geek girls

Activision Games for Girls Summit and Giveaway!

Activision Games for Girls Summit and Giveaway!

Today I attended that Activision Games for Girls Summit.  It was a great chance to talk about games for families in a positive way.  The event was geared for the typical Mommy Blogger’s audience, and so I seemed to be one of the few in the audience who was not surprised by findings that girls (and kids in general) who game with their parents experience a bevy of psychological and physical benefits.  People are finally getting what we geeks have known all along, video games aren’t going to screw your kid up.

While geek culture has gone “mainstream” it seems that a lot of  parents haven’t followed suit.  The moms in attendance talked a lot about restricting screen time, about not letting their kids play any non-kid games, and some seemed generally concerned about letting their kids play any video games at all.  At one point I asked Nicole Armstrong, the Director of Marketing at Activison to speak to current attitudes on advertisitng to women.  I brought up Battlefield 3’s horribly allienting “99 Problems” ad campaign, and praised her for Activision’s inclusive Call of Duty “Gimme Shelter” ad.  I had to stop to explain the games, the ads, and even the songs.  This was definitely not a room of gamer moms.

Jenny from Jenny on the Spot, Nicole Armstong – Director of Marketing for Activision and Suzanne Kantra – Editor in Chief of

I was really excited to see industry juggernaut Activision identifying young female gamers as a priority demographic.  During the Summit we were able to try out six of the most recently released games that were developed with young girls in mind.

They were:
Wappy Dog
ZhuZhu Babies
Moshi Monsters: Moshling Zoo
Squinkies 2: Adventure Mall Surprize!

The most impressive of the games was Wappy Dog.  It comes with a robotic dog that responds to commands through the DS.  It’s freakin’ adorable, I want one for myself! It was definitely the biggest hit with all ages in the group.

To help celebrate the launch of these games, Activision sent each attendee home with a bag full ‘o awesome.  Over the next few weeks I will be giving away several gift packs, which are just in time for the gift-giving holidays!  Stay tuned!

You win some, you lose some.

You win some, you lose some.

A few days ago Kitty overheard me talking about the masquerade taking place at this weekend’s Geek Girl Con.  After peppering me with questions about what a masquerade was, she asked if she could “finally” dress as Buffy.  After two years of steering her in a more child-friendly Halloween costume direction, I conceded that if there was a group of people who were going to appreciate (instead of being appalled at) a preschooler dressed as a teenage vampire slayer it would be the Masquerade Audience at Geek Girl Con. 

The costume was simple to put together, a “mini” skirt, and a hooded sweater vest from her closet were a good age-appropriate approximation of what Buffy would frequently fight the vamps in.  I bought her a pair of shiny black boots that we will paint and repurpose for Halloween and a cheap costume cross.  We made a stake from floral foam and paper mache.  Kitty practiced her staking and kicking and off we went.

As soon as we got to the con I knew there would be stiff competition in the kids’ category.  We ran into an absolutely adorable young Dr. Horrible with his sister dressed in a sweet interpretation of Captain Hammer.  The caliber of costumes of the kids in line with us was AMAZING.  Their mom-made costumes were intricate and awesome.  The kids spent time backstage playing with their accessories and having a great time.

When the show started  moms started reminding their kids about their “moves” and we all cheered loudly for each child.  Every single one of them rocked the stage, making their costumed personas come to life.  It was adorable.

Then it was time to announce the winners.  We had told Kitty that we were proud of her, that she did great, and that she needed to cheer loudly for whichever of her new friends won, even if it wasn’t her.  Then it happened…it *wasn’t* her, and she totally freaked the eff out.  She was crying, loudly.  At first it was kinda sad and adorable, a little mini Buffy crying onto her patent boots, stake in hand.   It was understandable.  At four years old losing is hard.  Then as it went on it quickly became not cute.   We explained to her that it was okay, that not everyone could win, that she should be happy for the girl who won, whose costume she had admired backstage.  She was still sobbing, whining that “I wanted a prize”.  At that point the response from me was “You didn’t win so you don’t get a prize. Take a breath and pull yourself together, you need to be a gracious loser”.

It was like this, except not as cute.

As people filtered out of the auditorium and we sat there, holding tear-stained Kitty, people offered their congratulations and compliments.  But more than one of them said the same thing: “ALL the kids should get prizes”.  I appreciate the sentiment, I do.  It’s hard to see little ones upset about something they were excited about (a tiny Princess Leia, the only other contestant as young as Kitty was also crying over her loss) but what do our kids learn if they always win?   I’d rather Kit experience losing and have her meltdown over the disappointment of her first big loss now when it’s developmentally appropriate.  If we let all the kids win, victory is meaningless.  And frankly, the kid who won had a better costume and put on an awesome stage show, she deserved the win.

As parents we work so hard to teach our kids to be fair, be kind and be polite.  Losing is a fantastic opportunity to reinforce those lessons.  It’s really, really hard to be a gracious loser, but it’s a skill we all must learn. Making every kid a winner isn’t a great way to prepare kids for real life. Most adults will experience more “losses” than “wins”. No one wants to see a grown woman sobbing because she couldn’t find jeans in her size on sale or an executive throwing a fit because she didn’t land a deal (though that actually does happen…).

We went home, we had celebratory banana splits, and when someone later that night asked her about her experience she said  “I had fun, and I jumped around, but I didn’t win.” without even a hint of sadness.  She got over losing, just like we all learn to.

Am I just a jealous fat girl? And continued musings on sexy geeks.

When I wrote the article I published yesterday, I didn’t have a clear thesis. I knew that the idea of Sexy Geeks pandering bothered me, but I didn’t know why.  I wrote the article in a much different way than I usually do, by just dumping my feelings out onto the page without any real “point” to support.  SDCC was becoming old news and I felt that if I was going to say something, I’d better say it now.
I’m not a feminist blogger, I’m not an activist, I’m not even a professional writer.  I’m a mom who worries about these issues because I have a young daughter.   There are some fantastic articles written out there that address this subject from a similar viewpoint in a much more eloquent manner and I’ve linked to those below.
Now that I’ve had a  little more time to read those articles, to consider  my audience’s well-thought out comments and emails I’d like to clarify some of my ideas and statements.
1.)    I found my thesis.  It’s that I’m pissed off that this topic (Are “Sexy” Geeks pandering?) implies that Girl Geek=Ugly.   This is offensive to ALL women.   Either I’m a “real” geek and I’m unattractive, or I’m pretty and therefore disingenuous and whoring myself out for attention.  It’s sexist and ridiculous, but a prevalent view point.
2.)    It’s the PREMISE of the panel that bothered me, not the participants.  I love all the ladies that were on the panel.  I am a fan of all the women who sat on it.  I think they are all highly-qualified geeks.  And I would love to continue the conversation they started at Comic Con. I used this panel only as a specific, recent example to talk about the issue.
3.)    We all have different ideas of sexy.  Bonnie Burton isn’t a waif and Jill Pantozzi is in a wheelchair, I know this.  But to me both of those women still fit into the category of “Traditionally Good Looking”.  To you they may not and in your eyes the panel may have seemed inclusive.  This is part of the larger conversation that was only briefly touched on during their discussion.  I would love to have a more in-depth discussion about how outside influences shape our body image, how we perceive others and how that affects our self-esteem. 
4.)    I am just a jealous fat girl.  I was surprised to see this sentiment in my inbox.  First I was mad, and then I was hurt, but I’ve done a little self-reflection.  It’s hard to be plus-sized in our society.  I spend a lot of time dealing with preconceived notions that I’m lazy or stupid; that I eat unhealthily; that I could change this easily if I just tried harder.  I’ve lost out on jobs to less qualified competition based on my looks and have encountered men who think I’m not worth talking to because I’m not attractive enough to sleep with.  I occasionally work at a comic book shop and once overhead two customers:
Guy 1 : “I wish girls were into this stuff.”
Guy 2:  “There is a lady working here.”
Guy 1: “Yeah, but she’s fat. Doesn’t count.”
I don’t count.  And I’m not even that fat and I’m pretty cute.  I know there are girls out there who have it even harder and it’s simply because of how we look.  That’s messed up. Am I jealous of the pretty girls?  Yeah, a little.
5.)    The world isn’t going to change overnight.  I am just trying to start a discussion.  Thank you to my awesome readers for helping me down this path.  I’ve read all of the comments you’ve left here, all the Twitter responses and all of the emails.  I’ve thought a lot about what I really wanted to say and know that as we continue talking about this I will continue down the path of self-discovery.  I welcome your comments and I hope to hear from more of you on this topic.
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