I should be fanning myself, really, as I recollect Fryda Wolff’s Q&A at GeekGirlCon ‘17. So buckle up guys, because I’m about to reiterate why her panel was one of my absolute favorites at the convention, and how Fryda easily became one of my top girl crushes of all time (nice and snug between Maggie Stiefvater and Danai Gurira).
GeekGirlCon was Fryda’s first ever convention as a voice actor, and we couldn’t have felt more honored or humble to have her with us. She was a force to be reckoned with, whose voice didn’t demand but immediately earned my absolute attention when I first heard her speak during the Voice of a Hero panel the day before. Her confidence was intoxicating, and made live-tweeting her panel almost impossible, as nearly everything she said was a quote that could be used to inspire the masses. She was truly amazing, and was eager to share her experience getting started in gaming and how that got her into voice acting.
While Fryda began her voiceover journey in 2013, that’s not where her career in gaming started.
She graduated high school a year early, in fact, the week she turned 17. She wanted to be a campaign manager back then, and didn’t have a clue how far from that she’d end up (although it did play a pretty big role in how she got there).
Even though Fryda ended up in the gaming industry, it wasn’t until high school when she got her first PC. She then dubbed herself a PC gamer, and got really into Blizzard (because I swear, all us cool kids started our Blizzard phase when we should have been studying). The interest sort of sparked from there, she really loved to game. “This is what happens when you don’t let your kids do things,” Fryda joked. Gaming wasn’t something she did a lot growing up, so the infatuation was serve. It was fun and exciting.
…and then it just happened.
Sony was hosting an event in Vegas, Fryda’s home town. The event was supposed to host about a thousand people, but unfortunately the venue could barely hold two hundred and fifty. She put that prior interest in campaign management to work and did something about it. She started organizing people, and eventually ushered those who couldn’t get in to all meet at a nearby GameWorks.
Long story short, someone from Sony hunted her down and nonchalantly asked “do you want a job?”
Since the convention ended last October, the GeekGirlCon staff have been busy planning. Planning what we want this year’s convention to be, what we want to be. Even though we’ve got quite some time until #GGC18 commences October 27th, we’re excited to start sharing everything that we’ve put together.
And the time is finally here. Passes for GeekGirlCon ‘18 are available right now.
When I play a multiplayer video game, I tend to gravitate towards support roles. I am the medic in Battlefield, the chronomancer in Guild Wars 2—and I’m a Mercy-main in Overwatch.
“Heroes never die!” is a sort of anthem, I think. Fans of the game truly rally behind their favorite characters. One of my good friends wears her D.Va headphones every time she live streams, another can’t stop doodling Pharah. I even chatted with a fellow Overwatch fan for a little while before the panel started, seated right up front. “I’m a Winston main,” she laughed after I exclaimed how pumped I was to see Lucie Pohl, but Mercy is her close second.
Beyond simply being a game, Overwatch is a community (as proven by the lengthy conversation I had with that fan before the panel). It wasn’t surprising that I ran into a plethora of fans and supporters, from young girls to older women, all excited to hear Lucie talk.
Lucie Pohl participated in a few big panels at GeekGirlCon 2017, two of which I covered: The Voice of a Hero panel, which honored other voice actresses like Erica Lutrell, Fryda Wolff, and Kimberly Brooks, and Lucie’s personal Q&A.
Lucie is an actress and comedian, and what she had to say was memorable, enlightening, but exceptionally witty and strong.
You may or may not have heard of her, but I’ve recently developed a hearty admiration for Sailor J. Slightly newer to the scene and sitting at about 206k subscribers, Sailor J is the “beauty guru” / content creator we’ve only dreamt of until now. She’s witty, smart, funny, and incredibly adept at bringing political and social commentary to the YouTube medium.
Sailor J, or JJ Smith, makes lifestyle vignettes about everything from fandom to the astrology. I first stumbled upon her channel when GETTING A MAN 101 made its way into my inbox—but let’s pause right there, it’s not what you think. Usually guised as a makeup tutorial, Sailor J puts together a satirical manifesto as she openly mocks archaic views about women and ignites a conversation about intersectional feminism through an overly familiar format. “If it rubs off on anything…they’re going to know you’re a witch,” she exclaims to the viewer while buffing foundation across her cheeks.
But, she has something else to say.
The video, just under five minutes, takes you through the steps any beauty guru would. She glenty swipes a light champagne-colored eyeshadow across her lids, but she’s using the gesture to challenge the false perception that women wear makeup for some ulterior motive—to please or attract the opposite sex. In the same vein, How to have Bedroom Eyes takes us through a similar formula. She talks about shading and blending—but it’s more than just creating depth by smudging a dark shade of eyeshadow across the curve of your brow. Whether she’s talking about contouring or criticizing some women’s need to put down other women, Sailor J is combining satire and very real, relevant conversations on an often quiet side of the platform.
Beyond social commentary, tackling political conversations on Youtube can be just as difficult as in the classroom or at work and is something that we seldom see in the beauty and lifestyle corner of YouTube . She caught the attention of sources like Allure when she put out a video titled How To Do Thanksgiving Makeup That Has Nothing To Do With The 566 Federally Recognized Tribes. While writing #NODAPL across her cheeks and mocking Disney’s Pocahontas, Sailor J points out a disturbing trend in “native-inspired looks” that pollute Youtube and social media each holiday season, using makeup as a form of appropriation. “It’s all about your (the white, female content creator’s) convenience, not the wellbeing of a traumatized nation of people.” It’s a conversation that we’ve been been having, but her utilization of the same platform as a direct combatant to the conflict is ingenious.
Sailor J says what we all want to say, what we need to say. She’s gritty, even giving this gamer’s salty vocabulary a run for its money, but she’s right. Content creators, regardless of medium, have the ability to use their platform to build on ideas. From her makeup tutorials to her book reviews, Sailor J is a refreshing light coming from a void where we need better representation and smarter conversations. Makeup can be makeup, there doesn’t need to be a deeper meaning behind which color you choose to blend into the crease of your eyelid, but seeing Sailor J utilize that not-so-basic gesture and turn it into critical commentary on society is something that we need more of. Even shown through the lens of satire, these faux-lifestyle guides and tutorials aren’t as jocular as they may seem, because, rather than mocking the genre, Sailor J is leading an attack on objectification and discrimination. While you might pull a spit-take or two at her jabs and jokes, she truly is, in her own way, guiding us to live a better lifestyle: one where we’re loud and counter the toxic perceptions that we face each day.
“Characters of all sorts in the game’s 5th Edition.”
When I saw Jeremy Crawford’s panel on our roster, I immediately signed up to cover it. No questions asked. Even though I am a D&D rookie myself, it runs in my blood. My dad and his college friends were…how do I put it? Insanely obsessed, dedicated dungeon divers. I grew up knowing his character’s name, Infansnox, as much as I knew to call him dad. My godfather was their Dungeon Master, and they still covet their well worn, hand drawn-map to this day. Somewhere in my parent’s house the original Dungeons & Dragons rulebook and Monster Guide, purchased in Lake Geneva.
Jeremy is a Game Designer for Wizards of the Coast, and was the Lead Designer and Managing Editor of the 5th Edition of the Player’s Handbook. You may also know him for his work on Blue Rose, a game he co-designed with Steve Kenson.
Diversity and Inclusivity in D&D
D&D has been played by people of all ages, race, gender, and sexual orientation for a long, long time. But it wasn’t until more recently that the game actively sought include people of all backgrounds within the bindings of the actual book. It is the nature of fantasy to include everyone, but gaming and roleplaying has been male-centric for quite some time. There is still a pretty large demographic that still associates D&D with white, heterosexual males, much like my dad and his friends. While there will always be room of them at the table, it’s time we pulled up a couple more chairs. This is something Jeremy and is team sought to accomplish with the 5th Edition of the Player’s Handbook.
Wizards of the Coast held a massive public play test that included about 175k different individuals (at the end of the panel, an audience member stepped up and told Jeremy that he participated in this test—he felt proud of the product, like he was a part of it).
They had this game that was already coveted by many fans (and for a long time, at that), but they wanted it to appeal to even more, and they wanted it to appeal to many tastes. It was an attempt to welcome different individuals had hadn’t really been interested before, and welcomed them “into the big tent” of what Dungeons and Dragons is. Veteran players joined in, too, to help piece together and start a discussion.
With the 5th Edition, they wanted people to know that there’s a place for them at the table. There’s a place for everyone.
Whether we spend our rainy days tucked into a novel, or our nights binge watching that trendy new show on Netflix, we are absorbed by media. Many of us are geeks by fandom, myself included. We look to games, books, shows, and movies to brighten up our solemn days and enlighten our good ones. The media we absorb may be a direct reflection of our lives, or something a tad more fantastical—but it’s something we look to, and something we look to often. Because we spend so much time with our media there’s a great deal of content we wish we had more of; whether we fight for more representation on screen or behind the scenes, yearn for better writing, or are just looking for more fantasy as a form of escapism.
Here are a few things I want to see more of in 2018, and a look back at some things that I found and loved in 2017.
To start things off, you know what I want to see more of? I want to see more older women kicking some serious ass. When I was watching the new Star Wars movie with my family over the holiday, I thought a lot about that. Admiral Holdo and General Leia Organa filled a void I didn’t know needed filling (and not just because that void was torn back open like a flesh wound seeing Carrie Fisher on screen again). More mother figures, even—and no, not necessarily just more mothers. I want to see women young and old building friendships with one another, guiding and teaching one another.
“The Commander calls me into her Chamber. This seems normal. Leaders of nations meet with 16 year olds all the time.” @DystopianYA
My mother is partially responsible for this sudden burst of interest. Every day since I started writing my novel, she’s asked me how “Rachette Ealh” is coming along. Rachette is a play on her own name Rachel, and is a character she made and juxtaposed into my novel. Rachette, as I’ve been informed, is a dual broadsword wielding battle warrior. My mom wants to see herself in my fiction, although Rachette is a little more limber. And because of her adimance, she just might get it.
No matter what holiday(s) you celebrate this time of year, we all love to give something back to the people in our lives. Gifts that show our geeks that we care—that we support their interests and passions and love what makes them unique.
For many, this past year has presented difficult trials, and we will continue to conquer them in 2018. These trials will never dull or cease, but we should step back and look to our friends and family, to those who inspire us most. We need to look to our artists, who bring color into our lives. Our dreamers, who show us how magical each day can be. Our philosophers, who challenge what the world should be. And our scientists, who push the boundaries. The geeks in our lives deserve something special, a little something to express our love as we end 2017 and look beyond.
Without further ado, here is the GGC Gift Guide 2017:
Gifts for your Artist
Mudcloth Paper Journal
Beautiful, yes, but what makes these journals from Raven + Lily an amazing gift? They were handcrafted by artisans at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains in Northern India. Raven + Lily works to empower women by employing artisans who otherwise had difficulty finding work, so that they can earn an income to support their families and community. I’d highly recommend taking a look at their mission statement and values while you scroll through their stunning pieces.
I came across this doll while watching Youtuber Jessica Kelgren-Fozard’s October Favorites video. Mia is a Wildlife Photographer. Inspired by a real nine-year-old girl, the description on the back of the box reads: From birds and butterflies to all kinds of creepy-crawlies, I’m just mad about wildlife. Everywhere I go, I carry my camera with me. Because who knows when—or where—a brilliant photo opportunity will pop up? A beautiful photo can tell its own story. I hope that my pictures will inspire other children to love wildlife as much as I do and to take good care of this wonderful planet of ours! Mia also has a cochlear implant, and it’s just a part of what makes her unique.
I started reading Darling a few years back myself, and I can’t sing enough praises for the magazine. Darling is self-proclaimed as “the art of being a woman,” but what initially caught my eye is that they are very vocal about not using Photoshop or other editing programs to alter women’s bodies and faces. The photographs used are beautiful and raw images of very real women. It focuses on a handful of women each issue and discusses their creativity and careers in a positive, supportive, and intellectual light.
Tomorrow, November 28th, is #GivingTuesday! A global day of giving, #GivingTuesday is a movement. A day set aside from the Holiday shopping, in the midst of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday is a day to give to the organizations that you love and support.
GeekGirl 2017 has come and gone. It was a weekend of laugher, tears, a pinch of nostalgia, and an enormous amount of fun. As I’ve spent the last week recuperating, I’ve seen an influx online of happy memories, pictures, articles, and thoughts about the weekend. Words of wisdom caught during panels, big smiles after seeing a particularly great cosplay, and shared pride over the community that we’ve built together, we’re all going through a bit of emotional catharsis.
Here are but a few of our favorite moments from the weekend on Twitter and Instagram, recaps and articles on blogs and in the news:
I spent a solid hour in front of the mirror this morning, preparing for the first day of GeekGirlCon 2017. My outfit was already laid out on my hotel bed, and I sat peppy-eyed and ready in front of the mirror, a splay as makeup scattered about. A morning ritual I do often, but something about getting ready to spend the day covering panels, live tweeting, and flat out expressing my geekdom made it all the more special. I mean heck, it was the first day of GeekGirlCon 2017!
When I’m not reading my daily dose of YA fantasy, spending hours regretting my latest playthrough of The Witcher 3’s ending, or rewatching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, makeup plays a major role in my geeky life—all of fashion does, really. Dressing down or dressing up, fashion is just as important to me as a good book or a good game. My (functional, yet decidedly trendy) vestment of choice is a super villain-esque pair of running pants that pass for “real” pants, paired with a leather jacket—just like I waltzed out of the Slytherin common room. I adorn a subtle, but graphically appealing nerdy tee, add a full face of makeup and I’m good to go.
This year we brought back the GeekGirlCon Fashion Show. Tonight, the main stage was lit up with body-positivity, a collection of proud, geeky designers and models—and a surprisingly robust playlist of modern music covers (but like, super geeky covers, I’d never heard “Talk Nerdy To Me” before).
Hosted by Sophy Wong, a designer, maker, and costumer herself, she opened the show with a question: what does it mean to be represented and reflected in fashion, as geeks? Simply put, visibility. Wearing your fandom (quite literally) on your sleeve is showcasing your community. It shows that there are others out there like us, who share our interests. It shows those who are not necessarily apart of our fandoms what we are interested in—it reflects a piece of ourselves. Geek fashion is an ever changing field, and every year more and more designers bring new looks for us to better express our geeky side. Whether casual, a little more daring, and maybe even a bit feminine with some frill, there are so many ways we tell the world “Hey, I love Daenerys—and you should too.”