Move like Agent Smith: Make caffeine work for you

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My old 40oz coffee mug!
My old 40oz coffee mug!

I want to preface this article by mentioning that everyone’s body handles caffeine differently. Some people seem to barely register caffeine while others have profoundly abnormal reactions, from being put to sleep to going completely bonkers. There is also a significant number of people that swear by a caffeine free lifestyle.

I am not one of these people and I assume that if you are still reading, neither are you.

I am what you would call a coffee enthusiast. I adopted coffee drinking before entering post-secondary education and it has served me well over two degrees, nine years hosting multi-day LAN Parties, and more late nights than I can count.

With that said, when it comes to caffeine intake, moderation is key. It doesn’t matter what convention I go to though, I guarantee that I will run into someone that does not understand the concept of moderation. Whether they are downing a 2-litre of pop or dual-wielding, keg-sized coffee containers (or that ludicrous Trenta from Starbucks).

As someone that at one life stage drank coffee from a stein, take it from me when I say that less is more when it comes to caffeine.

The trick is to consume moderate amounts of caffeine throughout the day. While it is economical and may even sound logical to order a wash basin of coffee early in the day, the result inevitably is a two part process.

First, a massive spike in energy that makes you uncomfortably jittery. What do I mean by jitters? The following are examples of the jitters while playing board games:

  • Speaking like an Auctioneer
  • Refusal to use what your first-grade teacher called “your indoor voice”
  • Overhand throwing of dice
  • Overhand throwing of other players

Acting like this will not attract convention attendees to your booth!

More commonly found symptoms include:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Insomnia
  • Cold-symptoms
  • Muscle tremors
  • Upsettled-stomach

As bad as the jitters may seem, they are nothing compared to the second stage, the Crash. An accurate recreation of your body’s response can be found here

When the crash comes, you will be lucky if you can move or form coherent sentences, much less carry on a conversation or present your game.

What’s more, if the crash comes on Friday, your body isn’t going to be bouncing back by Saturday morning. Your body will need time to recover and this time will be at the cost of the limited convention time.

More regular amounts of caffeine by contrast will work to moderate your energy level. So what is moderate? The Mayo Clinic recommends 400mg, but the exact amount is going to vary from person to person depending on body weight, caffeine tolerance, etc. I personally have a sweet spot of around 200 – 300 mg a day, which constitutes a strong up in the morning and a smaller amount in the afternoon if I need it.

What works for you will differ so you may need to experiment a bit, but be mindful of the symptoms of the jitters and the crash and accept that if you are experiencing these symptoms, you should be taking in less caffeine.

Caffeine is a wonderful stimulant that can keep you pumped throughout a convention from a Friday night setup to a Sunday shutdown, it will work wonders on the body. Regardless of whether you prefer pop, energy drinks, tablets or coffee (my personal drug of choice) just remember that overdoing caffeine will make you less appealing than if you just sat in a somatic, caffeine free trance at your booth.

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Convention Coach + Stories

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logo_bigger Welcome to my blog series on Convention Stories and Strategies.  I recommend checking it out if you are a gamer or a designer and have an interest in:

  1. Promoting a game
  2. Attracting attention to your booth
  3. Communicating with other humans
  4. Learning from my mistakes

I don’t pretend to be an expert on all things, but I have been to many conventions both as an attendee and a game designer showcasing Crop Cycle and Centaurus, entered speaking competitions, and enjoy talking to people as a general pastime.  Also, I have made plenty of mistakes and hope that you will learn from them.

Convention Coach: Strategies to help improve your results at game convetions

1. Surviving the Convention Circuit Diet

2. Sumo Fights Yoga Instructors…and other hooks to engage with

3. Move like Agent Smith: Make caffeine work for you

4. The Law of Gameplay Attraction

5. Giving Candy to Strangers

6. Combat Terrible Memory with a Checklist

7. The Third Wheel: Bringing new players into the Fold

8. Top 6 Reasons to Share a Table

9. Validating Players and Accepting Feedback

10. Simple Thoughts on Signs

Convention Stories: Humorous highlights from conventions.

1. Memories of Keycon: Drinking with a Dwarf

2. Rediscovering Childhood at PAX West

Please check back regularly as this list is updated regularly!

Congrats! You made it to the end of the article, a feat few have achieved! If you enjoyed the words above, SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER and stay informed of new Content, Events, and Games. Also, be sure to post on Twitter using @GamesCg