BNP West Coast applied for our press passes and booked our plane tickets to attend this year’s Geek Girl Con months ago and we’ve been planning for it like 5-year-olds going to Disneyland. Geek Girl Con was originally inspired by a panel titled, “Geek Girls Exist” at San Diego Comic-Con — what started as a great dialogue lead to a dream to see more for female geeks and nerds in fandom. A dream that just keeps getting better. First officially opening their doors in 2011, the convention has rapidly become bigger and bigger, much to the delight of fangirls and all those who support them. GGC opened this year with featured guests from rapper Sammus to Jude Brownbill, Yun Lien, and Angelique Reisch (all women who have worked at Pixar Animation Studios and who spoke on the Women of Pixar panel on the opening day) to Natalie McGriff, 7-year old co-author of the children’s book, The Adventures of Moxie McGriff.
The convention spanned all of The Conference Center in downtown Seattle, WA and drew more than 10,000 attendees, with one-tenth of those being girls under 18. That’s an amazing testament to the interest and strength of this portion of fandom. Let us walk you through the convention, bottom to top. By the time you finish this review, you’ll be planning your trip next year: we’ve already put in for our press passes.
First Floor: DIYSciZone
One of Geek Girl Con’s goals is to support and encourage girls to get into the STEM fields. To that end, they put a huge emphasis on integrating science and education for the younger set into the event. The DIYSciZone, organized by Dr. Raycelle Burks (That’s @DrRubidium to you and me), was an open playground of biology, engineering, and other science fields. Each table was directed by a science volunteer who walked attendees through hands-on experiments and demonstrations. We got to see a lavender iridescent jumping spider with The Bug Chicks, build sails in a mini-wind tunnel, and write science haikus and make black out poetry based on the pages of old science journals.
While the zone targeted the under-20 set, it was a perfect way for adults and kids to get excited about a core part of geekdom: the science behind so many of our passions.
Second Floor: Small Panel Rooms
This is where the majority of the more than 90 panels were held, in small rooms. This included fan meet-ups for a variety of topics and panels like:
Finding your Place in the Wizarding World: Race & Identity in Harry Potter — This one was lead by our friends over at Black Girls Nerd Out.
Mahou Shojou: Magical Girls! — with real live Magical Girls in the audience.
And then we just kept going up the escalator…
Third Floor: Large Panels and GameZone
This floor held a video gaming zone with demonstrations of games from multiple companies, samples of interactive books, and a virtual reality dome.
The larger rooms were also here, with space for 250 to 500 people. There was an excellent Women of Pixar panel and the standing room only Adaptation, Influence & Appropriation: Using Other Cultures to Build Fictional Worlds, with our own amazing Carrie McClain! With 300 attendees for this one panel, we had a great discussion, with only one truly sketchy question. Which is impressive, all things considered.
On Saturday afternoon, this area hosted the Costume Contest, which was a blast, featuring everyone from beginners and kids to Master Class artists.
Fourth Floor: Exhibitors Hall
We’d be liars if we didn’t admit that we spent most of our time here. There were about 200 exhibitors including artists, authors, metal workers, fabric artists, and make-up companies. This Hall was a great place to meet our next favorite artists, along with finally coming face to face to many people we’ve been reading and supporting for some time, like Tristan J. Tarwater (Hen & Chick) and Leia Weathington (Deep Engines). We also met up with Joamette Gil, the editor behind the recently funded Power and Magic anthology. It was a great place to shop, collect art, and find one of kind gifts.
Other Note Worthy Items of Interest:
Cosplay Friendly Safe Space: In recent years, there have been folks pushing to make sure cosplayers are afforded the protection they need, for example with campaigns like “Cosplay is Not Consent.” As folks who cosplayed, we didn’t feel out of place or feel a need to report any “Cosplay creepers.” We walked around, bought from the venders, ate lunch, and did everything under the sun all the while dressed up and were fine.
A Win for The Girls: GGC is a Girl-centric, girl friendly convention and the atmosphere totally supported that. Seeing girls of all ages in attendance, proudly wearing cosplay and watching demonstrations from women involved in science in the DIYScience Zone was awe-inspiring. We saw many families attending and mother/daughter and father/daughter cosplay duos.
The Accessibility Factor: GGC also sported an environment for all attendees; an inclusive place for all. A few more noticeable items included the Wide Pathways — Found throughout for wheelchairs and strollers, which we noticed quite a few of. While we used the escalators, we did notice that there was Elevator Priority — First access is given to those who require it. Plus how many cons have an Introvert Alley — A quiet, low-light room for those who need to take a breather or Gender-Inclusive Bathrooms — For attendees who prefer less gendered bathrooms? It really was accessible for all.
GGC boasted a great weekend where we felt welcomed and we ventured through discovering new artists, meeting new friends, and ultimately finding a place that we’d like to come back to. So often the bigger cons with the bigger featured guests get more coverage and more space at the table leading the smaller cons to strive to stand out to get the folks coming. Over the course of the weekend we came, saw and conquered, all the time feeling the spirit of fandom and what women can do when they build a diverse, inclusive space — they can throw one hell of a good convention.