A couple of weeks ago was C2E2 (Chicago Comic Con and Entertainment Expo). I was going to go for just an afternoon since I’m not all that big into comics anymore… who has the time for that? The last series I read was Y: The Last Man.
A day to wander around the show room and just geek out for a bit should be enough, right? That’s what I thought until I looked at the panel line up. A few video game panels including one with Coach Tony’s son, Taylor. Did I forget to mention that my Kung Fu coach is Kung Lao (Mortal Kombat 2 and 3) and his son is Kung Lao in the 2011 version? They are both awesome. And oddly it means the gym is filled with nerds. EKF!!!
My plan was to go by myself. Whenever I go to cons with other people, I don’t meet anyone new and I spend far too much of my time coordinating schedules and finding people. This time around I was going to do whatever I wanted and not care about what other people thought of it. Best decision ever. I met so many different people. Had all sorts of different conversations. Comics/art/games/kung fu/school/Buddhism/coding/tech/tattoos/etc. It was bloody brilliant.
I spent a good portion of my day just wandering around the show room. What I really mean by that is artist alley. Everything else was just kind of… meh. Like I said, I don’t really read comics anymore. I sometimes flirt with getting back into it, but I don’t know where I’d find the time. I’m already stretched pretty thin. Plus I always read trades and I didn’t see many of them for sale, in my really brief walk through. The tees were over priced and only 1 thing jumped out at me… something about gamer girls not being suitable for normal guys. However it was only available in girl sizes where even the large cut off circulation in the arms for someone who’s done martial arts for 27 years.
What I think is hilarious is that I never once ran into the guys from EKF. How did I miss 5 guys walking around with wushu weapons?
I had a blast in artist’s alley. Where else can you have an in depth conversation about xkcd with artists? I was constantly getting stopped about my tattoos, my xkcd tee (I’m not slacking off, my code is compiling), and the more shocking to me the Buddhist beads I wear. The thing about wandering about alone, you are far more approachable. I think in a few short hours, I filled my talking to people quota. Plus I got to look at awesome art.
The Geek Girl and the Artist: Women’s Perspectives on Geek Culture, Gender Identity and Art/Media:
The only panel I went to on Friday. I’m really going to try and not get all angry feminist on this blog, so bear with me. There are real issues with girls and sexism in geekdom and it was nice to see this panel available. Plus the amount of turnout of the male gender. A lot of points got brought up, but I think it might have been glossed over a bit. Meaning the panelists were a bit too far on the positive side.
For instance, one said that being a geek helped her fit in with her co-workers in her techy job. But I don’t remember anything mentioned that as women we have to prove that we aren’t a fake geek, especially more now thanks to hipsters. They do exist, I’ve met several, and all have been hipsters. Being someone who gets confused as a hipster (black rim glasses, tattoos, piercings, nerdy tees, cycling, and crazy hair), I do actually end up spending quite a bit of time justifying my reasons for being a nerd (seriously?) and ya know.. proving my history of it. For the record, I don’t like apple products, I’m not opinionated about music, I don’t go out much and every hipster I’ve met I’ve found pretty douchy.
I think they also barely touched on the overly sexualized nature of geekdom and the sexual harassment we do have to endure. Especially in video games. You know because we are all fat, ugly or slutty.
On a logical standpoint, I completely understand why they tried to keep it positive. 1. It scares off women who are trying out geekdom to see if they like it. Keeping it positive, mitigates that hesitation. 2. Whenever a woman starts talking about these kinds of issues, we get labeled overreacting and feminist. Proof? Read the comments on this ars post. Constantly undermining our viewpoint based on being an over-sensitive female, sadly makes us second guess ourselves. Or at least hesitate when talking about it.
I tried. I really did.
The free shuttle stopped at 8pm but my panel didn’t get out until 8:30. Boo! So I split a cab to the loop with a bunch of strangers, who turned out to be very interesting and we went out for burritos and beer. Oh that was so needed.
Bringing Video Games to Life: The Men Behind the Motion
Really huge turn out for this. It was really weird watching guys I’ve seen fall on their face in class demo on stage in front of a crowd. Wushu: if don’t fall or hit yourself with your weapon, you aren’t trying hard enough. Just watch the vids I took.
After that I ran around with the ekf people until my next panel…
Behind the Graphics: a Video Game Industry Round Table
The majority of the talk was interesting. They had a programmer, technical artist, art director, animator and a programmer/everything else really indie guy. For the most part it was pretty basic things of who they are, where they work, and how they got into the industry.
The thing that really struck a chord with me was when 2 of them stressed pretty heavily how you have to be the best of the best in order to get a job. I understand how you’d be able to tell the difference with say artists, but how exactly do you gauge that with programming? How about technical artist? The more I learn about the role of a technical artist, the more I see it as a fit. However there is a time and a place for these kinds of discussions. It really didn’t fit into the lighthearted feeling of the rest of it and it never really got expanded.
I’m not a fan of our current culture of praising mediocrity, because it does seriously reduce effort put in. Or that everyone can do anything they want as long as they try, because people are different and excel at different things. I can’t draw myself out of a box and that’s OK. I have a really good eye for photography, but my execution is…decent. I was a really good editor, but I didn’t have the personality for it. I’m too much of an introvert to be constantly networking with people I have little in common with. The majority of the work is contract based and the constant looking for a job was really frustrating. Then I fucked up my wrist. No more motion graphics = death of an editor.
I met up with the ekf guys again for a bit until I had to run off to another panel. This post is already a wall of text so, I’m going to leave it at that.
Chicago Exists! The Games Industry in Chicago
This was an extremely positive experience. While there isn’t all that much of a big industry in Chicago, supposedly the community is really good less about competition. More open and helpful.
They talked quite a bit about IDGA Chicago and that it is open to students. Another was brought up called indie city games. I was going to ask when students should be getting involved, but from everything else they said it seemed like the answer was right away. But… I can’t make even make something other than text come up on the screen. Complex algorithms? Sure. Data structures of c++? Yep. I wrote a ray tracing renderer in the fall, but not how to use it. Yeah. That makes no sense to me either. Basically we did the math/computational geometry/etc for it to show up on screen but not the show up on screen part.
I guess it’s time to put the excuses away and just start showing up to meetings and talking to people.
I bought a lot of geek art and that was worth it alone. I also have a bit more of a direction to focus on other than just the classes and assignments. Now I really can’t wait for PAX Prime in the fall.