(Safely) Meeting Smogoners IRL

Concept and draft by FireMage and Cherub Agent, completed by skylight. Art by Bummer.
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So I dunno about you, but I'm a huge risk taker. Enough of a risk taker to meet a Smogoner IRL after talking to them for three days online, stay in the "house" of another one, and meet one for the fun of it when you don't even know their real name (and still don't). And that's not even half of it. With that said, meeting Smogoners in real life can be risky, but it can also be fun (and could end up with them branding you as crazier than you already are!). This article will explain pretty much all avenues of meeting Smogoners IRL, how to go about it, and how to be safe about it!


There's only really three ways you can go about this. You can either travel to another city (or country) to meet the person, hang out with someone that lives in the same city pretty much, or meet up with someone who's coming to visit you.

Meeting up locally

By far the safest and most interesting route is probably meeting up with someone in the same city as you. Generally you'll have an idea of where to meet and what to do, and if all goes well, you have a friend! With that said, meeting in a public place is the best thing possible for you, especially if nobody else you know has met up with that person before. Knowing what they look like also helps loads, and if they don't have photos online, well... just stand in a very public place and hope they're not going to kill you. But really, be safe about it. Obviously, have a backup plan if things go wrong (meeting in a local shopping center, or somewhere you're a regular at is a great way to keep safe). The only awkward part is introducing yourself. Try to play it cool, if not for yourself, then for the other person so that they don't regret putting in the effort to meet you.

Someone visiting you

Meeting up with someone who doesn't normally live where you live makes it a little harder for you, especially if you don't know much about your city. If you have to, it's cool to research your own city, nobody will judge... except maybe the other person if you tell them. That's something you can tell them in a few years when they won't judge you as much... right? Anyway, try to find a day that works for both of you. Chances are if they're coming over to where you live, they'll have most of their trip planned out, and you'll be working or going to school or playing video games, sooooo plan ahead. Trust me, giving someone only a half an hour won't really be a memorable experience as you won't even have enough time to drink a glass of water.

Travelling to meet a Smogoner

Traveling to meet another Smogoner is both expensive and risky. If you have the money, cool, but have a safe place to go to if things go wrong. In other words, make sure you know at least one other person in the city or country they're in, OR give a family member contact numbers so if you do end up being killed at least the police will know who to kill! All jokes aside, it's wise to not stay with a Smogoner while you're in another city or country. I did that, and I didn't really have much of a backup plan, which, thinking back now, was pretty dumb. But hey, I lived to tell the tale and reinforce that staying with a Smogoner should be always considered AFTER you've looked into hotels. And if that doesn't work out then... just make sure people know where you are! The other important thing here is to research the location. Find out about the attractions so that if it doesn't work out with the Smogoner, romantically or otherwise, then you have something else to make your trip memorable and not make you waste a few hundred dollars on a meetup that didn't work out how you expected.


You've decided on where you want to go/who you want to meet, but how do you know you're really going to be safe? How do you know they're completely safe? Well, you don't, really. It helps if other people have met them before. Don't be afraid to ask their friends who've met up with them in real life before about what they're like in real life. It's always better to know before going because yeah, it can be risky. If you're super cautious, talk to them on Skype... so you know they're not using fake pictures/identities. It can totally happen; just look at BLINGAS ♥ / tanner. It's not the most foolproof way of checking they're who they say they are, but it's better than nothing. Another thing you can do is talk to them more than a few times. You can't really judge whether a person is entirely safe after only a few times (it turned out okay for me, but hey, I was lucky).

Oh and most important in regard to safety, while it can be unsafe to stay with a Smogoner in real life, it's also kinda unsafe to invite them to your house to meet for the first time, even more so when you have parents that kinda don't know what you're about to do (or not about to do, given that you probably won't have much privacy if you're still living at home). So it's pretty wise not to do that, especially if it's someone you're in a relationship with, but that's kinda self-explanatory.

It's wise to not meet random people you've never spoken to much because on Smogon chances are they're going to be insane in some sort of way. But it's worked out for me. I like the crazy ones.

What should you do?

Meeting up locally

If you're meeting someone that lives nearby, you really should wear suncream if you plan to spend a day with them. If you're less likely to spend an entire day with someone because everyone's busy, and you have plans for a local trip, it's probably going to be on the weekend when you're both free. While sunburns make the event memorable, they don't make them especially fun (and the same applies for winter meetups, but chances are you won't really be walking around and talking with someone out in the rain and the cold for long...) For the first time you're meeting, you can do whatever really, but as long as you make a positive impression, you can do a lot more the second time... such as clone and trade Pokémon. You know, the things a normal person does.

You could also go to a VGC event or an online Pokémon Facebook meetup together. It's a nice way to get integrated into another group of people, learn some things, and play Pokémon with more than just one person. Just try to not lose terribly, and everything will be okay.

Travelling to meet a Smogoner

If you're travelling specifically to meet someone, there's loads you can do, given the whole tourist thing. It really depends on what you're into. Of course, you can bitch about Smogon things in real life and make you seem less nerdy than the nerds sitting behind you, or go on Pokémon Showdown! and contribute to the chat in many curry-filled ways. Many Smogoners are also old enough to drink, so that's another thing you can do if that's your thing. If you like music, going to see a local band or live music can be less awkward than other things you can do because you have common interests. Going to see attractions together is also something you can do, especially if the person you're hanging out with doesn't go into the city that much. If all else fails, shopping is something you can do together, and it can kinda be useful! Or you know, going to restaurants and only eating one thing there is cool too I heard. It just depends on whatever you share in common that won't make you feel that awkward.

In a group situation

Hanging out with a group of Smogoners (and other online people) is always fun because if it's the first time you're not forced to chat one-on-one. This is often awkward for people, because I mean come on, it's Smogon. Meeting up with a group is always more complicated because people often get lost, and when you say, "There's a store like that right near my house," there could be two stores with that name, and they could end up on the other side of the city and confused. In groups it's probably easy to just go see a movie, go bowling, go drinking, or just anything that seems remotely like a group activity. Walking around the whole city at least once isn't usually the best group activity, so doing something more than that will leave you with feet that aren't really sore!

If you're staying in a hotel with a group of people online, the best thing you can possibly do is go wherever most of the group is going to go. Staying in your hotel is a super boring experience, and people will judge you for it.

What not to do!

From experience I've learnt a lot in regard to how to make yourself look dumb in front of people you meet online.

One of the main ways is telling everyone on IRC about your experiences... I mean I know it's EXCITING, but really, just wait a few hours to tell the online world about it. People will think you're rude and try to steal your phone off you, as well as try to discover your secrets (if any) on your phone.

Another thing not to do is to not eat, and then throw up in front of Smogoners. It's generally not a good look. Eat, don't be nervous, and try really hard to avoid throwing up. Just think of it as like a new badge you can only get if you don't do this. You may think I'm crazy but it totally happens, and it's always good to prepare!

You should also refer to Smogoners by their real names in real life. Like, some people would be okay with you calling them by their Smogon username in real life I'm sure, but other people will think you're crazy when you're outside of the Smogon environment. Another thing that might seem obvious but isn't is to actually talk to the person you're with. It's not so great when one person is carrying the conversation and tells everyone you don't talk at all when you return to the Smogon environment. It's okay to be nervous at first, but by the second meeting you should probably put in some effort.

Oh, and if you're meeting a Smogoner in real life and you're not in a relationship online, try to avoid getting romantically tied up with them. It's kinda awkward when things get complicated and move fast and you just wanted another friend in real life.

The last important thing is to make sure that you look like you know where you're going. When people are like, "Yeah I'm going to walk with you because I think you're going to get lost even though the place you need to go to is right there," it is a sign that you've made yourself look kinda dumb. It's cool if it's somewhere that you're not familiar with, but if it's somewhere local then... that's not really a good look.

Other users' experiences


Over the past three years I've met up with a number of users from one to twenty; for the purposes of this article I'm skipping over any VGC meet-ups because those tend to be a different beast in their entirety. I cannot stress the importance of having one person with pics and numbers of as many people as possible. Not every user has 1000 photos of themselves in the photo album like skylight. Keeping one point of contact sometimes is vital when everybody needs to come and go at a certain time. Another thing to keep in mind is how much people want to be called by their real name (or username). I prefer real but many people have insisted on calling me Layell once they realize my online persona is exactly the same. My first meet was in Toronto in 2011; I live close enough so I decided to make the hike over there. Firestorm split a hotel room with a bunch of the gang and it became our hangout place. We went to Taste of the Danforth which is one of the best events of the city, ate good Greek food, went to Hockey Hall of Fame, played video games, ate bar food. For some of you young folks you might not be aware of the famed rivalry between Jackal and Gene/g80. It goes back to the early days of Smogon, and one of the best moments of the trip occurred at their first encounter in the real world. Here is the excerpt from my write-up:

Jackal started talking about how he couldn't wait to see his eternal rival Gene/g80. I believe he was with the hockey group at the time.

Layell: Oh yeah I met with him already, do you know what he looks like?

Jackal: No, probably some pale Russian fuck.

After a few [Super Smash Bros] battles I decided to sit out, ivy's group came back and watched us for a bit, and then gene came in, knowing who arrived.

Gene: Jackal's fucking dead!

*Jackal too busy gaming to notice*

*Gene walks away defeated by Jackal's concentration*

gk, ivar, and I started bursting into laughter, which I don't even think Jackal noticed. Ten minutes later I started laughing about it again for absolutely no reason.

There are a lot of highlights actually, and two and a half years later I can still reread this, watch the videos, and still be beaming over the amazing time we all had together.

The other big meet-up was in June 2013. The backstory of this one is that DM needed a DS for VGC and feathers had a spare one. But because we couldn't ship straight to DM it was shipped to me so we did another meet so DM could get the DS (which he almost forgot about). We met at a little-known place called Snakes and Lattes for most of the evening. A place where you play board games and eat food, during which we got them to get the original Pokémon board game out of storage, although the attendant didn't think we would actually play it… he was wrong, very very wrong. I have a write up of that event as well here.

Cherub Agent

The last time I met FireMage was for New Year's, because we're just romantic that way. I was staying with my parents in Oxford for the winter holidays, and we decided that I couldn't be in England and not see my favorite Smogon Brit. We'd done Birmingham twice already, so FireMage decided to come down and visit me. We met up at the train station, and when I arrived I found my friend already gorging himself on not one, but two pizzas. He's a skinny lad, so I was pretty surprised. Like a true English gentleman he offered me one of them, but I'd already eaten beforehand, and so we just took it into town with us. Our plan was to go clubbing (as always) but the club we wanted to go to didn't open until later, so we spent a couple of hours roaming the streets of Oxford, chatting about trivial things and just generally having a good time, all the while drinking the beer I'd brought with me. We also made some homeless dude's day when we gave him the remaining pizza, and upon hearing that I was from Germany he was kind enough to tell me his condolences for Schumacher.

Soon after that, we came to the Lava Ignite Club, apparently the biggest in Oxford. I made a beeline for the bar when we were inside, asking for a White Russian, but the dude had never even heard of it, which certainly put a bit of a damper on the start of the night. Dejected, I got myself a Vodka RB, much to the amusement of FireMage. We then focused our attention on the dance floor, but at the time we were both single and shy, so we spent most of the time leaning against the wall, sipping our drinks, and watching more people arrive. Eventually I had enough of it and just threw myself into the middle of the dance floor and started showing off my amazing talents, which attracted the attention of the ladies. I eventually coaxed my more timid friend to join me, and one of the girls slapped him on the butt, which he seemed pretty happy about! After that we had a pretty good time of it, until the countdown to New Year's began. I realized I'd drifted from FireMage and couldn't find him anywhere. When January came around I was utterly dismayed to find that he had spent the time between 2013 and 2014 on the toilet, which was pretty disgraceful. Shortly afterwards I brought him back to my place, where we pretty much just fell asleep immediately.

In the morning he met my family, and they all got on pretty well while I was still in my room snoring my head off. Mum eventually woke me up and informed me that I'd have to bring him to the train station so he could get back home. We got there a bit early, and to top it all off we chatted for so long that we realized that FireMage had missed his scheduled train. He scammed it anyway, and when I got back he informed me that he had almost been arrested for not having a valid ticket! I always have a great time with FireMage, and I eagerly await our next meetup!


That's pretty much all the advice I have. You're on your own now. After meeting... seven Smogoners and eight people from another forum I think it's fair to say I'm done with meeting people online.

... Just kidding. Gotta meet 'em all, or something along those lines. Have fun and be safe at your meetups!

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