Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Book Review--Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight

Last year, I acquired a taste for noir fiction after reading The Maltese Falcon, The Tough Guys and Femme Noir--The Dark City Diaries.  Then everal months ago, I stumbled across Michael Reaves' Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight at a book store and was intrigued enough to buy it.  I finally took it down from my bookshelf and read it.

This tale takes place shortly after Palpatine's coup and the Great Jedi Purge.  One of the survivors, Jax Pavan, has been eking out a living among the denizens of Coruscant's underworld.  That is, until a dying wish from his former Jedi Master sends him on an urban quest to aid the budding rebellion against the new Galactic Empire.

The story involves a MacGuffin that Rebellion leaders and various crime bosses are scrambling to find.  Meanwhile, apparently above it all, Darth Vader has taken an interest in finding Jax Pavan.

I enjoyed reading the book, the first in a trilogy, but give it a solid 3-stars, instead of the average 4-star rating on  Out of the 49 reviews so far, 37 readers gave Jedi Twilight either four, or five star ratings. 

The less-than-four-star raters complained about continuity glitches, a boring plot, wordiness in the narrative and stilted dialogue.  I didn't notice any of these specific problems--maybe because I do all my leisure reading while on a cardio machine, so I'm always appreciative of the diversion.

Seriously though, I thought Jedi Twilight was a noble endeavor to create a "Star Wars noir," but it fell short in evoking a noir mood.  I don't think this is entirely the author's fault.  Michael Reaves attempted to meld a noir story into the most famous space opera in science fiction.  And despite the detailed descriptions of Imperial Capital's crumbling foundation, the space opera mood prevailed.

Jedi Twilight also reminded me of what I like and dislike about reading a novel series based on movies and/or TV shows.  (I read a lot of Star Trek novels during my tween and teen years, but then only a handful of Star Wars books). 

There are a couple things I like about stories set in pre-established worlds.

First, we're introduced to new characters beyond what we see on the big or small screen. 

And second, there's a lot less exposition in a familiar series.  That is, the author doesn't have to explain what a Wookie, stormtrooper, Klingon, Romulan, or whatever are.  On the flip side though, the target audience for such books are the fans, or at least folks who are familiar with the original movies/TV shows.  Anyone unfamiliar with the setting could feel lost faster than the Millennium Falcon could make the Kessel Run.

Which brings me to what I don't care about expanded universe stories.

First, there's redundant references to the original show.  I swear every Star Wars book I read involving Han Solo and Princess Leia, they'd allude to their I love you/I know moment in every story.  It was an awkward scene to begin with in an otherwise great movie.  Some of us would like to issue a cease and desist order against beating dead tauntauns.

Even if the story isn't centered around one of the main characters in the original works, there seems to be a requirement that one of them has to be involved, even if only in a Six Degrees of Separation sort of way. In Jedi Twilight, Darth Vader's hunt for Jax Pavan is what keeps the tale firmly within the space opera realm.

I admit, these are my personal biases.  Other readers may feel differently. 

But biases aside, I enjoyed Jedi Twilight enough that I may consider picking up the sequels Street of Shadows and Patterns of Force

(Image from:  Wookiepedia)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

GeekGirlCon 2014 Panel Discussion #4: Ethics in Comics

(Image:  GGC Logo)
We now come to the last panel discussion I attended at this year's GeekGirlCon (GGC).  
Ethics in Comics was hosted by:
While the term ethics is often described as "moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior," Reece referred to ethics as "the space between people."
That the differences between individuals will get in the way of respect.
(Image:  Reece, Rebeca, Tanya and Walter)
Comics are escapist entertainment, but there are few stories of heroines for little girls.

Which leads to what the panelists refer to as the Twelve Questions of Ethics, the first one being the concept of "skin."

The skinny on skin was led by Rebeca--

--Women's clothing looks like it's painted on.
--A female superhero's powers are related to her femininity.  Power Girl and Wonder Woman are prime examples of this...

(Image by James Denton)
(Image by Dan Oliveira)
--Women are drawn in poses that highlight the contours of their body, even when in combat.
--The orientation of a woman's image is based on the "male gaze." 
In case you're wondering, here's a reminder of a proper gaze when encountering women cosplayers at conventions, like GGC:
(Image by Alexas Rosa)
Now let's turn our gaze back to the Twelve Questions of Ethics, moving on to #2, the market. 

Walter, led the discussion on this--

--Most authentic are is like lightning, that is, it's fleeting and people try to tap into it.
--People will consume products, even art for the namesake, or brand loyalty.
--The market panders to an audience.
--However, artists can't make a living as artists without the market.
--Therefore, one must find a balance between creating art that's authentic, and art that's marketable.

Then the discussion veered off a bit into some tangential, but relevant subjects.  While we didn't get to the other 10 Questions of Ethics, here are snippets, which I'm sure relate to them--

--We tell stories to tell us who we are.
--Readers become invested in stories because they see a little of themselves in it.
--Pandering makes an audience feel betrayed.
--Try to find more than a single story for a character, otherwise you could be stereotyping.
--Art gets through people's psychological and emotional defenses.
--Art becomes a legacy that pushes the boundary of established perimeters.
--Art can assign values to life.
--You can't talk about an issue unless you acknowledge, or display the issue.
--When people become a symbol for a cause, then they stop being a person, even when they're a fictional character.  (Apparently, Batwoman caused a stir for being a lesbian who proposed marriage to her partner, only to have DC Comics put the kibosh on the wedding).

There was only time for a couple of questions at the end.

The first woman asked how the panelists could talk about race relations, when they're all Caucasian.  She was also irked that one of the panelists made a joke which she thought was sexist.  (I couldn't remember the joke/comment).

The panelist apologized and said the topic of ethics is something that is in a constant state of trying to improve itself.

Reece had a good response, in that as artists there will be people who will love your work, while there will be others who will hate it.  The question is:  What ethical choices will you make on what you create and can you live with those choices?

The second woman was also irked and asked:  But what if a woman artist wants to portray heroines in a sexy, alluring manner?  Not to mention the women cosplayers who dress this way.  She felt women "couldn't win" the Ethics Wars.

Before the panel could come up with an answer we ran out of time.

As you can see, we didn't solve any issues, such as racism or sexism in comics, within 50 minutes.  We probably couldn't if we were given 50 years.  But most the panelist have hosted ethical discussions in the past and plan on continuing their work.

This ends my GGC coverage.  I hope to make next year's con.  See you then!

Friday, October 24, 2014

GeekGirlCon 2014 Panel Discussion #3: If You Can Write, You Can Make Games

(GGC Logo)
Text adventures, or interacive fiction "...are one of the oldest types of computer games..." that are still being played. 
Jacqueline Ashwell's one-woman panel discussion during GeekGirlCon demonstrated that (and borrowing from her title) "if you can write, you can make games."
(Image:  Jacqueline Ashwell)
This is thanks, in a large part, to programming languages becoming more accessible.

Are you going to concoct an AAA+ game single-handedly?

No, because the "Gold Standard" studios have multiple teams writing code for their games.

But you can write a computer/text version of Choose Your Own Adventure.  You can find thousands of such games on Interactive Fiction Database

One of the simplest programs is Twine.  Since we only had 50 minutes, Jacqueline presented a short Twine game she created for her GGC, Walk in the Park. 

For more detailed instructions on creating a Twine game, see Auntie Pixelante

Other "Twine-like" code languages are available, such as:  Inkle, Choice Script and Lindum.  Then there's languages like:  Adrift, Quest, Hugo and JADS.

While these games are narrative in nature, as you become more skilled, you can incorporate images and music.  However, with Twine at least, players can't save their games.

If you're wondering who will play your game, that depends on how thoroughly its been beta tested.


--Plan more time than you originally thought you'd need to develop the game.
--Try to cover all the choices a player could make.
--Get friends to check it out.

Some additional resources available that can help get you started or improve your game:

Jacqueline Ashwell's website

The Interactive Fiction Forum

You can even enter your game in any of these contests:


The Interactive Fiction Competition

Spring Thing

The XYZZY Awards

and Shuffle Comp

Good luck!

(Image by Robinson Wheeler)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

GeekGirlCon 2014 Panel Discussion #2: How to Be A Nerd for a Living

(GGC Logo)

My last GeekGirlCon blogpost dealt with getting a job with a gaming studio.  The second panel discussion, How to Be a "Nerd for a Living," was an interview with the five panelists on how they succeeded in the nerdy careers.

The panelists who made their nerdy dreams come true were:

Heidi Gaertner, Technology Director at Big Fish Games.
Jamie Cordero, CEO and "Glitter Jedi" at Espionage Cosmetics.
Jina Heaverly, Vice President and General Manager of PC, Mac and Cloud for Big Fish Games. 
Rebecca Hicks, Creator and Illustrator for the webcomic Little Vampires.
Susan Eisenberg, voice-over actress, best known as Wonder Woman.
Wendy Buske, Panel Moderator, Co-Founder and Marketing Director for Nerd For A Living.

(Image from left to right:  Heidi, Rebecca, Jamie, Jina and Susan, with Wendy at the podium)
Since there was only 50 minutes to discuss the panelists' career paths, the session focused on two main questions. 

How did you get started (in your nerd career)? 

I studied acting, but felt better in front of a microphone than a camera.
I graduated with a finance degree, but didn't want to be an accountant.
I went to school as a professional make-up artist.
I loved comics and literature, then became a fan of comic strips and webcomics.  I self published a comic book in 2006.
I studied architecture in college, but diverted to engineering.  I've been in the gaming industry since 1996.

Some notable quotes from this question:

"No experience is wasted"--Rebecca.
"I got fired from every crappy retail job I had"--Jaimie.
"Retail is worse than fetching coffee for people"--Jamie.
"If your job is close to what you want to do in Life, you're probably in a good spot"--Heidi.

How do you get a nerd-type job?
Take classes in the subjects you are interested in.
There are voice-over jobs available in every city.  Get a demo tape and an agent.
The Customer Service Department is a good foot-in-the-door position.
Shadow someone.  There's a high up-front cost to being a make-up artist--$10,000 for your kit.
The barrier for entry into webcomics is very low.  

Notable quote

"Follow your heart, but take your brain with you"--Jaimie

Notable Recommendation

Personal Notes and Observations

Sometime after the panel discussion I found Rebecca's booth and sought her advice on webcomics.  
I'm concerned that my main webcomic, Breakout from Bongolaan, is becoming unwieldy using Blogspot's template--if it isn't already.  Rebecca and her husband recommended a Word Press plug-in by Phil Hester called Comic Press, which I think means this product.

Anyway, I plan on doing a bit more research before I change Breakout from Bongolaan's format.  But my chat with Rebecca Hicks made the trip to GeekGirlCon totally worth my while.

By the way, I didn't get a good picture of Susan Eisenberg, because a cosplayer's Galactus helmet was in the way.

So here's another photo of the panel with a bit of fanboy fawning thrown in:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

GeekGirlCon 2014 Panel Discussion #1: Hiring in Gaming

(GGC Logo)

Do you want to work for a computer gaming company?  

The first panel discussion I attended at GeekGirlCon, Hiring in Gaming, touched on the best ways to approach a studio for a job.

The panel was hosted by the following young ladies:

Regina Buenaorba
Susan Elizabeth Thayer
Ylan Salsbury
Amy Liu

All of them worked for ArenaNet, in various capacities (that I forgot to write down).  

(Panelists from left to right:  Regina, Susan, Ylan and Amy)
Gaming studios are looking for folks with the followings skills:  Graphic art, computer programming and program manager.  This isn't an exhaustive list, but it's the "usual suspects" of potential employees.

In order to have a shot at being selected, here are several steps to improve your chances of getting hired.

First:  Have a Solid Game Plan

List the Top Ten studios you want to work for.
Conduct research on these studios.
Start networking with studio employees.
Ask for mentorship.
Focus on being an expert on one thing.  (You can work on being a generalist when you're hired). 
Don't let the job description discourage you, or any lack of formal formal education for that matter.

As Susan Thayer pointed out:  After all, it's entertainment that we're making.

Second:  Write a Cover Letter

Must be only one page long.
Don't cross the line into "Fanboy/Fangirl Territory."  (That is, don't gush on how much you love the studio's games, etc.).

Note:  The cover letter is actually the second item employers read.  The first is--the resume.

Speaking of which...

Third:  Write a Resume

Can be more than one page long, but no more than three to four pages.
Tweak the resume for the position you're applying to.
Make it clean and not too busy.
Have friends and colleagues review your resume five times.
Don't shotgun your resume to every position in the studio.

Most important of all:  DO. NOT. LIE.

Fourth:  Conduct Networking

Make use of social media:  Linked In and Facebook, etc.
Get to know folks in the real world:  Attend game conventions, meet with gaming groups, etc.
Ask for help.  (It's in people's nature to assist others).
Don't be a fanboy/fangirl!
Bring your business cards to events--but not your full resume.

Fifth:  Establish and Maintain a Portfolio

This can be samples of your programming code samples an/or artwork.
Make sure it's your best work.
Ask if your material relates to the studio.  
Be sure the portfolio highlights your best work.

Note:  Do not break any non-disclosure agreements from your old employer.

Sixth:  Remember the Interview Basics

Prior to the interview--

Practice with friends.
Come prepared.
Know the people you who are conducting the interview.
Arrive at the studio parking lot 30 minutes early and enter the studio 15 minutes prior to your interview. 
Bring copies of your resume and something to write with and write on.
Come with the right mindset.
Have questions ready.
Ask about the dress code.  While every day is Casual Friday at game companies, don't overdo, or under-do the dress code.

During the Interview--

Take time answering questions.
If you don't understand the question, let your interviewers know.  
Show some enthusiasm/passion, but keep it below fanboy/fangirl level.
Use this time to determine if this team is right for you.
Ask the interviewers about their backgrouds.
Write down the names of the interviewers--they could change at the last minute.

Keep in mind the studio is looking for someone who will make the place better.
Red flag items, usually in the form of odd behavior, will most likely torpedo your chances of getting hired.

Seventh:  Remember to Follow Up/Post Interview Procedure

Write a thank you e-mail.
Be specific about your experience.
Connect with the interviewers via Linked In.
If you haven't been notified of your status right away, give the studio recruiter(s) 48 hours before you contact them.
It's okay to turn down the job if it doesn't feel right, or pays below the cost of living.
It's even okay to ask:  Can I think about it?
Be sure to have a financial safety net while job hunting.

My Personal Thoughts and Observations

I'm not planning on leaving my current job with Washington State Emergency Management any time soon.  However, one never knows what curve ball volleys Life will fire at you.  Plus I was interested to see how working for a gaming studio differs from a "normal" company. I found this panel discussion interesting and informative. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Upcoming Writers Conference

I'm taking a quick break from my GeekGirlCon posts for this short public service announcement.

Northwest Bookfest 2014 is just under two weeks away.

I attended this last year and thought it was a great little conference.  The price is also very reasonable compared to the larger conferences.

So if you're budget is tight and ginormous crowds make you feel uncomfortable, Northwest Bookfest might just be for you.  Or, if you've never attended a writers conference this is a good way to dip your toe in the water.

Tickets are going fast!  (And no I'm not going to say "operators are standing by").

Saturday, October 18, 2014

GeekGirlCon 2014: Shopping Spree

(GGC Logo)

When I attended the very first GeekGirlCon (GGC), back in 2011, I was so busy attending panel discussion, minus having lunch with one of the panelists, I didn't get a chance to peruse any of the artist/vendor booths. 

This year, I made sure I allowed myself time to do some shopping.  

The first item on my list is my GGC 2-day pass: 

By the time I got around to registering on-line, all the single day passes were sold out.  Even though I had to work on Sunday, I still wanted to attend, so I bought a 2-day pass.  I figure the CCG staff could use the additional funds and they won't have to put up with an annoying attendee on Sunday.

The first item I bought was a lanyard from the Seattle Browncoats Charities.

I need a security badge at work and I figured I'm due for a new lanyard.  

By spending a couple extra buck I qualified for the BDH (Big Damn Hero) model.  

Every time I passed the Gem Games  booth, this diorama caught my eye:

The miniature is of Admiral Ackbar, so my fellow Star Wars fans should get the joke.  I figured this would look good somewhere on my desk.

One item that's been missing from my Studio is a wall clock.  My PC is turned off as much as it's on and when I'm home, I usually take my watch off.  During such moments, I have to go to another room to find out what time it is.

So when I came across this at the Fantasium Comic booth...

...I had to have it.

Desire for it must have been obvious.  When one of young ladies attending the booth spotted me she said:
You want that clock don't you?

I told her I did, but I asked her to hold it for me, because I was on my way to the last panel discussion I planned on attending.

After the seminar ended, I went back to the booth, bought the clock and left GGC 2014.

I did buy several additional items, but they're gifts and I don't want to spoil the surprise by exposing them in public.

Friday, October 17, 2014

GeekGirlCon 2014: Cosplay Capers

(Image:  GGC Logo)
Costume play, or cosplay as it's commonly called, is a hallmark of sci-fi/fantasy/comic conventions everywhere.  The presence of cosplayers in a crowd is an indicator that you're in the right place--or the wrong one--if you you're trying to avoid such zaniness.

I didn't dress up for this one-day adventure.  Instead I wore business casual attire, which I regretted as soon as I entered the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC).  I get overheated very easily, so I usually wear shorts, unless I'm at work, or the temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately for me--and everyone around me--internal thermostat didn't reach the soak-my-clothes level. 

Anyway, segwaying from physiology to cosplay:  For GeekGirlCon (GGC) 2014, the "cosplayer" that was the biggest sensation this year, wasn't even human:

("Exterminate!  Exterminate!")

Okay, the Seattle woman who built this roving Dalek was certainly flesh& blood...

...but everyone was impressed with her automated creation.  

Although some of us wondered:  Where did she store it?  How does she transport it? 

The Keeper of the Dalek wasn't saying...

Science Fiction Cosplayers

While we're on the subject of Dr. Who, I ran into the Daleks' nemesis:

Even a non-Whovian like me recognized this gentleman as The Second Doctor.

After attending three back-to-back panel discussions I set out on a quest for lunch, which I whined about at length in my previous GGC post. 

While standing in line, I met these two women...

...and their Facehugger "pet."  They told me just about everyone likes to have their pictures taken with the plushy wrapped around their face. 

After lunch, and avoiding a face-hugging photo op, I ventured out to The Final Frontier. 

This young lady managed to survive the last away mission, probably because she's not wearing a red shirt:

I said her uniform seems more durable than standard Starfleet issue...

(Image from the episode Shore Leave)

...not to mention more practical: 
(Yeoman Janice Rand)
Speaking of redshirts and Janice Rand:  Check out The Red Shirt Diaries, a new webseries spoof on various episodes of Star Trek--Original Series.

Okay, now back to GGC...

Super Hero Cosplayers

Members of the Justice League, the Avengers, the X-Men and other super groups were out in force.

I ran into two Captain Americas:  The first, a young lady with a homespun knit helmet...

...while the second was this man with a World War II GI (as in "General Issue") look.

Which brings me to the subject of crossplay.  I saw lots of women dressed as male characters.  This is a fairly common during a convention like this.  Less common are the guys dressed as females.  Of the male-to-female crossplayers, I encountered one, possibly two.  I wasn't sure about the second one because I was unfamiliar with the costume and only crossed paths in one fleeting moment without getting a chance to talk to the individual. 

I didn't get either of their photos, along with scores of other cos & crossplayers. The heaviest concentration of cosplayers was among the vendor booths, but it was impossible for me to snap pictures on-the-fly, amongst such hustle & bustle. 

Although I did manage to photograph Black Cat, probably plotting her next heist:

And speaking of security, I caught Lady Sif off duty: 

I recognized her as one of the exhibitors in Artist Alley and couldn't help teasing her about how she "stood guard" at her booth.  

Her reply:  "Oh. I was wondering why we weren't getting very many customers." 

Fantasy Cosplayers:

After leaving Lady Sif, I happened to find Jeannie already out of her bottle, which I didn't qualify for getting three wishes.

And speaking of magic:  Disney movies are known for their princesses and villainesses.  However, my favorite Disney villain happens to be...

...Jafar.  I liked how the character could transition smoothly from slippery sycophant to total psycho in a matter of seconds.  

But getting back to the princesses, I crossed paths with the Snow Queen...

...several times.  Wide-eyed girls were constantly flocking to her while their parents snapped photos.  I managed to catch Elsa right after one such girl got her photo-of-a-lifetime. 

Some folks even created their own characters, rather than mimic anyone else... this elf queen, for instance.  Her majesty told me she's also a regular at Renaissance Fairs 

(Or is it "Faires?")

Anyway, in addition to clothing, cosplayers are often in need of weapons, armor and other items to complete their costumes.  Most of these props are made of craft foam, and/or various, non-lethal, styrene-based material.

But if you want the tough stuff, check out...

...Sinister Metal Works.  From what the master armorer told me, if the suit is fitted right, it's comfortable and very flexible to wear.  He even demonstrated this by doing all sorts of bends & stretches.  We then had a short discussion on how Hollywood gets history wrong.

Cosplay Pairs

Like anything else, cosplay is more fun if you can team-up with a friend that shares the same passion as you do.

I wasn't the only ones photographing these two Braveheart lasses:

I saw a news snippet of them on Northwest Cable News (NWCN), unfortunately, the video's not uploaded to their website at this time. 

Star Wars is a popular theme for cosplay.  This Twi'lek jedi and clone trooper seem to be getting along...

...unlike this pair:

But at least they're not "mixing metaphors" like these two...

...or these guys:

My "Oh Myy" Moments 

Even I don't own in a Starfleet uniform (yet), I can do a pretty good impersonation of George Takei's catchphrase:  Oh myy! 

During conventions like GGC something's bound to happen that will make you say, or at least think--oh myy!

My "Oh Myy Moment" occurred in the Men's Room, of all places.  As I entered, I noticed a well-dressed individual standing by one of the sinks.

As I approached the sink, this person turned to me and in a pleasantly distinct feminine voice asked: 

Am I in the Men's Room?

I was too stunned to do my George Takei impersonation, because momentary panic set in--I thought I walked into the Ladies' Room.  After double-checking the sign at the entrance I told her the bad news that she was, indeed in the Men's Room.

She apologized, explaining she ducked into the first open door she found in order to fix her tie.  At this point I noticed the tie-tying diagrams she had on the sink counter.  I was impressed that instead of fleeing in embarrassment, she remained bound and determined to stay put and fix her tie.

Meanwhile--what was I doing? 

I'll explain via our dialogue--which went something like this:

Me:  Well miss, I'd love to help you.  Unfortunately, I don't even know how to tie a tie.  In fact, my daughter had to tie my tie for my wedding last year.  Is that a costume, or are you just dressing up?

Her:  Are you familiar with Torchwood?

Me:  Um...not really.  I've heard of it, but never watched it.  (My geek cred is rather anemic in some areas).

Her:  Well, it's a spin-off of Dr. Who, and I'm playing the character Ianto Jones.  My friend is playing Jack Harkness.  They're buddies.

Me:  Cool.  Well, you look very nice.  

Ianto:  (Still trying to tie her tie) Thank you.

Me: (Leaving) Good luck with your tie and I'm sorry I wasn't able to help you with your tie.

While GeekGirlCon is all about empowered and empowering women, even the mightiest heroine has her damsel in distress moment.  And naturally, my chance to render assistance got sucked out the airlock.  Hopefully by next year's GGC, I'll have learned to tie a tie.

Later, I ran the Ianto Jones and Jack Harkness crossplayers--this time outside the Men's Room.  

(Captain Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones)
Ianto was happy she successfully tied her tie and introduced me to her friend.  I thought I was interrupting their lunch, because Ianto was holding a try of coffee cups.  So I took a quick picture, complimented both ladies on their costume and hastily made my way to the last panel discussion I wanted to attend.

What I discovered upon trolling Wikipedia and the Geek Girl Con website extensive research, the tray of coffee cups is actually part of this duet's cosplay (see Flicr Images 6216, 6219 and 6220)

Torchwood fans undoubtedly know more about the role coffee plays between Ianto and Jack than I do.

Oddly enough, this wasn't the only cosplayer bathroom encounter that occurred.

On my second visit to the Men's Room, I ran into a guy with a spot-on Iron Man costume.  Not only was the suit impressive, but the guy wearing it was Robert Downey Jr. look-a-like.  

Me:  Awesome costume!

Tony Stark:  Thanks!  I can even pee in it.  

Me:  Well that's better than the cheezy store-bought Spider-Man costume I have.

Tony Stark:  Yeah, they're like that.

Sometime later, I ran into Tony Stark and unlike Ianto and Jack, I did catch him just finishing lunch.  I apologized and offered to come back later. 

Tony Stark:  Nah.  Here you go, it's your picture.

Now here's something I've learned in the few years I've been going to comic cons:  Not only do good cosplayers dress the part they're playing--they act it.  

This guy, who I later learned to be Rob Doran (scroll down) had Robert Downey Jr's irreverence and snark responses down pat.  

In putting this blog post together, I thought I'd play around with my Comic Life program and end this with a memorable quote in honor of all the GCC cosplayers:

Be sure to check out GGC photostream of the Costume Contest (which I missed, because I had to leave early). 

If you're interested cosplay in general, or GGC specifically, here's an article by Geek Wire of newbie teamed-up with a veteran attending GGC that may give you some insights. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

GeekGirlCon 2014: Crowd Surfing at the Con

(GGC Logo)
It's been three years since I attended my very first GeekGirlCon (GGC).  That year, it was held in the Seattle Center, which was fine, but the activities were spread from one end of the park to the other. 

Shortly after that maiden voyage, GeekGirlCon found a new home at the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC)

Getting to the WSCC parking garage is easy coming off I-5S.  But once I made my way out of the labyrinth, I found the main building practically deserted.  Fortunately, I blundered into another GGC-bound couple wandering around looking for an entry portal.  We felt like muggles trying to find Platform 9 3/4.
But before we sprinted into any walls, we found a Convention Center employee who pointed across the street to the smaller, annex building--the one with the line of people wrapped around it.

Despite losing our urban bearings, we arrived just as the doors were opening (9 AM, or 0900 hours for us military types).  Signing-in was a much smoother and easier process than during my last visit. 

The speedier in-processing allowed attendees to attend the first activities of the day (10 AM/1000 hours).  Having the convention housed in one building helped too.  Events included:  Panel discussions, gaming, and connections (professional, club and educational booths). 

Some of the connection booths had representatives from the following:, and the Girl Scouts, etc.   (Not a complete list, just the ones I noticed).

I didn't do any gaming, because I was more interested in the panel discussions and hoped to do some shopping in between venues.

For those interested in gaming, here's a look at The GGC Gaming Dungeon:

(Looking down into The Gaming Dungeon)

(An overhead view of a role playing game in-progress)

(Down at The Gaming Dungeon Floor)

But it wasn't all Fun & Games.  There was Fun & Science Experiments for kids to participate in: 

(GeekGirlCon's Science Lab)
Before lunch, I attended three panel discussions:

1. Hiring in Gaming.
2. How to Be a Nerd for a Living.
3. If You Can Write You Can Make Games.

By the time the last panel ended I was tired and famished.  The sausage & egg sandwich, with the compressed hashbrown patty I picked up en-route at McDonalds had ceased providing my body with any fuel.  The caffeine from the large coffee I drank wasn't any help either.

So I cancelled whatever panel I was planning to attend and embarked on a quest for lunch.  The line outside the Subway down the street was much worse than this...

(I took this photo about an hour after lunch.  The line was three times as long at one point) I opted for the Wild Rye CafĂ©, inside the convention complex. 

The line was much shorter than the one in front of Subway, but everyone remained stationary, as if Medusa was the hostess. 

After about fifteen-to-twenty minutes the line began moving at glacial speed and I got my much-needed food.

My mid-day refueling consisted of a Rueben sandwich with some chips, drink and a double-chocolate brownie.  The sandwich was good, but the crust a tad extra dry and crispy.  But I was hungry enough to chomp through it anyway.

I was surprised that for an event this size, while smaller than the Emerald City Comicon, the convention center didn't establish additional food stands, with ready-made sandwiches. 

Of course, packing a nutrition bar would have helped too.  One of many convention survival guide tips is:  Pack snacks and water, so you don't get hungry or become dehydrated.

Anyway, after lunch I had enough time to get some shopping before the last panel discussion of my time-constrained day:

Ethics in Comics.

I hated leaving early (about 5 PM/1700 hours), especially since there were three additional panels I wanted to attend, plus an after-con concert featuring the following bands:

Sammus, and

But alas--I had a long drive and had to work first thing in the following morning.  But despite cutting my stay short, I had an enjoyable and productive time.  GeekGirlCon 2014 was definitely worth the price of admission, parking and gas.

 This was just an overview of my convention experience.  I have six more GeekGirl-related posts in-the-works; which will cover cosplay, merchandise and the four panel discussions I mentioned earlier.

So stay tuned!