Fandemonium: San Diego Comic-Con 2016 & Lessons Learned (PART I)

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(There are going to be two parts because SO MANY THINGS HAPPENED.)

I had the absolute pleasure of attending Comic-Con for all four days (including Preview Night) this year. I only went on Thursday last year – so I knew going in that this was going to be an even more wild ride. I had to prepare a lot more for this con, so I did a lot of research. Tony B. Kim’s blog, Crazy4ComicCon was extremely helpful. His “10 Weird Things You Need Before Comic-Con” list was hilarious and gave great context to what I needed to expect going into this behemoth of a week.

PRE-CON PREP

Here’s a list of things I ended up bringing with me each day:

  1. A backpack
  2. An umbrella (ESPECIALLY necessary for times where you’re waiting in long lines in the sun)
  3. A foldable chair for hellish lines (there are many)
    *MTV gives tiny chairs out every year in easy-to-carry bags, so definitely head to their booth for this freebie next time!
  4. Bottled water/refillable water bottle (there are water fountains inside)
  5. Chapstick
  6. A ball cap/sun hat (protect your face!!)
  7. Cardigan/sweater for the evening
  8. Two portable phone chargers + cables
  9. Poster tube
  10. List of exclusives I wanted to buy on my phone (SDCC Unofficial Blog has a tab exclusively for…exclusives, lol.)

I looked at the programming schedule and the Toucan Blog (also a fantastic source for tips on how to survive the con) on the Comic-Con International website and used the official Comic-Con app to save information about the panels I wanted to go to! They also provide quick guides for each day at the Convention Center itself so you don’t have to use up your phone battery.

Here’s a breakdown of what happened each day:

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You Do You, Boo-Boo

A few weeks ago, I attended a leadership conference on campus. The closing speaker was a Creative Director from EA (Electronic Arts), who I actually got to hang out with during lunch time. She asked the people in the room eating with us what our favorite video games were, and when she got to me, I was already a nervous wreck, and said: “I’m not much of a gamer, but…”

She stopped me, and said something along the lines of: “Don’t say that. If you play games in some shape or form, you’re a gamer. Don’t let that gendered/sexist bulls*it stop you from being passionate about things. Too often, when people get older, they lose touch with the stuff they’re passionate about, and they’re cold. Now, what are your favorite games?”

Then, without hesitation, and while almost tearing up a little, I said spewed out the titles of some my favorite games: Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Left 4 Dead 2, and a few more (I forgot to mention Wario Land 4, Monster Rancher, etc.). It was a pretty pivotal moment for me, because for the past year and a half, I’ve expressed a lot of interest in wanting to buy my own PlayStation 4 and a copy of the new Star Wars: Battlefront. One or two guy friends of mine who I’ve talked to about this have looked at me when I said this and replied with, “But you’re not *really* a gamer.” What the heck is a “gamer” then? In the voice of Tita Auntie, “YOU E’TELL ME RIGHT NOW.”

Oh, thanks dictionary:

gam·er (/ˈɡāmər/) | noun
noun: gamer; plural noun: gamers
  1. a person who plays a game or games

OH MY GOD. REVOLUTIONARY.

After talking for a bit, the Creative Director gave me her e-mail and told me that whenever I get a PS4 to e-mail her my address so she can send me a free copy of Battlefront. And then, she introduced me to some games she thought I’d be interested in and we geeked out over their designs.

That was the highlight of my day at the conference, besides getting to know a lot of really cool people from other schools and attending fun workshops.


The point of all of this is: why is it so hard for womxn/non-male identifying people to like things in nerdy spaces without being questioned? I’m done with these elitist, mostly male-dominated circles not acknowledging the fact that other people thrive in these spaces and live and breathe in these fictional worlds like they do. Of course, they’re partially not to blame – it’s society’s habit of sorting things into “male” and “female” that have created this very damaging barrier of masculinity and femininity, causing things like the above and the “fake geek girl” stereotype to perpetuate in society. Not only boys can like video games and Legos – not only girls can wear make-up. We shouldn’t question or challenge people for liking things (unless they are really, really bad things…like, well, murder). It’s 2016. You do you.

On a lighter note, I’m thankful for my amazing friends and family for always being so supportive of my nerdy ventures. I also really want to thank that Creative Director for calling out my battle with myself and making me acknowledge and reaffirm the fact that I am a passionate individual who can like whatever I please. I can immerse myself in these spaces that encourage growth and innovation.

TL;DR – just let people like whatever the heck they want.