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PAX PAX PAX 2014

August 26, 2014 Comments off

I am pretty darn excited about PAX 2014 this year. I won’t be working for a games company, which is odd. But, I will still be there working! And when I say working, I mean working for my own community efforts. I’ll be mostly found up in the Diversity Lounge on the 6th floor, hosting a table for my Meetup.com group, Inclusive Geekery. If you’re looking for Backup Ribbons from the Backup Ribbon Project, I will have them at the table and also be carrying them around! 

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I’m so very excited to have some great volunteers working with me at the table, so I can run off do do panels and game demos. Want to find me if I am not at our table? The Diversity Lounge has 2 tables set up for schedule meetups, game demos, roundtables, and whatnot. I’ll pretty much live in the Lounge for the weekend, and here are my panels (outside the lounge) and my actual lounge activities:

Friday:

  • My panel, Building Inclusive Communities in Analog Gaming. 11:30am-12:30pm Hedgehog Theatre (Grand Hyatt 1st floor). YES IT WILL BE STREAMED! WHOOIEEEE!
  • Diversity Lounge (Meetup) Queer Meetup: 2pm-3pm
  • Diversity Lounge (Meetup) Bisexual Women’s Meetup: 4pm-5pm

Saturday:

  • Filling in on the panel, How to Love and Hate Tabletop Games. 11:30am-12:30pm Sandworm Theatre (Sheraton 2nd floor). I do not know if it is streamed.
  • Diversity Lounge (Meetup) – Gay Game Industry Professionals meetup 12pm – 2pm, although it overlaps a little bith with the panel.
  • Diversity Lounge (Game Demo) – Green Ronin’s Dragon Age RPG 2-hour demo 2pm-4pm. I’ll have pre-generated characters, dice, and such for you!
  • Diversity Lounge (Roundtable) – Roundtable discussion about creating inclusive game/geek spaces IRL 5pm-6pm

Sunday:

Monday:

  • Diversity Lounge (Game Demo) – Green Ronin’s Dragon Age RPG 2-hour demo 2pm-4pm. I’ll have pre-generated characters, dice, and such for you!

Of course, I’ll be supporting lots of local inclusive groups who will drop flyers off and such. Plus, I’ll definitely be bringing information about OrcaCon 2016! Please drop by and say hello!

NorWesCon 2014 Panel Schedule!

March 23, 2014 Comments off

I can’t believe it’s already NorWesCon time again. I did not get to participate last year, so it will be good to see some of the changes which have occurred since my last visit. I’m very excited about the new anti-harassment policy and I hope to see less creepy behavior this year. I can’t say I have a love/hate relationship with NorWesCon any longer, as many folks involved are doing their best to keep their policy updated, and accepted feedback on it with grace.  There have always been heaps of things I’ve loved at NorWesCon, but some some things I’ve been pretty uncomfortable with. I’ve always enjoyed being invited as a pro-panelist, and they’ve always been super attentive and supportive.

I’m VERY pleased at a lot more focus on a more inclusive and & welcoming convention. I’ve always felt like such an outsider, as I’m not that much of a fandom gal, nor am I attending for the literary side of things. I’m kinda stuck in the middle sometimes, and every year, I debate throwing myself into the fray to try to create the change I want to see.

I love talking about games. I love talking to others about games. I love talking about working in the games industry, both from a video game and analog game point of view. I enjoy deep discussions about Star Wars, craft beer, social justice, and perfect nachos. I love getting a chance to see my peers in the industry, along with talking with excited fans. I love sitting down with beers & board games, or getting a game demo. I love the passion that a lot of people put into their hobbies.

This year, I’ve got 7 panels. Around those times, I plan on teaching lots of demo games of Green Ronin Publishing’s Love2Hate as possible. If you’re up for a game, you’ll most likely find me in the bar, enjoying NachosBeerCon. I’m happy to throw down a game at any time! I will also bring my Dragon Age RPG demo kit, if you are up for a 2-hour game over beers.

L2H

Gaming Cons: An Adventurer’s Guide
Thu 4:00pm-5:00pm Cascade 5
There are a lot of gaming conventions out there and they all have their own cultures and mores. Come find out what conventions there are and what they have to offer the adventurous gamer in you.
Ogre Whiteside (M), Julie Haehn, Jeremy Holcomb, Adam Koebel, Donna Prior

Nerding Out in the Pacific Northwest
Thur 6:00pm-7:00pm Cascade 6
Spending your Latinum: Who, what, when, how, and why?
Morgue Anne (M), Matt Hammond, MC-3PO of DeathStar, C0splay of DeathStar, Donna Prior

The “Panel” Panel
Thur 8:00pm-9:00pm Cascade 3&4 
Tips and tricks on being a good moderator, pro, or panelist at a convention. What’s your job, really, when your name appears after a panel description in a program book? How do you keep it on-topic and interesting for the audience? And what do you do when some blowhard in the back row thinks they know more than you?
Janna Silverstein (M), Janet Borkowski, Charles “Zan” Christensen, Nicole Dieker (Hello, The Future!), Donna Prior

Out of Game: Gaming Like Adults
Fri 9:00pm-10:00pm Cascade 10
Personal conflicts? Scheduling hassles? Trying to sort out what snacks to bring and who helps clean up afterwards? In game conflicts that brew into out of game unpleasantness? We should talk about this, and our panelists will.
Sar Surmick (M), Eric Cagle, Donna Prior, Bryan Syme, Ogre Whiteside

How Are Games and Gamers Changing the World?
Fri 10:00pm-11:00pm Cascade 10
A discussion about the rising sun of the gamer, and all the different ways that this generation who grew up on video games has changed with how the world works. This will cover both the good and the bad.
Hunter Mayer (M), Angel Leigh McCoy, Donna Prior, Gregory A. Wilson, Gwen Yeh

Twitter and Tumblr and Facebook, OH MY!
Sun 11:00am-Noon Cascade 3&4
Where do you get your fandom fixes? Every social media has it’s own culture. What’s different about the various social medias, and how do they interact within themselves and with each other in spreading fandom.
Jen K (M), Donna Prior, Jonny Nero Action Hero, Lola Watson

Creating & Building Inclusive Gaming Groups
Sun 1:00pm-2:00pm Cascade 5
Enjoy board games? Love the idea of painting miniatures? Want to know how to find inclusive groups for gaming? How do you create your own gaming meet-ups? Our panelists will give you tips on creating game groups, finding public game meet-ups, and enjoying gaming conventions as a newbie. Want to be a better organizer? We’ll work with you to build positivity in your current groups, how to find new players, and how to encourage their participation.
Donna Prior (M), Berry Sizemore, Ogre Whiteside

Steamcon Code of Conduct

December 13, 2013 1 comment

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Code of Conduct

This Code of Conduct is to provide guidance to all Steamcon V convention members. It is to help ensure that the behavior of one individual does not adversely disturb the rest of the members. It applies to all pre-con, at con, and post-con activities that are related to Steamcon V. All members are encouraged to read this Code and ask questions of anything that they do not understand.

Steamcon V is prepared to deal with any violations of the code as legally, rapidly, and efficiently as possible. We hope that all members will help to make Steamcon V an enjoyable experience for all, by respecting the rights of all attendees while in attendance.

Steamcon V reserves the right to revoke membership and eject any individual at any time from Steamcon V. No refunds will be provided.

Failure to adhere to the code of conduct may result in:

  • Mediation by the Con Chair and Convention Operations talking to all parties involved in an incident
  • Verbal warnings
  • Turning the individual in to hotel/convention center staff/security
  • Revocation of membership and ejection from Steamcon V
  • Contacting local law enforcement

BADGES: Steamcon V is a membership event and membership badges must be worn at all time by all members and staff. A badge is only valid for the individual to whom it was issued. Badges may not be shared. Steamcon V requires that all individuals age 3 and over have membership badges for the convention, and that they be clearly visible when at Steamcon V.

PERSONAL INTERACTION: We ask that you respect others so that everyone is comfortable and feels safe while attending Steamcon V.

  • Harassment of others will not be tolerated and is a violation of the code of conduct.
  • If someone asks you to leave them alone or tells you no, you walk away, and you do not approach them again. There is no reason for you to have any further interaction with them.
  • Discrimination of any sort is not tolerated and is a violation of the code of conduct.
  • Discrimination is not limited to gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or physical/mental disability.
    • If you feel that you have been harassed or discriminated against:
    • Tell the individual that their behavior is inappropriate. Sometimes this is sufficient.
    • If you do not feel comfortable talking with the individuals involved, or if talking to them once does not work, please immediately report the situation to any Steamcon V committee or staff member. If possible provide a badge name or name and a physical description of the person or persons involved. The committee or staff member will notify Convention Operations and/or the Con Chair.
  • PLEASE: Keep in mind that unless an incident is reported, nothing can be done.

PUBLIC PARTIES: Specific party rules will be published separately and provided to all party hosts.

Only certain convention hotel rooms are available for parties and all parties must be coordinated with Steamcon V.

No one under 21 will be served alcohol. Hosts are required to card anyone who wishes to drink at their event. Attempting to drink while under 21 or knowingly serving alcohol to someone under 21 is a violation of the code of conduct, and could subject you to removal from Steamcon V.

HOTEL INTERACTIONS: We ask that you follow any and all rules set by the convention hotels.

The person whose name the room is rented is solely responsible for the conduct of all individuals in the room and the condition of the room. Excessive trash, any act of vandalism, deliberate or excessive damage to hotel room and its contents, or any negative interference with hotel staff that may present a hazard to said hotel staff will result in the hotel taking control of the situation.

Individuals, regardless of whose name the room is rented in, will be billed for said damages by the hotel. In addition, individuals may be evicted from the hotel and/or the convention and may also face criminal charges.

SMOKING: The City of Bellevue does not allow smoking in any public buildings, including hotels, restaurants, or the convention center.

PETS: Only service animals are allowed in hotel and convention function spaces.

WEAPONS:

  • Steamcon V recognizes that weapons and weapon replicas are an integral part of the Steampunk look and aesthetic, and as such will be present at the convention. However, any weapon that is sufficiently realistic may cause issue with local law enforcement and Steamcon V reserves the right to request that you leave such a weapon in your room or off premises regardless of any permit for such weapon.
  • All laws of the City of Bellevue, King County, and the state of Washington regarding weapons are in force while on convention property, and any violation of such is also a violation of the code of conduct resulting in immediate expulsion from the convention.
  • Any weapon (actual, realistic or toy) that is brandished about or utilized in a threating or harmful manner is a violation of the code of conduct.
  • The discharge of any projectile weapon outside of an approved demonstration or convention event is a violation of the code of conduct.

PRIVACY, PHOTOGRAPHY, AND ELECTRONIC RECORDING:

Steamcon V members should be aware that photographs, video and audio recordings occur during the convention, and that their likenesses may appear in these recordings. Attendees and members agree to assign without compensation the use of their likenesses for the use of promotion material.

Steamcon V welcomes members of the press to all events. All journalists, media photographers and any other members of the press are required to display an official Steamcon V Press Badge or be accompanied by a Steamcon V staff member at all times.

Members should be polite and ask before taking photographs or recordings of members and attendees whenever possible. Photography and audio/video recordings for personal archival use is generally acceptable, unless an individual makes it clear that they do not wish to be photographed or recorded, in which case it becomes expressly forbidden.

The usage of photographic or recording devices is prohibited in certain area of the convention including the Film Room, Art Show, and Art Auction. Where allowed, please take photographs before or after a program event to avoid distracting panelists and audience members to the maximum extent possible.

The offering for sale of any merchandise may only occur in designated areas with the permission of Steamcon V.

Steamcon V reserves the right to amend the code of conduct at any time without prior or posted notice and reserves the sole right of interpretation. The rules stated above are not all inclusive and involve worst-case scenarios.

Any action or behavior that is illegal, unsafe, or causes significant interference with convention operations, excessive discomfort to members, or adversely affects Steamcon V’s relationship with its guests, the venue, or the public is strictly forbidden.

My PAX 2013 Schedule

August 28, 2013 Comments off

Another PAX is upon us, and as usual, there is SO MUCH going on and I’ll never get to do and see it all. That being said, I have a pretty light schedule this year. PAX actually kicks off for me on Thursday, as I’m leading up a Community Panel at PAXDev! Thursday night is the private Community Managers Group event, which is the best gathering of all the video game Community Managers together in one spot.

For PAX Prime, here’s how to find me:

Friday: I’ll most likely be at the Green Ronin booth, Room 208. I’ll probably be randomly tweeting about Dragon Age RPG demos. I’ve got dice, pre-generated characters, and pencils! You just need to give me 2 hours of your time.

paxgw2

Saturday: I have a panel to start the day! Join us at the Raven Theatre for Building & Creating Inclusive Communities in Tabletop/Board Gaming. After that, I’ll rush off to the Renaissance Hotel for the Guild Wars 2 Anniversary Bash! It will be a long day, but a FUN day. I’m looking forward to the panel, the PvP tourney, and the party. Mostly, I’m excited to meet a bunch of our players and fans!

Sunday: My second PAX Prime panel is on Sunday! I’ll be heading up the Women & Tabletop Gaming panel. After that, I imagine I’ll mosey around and go hit up the Green Ronin booth. Maybe a demo? I have lots of demo stuff with me.

Monday: Same as Friday. Green Ronin and maybe some demos. Might be wandering around quite a bit

I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new people!

Friday Five – Questions from Social Media

June 28, 2013 5 comments

You know, we all do our best thinking in the shower. Okay, maybe that’s just me. Seriously, I suppose because I’m not distracted by the internets, the cats, or anything else. Just shampoo & soap, under a glorious shower of hot water. Damn. Now I want one right now. Anyway, I was trying to think of ways to kickstart my brain and make a new habit of blogging. I used to be quite prolific on LiveJournal, back in the days before Social Media. I really enjoyed writing and being part of a journaling community. While I still keep that old journal around, I never actually write in it. The only writing I do is for work, which doesn’t keep your personal writing on task. How could I start a new habit? Of course, it’s making lists. Lists and outlines about all the things I want to say.

Of course, my brain then hit an ADHD bump (as it is wont to do) and I started thinking about gaming. Making and playing games is fun! So how can I tie this together? Well, I can set personal achievements for myself and have rewards for hitting them. And how do I start? Because I love myself and I love to interact with people who love me AND who don’t, I just put it out there on Twitter & Facebook.

‘I am going to write a blog post tomorrow based on 5 questions I receive today. So, ask me anything!”

There. No way to talk myself out of it. On Twitter, I had a couple questions, but Facebook I had a lot. And a good amount of friendly trolling. Just to clear things up ahead of time, I AM NOT A HOBBIT. And that being said, it’s a good idea for a future blog. Why I am teased near and far about being a Hobbit.

It might have something to do with this picture.

It might have something to do with this picture.

At any rate, I picked out five questions between Twitter & Facebook. I’ll do a shout out for more questions again next week!

What advice would you give to someone who is hoping to move to the Seattle area to work in game development?

This is a tough one really, because “game development” is such a broad term. Since I know the person who asked it, I know it’s about video game development. I actually wouldn’t recommend people move to Seattle to work in game development. I recommend moving to Seattle because you want to live in Seattle. It’s expensive to live here, and there’s not as much opportunity as you might think. The locals pretty much LOVE LOVE LOVE their jobs here, so it takes a major layoff to have any openings at all. The few you do see around a lot are for contract work. While this may not seem bad to younger, single folk, being a contractor pretty much comes with zero benefits. This isn’t something specific to the games industry; it’s been that way in tech fields for the longest time. That being said, I love Seattle and I’m happy to be back. It wouldn’t have been as easy to move back here without the support network my husband and I have.

My advise? Make games. Make video games with your friends. Make them on your own. Attend game jams. Make board games. Make card games. JUST MAKE GAMES. It’s much easier to find other people to develop with in cities with a higher level of tech companies, sure. Seattle, Austin, Boston, and the like. But I’d never recommend moving to a city to /find/ work. If you’re good, and you get yourself out there, a company will MOVE YOU if they want you. However, not if you’re junior. Not if you’re QA or other entry level gigs. There are hundreds and hundreds of local people competing with you for those gigs. If you’re making and *launching*  your own games, no matter what kind, you’re gaining experience. And that’s what you need to do before you think about moving to a city for a job. If you’ve made the connections, if you turn your love of making games into an indie career, you’ll be able to transition. But don’t count on it. It might be more viable for you to just stay where you are and go indie.

This helps, too.

This helps, too.

Best and worst about the many places you have lived?

This one is difficult and I’m sure I’ll get many “But Donna, so-and-so is awesome! You just didn’t get to experience the awesome part!”. Really, best and worst is subjective and yes, I like & dislike places based on whatever I was doing in my life at the time. Maybe not fair to those cities, but hey. It’s all about me, right?

Favorite places:

  • Seattle – I love the gloomy weather. Seriously. When the sun is out, I would much rather stay indoors. Overcast? LET’S GO CAMPING OR SIT OUTSIDE AND DRINK BEER. Might be that it’s just a part of me, since I was born on the Oregon coast. I spent the first 9 years of my life living in Oregon & Washington. I moved back here, finally, in 2006. Went to Austin again for a year, and San Diego for a year and a half. I’m so very happy to be back here. As someone who has lived all over the place, I’ve always been of the mindset that “home is where the heart is” kinda crap. Well, until I moved here and felt perfectly welcome and at ease. I love being taken seriously as a gamer, as a beer geek, and have experienced less misogyny here than other places. Seattle still has a long way to go regarding race; I can only hope it’s getting better for everyone.
  • St. Croix – I lived briefly on the island of St. Croix in the mid-80s. I was a club DJ at the time, and I was sent down there to work a dance club called Hondo’s. I was there 4 months the first time and 2 months the second time. I really wish I had stayed; I kinda liked being away from the hustle & bustle of mainland life. It was easy to get away from the tourists, as the island isn’t the cruise ship stop like St. Thomas is. Sure there was a little, and the Navy dropped by every so often. Still, I could walk a couple of blocks away and have amazing food cooked by the Crucians. I could actually go for a genip and some roti right about now. 
  • Austin – Oh you quirky little town. I moved to Austin after spending a brief 8 months living in Alaska. I arrived and started working as a bartender/waiter (which is what I had been doing for years), and ended up getting work at Dell. That pretty much changed my life, as I hadn’t known a thing about technology. I discovered I was an excellent diagnostic tech, and LOVED working on hardware. I transitioned to Escalations, Facilities, internal web design, and worked on numerous projects (lol y2k). It kicked off my 14 years working in IT. But that’s not what I love about Austin. I loved that music, good music, was everywhere (mind you, there was a lot of shitty music, too). The food is amazing, the culture is sublime. The town is full of geeks, and is a liberal haven in a sea of conservative leanings. When Heatwave Interactive offered me a job, I was happy to go back to Austin. I was happy to see that a really large sustainable foodie culture had crown since I had last lived in Texas, along with a craft beer culture.

Least favorite places:

  • NoVA/MD/DC Metro – I have a lot of people I absolutely ADORE living out in that area. And the Maryland Renaissance Festival is the best fest, hands down. There are lots of place to game, to eat GREAT food. But I swear, there’s something about living that close to the nation’s Capital that makes for an interesting breed of people. Interesting in the not-so-exciting kind of way. I never seemed to really fit in, and I had some really hard times there. Some of it was my fault because I was a horrible person back then. Well, half horrible and half awesome. Moving away, however, helped me regain my awesomeness fully. I made a lot of bad decisions when I lived out there, and it seemed so stifling. It doesn’t take much to get out of the cities, however, to see some gorgeous land. I wish I had seen more of it.
  • Alaska – First, I’ll tell you the best. The Aurora Borealis in winter. After getting off work, joining coworkers outdoors, beers shoved into the snowbanks. We’d start a fire and huddle around, just looking up into the sky. It was magical. The downside? There’s not much else to do in winter but drink. Or do drugs. At least, if you’re poor like me, and all the other people who worked around me. I didn’t fit in very well, because well, I looked weird. And I had all these ideas about equality and not hating on the local Native population. The sheer amount of racism, sexism, and well, just…*hate* for everyone not like them? It was difficult. I realized I was drinking to deal with my pain (and sexual assaults). I scrapped up enough money for a bus ticket to Texas, and mom bought me an airline ticket to Seattle. I traveled to Austin on Greyhound from Seattle, stopping along the way to visit family. It was great to sober up.
  • I can’t think of a third. I’ve had ups and downs wherever I lived, but those two places were full of tragedy and terribleness.

What was the game that made you the tabletop dice roller you are today? I recently got into them so I’m curious to know.

Yay! This one came from my nephew, so I’m quite happy to go on an on about it. Btw, what are you playing? Want me to send you some stuff? I know, first one is free. Then you are HOOKED.

My story starts all the way back in high school (Grand Prairie, Texas), about 1981. I hung around with the other misfits, nerds, and drama people for the most part. And I never felt left out of anything until some of them picked up Dungeons & Dragons. I wanted to play, but was told “girls don’t play D&D”. Well, I knew nothing of game stores, or even how to find anything like this. I just stewed on it for a few years. Fast forward to 1989. I was living in San Antonio, bartending at Tony Roma’s. I was hanging out with my friend Ted, at a place called Ernie’s. It was the place where all the “river rats” (people who worked in the bars/restaurants who worked the river) hung out after work. ‘Hey, I’ve got some openings in my D&D group. Wanna play?”. I said, “Girls don’t play D&D”. He laughed and told me he had two other women in the group! He handed me The Crystal Shard, and said, “If you like this story, this is the world we’re playing in”. Of course, it was wonderful and I was hooked on the Forgotten Realms.

My first gaming book.

My first gaming book.

I came over to meet folks, make a character, and started to learn how to play. It was AMAZEBALLS. I created Aubrey Bloodmane, Ranger & follower of Sune. And we had a major campaign. I was in LOOOOOOVE. We later transitioned to 2nd Ed AD&D, but we ended up using a mishmash of the rules, because the STORY was the most important part. And, there was a lot of great lore coming out for the Forgotten Realms. I tried to get the gang to play Spelljammer, Dark Sun, and Maztica, but we always stayed in Faerun, playing in the various cities and settings. My favorite source book was Forgotten Realms Adventures, and not because there was a WOMAN IN FULL PLATE ON A WARHORSE on front.

Since then, I’ve played all sorts of games, from Shadowrun to Deadlands (OMG I LOVE DEADLANDS SO MUCH BLING BLING). I’ve played homespun adventures & worlds, but I’ve not ever had the same experience as I did on my very first campaign. Ted was a most excellent DM and I loved our games. We even had other “River rats” who would come by his house after work and *watch* us play, because we all got into character and built an amazing story.

This is why I love tabletop.

My 9 year old son wants to be a professional gamer. Advice?

First, we need to narrow down the question. Does this mean, someone that plays games competitively like in tournaments? Magic: The Gathering, Pokemon, or video games like Call of Duty and Starcraft? Or, do you mean /work/ in the games industry. These are two very very different things, making games and playing games. If it’s the former, I’d say, just don’t. It’s hard. It’s a very very hard life at times. Thousands of people try to be professional competitors. It’s no different from being a pro musician, pro chef, a pro golfer, or chess master. Very few people actually have the skill or mindset to do it. It takes a LOT of time. Here’s a quick look at some steps to think about for pro gaming.  The 10 Steps to Becoming a Professional Gamer.

If you’re talking about someone who makes games, all you need to do to become a professional game maker is…make games and then sell them. But really, you need to back up. Do you want to be an artist? Designer? Programmer? Engineer? Animator? Producer? There are so many jobs that fall under “game developer”. My advice? Be the best whatever it is you want to be. Because if you decide to be a game designer and hate writing and spreadsheets? You’ll *hate* it. Want to be a games programmer? Love programming. These skills will take you to all kinds of industries more stable, and that pay better. Sure, you get to make games, but you also have the same issues that anyone with a job will have. Working in games is no different, really, when working at a major publisher. You still have rules and corporate policies. And you are there for a job, not to play games all day. I think that’s one of the biggest takeaways for people who say they want to make games. You have to remember that this is a business.

All that being said, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. There are some amazing creative people I get to interact with every day, and as a Community Manager, I get to meet lots of people with a passion for the games we make.

What made you a beer connoisseur?

Good beer! Okay, I’ll take a step back. Just like I keep doing with everything else. When I was in high school, the drinking age was 18. And for the record, I’m not advocating underage drinking. It’s one of the stupidest thing I ever did when I was young. That said, I started drinking beer but I really hated it. I more enjoyed wine and hard liquor. I drank plenty of the top “American” beers* for years, but because it was all ‘WHOOOO DRINKING”. I figured that I’d never enjoy beer, but it was a cheap way to get a buzz back in the day. And then…I had my very first Anchor Steam. I realized beer didn’t have to taste like the stuff I had been drinking. I started drinking a lot of imports such as St. Pauli Girl Dark, Fuller’s London Pride, and Watney’s Red Barrel.

I later started working in the bar business when I was a DJ. I started learning more about imports and drank them when I could afford them. It wasn’t until I moved to Alaska and discovered Alaskan Brewing, that I realized that Americans were making great beer. That was 1991 and I was pretty much an Amber drinker. When I moved to Austin in 1992, I started hanging out with my now ex-husband at a place called JW Rovers in Round Rock. We decided to join the Beers Around the World club, which meant you had to drink 99 different beers on their extensive beer list. With over 200 different beers available and all the seasonal rotations, it was quite easy to do.

And I haven’t bought a regular “American” beer from the “Top 3” brands since then. My favourite styles are Imperial Stouts, Chocolate Porters, English Bitters, Belgian Quads, and I like to be smacked in the face with a SUPER SUPER HOPPY IPA. I don’t like sweet beers, and I’m fond of German Rauchbiers.

Hands down, my favorite beer, Ten Fidy

Hands down, my favorite beer, Ten Fidy.

So there you go. My first Friday Five. I’ll be asking for another round of questions next week.

*I use air quotes around “American” beers a lot, because the top three so-called “American Beers” are no longer American owned. Coors is Molson Coors, so it’s really half-American and half-Canadian. And that varies based on who you talk to. Miller is owned by British-owned SABMiller. “Bud and other AB beers are now owned by InBev in Belgium.

G is for Geeky Attire – #AtoZChallenge

April 11, 2013 12 comments

I’ve always dressed a little different from other folks. Half is that I have no sense of fashion and the other is that I really like to wear things which make me happy. I’ve only been half aware that I might be dressing oddly, and have continued to simply ZOMG SHINY through my wardrobe through the years. My family has always kinda followed their own weird piper, so to speak.

Ahoy, matey!

I’ve had freaky hair, freaky clothes and have never been embarrassed or felt odd about it.


Oh yes, the 80s


I word the oddest things and was happy with it. Very happy. Most of the time, I had my picture taken in my oddest clothes. And I have the happiest smile.


Working on the San Antonio Riverwalk


I never quite wore appropriate clothing for my activities. Seriously. Just doing my own thing.

Yeeehaww!

I had been attending renfaires since 1982, but didn’t dress up until the late 90s. My attire was pretty crappy at first, but after hanging out on Usenet (Yah, I’m old), I kinda hit my niche with hot pink attire. And eventually added neon green, as more people started getting wacky in their renfaire get ups. I’m the furthest you can be from being girly; the hot pink thing was a huge inside joke. My mom thought it was humorous; I think she was happy just to see color in my wardrobe after the YEARS of nothing but black clothing.

Who needs coffee when you can look at THIS?

I had a bit of a change happen to my wardrobe, once online shopping hit. I was happily buying from ThinkGeek shortly after I moved out to Virginia in 1999. Since they were local to VA, I was familiar with them as I worked with Fraize at Dell and had met Regan through renfaire. My shopping really kicked in somewhere in 2003. Tshirts & toys for myself. Tshirts for friends & boyfriends. I still do so. Hah! I have a couple of photos up there on the ThinkGeek site, but I always forget to send them in. I still owe them the lightsaber chopsticks picture, where I use them for hairsticks.

I was tweeting this while wearing "i'm tweeting this" tshirt.

Fast Forward. So, I had joined a social network site which has some blogging in it. I found that when I used the blog, I met more people. I met a TON of great people in Seattle from the site; some who are close friends today and even attended my wedding! I’m used to people slagging on me for being weird, fat, having a big bumpy Italian nose and whatnot. But a gal named “Computer Barbie” posted the following:

I know a group of women who commiserate for hours that men will not commit, but they will not spend 13 minutes putting on make up. They wear nerd clothes too. One of them wears a boys student coat, androgenous moccasins, androgenous pants. She looks like she has long grey side burns. She pushes her hair behind her ears. 1 lock falls in front of each ear. That is the only part that is grey. Another wears Circus Socks [multicolored socks]. These women are Fashion Casualties. These women are middle aged but successful. These women claim to have boyfriends. JMO

As someone who LOVES awesome socks, I was kinda butthurt in a humorous way. So I blogged about it. Turns out a bunch of other women, from their 20s – 50s (and younger/older) also love their nerd clothes, their stripey socks. So a silly sock club was born. Many of us started buying MORE socks, because we wanted to day, You know, we dress for OURSELVES, not for you. Just because you think we’re too old to dress for happiness, doesn’t mean it is wrong.”. We all started posting pictures of our socks as we bought them, and the term “Sock Prawn” was born. You know. Wait. This is the internet. I don’t have to tell you.

I discovered Sock Dreams and Sock It To Me Socks, both in Portland, Oregon. I started shopping from SITMS because Holly, proprietor of Monster Art & Clothing sold her socks.

Sock wall at Monster Art & Clothing

We started having Stripey Sock Meetups. We bought each other socks. Friends & family started buying us socks; it became the thing to do.

Mine are the pink & turquoise

Not all socks we love are stripey. They can have all kinds of textures and patterns.

We love our socks. We love our geekiness of all kinds. Not everyone who’s a sock person is a gamer. Not every sock person is into fandom. However, we are all pretty geeky about a good many things. We’re made up of food geeks, history geeks, tech geeks, gamer geeks, glitter geeks, renfaire geeks, music geeks. No matter what your geeky stripes (hah!), when you run into a sock geek, you have an instant bond; something to talk about and share.

SPARKLY

I LOVE MY SOCKS! GO OUT AND LOVE YOUR SOCKS, TOO!

Gen Con Socks!

E is for Events – #AtoZChallenge

April 11, 2013 Comments off

I’m cheating again, so I can get caught up with the Blogging A-to-Z Challenge. I wrote this when I was in Austin, back in 2011. The dates/places have changed up, but I’m still hosting these kinds of meetups. And I face the same challenges regarding inclusiveness in gaming/game events. I will miss my Board Game/Beer Geeks Meetup here in the San Diego area once I’m back in Seattle next month.

I already know I failed my mission just a bit in regards to my recent claim. I promised to write a blog post each day of the week for Speak Out With Your Geek Out, but I failed. But I swear, I have a great reason! Why? I was hosting the Girl Geeks Of Austin Monday Board Games & Brews event! Each Monday night, we have a group of women who drop by the Black Star Co-Op. So, it’s actually combining numerous geek things. Board games, craft beer and sustainable/local foods. And it is a co-op! One of my birthday prezzies to myself will be to buy a membership there. Such fantastic people.

Games we play!

I’ve posted before about why I started the game night. I’m all about supporting ALL people playing games; I believe everyone can find the right games and great people to play with. The difficult part – If you don’t already play games with people, how do you meet people for games? How do you find games? Board games can get pretty expensive; it is hard to justify buying a game if you don’t know anyone who plays them.

I’m an organizer geek; a nexxus. I LOVE bringing people together to do amazing things. I love meeting new people when I host an event and watching people discovering new people. It cheers me to see people make friends, share their info and talk about planning exciting games, dinners or whatever with each other. I like turning people on to new games and new beers. I like to encourage women & girls to play games.

Great Divide Oak Aged Chocolate Imperial Stout

Back to my Board Game & Brews night. Many of the women who come to the game night have never played board games. Or they’ve done family games like Monopoly, Sorry, Scrabble. There is nothing wrong with these games; for many people it is the first taste of gaming & socialization. Yes, even with family!

But many want more. They’re interested in games they see around. They want to not be talked down to or ignored in a game store. They want to do something creative and they want to socialize with other like-minded geeky people. No matter your geeky bent, while you’re doing a geeky activity, you get to learn more about people. You get to meet others who grok (look it up) you.

I’m not great at teaching people to play games. I yawn when reading rules. I am best learning as I play, so I usually stick to pretty easy to explain games that I’ve played a lot. Or some casual card games. Fluxx, Poo, Apples to Apples & Guillotine and many others are easy to teach and easy to learn. Then there are some dice games like Zombie Dice, Cthulhu Dice and some board games like Tsuro and Dixit.

How do you get started with your own group? Meetup.com is fantastic to start in finding a group. Volunteer to host a meetup. Most meetup group owners are DELIGHTED to find more people to host events. I know I am; I can’t do everything and be everyone. As example, we have people who do fiber arts and I do not. So I encourage our fiber arts geeks to host their own meetup event on our same group page.

  • Pick a place you want to host an event. A shop, a pub, coffee shop. Get to know the people working there so they know to expect you.
  • Choose how often and what day you want to do your event. It doesn’t have to be weekly like mine.
  • Get yourself into Social Media so you can advertise your event. Good thing about Meetup.com? You can do so much in it.
  • Show up. Even if no one does, show up. When I first started doing the Monday Steampunk Meetups at the Wayward Coffeehouse in Seattle, I was there at a small reserved table every week. Eventually, one or two would show. And as the word got out, more people showed. I kept up with advertising it on the local steampunk mailing list. Having our small group talk to others at the other local events & conventions, brought more people out. After a few months, there was anywhere from 10-20 people ever Monday. Stick to it and it will succeed.
  • Greet everyone. No matter what else is going on, remember you are doing this for a reason. Make sure everyone is welcome. When you have regular people, you can dub others to be greeters. No one should ever feel unwanted for a social geek event.
  • Have fun. If you’re not, no one else will. You may try and try again, but eventually you’ll get the hang out of it. Sure, epople will “Why don’t we meet on X side of town?” “Why can’t we ever do Y together?”. I always say, “GREAT IDEA! You can put something together and I’ll promote it. Unfortunately, I can’t take on another event, but I want to help you succeed.”. AND MEAN IT.

Hello, I’m Donna and I’m a Geeky Organizer.

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