Welcome to February, my fellow geeks! Cliché or not, this month is all about celebrating love in all its forms, whether it be for friends, family, partners, pets, books, movies, games, songs, foods, or, you know, even particularly great gifs.
Here’s looking at you, every image of Gina Rodriguez ever (Image Description: The actress Gina Rodriguez as the character Jane Villanueva from the television show “Jane the Virgin,” looking happy. Source: Giphy)
So, whoever or whatever you find yourself loving this month, consider checking out some of the amazing events coming up, and celebrate your interests, enthusiasms, and passions to their fullest!
Car chases, shoot-outs and frantic fist fights are usually left to the boys… but why should they have all the fun? In an era of girl-power and new wave feminism, it seems only fair that women get an equal shot (or stab, or swing) at the chance to fly through space, race supercars and dangle from skyscrapers. Currently carrying the torch are stunt-girl heroes like Caitlin Dechelle (Wonder Woman, Fast & Furious 7), Zoë Bell (Kill Bill, Thor: Ragnarok), and Dayna Grant (Mad Max: Fury Road, Ash vs. Evil Dead), who are living proof that woman can kick just as many butts as men, even in short skirts and high heels.
Want to join their ranks? If you’re a thrill-seeker who lives for taking on new physical challenges it’s understandable that you might be looking for a career more inspiring than personal training or fitness coaching. Becoming a stuntwoman isn’t easy, but if you think you’re up to the challenge, here are the golden rules for sticking it out in the stunt industry.
“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.
A few weeks ago, I binge-watched Big Little Lies over the course of one (bad-feeling for unrelated reasons) day. At the end of the day, I was feeling weirder than before, but for an entirely new set of reasons. As far as I can tell, this is the experience many of us have had with the show. We think we may have liked it, but we also definitely feel that there was something off about it.
Big Little Lies is based on a book written by a woman, starring an allstar (if very white) cast of women, and produced by a company founded ostensibly to uplift women-centric stories. Yet, more than anything else, Big Little Lies tells the story of women who, despite being overwhelming rich in access to resources, are still barely surviving the emotional barrage of patriarchal social structures.
Alyssa, wearing a sweater with Darth Vader on it, and holding a stuffed Chewbacca toy and a bag of popcorn. (Source: Alyssa Askew)
New Year, New Staffer! We’re kicking off 2018 with an interview with Alyssa Askew, our Assistant Games Manager. Alyssa has been working with us since early last year, and works with our Manager of Gaming, Alyssa Jones. (Yes, there are two people working on our games team named Alyssa. What are the odds?) Here, she tells us about moving to Seattle, her love of Star Wars, and what it’s like to be a girl detective.
Who are you and what do you do at GeekGirlCon?
I’m Alyssa Askew and I am the Assistant Games Manager. I help the other Alyssa and the rest of the awesome Gaming team create Tabletop and Video Game content for the convention and beyond. My position fluctuates based on what Alyssa and the rest of the team need and I jump in to help wherever I can. This year that meant organizing some tournaments, coordinating signage, writing volunteer job descriptions, and having a whole lot of fun with the team!
What do you do for your day job, when you’re not being awesome as a GGC staffer?
I work in video games! I am currently working as an Administrative Assistant (aka Professional Organizer of things) at Big Fish Games and learning as much as possible about the production and creation of our games so I can continue to work towards my dream of producing games. On the side, I am producing an indie horror game with friends to hone those skills!
Sounds awesome! Tell me more about your indie game! Horror games are not usually my jam (I spook easily!), but helping my friends get organized to make things is a lot of fun and they are super talented. Play throughs have been entertaining because I think I get even more frightened when I know what is about to happen in the game. I can’t wait to see how it shapes up.
Alyssa concentrates as she plays Centipede on an arcade machine. (Source: Alyssa Askew)
Have you always considered yourself a geek?
Oh, probably… When I was about 9, I wanted to have a Star Wars themed sleepover and watch the entire original trilogy in one night. I LOVE geeking out over themes. I invited all my friends over and decorated the living room. We got through half of Episode IV and my friends took over and we watched Titanic. I still hate that movie and I still love Star Wars so I guess I have always considered myself geeky.
Alyssa holding her super cute BB-8 mug! (Source: Alyssa Askew)
What sort of (geeky) things do you like to do in your spare time?
In case it wasn’t already evident, I love gaming! These days, you can most often find me playing Stardew Valley, Overwatch, and a variety of mobile games. When I can recruit friends or family, I love a good board game too.
I am also in my happy place while munching popcorn at the movies or curled up with a novel or comic book with tea (in a geeky and adorable BB8 mug).
What are you currently geeking out about?
Right this second, I am most excited for Black Panther to come out. It looks phenomenal and I’ve probably watched the trailer 30+ times. Spider-Man has been my favorite superhero since I was twelve, so I’m also looking forward to his starring role appearance in Infinity War and try my best not to think too much about Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse because December is so far away.
Gaming wise, I just purchased a bundle of twenty or so Nancy Drew games from Her Interactive and they are golden! I’ve been dedicating a fair amount of time to solving crimes as a teenage sleuth.
Girl detective games? That sounds awesome. Who would you recommend these to? I think anyone who read Nancy Drew, watched Veronica Mars, or played detective of any sorts when they were young would enjoy the Nancy Drew series. I mean, who doesn’t want to solve crimes about haunted carousels or mysterious old clocks? They are easy to pick up and play without being hardcore, and while they are a bit silly sometimes, I’ve had a lot of fun with them.
Alyssa dressed as her character from the game Stardew Valley (Source: Alyssa Askew)
Okay, let’s talk about the org. How did you get involved with GeekGirlCon?
I moved to Seattle from Canada early last year and wanted to get involved and volunteer in some capacity straight away. Up in BC, my volunteer life was a huge part of who I was, and organizing STEM events for the Girl Guides of Canada was one of my favorite things to do. I had attended GeekGirlCon and kept checking the volunteer page because I love everything the org stands for, but was intimidated by most of the roles, having never organized a con before! When I saw the Assistant Manager of Gaming position I was really excited because it seemed like a great introduction to convention planning, I had the skill set, and also I really, really love games. I applied for the position and now I’m here!
What is your favorite thing about being a staffer for GeekGirlCon?
The wonderful humans I get to interact with as a result. Being in a new city is scary, but everyone in the org has welcomed me with open arms, taught me so much already, and made me feel at home. The Agents I got to work with at the GeekGirlCon last year were exceptional and their commitment to the convention is inspiring. I can’t wait to work with them again. Finally, our attendees are what make GeekGirlCon so special.
What were your thoughts on GeekGirlCon ‘17? Did you have a favorite moment?
I LOVED my experience at GeekGirlCon ‘17. The whole event was nothing less of magical and I was humbled to be a part of the staff organizing the convention. My favorite moment surrounding the con weekend actually happened virtually. Part way through the weekend, I was checking twitter and saw a friend say they were thinking of attending and asked if GeekGirlCon was a safe space for them. I let others answer, because I thought maybe I was a bit biased, and my friend ended up attending on Sunday! I got to say hello in the midst of running around, and they seemed to be having fun. My favorite moment came on Sunday, the attendees had left, we were cleaning up and winding down from a great weekend. I checked Twitter again and saw the same friend post about what a great time they had at GeekGirlCon ‘17, how glad they were that they attended, and that they definitely would be back next year. Seeing that post made my heart so happy. I love the space GeekGirlCon has created and am proud of how hard everyone is constantly working to make it truly safe and inclusive.
What are you looking forward to for GeekGirlCon in the future?
I can’t wait to see how GeekGirlCon continues to thrive in the coming years. I feel so lucky to be a part of the team and I know the wonderful people involved will make it better every year. I look forward to seeing how the programming changes and grows to be as inclusive and diverse as possible and I am excited about all the wonderful content that I’m sure we’ll line up for next year!
If you think you’d like to be like Alyssa and support GeekGirlCon all year around, check out our available volunteer staff positions!
Happy New Year, fellow geeks! I’ll admit that I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions or spend much time considering the opportunity that a fresh new year brings, but 2017 was a year of embracing what worked for me and letting go of what didn’t, and I don’t want to lose that momentum in the coming year.
Source: Giphy. Description: a gif of colorful fireworks exploding in the night sky.
I’ve been thinking about what I want to focus on in 2018, and I’ve realized that one of the places I still have plenty of room to grow in is making choices based on my hopes and not my fears. I have a tendency to sabotage my own happiness by either saying no to or bailing on good things out of fear that they won’t work out, and I’m making 2018 the year of not letting the panicky voice in my brain run the show. That’s a big ambiguous mission, so I’ve come up with a more concrete challenge to start with, and I’m extending it to all of you, because if I’m going to do something hard, I want to drag as many people along for the ride as I can.
Source: Giphy. Description: the 10th Doctor from Doctor Who holding out his hand to the camera and saying, “Come with me.”
So here’s my 2018 challenge for us all: do one thing you’ve been putting off because of fear.
Sign up for that 5K, put together that cosplay, start that career change, have that hard conversation—whatever it is you’ve been meaning to do but have been avoiding because it’s big and terrifying, let 2018 be the year that you acknowledge the fear and do the hard thing anyway.
For me, this means finally getting back into the world of fiction writing. In college, I wrote two novels and landed a literary agent who got me a contract offer from editor at a major publishing house. I was ecstatic. My agent was working on securing a movie deal now that we had a publisher, and my future was looking bright. Part way through the contract negotiations with the publishing house, my agent called to say that the editor had rescinded the offer without any explanation. She reached out to a few other editors, but the whole process got pretty quiet after that. I took what was supposed to be a short break from writing things for myself to recover from the disappointment of having my plans axed and the fear that maybe the contract had been pulled because I wasn’t a competent writer.
Source: Giphy. Description: George Michael Bluth from Arrested Development walking sadly with his head down.
Six years later, I am ready to end that break. In 2018 I’m committing to write some sort of fiction. I don’t care about length and I don’t care if it’s good enough to share—I’m tired of letting the fear that I will never write anything worthy of publishing stop me from doing something I once loved.
Now it’s your turn. What scary thing are you going to take on in 2018? Share your resolution in the comments or keep it to yourself—either way, may we all own our hopes and tackle our fears in this new year.
Going into my second Con as both an attendee and a copywriter, I was incredibly excited to attend the panel “¿Como Se Dice ‘Nerd’?” Last year, this panel was without a doubt one of the highlights of my entire convention experience, and this year proved to be no different. Moderated by Sylvia Artiga, a writer and the creator and manager of ¿Cómo Se Dice Nerd?, an online spaced dedicated to celebrating Latinx nerds and their contribution to art, music, and pop culture, the panel explored the fraught yet joyous intersection of Latinidad and geekdom. Artiga’s fellow panelists included Tristan J. Tarwater, a prolific comic and fantasy writer, Isabel Ann Castro, an illustrator who acts as co-founder and art director for St. Sucia, an international Latinx art and literature zine, and organizer for the San Anto Zine Fest, and Joamette Gil, an illustrator, cartoonist, curator, podcaster and publisher.
Image Description: Panelists speak at the “Como se dice ‘Nerd'” panel at 2016’s GeekGirlCon. Source: Sayed Alamy via GeekGirlCon flickr
The panel was guided by a variety of questions surrounding creativity, community, and identity. How does language, nationality, race, and history influence the way Latinx nerds interact with fandoms, hobbies, and geekery in general? What are some of the works or places that make Latinx nerds feel welcome and represented and what feels isolating? How can geeky interests be used to confront issues of colorism, colonialism, and culture clashes in the Latinx community?
The beginning of the panel focused on introducing the panelists, a diverse group of self-identifying Latinx nerds from a wide variety of backgrounds. The panelists immediately reflected on the difficulty of the time in which the panel was taking place. This year, the convention took place during the utter devastation of Hurricane Maria, and the ensuing governmental and aid response (or lack thereof). Artiga and her fellow panelists noted that it was a “heavy time” for the Latinx community, and that GeekGirlCon provided an opportunity for those carrying so much stress and heartache to still recognize how much they simultaneously deserve joy and fun.
The panelists then highlighted some of the ways in which their geekery interacted – and often clashed – with their Latinx identity growing up. As fledgling nerds within a Latinx community, the touchstones of nerd culture that they loved were often seen as “American” (read: white), leaving the panelists in a difficult position in which “American-ness” was both venerated and discouraged. As Tarwater pointed out, “the whiter you acted, the better you could do,” highlighting pressure from within the Latinx community to comply with the forces of assimilation in order to get by. Artiga underscored this point, noting that there is a “painful and complicated narrative of passing into ‘Americanness.’” Ultimately, many of the lessons that the panelists absorbed growing up played into the false narrative that if marginalized people play by the rules of assimilation they will succeed and be accepted. Part of their individual and collective activism lies in recognizing the damage of this narrative, making sure that the Latinx community knows that it doesn’t “have to play the game anymore,” and creating new spaces for Latinx people to thrive without having to adhere to the strictures of a white, capitalistic, colonialist society.
In order to create these spaces, the panelists spoke about the crucial importance of the internet as a tool for communicating, collaborating, sharing work, finding your voice, finding an audience, and, ultimately, expressing yourself independently and authentically. In this way, Latinx creators can push for their own representation, creating media that speaks to their experiences far more directly than anything in the mainstream. The internet also tends to have a snowball effect, creating large-scale change out of small-scale projects and mobilizing people around common goals and experiences. To this end, the panelists highlighted the hashtag #latinxscreate, which provides one such space to share and celebrate Latinx work that is also inclusive of the Black community.
Image Description: Audience members at the “Como se dice ‘Nerd'” panel at 2016’s GeekGirlCon. Source: Sayed Alamy via GeekGirlCon flickr
The panel moved on to a discussion of the challenges facing Latinx nerds and how to face them. The panelists noted how much guilt can be involved in the process of creation for Latinx individuals – a sense that pursuing their passions means betraying both their community and their ancestors. They reflected on the importance of being self-centered rather than selfish, of paying attention to what you are and what you want as long as it doesn’t hurt others. They spoke of the fact that guilt will inevitably crop up, but alongside it there must be space for a reclamation of happiness and joy, and a recognition that incredible suffering has occurred in the hopes of building a better future.
The panelists then offered a few examples of great representation of Latinx identity within mainstream media, such as characters from “Jane the Virgin” and Cisco from “The Flash,” as well as the re-vamped America comics from Marvel. Alongside these positive representations, the panelists also expressed uncertainty about Claire Temple from “Luke Cage” and frustration over the fact that white brunette actors are often substituted for Latinx characters and that Afro-Latinx women are usually cast as Black characters. Because of the disappointing nature of so much media representation of Latinx identity, many of the panelists spoke about purposefully avoiding content that promises Latinx characters in the understandable fear that they won’t deliver. The representation that is necessary is of Latinx characters as authentic, well-rounded, diverse people – a low bar, but one that mainstream media all too often fails to meet.
Image Description: Panelists speak at the “Como se dice ‘Nerd'” panel at 2016’s GeekGirlCon. Source: Sayed Alamy via GeekGirlCon flickr
The panel concluded with a question and answer period. One attendee reflected on the fact that too many Latinx characters are written by white people and the result is almost uniformly terrible. They wondered where consumers should be looking right now to nurture Latinx creators. In response, the panelists pointed to the aforementioned #latinxscreate hashtag along with the #comesedicenerd hashtag as valuable resources, as well as the power of writing and creating for yourself. They noted that it’s important for Latinx creators to allow themselves space to fail and get it wrong, but that putting their work out their is too important to stay silent out of fear.
Another attendee asked about Latinx-owned businesses to support, to which the panelists noted that many creators at the Con itself were incredible and more than worthy of support. They also highlighted zine fests, creator Patreon pages, and the importance of supporting friends and utilizing community resources, as well as prioritizing money to support independent creators of color. One of the final questions centered around “passing privilege” as a light-skinned Latinx person, and wondered how they could interact within Latinx spaces without bulldozing and taking advantage of their privilege. In response, Artiga noted that “there is space for people to be the scaffolding and make the space” for others to speak, to provide crucial behind-the-scenes support and signal boosting and to use privilege and the energy that privilege provides to call out racism and prejudice where those with less privilege might feel unable to. Ultimately, the panelists also emphasized the fact that light-skinned Latinxs are “part of the story too,” and have an importance space within the larger fight for greater representation of the incredibly diverse Latinx community.
This panel was thought-provoking, beautiful, and an important reminder of the power that creators have when nurtured by an inclusive and committed community. Here’s hoping that the panel will be back to provide additional insight and inspiration at this year’s Con!
(Also, a reminder that, more than three months after Hurricane Maria, nearly half of Puerto Rico’s residents still do not have power and the devastation from the hurricane (and the lack of an adequate governmental response) means that attention and support is as necessary as ever. Alongside supporting Puerto Rican creators, please consider checking out the following links and directly contributing to disaster relief efforts:)
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.
Are you, like me, missing the excitement and camaraderie of GeekGirlCon ‘17? I’ve got good news—the dates for GGC ‘18 are here!
Source: GeekGirlCon Dropbox. Image description: Two girls in cosplay sit at a table playing video games at GeekGirlCon ‘17.
Join us October 27 and 28, 2018, at the Conference Center at the Washington State Convention Center for a weekend of geeky adventure, learning, and community. Passes will be available soon; join our mailing list or keep an eye here on the blog for updates. We’ve got great things in store and we can’t wait to share them with you. We’ll see you there!
Source: GeekGirlCon Dropbox. Image description: Two GeekGirlCon ‘17 panelists laugh while sitting on stage during their panel.
Image description: Andrew Chan wearing a glowing Iron Man hand.
Here’s one last Hey, Staffer interview for the year. Meet Andrew Chan! Andrew is our merchandise assistant but also spends a lot of time dabbling with cool technology, fighting with lightsabers, and watching his favorite scifi shows! We ask him about what it’s like to be a Trekkie, technobabble, and the lengths he will go to for a good geek convention.
Who are you and what do you do at GeekGirlCon?
I’m Andrew and I help Shubz run the merchandise department. This includes climbing through stacks of boxes in storage to count our inventory, ordering new stuff, processing online orders (and getting the online store running), and helping set up and run the merch booth during the con. I’ve also taken over as an interim sysadmin running the internal infrastructure.