. Do wear a smile. Do compliment people. Do talk to strangers who are otherwise unoccupied. Be a person who others would like to talk to when you're otherwise unoccupied. Enjoy yourself, and help others enjoy themselves. Don't be a jerk. CVG has specific and well-enforced policies on harassment, weapons, pets, smoking and a host of other concerns. Costumes are not consent. Everyone's friendly, and you can help make Convergence a positive event for all.

What To Do At Convergence Part IV: Eat, Drink and Stay Healthy

Grazing: Eat and Drink Your Way Through Convergence

All sorts of snacks and drinks and water stations are available as part of your Convergence membership.

Sustenance: Actual Sit Down Food

Staying Healthy at Con

Staying healthy can be tricky when you're being whelmed by 6,000 of your closest friends over an intense weekend with so much to do that personal hygiene gets overlooked.

Avoiding the Con Crud

Staying healthy after con is often a matter of treating yourself well during con. Let me expand a bit on post-con crud. This is a catch-all name for the various maladies that are often suffered by con members in the days after the event. Sometimes the symptoms are similar, as if a virus was shared by thousands of people in close quarters (ya' think?), and sometimes it's just sort of an emotional letdown when returning to quotidian routine.

What To Do At Convergence Part V: Families and Young Kids

Convergence is a kid-friendly environment, but we don't baby-sit and you're expected to wrangle your own charges. Parents should keep the very young close by, but young adults have safe options. Here are a few suggestions, many repeated from above:

What To Do At Convergence Part VI: Reliving the convention

You can relive Convergences over and over. Well, parts of them. The con itself records Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the Masquerade, and often offers the video for sale.

What To Do At Convergence Part VII: Glossary

Here is a quick and incomplete glossary, so you know what the heck we're talking about and so you can sound like a seasoned pro at your first con! This is in addition to the official Terminology.

The Japanese abbreviation of "animation". You can think of them as the Japanese answer to the US Saturday morning cartoons, but they have a much wider spectrum of animation styles and many of them have adult themes and violence. (Vs. manga, which are Japanese comics, though some anime is based on manga.) Convergence (and/or various members) will be presenting lots of anime and the con often has anime related programming items.
The Bridge or Ops
The Bridge, like the bridge of the USS Enterprise, is Operations central during the con. Go here to ask any questions, to peace-bond a realistic-looking weapon, for Lost & Found, to Register after Registration has closed, to compliment the convention or anyone on the concom, and so on. Wandering Hosts and other Operations staff are dispatched from here. The Bridge is located in Verandas 2 & 4 (overlooking the Poolside Atrium across from the Consuite). You can contact them by from a hotel phone by dialing "0" and asking for the Bridge, or dialing x7215 directly. The Bridge is open continuously during the con.
Short for convention, used (by us) to mean science fiction convention. There are many cons in the Twin Cities area and around the country (and around the world). They're all different, aiming for different interests and at different sizes. If you like Convergence, or like a part of it, check out other cons.
The convention committee. Convergence is run by Convergence Events, which then set up the Convergence concom structure involving hundreds of department heads, sub-heads and volunteers. They're experienced, competent and have a keen sense of humor. You'll like them... us. None of us get paid; we're in it for the egoboo.
The Hospitality Suite (or set of rooms) where con members can get a soft drink and munchies or just hang out. Staffed, as always, by volunteers. You will need a membership badge to get in.
Playing in costume. A relatively new term for a very old activity. In days of yore, you would dress up for Halloween or go to a convention in costume. Now, people cosplay. Simpler to talk about, but still requires planning and execution. Cosplayers might bring several costumes and change every day. They might come as a character from a world or game that they created. You might recognize the character, you might not. Professional-level costumers can enter the Masquerade, but anyone can be what they like.
A science fiction fanatic or aficionado. How rabid/geeky you are may vary wildly, but people coming to cons have some appreciation for the genre. We appreciate SF for its speculative nature, the interplay of ideas and freedom to express our inner geek.
Fan-Run Convention
Vs. Professionally Run Convention. The big difference is the money involved. A Pro convention may have more famous guests, often actors, who charge large speaking fees, and those fees get passed on to you. Many of the staff are paid, and that's also something you pay for. You are an attendee at a Pro convention.... and a member of a fan-run-convention.
Plural of Fan, used interchangeably with fans. A bit rare nowadays, I'm including it here because I think it sounds cool.
Femfan or Fem fanne or fanne
Female fan. More than a little obsolete, thank Ghu, but shows the roots of fandom stretching back to the male-dominated sf fandom of the 20s and 30s whose reputation survives today when people poke fun at Trekkies and such.
Filk music is a variant on folk with an extremely wide definition that not everyone agrees on. You will likely find many musicians, both professional and amateur, singing all sorts of strange songs. They sing on the Main Stage during the day or in room parties late at night. Some give performances, others encourage you to sing along. Some filkers, such as those in the MN-StF room, will have songbooks so you can sing along. The Karaoke room(s) also have the lyrics. If you play the guitar or some other portable musical instrument, bring it to the circle and join the fun! The song(s) don't have to be funny or parodies or stfnal or original, though we encourage some combination of all four. Like many words in fandom, filk started out as a typo and we were amused enough to keep the term for our use. See also definitions and discussion in the .pdf file of Does Gender Influence Attitudes toward Copyright in the Filk Community published in The Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law from American University's Washington College of Law and discussed in Fandom Academia: Gender Influences Filk Far Less Than You'd Think.
Singing (or performing) filk. A very broad category, which can be summed up: Singing by fans for fans. Often at cons, you will find filk circles, which are related to bardic circles, and have many variants.
Playing games. Gaming can be informal, such as the card games or board games that crop up in the Consuite or just about anywhere, or formal, such as in the Convergence Gaming Suite (on the 22nd floor). More formal gaming might involve LAN (networked computers, with participants playing each other) or long campaigns that might take days. Many games are for the young adult, but some are more grizzled. Some gaming can be played with no previous experience whatsoever, and some need players with a great deal of experience. Ask, and the person in charge (GM or Gamesmaster) will tell you. Some games use miniatures or other meticulously crafted game pieces, while some just need a fold-out board and some dice. Some people play in the costume of the gaming scenario. Feel free to watch for a while, but be discreet and don't gawk.
Guest of Honor. Pronounced gee oh aitch or sometimes go. These are the featured speakers and guests of the convention. We are honoring their contribution to science fiction. Or else we think they're cool to party with. Preferably both.
Science Fiction
Ha! I'm not going to go there.
Uninhibited joy in discovery. The sound of delight made after a long anticipated geeky thing has been revealed; or the textual rendering of such a sound. Reveling in sensawonda, has if the pent up ecstasy has been squeezed out. Often phrased in the past, eg "I squee'd when I heard her new book was announced." The phrase "don't harsh the squee", used above, loosely translates to "don't ruin the ineffable experience for other convention members".

A full glossary is beyond the purview of this document (which is a fancy way of saying that I don't want to do all the typing) and you're likely to encounter other bits of fannish argot throughout the con. For larger glossaries, incomplete and possibly contradictory, visit Don Saker's Fanspeak Glossary or the Nippon 2007 (65th Worldcon) Fanspeak Mini-Glossary among others. Google is your friend. If a word zips by you don't recognize, ask the person using it. We're all friendly here, even the Klingons.

What To Do At Convergence Part VIII: I Am A Convergence And So Can You

Finally, there are, for me, two things that make science fiction conventions feel like Home: Sensawonda and Egoboo.

Sensawonda, is the sense of wonder one gets at living in the future or getting caught up in the swirl of imagination. Gosh wow boy oh boy is the traditional cry, though hardly used by whippersnappers these days. Hey, this is fun! No one plays with ideas more than sf fans. People who you've never met become instant family. We are connected by possibilities.

And we only do it for fun. Egoboo, a boost to the ego, is the fannish currency. No one is getting paid, though some of the guests might get a speakers fee. All the committee and all the people on panels and all the people running the Art Show and all the people running the Science & Craft Room and so on and so forth... all are doing it for the love of the genre and to give and get recognition. Sure, Dealers are there for a profit and Artists are often there to sell their work. But the money isn't great, and the main reason anyone shows up is to have a good time. Encourage people! Applaud at performances. Thank Guests of Honor or panel members if you see them in the halls. Talk to people at parties. Let the Bridge know if a volunteer has done a particularly good job. Congratulate the people putting together the Program Book. Gush over a clever costume. Admire the signs. Thank people for running a party. Compliment a writer on their book or say nice things to a musician whose CD you play a lot.

See you there!

Baron Dave Romm is a real baron of a fake country. He produced Shockwave Radio Theater, for nearly thirty years. He likes being weird at science fiction conventions, and encourages others to be so. This means you.

This is www.romm.org/con.html
No convention volunteers were hurt in the creation of this web page. And those that were, got volunteer hours.
Mail to David E Romm