Wednesday, November 02, 2011

GeekGirlCon Debrief

Sometime last year, I remember getting a business card announcing something called GeekGirlCon. The icon looked very interesting, and what little I heard made it sound interesting. I started hearing more about it as it got closer, and when I realized that it was happening near us, I figured it would be worth a shot.

Since it’s a first-time convention, I was expecting it to be fairly small, and probably slightly un-organized. While it was small, I was pleasantly surprised by how well-run the whole thing was. The panels were in two different locations at the Seattle Center, with about a 10 minute walk between them. The moderators were kind enough to end the panels about 10 minutes before the scheduled end time to give both the panelists and attendees the time to get from one location to the other, which I appreciated - it meant that I didn’t feel as rushed when trying to go from one panel to the next. There were clear signs showing where things were happening, which was good, as the panels were being held in rooms in much larger buildings and would have been a bit hard to find if you didn’t know exactly where they are.

There was a dealers’ room, which was pretty small and cramped, but full of some incredible vendors. One of the really neat things was how happy all of the vendors were to be there - every sale was a moment of victory. A lot of them seemed to be either local folks or people who sold primarily online, so conventions still seemed new and exciting. The vendors were all of the people that I look for at other conventions - costumes, jewelry, books, board was a very dangerous room for my wallet. The University Bookstore had a stall and used it for author and artist signings, which led to a bit of a backup in the aisles. Little things like that are pretty easy to fix, though, so I don’t see that it would an issue next year, depending on the venue.

The panelists were amazing - there were some pretty big names mixed with some local talent. My dear friend Gwen was on a panel about audio drama (insert shameless plug here), and an incredible panel on YA included Scott Westerfeld (of Leviathan and Uglies fame) and Hope Larson, who recently finished drawing a graphic novel version of A Wrinkle in Time. There was a really interesting panel on killing cattiness in the geek community, and I realized that it’s the kind of panel that couldn’t happen at many conventions. The panelists and attendees managed to discuss cattiness without descending into cattiness themselves, which is impressive - they were able to calmly discuss issues they’d seen (and, in some cases, participated in), without calling names or getting into any fights themselves.

I think that demonstrates one of the best things about this convention - the overall atmosphere was incredibly welcoming and open. I’ve always talked about geekdom as being like a group of different languages, and most conventions focus on only one or two different languages - video games, board games, anime, that sort of thing. This convention, however, incorporated everything - there were panels about costuming, video games, writing, and a pretty decent open gaming area. The main thread that connected everything was not the language of geek we all speak, but the fact that we were women. There were plenty of guys there, too - some of them looked like they were dragged there by their girlfriends, but most looked like they were happy to be there on their own. The different kinds of geek were mingling freely, and the costumes ran the gamut from anime characters to many, many Princess Leias.

Overall, it was the most welcoming environment that I’d ever been in, and it was probably the most comfortable I’ve ever felt at a convention. I’m hoping to help out next year, and I am definitely looking forward to going again and seeing how it grows. If you’re in the Seattle area next fall, I highly recommend stopping by and watching GeekGirlCon demonstrate how a geek convention should be run.

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