Imagine a fan convention where nobody questions your geek cred. Where gals might just outnumber the guys, but where that doesn’t matter anyway. Where you can swap opinions about the new Dr. Who, rock your Catwoman suit or hand-knitted Jayne hat and meet “Star Trek” stars in an environment of openness, inclusivity and respect.
GeekGirlCon 2013 offers a full weekend of fun for adults and kids on Oct. 19-20 at The Conference Center at the Washington State Convention Center (8th Ave. at Pike St.). Adult day passes cost $30, two-day passes $45, while entry for kids ages 5-10 costs $5, and kids 4 and younger get in free. Now in its third year, this up-and-coming volunteer-run fan convention brings together geeks regardless of sex, race, age, preference between Star Trek or Star Wars and ability to speak Elvish, to share their passions in a safe and accepting space—and possibly to shape the future of geek culture, too.
Over the weekend, thousands are expected to attend the Con, which features almost a hundred artists, writers, exhibitors and special guests, as well as a DIY Science Zone, console gaming sponsored by EA and PopCap, tabletop gaming, live action role playing and a full slate of programming that covers topics from steampunk knitting to building inclusiveness in the gaming community.
Guests include Denise Crosby, who played the tough-as-nails chief of security Tasha Yar on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and Karen Prell, “Fraggle Rock” puppeteer and current game animator, who will talk about working with Jim Henson and give a special performance with Red Fraggle. Chaka Cumberbatch will address issues of race, gender and sexuality that she has encountered as a professional cosplayer (who happens to be black).
GeekGirlCon also welcomes back some popular guests from previous years. Writer/producer Jane Espenson (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Battlestar Galactica”), will talk about her award-winning web series “Husbands,” while Mike Madrid, author of “Divas, Dames & Daredevils,” will reintroduce the forgotten superheroines of World War II-era comics, contemporaries of the early Wonder Woman and her match for strength and adventurousness.
Comic writers Jen Van Meter (“Hopeless Savages”) and Greg Rucka (“Wonder Woman,” “Whiteout: Melt”) return for their third year at GeekGirlCon, joining Kelly Sue DeConnick (“Captain Marvel”), Mark Waid (“Kingdom Come”) and Christina Blanch to discuss Blanch’s ground-breaking SuperMOOC “Gender Through Comic Books” (that’s a Super Massive Open Online Course, if you didn’t know), offered last spring through the iLearn department at Ball State in Indiana.
Part and parcel of changing geek culture is creating it. Thus, GeekGirlCon offers plenty of opportunities for professional development, from panels on crowdfunding, freelancing and launching a business, to the GeekGirlConnections Room, featuring representatives from top companies such as Amazon and Moz, schools such as DigiPen Institute of Technology and organizations such as media arts and leadership nonprofit Reel Grrls. Aspiring game developers can meet Microsoft Studios’ Project Spark team or hear Corrinne Yu, principal engine programmer for “Halo,” discuss the pervasive gender issues in the gaming industry.
The prominence of women in geek culture, whether as fans, characters or creators, is quickly reaching a tipping point where the market power of non-white-males is recognized. Where decision-making power in comics and media falls to more minorities. Where a “Wonder Woman” movie might actually happen. This past year saw actresses speaking out forcefully about sexism on the set at the “Women Who Kick Ass” panel at Comic-Con 2013. It saw academic studies exposing gender-based harassment in multiplayer gaming. Yet, it also saw the addition of the Mako Mori Test to supplement the Bechdel/Wallace Test as a measure for acceptably awesome female characters in film. It saw wickedly humorous challenges to behaviors that “other” women, such as this satirical exposé on fake geek boys at Comic-Con or the infamous Bro-sie the Riveter prank at Meteor Entertainment.
A revolution is brewing in geek culture—not one that’s meant to chase out the old geeks, but one that’s meant to bring all the geeks in. GeekGirlCon is one of the places where fans catch a glimpse of this inclusive future.
One sign that a fan convention really captures the spirit of fandom is the enthusiasm of its special guests. GeekGirlCon culminates in a closing celebration featuring nerdy songstress sisters, The Doubleclicks, who will be performing their geek girl anthem, “Nothing to Prove.” Angela Webber, one half of the duo, explains, “We love this convention. It is really fun and positive, and we think it gives kids a wonderful introduction to the best parts of geek culture. It's one of our favorite cons, and we're really looking forward to another year!”
For more information, visit www.geekgirlcon.com.