It all begins for me with a Sherlock Holmes book. I can remember it, clear as day. A thin volume containing the Hound of the Baskervilles, and another containing The Last Vampire, and another with The Red Headed League. They were marbleized in style with an oval Sydney Paget illustration in the center.
It all begins with Sherlock Holmes, but it certainly didn’t end there. My geekery has always been rooted in the written word. Whether it is my lifelong love of Sherlock Holmes (as a child I insisted that I was going to marry him), I had a Sherlock Holmes murder mystery themed birthday party.
But what really makes me a geek is that I have always loved to play “pretend” for lack of a better word. I created a whole world to play in (and yes, sometimes we would play Sherlock Holmes), and as I grew older that love of stories turned into a love of doing theater, roleplaying, and the occasional LARP.
In high school, I spent so much time at the comic book and gaming shops that I made friends. We played RPGs on the “Geek Stairs” (the back stairwell of our high school), where we would eat lunch, hang out, and often roll dice. Prior to those years, I had been teased for loving books and playing pretend, and when the days of free play outside ended, my refuge for open play became the theater.
So, I became a geek because of my love of words, stories, and creating new places from scratch. I guess that’s why, as an adult, I’m a game designer and disability advocate who works fervently to create access for people with disabilities to video games and roleplaying games. Because for me, without the stories and the books and the ability to play, I would have been lost. Without the support of my family to continue doing what I love (even when it got me teased in school), I wouldn’t be writing this article.
I’ve been a geek for most of my life, and as an adult, I now work in the industry of geeks, and I married someone who loves books as much as I do, who also enjoys going to Barcade (a bar with arcade games from the 1980s), and I never stopped telling stories.
Have you ever portrayed the bad guy in a computer game and thenaccidentally almost started World War III? Well, Matthew Broderick has, as David Lightman in WarGames. Before he was everyone’s favorite teenage rebel in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off–where he played a disgruntled high school student hacking into the school computers to change the number of sick days he had taken–Broderick played a disgruntled high school student hacking into the school computers to change the poor grade he had just received. Ever wonder if Ferris learned a thing or two from David?
In WarGames, with his friend Jennifer Mack (played by The Breakfast Club’s Ally Sheedy), David accidentally hacks into a game that isn’t a game…and you’ll have to watch the movie to see how it ends!
Join GeekGirlCon at Central Cinema for the screening of this awesome scifi thriller!
This post is brought to you by GeekGirlCon Twitter Administrator and Board President Kristine Hassell.
As we work toward our convention in October (Do you have your passes yet? Seriously? Buy them already!), I thought I’d address some assumptions about GeekGirlCon, who we are, and what we do. As a proud staffer with GeekGirlCon, I am familiar with our mission statement:
We celebrate and honor the legacy of women that contribute to science and tech; video games and comics; and arts and literature. We fulfill this mission by connecting geeky women worldwide and nurturing a community that fosters the growth of women in geek culture through year-round events.
To me, it seems evident from reading this that anyone who supports geeky women would be welcome, but what does this really mean? So I decided to pose the question, “Based on what you know, who do you think that GeekGirlCon is for?” to some folks I know, and some of the replies are interesting.
“Pretty much what it says on the label. It’s primarily for girls and women of the geekier persuasions, but it’s also open to anyone who’d like to learn and see more about the perspectives/issues on their side of things.” – Aaron Blalack, convention attendee and hip-hop artist
“GeekGirlCon is for the thinking geek. I’ve always found the atmosphere and the vibe of GeekGirlCon to be a bit more academic than most other gaming conventions I attend. The panelists and the special guests arrive with the intention to talk about important issues. You are expected to think, you are expected to communicate well, and you can expect the conversations to be thoughtful and the questions challenging. Attendees should go to GeekGirlCon expecting to explore their favourite element of nerdy culture on a more thoughtful level.” – Joanna Gaskell, writer and producer of Standard Action
“GeekGirlCon to me is a sort of geeky safe harbor. A place where women can meet one another and share common enthusiasm about geeky passions without being subjected to the more negative side of our beloved culture such as sexism and voyeurism. A happy place to feel warm and fuzzy.” – Nick Hahn, Community Outreach Event Coordinator for Ablegamers
“I think GeekGirlCon is for everyone. It doesn’t exclude men in the same way that Comic-Con focuses on Comics but doesn’t exclude people who like genre prose, video games or sci-fi television. It invites you to a gathering that celebrates women who, sadly, don’t always get the recognition they should elsewhere. And it has plenty of panels and activities that aren’t gender specific.” – Alan Kistler, author/actor and comic book historian
“If you believe GeekGirlCon is a place for all geeks, then GeekGirlCon is the place for you. Join the inclusion clique!” – Andy Munich, convention attendee, Special Agent, and RPG specialist
“I think that GeekGirlCon is for anyone who thinks that questions of gender disparity in geek culture are fair ones, and who therefore sees that having a focus on deliberately (re)presenting groups or perspectives that differ from the cultural default of many other events is a reasonable response. When other events (or cultures surrounding them) are, or seem to be, presumptively male, tagging an event “girl” only seems exclusionary in the superficial sense. Really, it’s a geeky and pop cultural event for anyone interested in any other such events, but built from the ground up to rest on the foundation of a more inclusive default.” – The One True B!x, Portland writer and founder emeritus of CSTS
“I am a little disadvantaged, having never been to GeekGirlCon…but I would still have to say, it’s for everyone. Based on the fact that every male Enforcer I am friends with actually looks forward to going to GeekGirlCon and certainly every geek girl I know in the PNW attends. I would say it’s for anyone who is comfortable with a con that is trying create a space where women actually feel comfortable instead of merely accepted.” – Shervyn von Hoerl, nerd dad hoping to raise a geek boy and a geek girl
“Although my knowledge is limited because I’m on the other side of nation and all, I was always under the impression that GeekGirlCon more or less celebrated and emphasized the fact that it’s not just a rare thing to be a girl with sci-fi/fantasy/RPG/console gamer interests. It’s normal… and darn it, it’s cool!!! GeekGirlCon is awesome, and I really must spread the word to a couple newly arrived gamer grrls I met at our weekly game day. I think at least one of them would make a pilgrimage someday :-).” – Michael Hanna, gay gamer rakehellion and Michigan bon vivant
“GeekGirlCon is for people who enjoy geekery, inclusion and happiness.” – Angela Webber, The Doubleclicks
“GeekGirlCon is for people who like smiling and puppies.” – Aubrey Webber, The Doubleclicks*
Now…after reading all of these replies, it’s clear that everyone sees GeekGirlCon a little differently—and that’s sort of the point! GeekGirlCon is for everyone that supports us in our mission and values.
I’ve encountered folks who were convinced they couldn’t come because they think they’re not geeky “enough” or they’re not girls. Nope. All are welcome. All welcome. Go into the Light. There is peace and serenity in the Light. Wait, sorry. I channeled a little Tangina there…but you get my drift. Genuinely, and I’m quoting directly from our values:
“GeekGirlCon embraces all types of people. PERIOD. There is no way to list all the subsets of folks that now or in the future will make up the body of GeekGirlCon. ALL: ages, gender identities, sexual orientations, sexual preferences, sizes, abilities, ethnicities, nationalities, races, creeds, religions, familial statuses, alien species, earth species, education levels, science specializations, operating system preferences, fandoms, etc., are welcome. Anyone supporting women in geeky pursuits is welcome.“
This blog is brought to you by GeekGirlCon Twitter administrator Kristine Hassell
Greetings, readers! Have you heard about Standard Action? If you’re down with RPGs, you will enjoy this earnest fantasy/comedy web series for geeks of all kinds. Since they have launched a Kickstarter to fund their third season, I thought what better way to introduce them to our audience than with a chat with producer, writer, star, and co-creator, my friend, Joanna Gaskell! So please, follow along today for the first in a three-part interview with Joanna! Today, we’ll focus on SA and their first Kickstarter.
Q. Let’s begin with an origin story. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do for Standard Action (SA)?
A. Sure thing. I’m the writer and producer of SA, and I also play one of the lead characters – a Elf Barbarian named Edda. I work on a variety of different projects in Vancouver, BC, mostly in an acting or voice over capacity, but I’m also producing a bit more now, and writing when I can. I’ve been in Vancouver for about six years, but I’m originally from Victoria, and I did my acting training in London, UK.
Q. I am familiar with the coolness of SA, but can you explain it to those who might now know?
SA is the fantasy webseries for geeks of all kinds. It’s a bit like Lord of the Rings if the entire party was made up of Pippins. It has the humor and the intelligence of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld or The Mighty Boosh, and the campiness of the old Hercules, Legendary Journeys show. It’s full of references to nerd culture and gaming, but it’s accessible enough for anyone to find the humor in it.
The story follows four inept, misfit adventurers who find each other and set out on a quest full of bumbling hilarity that tests not only their fellowship, but everyone’s perception of what a hero should be. It’s heartwarming in places, very silly in others, and it appeals to anyone who ever rooted for the underdog.
L-R: Ferdnando (Edwin Perez), Wendy (Tara Pratt), Martin (Daniel S. Johnston), and Edda (Joanna Gaskell).
Q. Do you have to have played an RPG to get the humor?
Our show is full of references to nerd culture and gaming, but it’s accessible enough for anyone to find the humor in it. We don’t just stick to gaming, either; we have Easter Eggs in there for Browncoats, Trekkies, Star Wars fans, Tolkien lovers, Monty Python addicts, and more. It’s really a story about interesting, relatable characters and their journey through the mishaps of a fantasy world. You don’t have to be a nerd to enjoy it, but every once in awhile you might appreciate a joke a bit more if you’ve ever been a gamer, or part of a fandom.
Fernando and Edda get their groove on.
Q. Your Kickstarter will be funded with less than a day left. Congratulations on your funded third season! Has its success been a surprise?
Thank you! One thing about being on the web is that we have pretty close connections with our fans, so we knew we had a lot of support out there. But I have to admit I was pretty blown away by the first week of our Kickstarter. We hit our base goal in just three days, and it certainly gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling to see the generosity from the fans, and the obvious appreciation for what we do. It’s always great to know as an artist that your audience wants to see more! We’re trying for a big last push as our campaign comes to a close, though ‒ the more we raise, the longer our season will be, and I’d really love to have a lot of episodes for Season 3.
Wendy, Edda, and Martin listen with apprehension.
Q. What you do when you’re not rocking as Edda?
Ha! I seem to wear the Edda ears and costume really, really often, so people always look surprised when I show up not in costume at a panel, or at another job.
Kaja Sadowski and Joanna Gaskell
Currently, I have a bunch of other projects on the go. I co-host a board game review show called Starlit Citadel Reviews, which has become very popular; we’re in our second season, and have over 60 episodes out. I’m doing a stage show here in Vancouver called the Critical Hit Show ‒ live D&D on stage ‒ which always gets a great audience. I’ve been working a bit with Zombie Orpheus Entertainment, the great troupe who made JourneyQuest and the Gamers movies. I’ve finished filming on their next feature (Gamers: Hands of Fate), and next up is a web mini-series called Humans and Households. And there are two sci-fi projects I’m co-producing at the moment: one of them is uber-low-budget sketch comedy show Space Cab, which I’m pretty darn excited about; and the other one… I can’t talk about yet. 🙂
Oh, then there’s my day job. I have one of those, too.
Tune in early next week for part two of my interview with Joanna! We will chat about how SA has helped her hone her craft and where you might find Edda and her crew this year!
GeekGirlCon announces the appearance of Chaka Cumberbatch at GeekGirlCon ‘13 on October 19 and 20, 2013.
On February 4, 2013, Cumberbatch authored a piece on XOJane called I’m a black female cosplayer and some people hate it responding to an uproar over her professional cosplay career. In addition to being a professional cosplayer, she is the Associate Brand Manager at FUNimation Entertainment, and a freelance journalist/blogger. Her writing has appeared on numerous sites, including TheMarySue.com and NerdCaliber.com.
Cumberbatch cosplays as various superheroes, in full character, at comic book conventions. Cumberbatch’s cosplay has become such a large focus in the media, she says she expects to never enter a job interview without also discussing her hobby. If you want to talk about back issues and current issues of comics, she is the person to see!
“GeekGirlCon is excited for Chaka Cumberbatch to attend our third annual convention. We look forward to hearing her speak on social, race, gender, and sexuality issues within the geek community and seeing her cosplay,” said Jennifer K. Stuller, Director of Programming and Events.
DeConnick’s best-known comic credit is her involvement with Marvel Comics and the evolution of Ms. Marvel, a character with beginnings in the 1970s as a feminist character named Carol Danvers, into Captain Marvel. The role of Carol Danvers has grown through many personal hardships, from identity crises to alternate reality disasters to alcoholism. DeConnick emphasizes the character’s strength in overcoming and living through these challenges, and focuses on the amazing woman who has become Captain Marvel.
“Kelly Sue DeConnick is a talented writer and a strong advocate for women in comics,” said Jennifer K. Stuller, Director of Programming and Events. “We are thrilled that she is coming to GeekGirlCon ’13!”
GeekGirlCon is seeking programming submission ideas, performers, and professionals for GeekGirlCon ’13. Are you interested in being a part of our convention this year? Please fill out one of the forms listed below!
We’d like to invite you to join GeekGirlCon for a fun Twitter chat on Monday (April 15) during the PBS premiere of Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines. Wonder Women! is a fantastic documentary that examines representations of powerful women in popular culture. GeekGirlCon is a big fan of the film. We hosted a panel with women featured in the film at GeekGirlCon ’11 and screened the finished film during the closing celebration at GeekGirlCon ’12.
Now, Wonder Women! is being brought to the masses. We’re really excited to watch the film again. Find the screening time in your area, and take a peek at the film’s trailer below.
GeekGirlCon staff will be tweeting away as we watch, and we hope you can join us! Don’t forget to follow @GeekGirlCon and use the hashtag #WonderWomen as you watch the documentary to be a part of the conversation. We’ll be watching at 10 p.m. PDT when it airs in Seattle. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the film.
Attendees at GeekGirlCon ’13 pose for a photo while exploring the Exhibitor Hall
We are ramping up our plans for GeekGirlCon! We have opened submissions for panelists and for musical performers, and now we are seeking all vendors and exhibitors! If you have been a vendor or exhibitor at previous GeekGirlCons then you know the deal. If, however, you have not been one of our fabulous vendors or exhibitors, and you make, have, and sell some sort of geek-centric product, we’d love the chance to see what you have to offer.
How do you get to be one of GeekGirlCon ‘13’s fabulous vendors and exhibitors? Here’s how:
Contact email@example.com for more info and an application. We are closing vendor and exhibitor applications on July 1, so email Kris right now.
Easy, right? We’re looking forward to hearing from you soon!
Did you know that today is International TableTop Day? Find a game to celebrate with this installment of Ask GeekGirlCon: What is your favorite tabletop game?
Betrayal at the House on the Hill
“My favorite tabletop game is Betrayal at the House on the Hill published by Avalon Games. Every time you play this game, there is a different scenario. You build the game board as you go, and every time a different set of circumstances triggers the big bad Haunt. There are dozens of endings to this game and I’ve never seen the same one twice. I remember the first time I played I was beyond intimidated because my friend had to pull out his giant binder of endings and I thought it was the rule book. Even though the game varies so much, it’s still easy to learn and easy to play. And did I mention everyone has the chance to randomly become a traitor? What’s more fun then turning on your friends half way through the game because you’ve lost your sanity and turned evil?” – Jex Ballard, Volunteer Program Manager
“We play a lot of games in our house but my favourite game to play would be Antoine Bauza’s Tokaido. Tokaido is simple, relaxing game where you and fellow players travel along from Tokyo to Edo on the famous Tokaido.
This is a simple game with point to point movement where each player chooses a traveler at random to travel one of the most magnificent roads of Japan. During your journey, you will buy souvenirs, eat amazing meals, visit temples, meet new people, and see gorgeous vistas all as you travel the East sea road.” – Kristine Hassell, Twitter Administrator
Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game
“It is so hard to choose a favorite! Right now, I would say it is Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game. I had a lot of doubts when I picked up the game, as I have played many bad games based on TV shows or movies. Battlestar Galactica is a rare board game that is not just a lot of fun, it also remains true to the show. You really feel as though you are playing a character on Battlestar Galactica. While the game is mostly cooperative, one or more players are secretly cylons or cylon sympathizers working against the human crew. There is a lot of bluffing, deception, and deduction. This makes it fun to play over and over!” – Susie Rantz, Manager of Public Relations
Your turn, folks! What’s your favorite tabletop game? Any suggestions on what to play next?