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!
One of the hardest things about GeekGirlCon is that point on Sunday night when you realize that the con is coming to its inevitable conclusion. It’s such a bittersweet moment, but it’s also a good time to reflect on the cultural phenomenon that is GeekGirlCon.
I love games, and I think that one of my favorite places at GeekGirlCon is on the Gaming Floor. It’s a big, open space and lends itself to all sorts of game-related content, be it board games to check out, a walk-up RPG area, console games, and more! Here are some of the cool things that will be happening in games over GeekGirlCon weekend:
I have played video games since I was three years old, when my mother brought home an Apple IIe computer, and loaded up Pac-Man for me. From there, I went from playing a range of games like Tonk in the Land of Buddy-Bots and the Monkey Island series, to console titles such as Grand Theft Auto, Assassin’s Creed and Halo.
But here’s one thing I’ve noticed: my favorite games will, more often than not, have a protagonist that looks nothing like me. Where games have a single playable character, that playable character is likely to be a man. A white man. Maybe he has a beard, maybe not. He’s probably also straight–perhaps he also has a wife or child or someone close to him who’s died or been kidnapped at the start of the game as a plot device, and he’s probably armed with some sort of gun or melee weapon or both.
GeekGirlCon 2016 at Washington State Conference Center in Seattle, Washington. October 2016. Photo by James McDaniel.
Every year GeekGirlCon’s gaming team puts together an entire floor of wonder during our convention in downtown Seattle’s core.
But our passion for games doesn’t stop at just a weekend, and for all you tabletop lovers out there, we know the same goes for you.
GeekGirlCon partners with Girl Scouts of Western Washington throughout the year to run monthly events and. Gaming Event Coordinator Andy talked to several GeekGirlScout game masters about how you can level up roleplaying at your regular tabletop game.
I was raised a gamer, by a gamer. My dad, whose roots are strong and true from playing Dungeons & Dragons in the ‘80s, put a controller in my hands when I was barely old enough to build a comprehensive sentence (I’ve written about my youthful adoration for Zelda and its impact on my creativity numerous times before). Gaming has always been a big part of my life, even spanning into my professional career through writing fiction. Watching E3 conferences was a family affair, and we were always first in line whenever a new console dropped. Every member of my family was an active participant, except my mother, who took on a more passive role until recently. For the last 23 years, she’d watch us play everything. Cheekier titles like Mario Kart and other Nintendo classics like Zelda, more involved and darker titles like Square Enix’s Final Fantasy X, Bioshock, Skyrim—she watched us play them all.
Although she was a “backseat gamer” for the vast majority of my upbringing, she was always participating. Telling us where to go when we walked past an obvious story marker, giving suggestions on a tricky boss. She wasn’t holding the controller, directing whichever character we embodied, but because she had been there observing, taking it all in from beginning to end, she knew the ropes just as much as we did (sometimes even better).
Since moving to Washington, I’ve been able to spend more time with my family, a lot of which still revolves around playing video games since I’m actively involved in the industry. A few months back my mom finally asked, “Will you help me pick out my first game?” and I dropped everything and went to work.
This year at GeekGirlCon, get ready to demo the best new indie games coming out of the Seattle area. Seattle is already a great area for games, and the local indie game community is even better. When you demo an indie game at a con, chances are you’re playing right alongside an actual developer or designer for the game, so you’re sure to have an amazing, organic and meaningful interaction. The teams behind the games GeekGirlCon is highlighting this year are passionate about gaming and sharing their creations with you!
What were you doing when you were twelve? For many of us, we might have been pursuing our geeky interests, but the speakers at the Next Gen Geek Girls panel made me (and several other people in the audience) feel completely inadequate!
Introduced by Whitney Winn, the Next Gen Geek Girls at the panel were two twelve-year-olds, Maddie Messer and Rowan Trilling-Hansen. Both of them had deep-seated, wonderfully geeky interests: Rowan loves comics and Maddie –who I had the pleasure of interviewing for the GeekGirlCon blog last year—plays games on her phone.
Both of them made waves in 2015 when they addressed gender disparities in the representation of women in comics and games. Rowan wrote letter to DC for more women in comics and merchandise, and was featured on the Today Show. She said that she had loved comics for her whole life. However, her issue with the representation of female characters began when she got into the DC Chibi collection. Rowan showed the audience the packaging for the Chibis, which lists the ones that are available. Of the twelve characters, only two were women. “I just think it would be really nice if they would add more female characters to the set,” she explained to the panel. “When I was looking at the pamphlet I kept thinking something wasn’t right.”