I'm going to try my best to give a brief run down of what you should expect from going to your first gathering and/or tournament.
Before you go to anything, tournament or a gathering, you really need to ask yourself what are your intentions?
1. I'm looking forward to playing some real people and see how I fare against people locally.
2. I'm not that great of a player but would like to gain some input from other players.
Obviously, everyone's intentions might vary a bit, but don't feel like you can't just go to a persons gathering and not talk and learn about the game. Of course playing is really good too!
Some silly things to note before going to gatherings:
0. DID I SHOWER AND DO I SMELL NICE?
1. You should probably consider eating before hand.
2. Also, doesn't hurt to have the hosts # just in case.
3. May also want to see if anyone is carpooling, this is a great way to make friends in the community (look at SD, it is entirely powered by Shtkn's death trap mobile)
4. You should really find out if the host needs another setup because it is always sweet if you bring one and helps you get people to play with you. (Bring a stickkkkkk atleastttttt)
5. May also want to find out if it is cool to crash the night there, especially if you are traveling an hour or so to your destination.
Alright, you get to the gathering now what!?
Well two things can happen.
1. No one is there but the host (Envi)
2. There is a ton of people and they are gaming
If scenario (1) happens, you better befriend the hell out of the host because he is going to know who you are because you were the first one there! Also, If the host is a formidable opponent, get in a few games in. This is another great time to improve yourself. Take into consideration if the host hosted once, he'll probably host twice so you really wanna be on his good side!
If scenario (2) happens, be POLITE I can't stress this man, no one wants to play with a douche bag. In all of my years of gaming with Socal, I have never experienced anyone being an asshole ever (Well New York Kevin...) Okay, now get active! Talk to people get in some games. This is so important, so many people come to my gatherings and never speak a word except for like, "where is food" If you go to a gathering grow some balls and socialize.
Okay, this will obviously vary depending on where you are at, but something to really take into consideration is being generally polite in a fighting game. By this, I mean don't act like are an XBL player. No shit talking, no being ass hat. You are at a persons house who just wants to have people over and game with a good vibe. Some people are notoriously loud while playing (TheSadder) and that is cool and all as long as it is honest and cool with your surroundings. Try to avoid calling people a scrub to their face, the community is always trying to get stronger and doesn't need people trying to destroy it. If your opponent is god awful, I don't know how, but CREATIVELY tell them their flaws.
After it is all over...
Help clean up! You'd be surprise how many times it is always the same 3-4 people helping me clean up after having 20-40 people at my house.
Here's probably the most important advice I can honestly and truthfully give to the Dustloop community. After a gathering/tournament seriously take a moment to reflect on how you played. Don't ever put yourself in the mindset that "Oh I lost because the player was better" To me that is the equivalent of mentally giving up. So, really spend time thinking about where your game needs improvement and if you can't really figure out what you did wrong, or what needs improvement... ASK PEOPLE. They should know how they beat you or why did, get engaged find out what to do! Don't just go home and say I need whacky ass gimmicks to win. You need to make your game stable.