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Top Ten Ways to Engage with your Nerdy Child

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Understanding your kids can be tough. Particularly if they have very different interests then you do. Fandoms can seem weird and perhaps even a bit scary to a person who is unfamiliar. They are also a lot of fun! For some of us these nerdy years will be the foundation of who we will become. I think my parents would have loved a list of ways to engage with me, probably still would. So here are ten ways that you can engage with your nerdy child.

1. Listen.

I know it can be difficult, particularly if you have no idea what they are talking about. However just sitting down to listen to them talk will not only keep your child’s trust but will also give them a confidence boost. It makes them feel important. It will also give good memories associated with both you and the interests that they are cultivating. Who knows you might end up loving it too.

2. Check out your local Library.

Yes I know that I have a bias for this as I have run many events for children in different fandoms and activities. So take this one from personal experience that these events can be really great. They are usually free. They give your child a safe space to interact with others about what they love. So please go check out your local Library and see what they have going on.  Also the staff who are running the event are having just as much fun as the kids. As proof here is a picture of myself and Iris the Keyblade Master at an event we were working.

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ThiaTheBard and IrisTheKeybladeMaster

3. The internet can be your friend.

You can and should research what your child is into. Not only will it help you talk to them about it but it gives you resources that you can look into on your own time.

4. Go to your local shops, comic or gaming.

There is a lot of good that can come from this suggestion. These shops are one more space for you and your child to experience what they love. The employees can also help you to learn more about what your child is into. How you can support them and can also help support you. Also, you being a patron of these places helps them to stay open and provide these services for others. It is a great, grand nerdy circle of life!

5. Get together with other parents to learn from each other and support each other.

As mentioned above you also need support. You can all learn from each other. Vent to each other. Just try to figure out what is happening together. Being confused in a group is always better than being confused alone.

6. Encourage your child.

Particularly if they are doing art, cosplay or writing. It can be difficult when just starting out. You are a person they can look to for guidance and a little boost.

7. Help them with goals related to their interests.

Anything from cosplay, making models or word count. It can be really tough for children to break up their path to success. Sometimes they may need a hand in figuring out how to best navigate the steps to their goals. What may seem insurmountable to them but something you can break down to make it a little more manageable.

8. Help them get to safe spaces they can make friends who actually share their interests.

Sometimes just giving them a ride can be a huge help.

9. Try their interests.

Ask them to help teach you to draw, sew, design, game, watch the movie or read the book. Not only will this help you learn it shows them that you care. Also, you may really like it.

10. Remember something you loved.

Remember what you needed and try to give it to them. Talk to your child about it. Let them know you have cool interests too.

I hope that this might have helped a little. Mostly just remember to show love. Love will always be the best way to have your child’s back and give them a little advantage in this world. If you have any other tips leave them in a comments below! 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Inebriated

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(Sung to the tune of Reading Rainbow)

Bartender, I’m the guy

I can drink ‘til the tavern’s dry

Fill my cup

Then it’s bottoms up

Inebriated

 

I will drink anywhere

In a Duergar cave,

Or a Tiefling rave,

Inebriated

 

I will drink anything

Like a Goblin wine,

Called the Sweat Bovine

Inebriated

(Inebriated)

 

Inebriated!

(Inebriated)

(Inebriated)

C2E2 is Still Better than Comic Con

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Yah, I said it.

I used to go do Wizard World Chicago every year, like a religious pilgrimage to the closest shrine of comic geekdom we had. Then, one year, everything changed and it was suddenly Comic Con Chicago. Vendor booths, artist alley tables, and dealer areas were eaten away to make room for roped off and curtained no-go zones for those who paid big bucks to get signatures from celebrities like Bruce Campbell and Patrick Stewart.

Around the second year of that, if memory serves, we also went to C2E2, Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.  I believe it was their second year, and it was a small convention, but it reminded me of the early years going to Wizard World.  We had a blast and decided that would become our regular yearly stint.

A bonus was that we always had to make the choice between GenCon and Wizard World. WW always won out due to price.  With C2E2 being earlier in the year, that opened up the opportunity to start going to GenCon as well.  We went to Comic Con one more time after starting to go to C2E2 and, if possible, it was worse than the time before.  It wasn’t about comic books and artists anymore.  It was all about getting in to pay ridiculous sums just to get a glossy picture of an actor signed.

C2E2, while mostly about comics and artists, doesn’t pretend that it’s only a comic book convention.  They do dedicate most of the floor space to comic artists and vendors though.  The amazing part is that in just 7 years they’ve gone from a small show with just shy of 28,000 attendees to a juggernaut topping 80K this past year.

McCormick Place is the perfect venue as well.  Where Comic Con is limited in growth by the Rosemont’s (Donald E. Stephens Convention Center) limited space at 840,000 square feet, McCormick Place boasts 2.6 million, 1.2 of which is all on the same floor.  Just three years ago C2E2 topped New York Comic Con in size, with over 670,000 square feet of space used.  It’s safe to say if it exists in the world of geek culture and you can’t find it at C2E2, you aren’t looking hard enough.

Due to its size, I recommend any attendee go for more than a day.  One day used to be enough for us, whether it was Wizard World, Comic Con, or the early years of C2E2. After the 2015 trip though we knew that wasn’t going to be enough. We were there from opening until about an hour before the floor closed and we felt like we only saw half of it.

Even this year, with two days in Chicago, we didn’t see everything, but we ran out of spending money about lunch time on Saturday and the crowd was getting to be a bit much.  Take your time. Don’t rush; and don’t spend all your money right away.  Best practice, see everything you want to see, and if an item you saw earlier in the day is still on your mind, then go back and get it.  Better to have to backtrack than buy something early and find an item you want more later, but have spent yourself out of funds.

Here’s some other tips for anyone new to large cons:

  • Deodorant
  • Comfy shoes – the show floors are hard despite the carpet
  • Backpack with water bottle compartment – water fountains are free
  • More deodorant – halfway through the day, you’ll wish you could jump into the bathroom and refresh with a damp paper towel and application of deodorant
  • Print/poster tube – pick it up early at one of the many booths selling Dick Blick products. You’ll be glad you did if you buy any art.
  • Phone charger/backup battery – Your battery will drain fast if you use your phone for anything inside a steel and concrete building with no signal strength
  • Dress light, even if it’s cold outside – no matter the temp outside it will be hot in the hall. A short cold walk beats a long sweaty day on the show floor.

Of course, C2E2 is also an entertainment con, so it has a long list of celebrity guests, and some of them cost a lot just for one signature.  The convention does a great job of giving the celebrities space without taking away floor from the comics, artists, and vendors.

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Many of the celebs you meet will also vary in price for autographs from free on up to $60.  I would avoid the meet and greets, though, honestly.  My wife did a meet and greet with Wil Wheaton this year. $60 for a picture with him that he didn’t even sign.  Want that signed? Another $40… yeah, a little disappointing for a long-time fan.

Sure, you get to stand next to them for a second, maybe get a, “Hi, how are ya!” but Michael Cudlitz (Walking Dead, Band of Brothers, Southland) was doing autographs and taking a ton of selfies with fans at his table, and actually talking to people.  We watched from the line to meet Timothy Zahn and it was great to see Mr. Cudlitz treating all of his fans like friends.  He didn’t even sit behind his high table they set up for him.  He came around the side, standing right there with the fans, and it was fantastic.  Granted, Cudlitz had far fewer people in line, but damn if he didn’t show the utmost appreciation for every single one of them.

Other than all that, plan ahead.  Make sure you know what you want to see, and prioritize. You can be in line for a signing longer than anticipated, so don’t schedule anything back to back.  Look for things that aren’t at your local shop, or easily ordered cheaper on Amazon.  Really scope out the deals and find those items that you must have and are hard to find.

Make frequent trips to the car to drop off stuff, but also to get out of the crowd and noise for some fresh air.  The population of a decent-sized city descends on that convention hall and sometimes you just need to get away from it to recharge before diving back in. Above all, have fun.  Any convention you go to is ultimately about that.  Sharing your love for geekdom and having fun.  That’s what makes it all worth it.

Wonder Woman Honored then Snubbed by the U.N.

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The United Nations, famous (infamous?) for having Saudi Arabia on the human rights council, recently appointing Wonder Woman as the honorary ambassador for the empowerment of women and girls.  Then, even more recently enough, people threw a fit that it was reversed.  Strangely enough of the people who complained aren’t who you think.  UN staffers, feminists, and non-fans of the character were vocal about their opposition.  Even written in the petition:

Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent warrior woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots –the epitome of a pin-up girl.

What this says about women who do look like Wonder Woman is a bit of a double standard in my opinion.  While every woman is different, there are probably a great many women who look like her and girls who will look like her.  Saying they are abnormal is just as bad as saying any other body type is abnormal.  Saying she’s a ‘white woman’ shows the ignorance of people who cannot tell the difference between the wide range of  European, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern people, as much as the ignorance of people who think all Asians are the same.  And what’s wrong with pin-up girls?  It’s a job just like any other, and there are highly talented, and successful burlesque dancers, pin-up models, and dancers and if we are empowering women that means accepting whatever job it is they decide is best for them, right?  Who are we to shame any of these aspects of real women?

If a woman of Greek descent, who saves people all around the world and immigrates to America is too American, then which fictional character would work?  What other fictional female character is as well known, especially with the upcoming DC movie?  How many little girls, and even adults, cosplay as Diana every year?  What message does the UN send to these woman and girls, and even boys, when they say Wonder Woman isn’t womaning well enough to be an example for girls to look up to?

And current iteration?  Did they even google Wonder Woman before writing that?  Take a look.  Wonder Woman art is as varied as the artists who’ve drawn her.  Just in the top few results, we have her in the traditional red, white and blue, decked out in armor, wearing pants, and covered from neck to toe in an armored body suit.  She’s drawn as athletic and slender, or muscular and curvy, large chested or smaller, and everything in between.  The current iteration of this immigrant super heroine is quite diverse really, and it seems to me she shows that women can be whatever they want, and look however they want when they do it.

Thankfully fans are speaking out, with one 14 year old girl starting a petition to reinstate her.  Even Phil Jimenez shared this great tweet with art from Catherine and Sarah Satrun:

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Quite honestly, at the end of the day, if the point is to pick a woman who will fit everyone’s definition of a role-model, you’ll fail.  You’re not going to find a single fictional female, or male character, that everyone will think is a perfect example.  It’s simply not possible.  What I do know is when I see the faces of little girls dressed as Wonder Woman, they look like they’re having the time of their lives.  Do little girls really care what she’s wearing, or do they care that they feel like goddesses when they put on a costume and pretend to be Diana for a few hours?  Should we be focusing on what a woman wears (I’m told that’s really bad), or what she does?  Should our message be that a woman can do whatever she wants, and dress however she likes when she does it, or she can do it as long as she dresses in an acceptable manner?  I may just be one of those silly guys, but it seems like a damn confusing message to me.

In the Age of the Geek, the Hate is Too Strong

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When I was growing up, I kept most of my nerdy shit to myself. No one at school knew I played Magic: the Gathering, painted Warhammer armies or played more tabletop games than they could name (which was probably none). I was already an outcast with zero friends, why make it worse for myself by sharing that which I loved and occupied most of my waking moments?

All of that has changed. The nerd flags are flying proudly enough that I will (and have) stopped people for their Firefly t-shirt, Vampire: The Masquerade pin or Star Wars car decal. Of course, this is still thought of as weird now that nerd is a little more mainstream and the culture isn’t what it was even 10 years ago. There used to be this feeling of a secret club and we were so excited when we found each other, but now I encounter far more glares than excited chatter.

I’ve noticed a trend on social media that I find disturbing. Now, before I go into this rant, I am all for free speech and saying what you want but somewhere we lost some niceities, please let me explain.

I recently posted a meme that I saw flying around, “If you tattooed one song title on your body, what would it be?” and my good buddy Vince responded with ‘Imagine.’ For those of you who don’t know, it is a song by John Lennon that is quite old and by far one of my least favorite songs, mainly due to the fact that we sang it in choir (yes, I was in choir) and we sang it at Nausium. It was big at the time, so not only did I sing the crap out of this song I already wasn’t a fan of, I also had to hear it at length. I responded with, “Sorry, dislike.” He responded with a frowny face. Now, I don’t know if this actually ruined his day or not. I’m unsure, but the point is that I didn’t need to say it. Saying that I disliked it didn’t prove anything. It didn’t make the world a better place. In fact, in that moment, I doubt he smiled. So I robbed the world of a smile which, to me, is sinful.

I’m sure you are searching for a point in all of this ramble, but I assure you that I have one and it’s simple. We don’t have to advertise everything we don’t like. Honestly, who cares? Of course there are exceptions to this. Food being one. You don’t want to go to a friends house and eat something you can’t stand because you’re afraid to tell them what you didn’t like. Clothes shopping is important to state what you do and don’t like. These are acceptable, but that isn’t the trend I’m seeing. What I’m seeing is people boasting about something they like, love, adore and the response being a list of 39 reasons their friend doesn’t like it.

I’ve sat and listened to friends and strangers talk at length about the things they love that, at the time, I had no interest in. I could see the joy on their faces, the excitement, the passion. It feels so lost anymore, but I can see all of it as they explain My Little Pony, Warhammer, their favorite writer or their favorite game. They are sharing their love with me and seeing their joy brings me joy, so of course I pay attention. I recently started watching My Little Pony  with my daughter and I love it. If I had stopped them and said I didn’t like their interest and explained why, what would that have accomplished? I would have wiped the joy from their faces and possibly disappointed them. We are given so few chances to gush about the things we love.

Even Vanri looked at my farm on Stardew Valley because I loved it and I put so much work into it. She asked questions and made comments; it made me so happy because she was showing interest in something I enjoyed. She could have told me no and explained that she wasn’t that interested in it as I was, which I knew, but sometimes excitement takes over and you just want to share it with someone else. What did it cost her? Some time? It’s worth it just to make a friend happy.

I’m asking us to dial back on the hate, even just the simple dislike. Let someone rant and ramble on about what they love. Don’t post that negative comment on a post about someone’s happiness. There is a lot of hate going on in the world, a lot of negative. Let the positive reign just for a little bit.

Real Women of Gaming’s Nerdy Summer Activities

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Summer is a great time to get stuff done, don’t you think? For those in school, you have summer break. For those whose school days are behind them, summer translates to outdoor barbecues and vacations to the beach.

For the Real Women of Gaming staff, summer means nerdy activities (just like the rest of the year). Read about them here!

“Since I am missing out on, what feels like, every convention ever, I am hoping to at least make the Ren Fair this year with Lily. There was a time in which I wouldn’t be caught dead not attending and now I find myself missing it too often. I adore it so and even have my own garb. They are amazing.” ~Crymson Pleasure~

“I don’t know that I do anything specific during summer months that I don’t do during other seasons. But, currently living in LA, I can say that it’s certainly easier to lay on the beach and read horror books to my heart’s content in summer. Other than that, it’s just video games and writing as per usual.” -Vanri the Rogue

“I, too, seem to be missing out on all the cons. I am also really looking forward to Renaissance Fairs. I love dressing up in my garb and just having a lot of fun for a day.
I also look forward to a Harry Potter program that I run every year for kids at the library I work at. Every year we have a new theme and it is one of the last programs we have for the Summer Reading Club. It is a bit stressful since, as the Gryffindor on staff, I keep trying to make it bigger every year. It is always worth it during the program when the kids are having so much fun!” -Thia the Bard

“Streaming is my summer activity. Working on my bot, schedule and networking. Other then that will be chilling with the family.” -KinkedNitemare-

“Already did Comic con, and a friend invited me to go to Gencon with him this year. Still deciding on that one, though it is soooo tempting.” -Fluffy the Necromancer

“Conventions. We have a local gaming convention I hit last weekend called Fog Con. This Saturday is ACE which is an artist and comic expo, and in August we have GenCon which is going to be incredible this year.” -Trever

“Otakon, and possibly Faerieworlds if finances line up. I…need to actually start working on costumes XD” -LaLuneVide

“My family and I had planned on attending the 2016 Cherry Springs Star Party, but had to cancel. Cherry Springs State park has virtually no light pollution due to its location. As such, during a new moon it is a prime stargazing spot. We may make another attempt during the next new moon.” -MaxUrso

“Nothing really until DragonCon to close out the summer on Labor Day Weekend. For financial and scheduling reasons we had to severely limit our convention schedule, but DragonCon is too amazing to miss so we’re making that our one big con for the year.” ~Rinshi

What’s your favorite summer nerdy activity? Let us know in the comments below!

Valentine’s Gifts for Geeks

Ever wonder what to get a geeky significant other? Want to know some gifts we’ve given or received for Valentine’s day? You’ve come to the right place! The Real Women of Gaming staff have come together to tell you what we want, have given or have gotten for Valentine’s Day! Look below to see more!

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