On August 11th and 12th, Seattle was the home of the 2nd annual Geek Girl Con. Last year the Geek Girl was held at Seattle Center and other parts of the city and this year everything was together at the Washington Convention Center. It was the perfect location as there was 4 floors of geekdom!
The lower level had gaming!! I spent most of my time there (naturally!). EA (Electronic Arts) had Mass Effect 3 and Battlefield 3 set up to play; PopCap had Bejeweled Blitz, Plants vs. Zombies, and Peggle. In addition, there was a few rooms set up for table top gaming.
While volunteering in the EA console gaming room, I met with Ginger Maseda and her co-worker, Christina. Ginger expressed how important it is for girls to be comfortable with who they are in the gaming world. It is her job to find ways to connect girls (and other minorities) into the game world. Ginger doesn’t believe that girls should standing out from gaming, rather she wants to see how girls fit.
On the main, 2nd and 3rd floors, there were a lot of panels highlighting girls in different aspects of geek culture, a wonderful Big Fish Games booth, and exhibitors selling their epic geek goodies! There were comics, corsets, toys, clothes, and hundreds of unique trinkets (including lego jewelry and journals made with old boardgames). The information booth had loads of free goodies, plus there was various geeky workshop stations where you could do science experiments, mask making, mini painting, and more.
The idea of a Geek Girl Convention had people asking a lot of questions. What is a “Geek”? Why is there a convention that highlights girls in geek culture? Are girls really different than boys in the geek culture? …and most commonly asked was, “are boys allowed to attend?”
Emily Fiegenschuh was at Geek Girl Con for the first time promoting her comics and artwork. She was commenting on how busy and fantastic the convention is! Emily had the most amazing drawings of faeries, dragons, and other fantasy creatures.
While at Geek Girl Con, I found out that a “Geek” has many different qualities and interests. Geek Girl Con had a melting pot of girls from various geek sub-cultures. There were girls who played games, designed code for games, checked code for games, created the art for games, designed music for games, marketed games, connected gamers, and tested games.
Not only were there fantastic girl gamers at Geek Girl Con, there was a combination of girls that were passionate about science, math, physics, art, engineering, science fiction, fantasy, cosplay, and music.
Firedragon and myself were fortunate enough to attend GGC12 as Press (for Epic Gamer Girl) and as a Volunteer. This was a unique experience as I was able to see what it’s like to set up an epic convention and participate in it’s success. Volunteers are vital to an event as they are passionate about it and want to share the excitement. I believe that it’s important to help out when you’re passionate about something. I love the idea of girls getting together and appreciating each other for their unique geekness!
…and yes, boys could attend! There were a lot of boys there. The convention highlighted girls in geek culture and appreciated how they fit within the geek culture. Boys are a huge part of the culture so naturally they would want to support girls in geek culture.
The one thing I wanted to see was “gaming for the common good”. After speaking with Bronwen Grimes (Valve – Left 4 Dead Technical Artist), Dustin Knievel (Popcap Games), and Ginger (EA), I realized that big game companies have charitable programs they support. For example, the focus in Seattle for Bronwen was a new program called “Teach with Portals“; and “Child’s Play” which helps children in hospitals participate in gaming. Dustin shared how PopCap Games has a volunteer program where employees do good things in the community. The last project was fixing up a Seattle hospital by cleaning, painting and gardening. Ginger is working on donating EA goodies to charities and non-profit organizations that promote-inclusion of all gamers.
I was curious to see how these gaming folks incorporated their personal passion for games into smaller scale social services. Personally, I would like to see gaming used as a medium to connect with children and youth in crisis (which is my other passion). For example, safe houses for children and youth.
I found it interesting that women who create games tend not to play games. I was attending a “Women in Gaming” panel and Kathie Flood (Cascade Gaming Foundry) said that “when you work on games, you have a different attitude towards them. You know the industry so you approach it from an academic standpoint”. Although, there are some girls that create games that spend a lot of time playing them for fun. Bronwen stated that she “played over 1000 hours of Portal 2”. She work on the team that created Portal 2 and she really enjoyed playing it.
Geek Girl offered a special experience to people from all different backgrounds of geek. It was a family event where children were able to explore games, crafts, and science; and it was an R-Rated event with a sexy burlesque performance. Next year will be bigger and better so I can’t wait to see what Geek Girl has in store for us!
It’s so important to appreciate and admire people who are different and enjoy geeky things in a different way. They are there to feel comfortable with who they are and meet with other geeky girls & the boys that support them!
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