The fifth Geek Girl Con took place last weekend in Seattle. I knew nothing about the convention until last year when the nascent #INeedDiverseGames hashtag got popular on Twitter. That sparked my interest, and I decided to make the trek from Chicago to Seattle. I’d never been to a geek convention aimed at celebrating women in nerdy spaces, so I was really excited to check out the show.
GeekGirlCon has a lot to offer gamers. There was an entire floor dedicated to demos, tabletop games and a few places you could relax and play some Mario Kart. The show’s programming featured gaming content as well.
There were panels on learning to code early, how to make a tabletop game, and even a session on how to paint figures! Whether you’ve got a young coder, LARPER or tabletop gamer in the house (or if you want to get into these things as an adult) there were definitely sessions for all aspects of gaming at GeekGirlCon.
I was really happy to see a panel featuring Zola Mumford, Walidah Imarisha, Jéhan Òsanyìn, and Gabriel Teodros on Octavia Butler’s works. That panel was great, and I hope it comes to other conventions in the future. There were other good panels on making games with Elizabeth Sampat and Zoe Quinn. It was great to hear about the importance of storytelling as well as the technical aspects that involved in game development.
I enjoyed the two panels I was on myself, as well. The first panel was Ladies Who Let’s Play, about women who stream. And it was amazing! We had a full house and it was gratifying to see so many women interested in getting into streaming and doing Let’s Plays.
We talked about why we got into streaming and what we use to get our content out there. Thanks again to @twittysuch who invited me to be on the panel with @PeachyAenne, @Mo_Pehpper & @seraphki! It was great to talk about the highs and lows of being a woman who streams, and I hope we can do the panel again next year.
The other panel I did was Stealing Your White Superheroes, with Slyvia Monreal, Kristine Hassell (who is the Social Media Coordinator for #GGC15), and Katherine Cross.
Our panel was in one of the larger rooms and it was nearly full. Sylvia pitched the panel and asked us to join her in a much needed conversation about race and the superhero genre. There were lots of great questions from the audience, as well as panelist consensus that Idris Elba should be in everything.
What stuck with me though, is the last audience member to speak. She moved me to tears. She was a black woman who asked about being discouraged after being harassed. She was trying to find her joy again in a community that had made her feel incredibly unwelcome. That she shared her story in a crowded room and talked with me afterward was humbling.
There were some weak spots in the panels. Many panels with “diversity” and “inclusion” in the description or title were comprised of either only white women, or a single (white) speaker. You can’t have well-rounded discussions on making spaces inclusive by excluding those affected.
One “panel” that was about diversifying as a creator and making content to combat the lack of seeing yourself in the media you consume consisted of a lone white woman who started out with rudimentary facts that there are few women and minority creators in Hollywood. The session then transitioned to a filmmaking 101 panel, where she had audience members come up and help demonstrate techniques. This fell far short of what I expected by the description, which should have said that it was just one person who would be speaking.
I would love to return next year to a better panel selection-with more WOC participating, not just spectating.
Besides the panels and the gaming floor, there was also the dealers’ room. It offered a bevy of geeky things for anyone, no matter what you’re into. The goods ranged from easily affordable to a bit more on the pricey side, but definitely worth it. I walked away with caffeinated marshmallows, a retro arcade 25 cent coin-slot pendant, and a lovely Totoro print I got for a good price from Artist’s Alley.
Overall GeekGirlCon was a good experience despite some disappointments, and I’m very glad I went. I got to meet a lot of folks I only knew from the internets, saw a lot of good panels, and got to learn a new city in a few days. Whether you’re local or need to travel a bit to get there, I’d recommend attending this celebration of women in geekdom.