Last Sunday I held a panel - well, a one woman panel anyway - on the topic of gender and nerd culture at Anime Boston. Anime Boston, for those unfamiliar, is the biggest anime convention in New England, so it felt like the perfect place to start giving this presentation. It was originally going to be more of a discussion, which is why I requested a small room, but I got carried away with my presentation and it took up the better part of an hour.
Now, the panel was originally waitlisted. The coordinator said it wasn't exactly relevant for an anime and Japanese gaming convention. Fair enough, it does deal with a broad issue of nerd culture in general. And my friends were unconvinced that a lot of people would be interested in a panel like that. But it was accepted on the second and final round, giving me two weeks to prepare. I advertised it to people on my friendlist, and on the convention's form and Facebook page, but only my friends RSVP'd, so when the day finally came I was slightly afraid no one outside my circle of friends would attend.
I filled the room. People came in droves, a staff member had to clear out the people sitting on the floor and there was a line of people waiting to get in during the panel. I should consider asking for a bigger room next time. I was thrilled, and I was also excited that a lot of people seemed genuinely interested in the topic and had questions and comments throughout the presentation. In the future I may ask people to hold questions and comments for the end, but I really like engaging people in what I'm talking about.
I also need to decide whether I want to cut the presentation down to be a little shorter, or ask for more time. My friend insisted that if it was any longer people might be bored, but I'm unconvinced.
Unfortunately I haven't gotten a whole lot of substantial feedback in terms of what I should cover in the future, or maybe some things I should change, so I've mostly been trying to figure that out on my own. For one thing I plan on talking about booth babes in future presentations, as well as common gendered tropes in anime. I will admit I may have made a mistake in assuming that guys like the male fantasy of power that the hypermasculine video game heroes usually represent - some do, but since the panel I've found that many guys actually feel a disconnect between themselves and the super muscular man-apes in video games, hence why so many of them opt for the female playable characters when possible, because they are easier to relate to despite being female.
This seems to be a presentation that grows and evolves with time, but nevertheless something I want to keep doing. I very much enjoyed being up there and talking about the subject. I also didn't mind the applause and the praise I got afterwards, it was pretty rewarding.