Conventions are good for you!

(l-r): Devin Adkins, Jelli Berri, Alyssa Parrish and Cass Teague at AkaiCon

(l-r): Devin Adkins, Jelli Berri, Alyssa Parrish and Cass Teague at AkaiCon

Attending conventions has positive and measurable effects on those who attend. This article is about fandom or geek conventions, related to science fiction and fantasy, comic books, horror, anime, and the like. These conventions build community, improve creative thinking, and decrease stress.

Growing up geek can be lonely; a convention, however, is the antidote. Whether it is a huge gathering like Comic-Con International in San Diego, Dragon Con in Atlanta, MTAC in Nashville, Wizard World Comic Con or Walker Stalker in Nashville’s Music City Center, or just a tiny convention like Hypericon in Nashville, Con GT in Clarksville or Anime Day Nashville or Fanboy Expo, every convention is a gathering of the nerd nation. It’s a time and place among people who understand.

That community felt at conventions has real and tangible benefits. Community is a basic need of humankind. It’s so important that psychologist Abraham Maslow included it in his hierarchy of human needs. Furthermore, Psychology Today reports that the social connections built at conventions “buffer us from stress, boost our immune system, give us a sense of belonging, motivate us, bring us joy, and make us feel liked and loved.”

At conventions, high-level cognitive play is practice for creative problem solving. According to the National Institute for Play (Yes, there is a National Institute for Play: www.nifplay.org/), such immersive play can transcend the reality of our ordinary lives, and in the process germinate new ideas, and shape and re-shape them. Given enriched circumstances, and access to novelty, our play drive takes us into these realms spontaneously.

The Institute references Einstein as a specific example of the application of this sort of play. At the age of 16, Einstein imagined himself traveling at the speed of light, catching up with it, and riding it “like a surfer.” This thought experiment helped move him down the path to his theory of special relativity. So play, especially the deep and difficult and immersive sorts of play that geeks engage in at conventions, is actually serious and important work.

Noted psychiatrist Dr. David Sack describes a trip to a convention as a “mental vacation.” During a con, attendees enter a fantasy headspace, and engage in days-long, outside-the-box thinking. Saying that the imagination is powerful is cliche, but Dr. Sack points out that the benefits of the imagination have been proved in research. Imagining goals has been shown to help people achieve them, and Dr. Sacks says, “Just think what goals you might reach if you imagine things from the point of view of someone for whom ordinary rules don’t apply.”

Stress has been linked to premature aging and shortened lifespans. A study conducted jointly by Harvard and Stanford says that a stressful job will shorten your lifespan. The British Psychological Society found that even low levels of stress can lead to an increase in mortality.

All of which means that going to conventions can lead you to live a longer, better life.

For good health in April attend these two events:

Walker Stalker Con, Music City Center, April 9 -10

This convention has the most amazing celebrity lineup ever to come to Nashville, along with spectacular interactive fun. Apocalypse Zombie Experience is a total immersion experience using Tactical Laser M4’s while making your way through an apocalyptic nightmare, shooting zombies as you go. The Walking Dead Experience – Chapter 1 is a 30 minute full-throttle immersive attraction that drops you straight into the chaotic and terrifying world of the Walking Dead; experienced in small (7 person) audience groups, it sends you on an adventure through the edge of a small town on the night the outbreak hit – the night zombies began their rampage and the social order began to unravel.

Chad Coleman

Chad Coleman

Giancarlo Esposito

Giancarlo Esposito

Iron E Singleton

Iron E Singleton

Lawrence Gilliard

Lawrence Gilliard

Tyler James Williams

Tyler James Williams

Guest actors scheduled to appear from The Walking Dead: (Autographs & photo ops are not included with admission): Austin Amelio (Dwight), Tom Payne (Jesus), Michael Cudlitz (Abraham), Josh McDermitt (Eugene), Christian Serratos (Rosita), Tyler James Williams (Noah), Ross Marquand (Aaron), Tovah Feldshuh (Deanna), Jordan Woods-Robinson (Eric), Alexandra Breckenridge (Jessie), John Carroll Lynch (Eastman), Katelyn Nacon (Enid), Alicia Witt (Paula), Michael Rooker (Merle), Dahlia Legault (Francine), Austin Nichols (Spencer), Emily Kinney (Beth), Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (Bob), Alanna Masterson (Tara), Chad L. Coleman (Tyreese), IronE Singleton (T-Dog), Daniel Bonjour (Aiden), and Michael Traynor (Nicholas).

From other shows and films: Robin Lord Taylor (Oswald), David Mazouz (Bruce Wayne), Sean Pertwee (Alfred), and Drew Powell (Butch), Gotham; Robert Englund (Freddy), Nightmare on Elm Street; Kane Hodder (Jason); Ian Somerhalder (Damon) and Paul Wesley (Stefan), The Vampire Diaries; Giancarlo Esposito (Gus), and RJ Mitte (Walt Jr.), Breaking Bad; Russell Hodgkinson (Doc), Nat Zang (10K), Anastasia Baranova (Addy), and Keith Allan (Murphy), Z Nation; Lorenzo Henrie (Christopher) and Lincoln A. Castellanos (Tobias), Fear the Walking Dead; Nestor Carbonell (Sheriff Alex Romero) and Kenny Johnson (Caleb), Bates Motel; Zach Galligan (Billy), Gremlins.

**Guest appearances are subject to change at any time.

For more: http://walkerstalkercon.com/nashville/

Way Late Play Date: Dystopian Worlds, Adventure Science Center,

Thursday, April 28
6:30 to 10 p.m. 21+. Valid photo ID required.

The apocalypse has hit Nashville – and YOU are among the survivors. Whether you’re fighting off hordes of zombies, living in a totalitarian state, or coping with the fallout of nuclear war, life after the apocalypse is tough. But there’s no need to fear… come learn the skills you need to survive during these extreme times.

Education activities:
Wilderness Survival – Discover the essential skills you’ll need when technology collapses by learning the basics of wilderness survival, including how to find water and food, how to improvise first aid tools, and how to generate power. Plus, you can learn how to build your own crossbow in the Tinkering Garage!

Zombies on the Brain – When the dead start walking, having a knowledge of the brain will be crucial to your survival. Explore how the brain works as you discover the basic rules of zombies.

The Apocalypse Goes Viral – What happens when a virus wipes out the world? Take a closer look at viruses and bacteria as you discover how quickly disease spreads, and figure out if you have what it takes to save the world from deadly diseases.

Education demonstration: It’s Getting Hot in Here! – Learn the basics of fire building and why heat is essential for survival from the Pyromancer of the Wastes – as well as taking a look at a few exciting ways the Science Center can build fires. (Chemicals, anyone?).

Special activity– Ender’s Game Room – video games provided by Brian Wessels focused on life after the apocalypse! Costume contest (prizes include tickets to future Way Late Play Dates); and Planetarium shows.

Extra Charge Activities: Food Trucks onsite – Electric Sliders & Steaming Goat. Make your own T-shirt or print with Hip Hues.

Every few months they open the doors from 6:30 to 10 p.m. to adults-only for a night of science and fun. Each Way Late Play Date has a special theme with cool science activities to take part in. Plus, you’ll have all the floor exhibits to yourself, including the laser game Body Battles in BodyQuest, the Tilt a World in Space Chase and the many levels of the Adventure Tower. All the center’s exhibits are adult-friendly, so if the kids can climb it or slide down it, so can you!

Tickets are only $20 for members, $30 for non-members, and include admission to all exhibits and activities, three beverage tickets, a planetarium show and souvenir cup. All proceeds support Adventure Science Center’s interactive exhibits and hands-on science experiences. AND Mark your calendars now for upcoming the next two Way Late Play Dates – July 28: Star Wars vs. Star Trek: the Sequel; and Oct. 6: Harry Potter.

For more: http://www.adventuresci.org/events/event/way-late-play-date/