Three Years, Three Different Experiences: The Magic of Seattle’s Geek Girl Con

The ‘Little Convention That Could’ gets the best buzz as women and girls are given a safe space to share old passions and discover new ones.

Geek Girl Con 2013
photo by Ryan Roehrich

Two years ago, the first Geek Girl Con took place in a series of rooms at Seattle City Center, with overflow at the EMP Museum. This year, for the second time, the convention took over the Seattle Conference Center, at the heart of downtown, and while it’s still more intimate than many of its established cousins, in its third year, organizers should have considered renaming Geek Girl Con ‘Katniss,’ because the ‘Girl’ was on fire.

I’ve been lucky enough to attend all three years, and what continues to impress me is how much the con grows each time. In just three small years the space has probably tripled in size, the panels are packed, and there’s now a dedicated Exhibition Hall and separate Artist’s Alley. There are twice as many musical performances, from the kick-off concerts to ninja gigs in the lobby, and I can’t say enough positive things about the staff and volunteers who made the convention a fantastic success.

Sitting behind my table last year, I didn’t get to see much of the Con itself, and this year I only ended up at two panels, but both “Deconstructing the Mary Sue” with friends-of-the-blog Sarah Kuhn and Javier Grillo-Marxuach, and “Exploring Archetypes of Women in Fantasy” charged up my writing batteries. Geek Girl Con is exactly the audience for the YA novel I’m working on now, and I might not have gone to a lot of discussions, but I happened to pick two that were perfect for me.

I also attempted my very first cosplay this year (outside the Harry Potter milleu), and though no one at the con recognized me, one of the co-creators of Morning Glories was very excited to see the result on Twitter and Tumblr, so it was worth it. I spent the rest of my time at Geek Girl Con chatting with people, saying hello to those I knew and introducing myself to those I didn’t. And then I discovered the Gaming Room.

I regularly watch Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop and envy everyone who gets to play; I love tabletop games, but don’t get a chance to play them very often – particularly those with complicated rules or really nerdy subject matter. So when I discovered the con had a library and you could check out any game you wanted, I knew what I was going to do on Sunday.

I played two rounds of the recently crowdfunded Marrying Mr. Darcy (one of only four game prototypes was loaned to GGC for the weekend) – which is completely adorable, especially for Austen geeks – played a game of Zombie Dice with a couple of really nice ladies, went a few rounds with one of my favorite card games, Fluxx, had a girl from the League of Lady Planeswalkers teach me the basics of Magic the Gathering, and ended the weekend by beating my friends at a game of Ticket to Ride. I’ve started a list of games I still want to play or own. If only there was a place where I could do that every weekend…

It’s pretty difficult to say what the ‘best’ part of Geek Girl Con is, but nothing gives me a case of the warm-fuzzies quite like seeing all the mini-geeks around. Girls and boys both, the little kids are so proud of their costumes, thrilled that adults want to take their pictures. Some vamp for the cameras, others need to hold the hands of their coordinating-costumed parents. But none of them are afraid. None of them worry that they won’t have good time, or that someone will tease them. They have a chance to learn and play without anyone knocking them down. They can express curiosity and excitement, and it’s cool because all the grown-ups around are acting the same way.

I can’t help wondering how different my life might be if there’d been a place like that for me when I was in the under-10 category. A place where I didn’t have to be embarrassed about my love of reading and fictional characters. A place that could teach me that science is fun. I am just so happy that there are so many parents who bring their kids to Geek Girl Con – and don’t do it halfway.

Can’t wait to see what next year will bring.

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