I firmly believe everyone has a geek of some kind lurking inside them. Many of us, especially those who regularly read MakeUseOf, have let our inner-geek emerge from the background, but even those who try and hide their geekiness cannot keep it buried forever.
The fact is that “geek” has become a catch-all term for a large swathe of people, so whether you’re into video games, technology, comic books, anime, science, computers, the Internet, RPGs, or a host of other things, you’re a geek. And you should be proud of being a geek.
One way you can exhibit your pride in being a geek is to attend conventions. By doing so you’re mixing with your fellow geeks, refusing to hide behind the curtains for fear of being shunned by society. Conventions have grown in number and popularity since geeks entered the mainstream, and there are now plenty of opportunities to attend one or two (or eight) throughout the year.
What follows is a list of geek conventions you should try to attend before you shuffle off this mortal coil. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to all of geekdom. We’ll be keeping tabs on you, and if you fail to attend one of these conventions you may just lose your geek privileges.
Who: Gamers, game industry insiders, developers, and publishers.
What: Exhibition halls and meeting areas full of new and upcoming video games.
Where: Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles.
When: Late May to early June.
Why: Attendance of E3 is rather exclusive, so you know you’ve arrived when you’re invited.
Who: Comic book fans, writers, and artists, as well as actors and cosplayers.
What: Panels, seminars, workshops, and cosplay costume contests will keep you busy.
Where: Primarily the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego.
When: Middle to late July.
Why: It’s been running since 1970, it’s famous, and you’re likely to bump into celebrities.
Who: Fans of sci-fi, fantasy, comic books, anime, and/or Asian cinema.
What: The usual panels, seminars, and workshops, plus a parade and musical guests.
Where: Multiple hotels in downtown Atlanta, Georgia.
When: Late August to early September.
Why: All geeks are welcome, making this a veritable smorgasbord of nerdiness.
Who: Comic book and sci-fi fans with a penchant for dressing up.
What: Rare comic book/action figure trading, plus preview screenings of comic book movies.
Where: The Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, California.
When: Late March.
Why: To buy a coveted first edition comic or get something signed by one of your idols.
Who: The Penny Arcade Expo welcomes console, PC, & tabletop gamers, one and all.
What: Panels from industry leaders, booths for indie developers, and lots of tournaments.
Where: Prime is held in Seattle, while East is held in Boston, Massachusetts.
When: There are several PAX conventions; Prime is held in late August or early September.
Why: PAX celebrates gamers and gaming culture, so you’ll feel like you’re coming home.
Who: Mainly Linux users who are active in their communities, with room for sci-fi fans as well.
What: An anime room, folk musicians playing songs from science fiction, live-action RPGs.
Where: Auburn Hills Marriott Pontiac at Centerpoint, Pontiac, Michigan.
When: Late April into early May.
Why: To be part of a small but eclectic mix of open-source advocates (and nerds).
Gamescom [No Longer Available]
Who: Gamers eager to discover what they’ll be playing in the months and years to come.
What: Stands, booths, and keynote speeches from the biggest developers & publishers.
Where: The Cologne Trade Fair (Koelnmesse) in Cologne, Germany.
When: Middle to late August.
Why: To see hundreds of new games on display outside of North America (which is rare).
Who: Industry insiders, investors, and journalists seeking out the next big thing.
What: A huge collection of exhibitions showing off the latest gadgets, products, and services.
Where: The Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada.
When: Each and every January.
Why: As CES isn’t open to the public the challenge of attending is reason enough to try.
These are just eight of the many geek conventions held in North America and beyond every year. There are conventions dedicated to particular television shows and movies (such as Star Trek and Star Wars), conventions dedicated to individual games (such as Quake) and even hacking. Whatever your niche may be, there is a convention out there just waiting for you to attend.
Have you attended any of the geek conventions mentioned in this article? Did the experience live up to expectation? Are there any other conventions for geeks you think should have made the list? Has this article made you more likely to attend a convention in the future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.