One of the priorities of GeekGirlCon I am most proud of is its commitment to creating space for communities that have been traditionally left out of mainstream geek culture. In the case of GeekGirlCon’s identity-centric panels, it is actual, physical space that is being created. My favorite panel of this kind that appeared at GeekGirlCon ‘16 was called ¿Cómo Se Dice “Nerd”?and set forth to discuss the reality Latinx nerds face when engaging with geek culture.
Panelists Sylvia Monreal, Olivia Hernández, Jorge Albor, and Tristan Tarwater began the conversation by addressing, outright, how fundamentally linked mainstream geekdom is with consumerism. In other words, one’s ability to participate in geek culture is defined by their access to capital. Therefore, historically poor communities have had to innovate new and different ways of interacting with nerdy content.
The room was abuzz with anticipation. David-Bowie-loving con guests talked amongst themselves, excitedly trading ideas about what would be discussed at a panel about Bowie’s influence over the genres they love.
Then the panelists began singing “The Man Who Sold the World.” It only took a few lines before the audience joined in, turning a simple, beige conference room into a wonderland of magical notes.
As the first verse came to a close in the transformed room, the panel began. The panel moderator, Evan J. Peterson (author and teacher), introduced himself, followed by Grace Moore (podcaster), and Sara Depp (musician).
Evan explained that the panel would focus on Bowie’s influence on visual content, such as film and television, although his music would be touched upon as well.
We’ve all had that moment. You know the one where you hear a voice and stop in your tracks. Who is that? It’s on the tip of your tongue, if only you can remember… Wait… I know that voice!
GGD ‘16 was filled with incredible panels, but one of my favorites focused on some of entertainment’s most exciting women in voice over. The panelists included Ashly Burch (Borderlands 2, Life is Strange), Sarah Elmaleh (Gone Home, Call of Duty), Michele Morrow (Embers of War, Dragonstone), and Jennifer Paz (Steven Universe, Mulan). The panel was moderated by Amalia Larson.
Sarah Elmaleh & Ashly Burch, who immediately ignited this gamer’s heart as the voices of Katie from Gone Home (Sarah) and Tiny Tina fromBorderlands (Ashly), graced us with a casual Q&A about their journey to the geek life GeekGirlCon 2016.
It was immediately obvious that the two are close, the friendly chemistry on stage could light up the room. You weren’t just watching a Q&A, it was a conversation between friends. No different than meeting someone for coffee to talk about their career and get some adivce, we got a little glimpse into how these two successful women grew as actors, writers, and dreamers.
If there was one panel I was looking forward to the most at GGC ‘16, it was The Women of Nerdcore. Featuring artists SAMMUS and Shubzilla, this panel focused on the interplay between music and geek culture and the female identity in traditionally male dominated fields.
My first panel of GGC ‘16 was with the super smart young women of Holy Names high school’s FIRST Robotics team.
What is FIRST Robotics? FIRST Robotics is a mentor-based program for youth engagement in science and technology. They offer programs for all age groups with a focus on STEM concepts.
The FIRST Robotics Competition is a high school-only where teams of students develop, build, and program their own robot. Students must follow strict rules, are given limited resources, and have only six weeks to complete their project.
Once completed, teams compete in a difficult field game where their industrial-sized robots are put to the test.
Early last September, the GeekGirlCon copy team huddled together to discuss and assign some of the most important jobs at the con (well, to us). With a nearly finalized schedule in hand, we gathered around to pick with panels we would each be covering to write up, as I am now, to help invoke all of those con feels we all felt in October.
When I first learned about The Women of Pixar panel, I knew that I needed to cover it. Before realizing my personal calling to become a writer, I started my college career at Ringling College of Art & Design in their Computer Animation program. Although I ultimately decided to switch fields and focus solely on storytelling through writing, my love of animation (especially Pixar) is strong and true. Although I was never introduced myself, some of the contributors on the panel worked closely with a handful of my friends and former mentors, so I was already familiar with some of their work and stellar reputations. It may have been because I looked mildly crazed as I requested it, but I was unchallenged when I asked to cover the panel.
I set up camp right in front of the main stage, as I was assigned to the first three panels that were being hosted there: Inclusion & Evolution of Female Role in Modern Animation, the Q&A with Ashly Burch and Sarah Elmaleh, and finally, The Women of Pixar. By the time the first of those panels had come and gone, the convention floor was just starting to buzz with activity. More people filed in for the Q&A, but then it happened. Like there was a mass consensus, what seemed like hundreds of attendees swarmed the hall the minute the Pixar logo was flashed across the two large screens that flanked the stage. So many people, in fact, that it immediately turned to standing room only. Guests young and old, readied with notepads and cameras, collectively gushed about their favorite animated films in anticipation of the panel. Current and prospective animation students, curious passersby, and fans alike gathered together in what I thought to be one of the liveliest crowds at the ‘16 con thus far.
There was plenty to do at GeekGirlCon ‘16–browse the expanded exhibitor’s hall, attend the numerous amazing panels, and socialize at meet-ups. But my favorite activity on each day was Crafting with Feminism, aka meeting up with a few dozen other attendees and Bonnie Burton to create superheroine wrist cuffs and tampon buddies.
Oftentimes when we think of geeky topics, things like video games and comics come to mind. However, one of the panels set up at GeekGirlCon ’15 by GeekGirlConnections featured a mixture of women from various Washington state scholarship, seeking to answer the question, “What does it take, as a woman, to have a career in STEM?”
The panel consisted of six women working in various areas of science and technology. Erika Harnett has a Ph.D. in physics, and works in computer simulations. Erika Wagner wrote a Ph.D. how to keep humans healthy on the way to Mars, but she also added that “but now I sell rockets”. Beth Linz is a graduate of Central Washington University with a background in computer science, and now works as software engineer. Jamie Waldock holds a MA in aerospace engineering, and is a test engineer at Aerojet Rocketdyne (working on propulsion). Irina Menn is the founder and CEO of Hopela, a mobile app to connect local orgs and millennials for donation; she holds degrees in science and computer science. Finally, Christine Washburn is a professor of physics from Everett Community College.
I live for panels where I can walk away with a mile-long list of recommendations, and GeekGirlCon 15’s panel “Nah, Babe, It’s Just the Wind: Validating Women’s Fears in Horror” was one of the best of those I’ve been to in a while.