I spent the shank of the day today at GeekGirlCom, which was held this weekend in the Seattle Center. The convention is run by a nonprofit whose goal is "promoting awareness of and celebrating the contribution and involvement of women in all aspects of the sciences, science fiction, comics, gaming and related Geek culture through conventions and events that emphasize both the historic and ongoing contribution and influence of women in this culture." So, while not a women-only con, it was certainly a woman-friendly con.
And a funny thing happens when you shift the perspective on traditionally or historically male-dominated events (such as geek culture cons) like this: the con winds up being everyone-friendly. The place really felt inclusive: male or female, single or coupled, with or with out kids, straight or gay, plainclothes or costumed - it seemed the world was there. I never got the feeling of there being an in-crowd and an out-group. Really, everyone was welcome; there was no sense of having to be a female person to be part of the event.
There was one thing excluded in all this inclusion: objectification of women. That's not to say there was no smexiness there: between steampunk, burlesque, and superheroes, there's ample opportunity for presentation of, shall we say, a sex-positive affect on the part of many attendees. But I never got the feeling that the women were on display: there were no "booth babes" hawking video games or whatnot, as if often the case at this sort of thing. Just a healthy sexuality on the part of some participants.
The programming was clearly designed with an emphasis on the the contributions and experiences of the XX side of the population. The presentations and panel sessions were all focused on women: women in geek jobs, women in geek arts, the stories of women from the past, the adventures of women in the present, and discussions of how to navigate these nerd worlds that still too often allow or promote bias and unfairness. If I had a daughter, I'd certainly be taking her to this every year.
Of course, I can only tell from the printed program schedule: I just went to game.
The D&D game I run and the Pathfinder game I play in have both been on somewhat of a hiatus for a few weeks, so I wanted to find a place to play a session and maybe recruit players to my own ranks. I am finding that the intersection of the sets of People Who Game and People I'd Want To Hang With Anyway is a pretty thin silver on the Venn diagram; I figured this might be a productive place to meet some folks who shared both my interests and my sensibilities. Unfortunately, the guy running Pathfinder didn't make an appearance today and the guy running D&D was doing a 4th edition encounter*, so there went that idea. I did manage to have some fun, anyway - I played a session of Talisman (sort of a board game version of D&D) and ran through a demo of Warmachine, a miniatures-based tabletop wargame.
As enjoyable as those encounters were, I did not succeed in my goal of finding players to supplement our core group, but I went home happy anyway. The good mood and community atmosphere of GeekGirlCon was infectious. And given that both days of this inaugural event sold out, I can look forward to attending next year as well.
Here are some shot of the con (highlighting its awesome Industrial Yellow official color scheme) with a totally appropriate soundtrack courtesy of Team Unicorn.
*The D&D world seems to be divided into those who welcome 4E and those who will not move past 3.5, except into the warm embrace of Pathfinder. You can probably tell where I stand.