NerdCon: Stories Roundup
On October 9-10, 2015, thousands of nerds descended upon Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the first NerdCon. Created by Hank Green and the team behind VidCon, along with the help of Patrick Rothfuss, the inaugural NerdCon was centered on a theme universal to all times, places, and ways of life: storytelling.
NerdCon: Stories brought people together to celebrate storytelling in all forms through panels, performances, games, music, and community. Featured guests included authors like John Green, Rainbow Rowell, Holly Black, Lev Grossman, Patrick Rothfuss, Stephanie Perkins, and Maureen Johnson (to name a few), as well as performing artists like Paul and Storm, Dessa Darling, and the cast of Welcome to Night Vale. Also making appearances and representing the Harry Potter community were the wizard rock band Harry and the Potters and the Harry Potter Alliance, which celebrated its tenth birthday at NerdCon: Stories.
NerdCon had a very similar feel to LeakyCon, and not just because the HPA birthday party ended in a jam circle of “The Weapon” with Harry and the Potters. It was because people were coming together to celebrate something they love and meeting new friends in the process. The featured guests were constantly remarking on how enthusiastic and positive the attendees were, thanking attendees for being so supportive of them and of each other.
At the opening of the convention, Hank Green made a speech about why he chose stories as the theme of the first NerdCon. He said that stories matter and are ingrained in everything we do. Stories make us unique as humans while at the same time being universal across all types of human experiences. He also said that while he created NerdCon, he wasn’t quite sure what it was going to turn out to be. He said that the creator’s job is to make the thing and then run away; let the people do the rest. So he made a thing, and that thing was NerdCon, and that thing was good.
But it wasn’t just good because of Hank Green or Patrick Rothfuss or Welcome to Night Vale. It was good because of the people. They took the thing and made it great. The audience was constantly engaged with the guests and each other, making new friends, asking complex questions, and of course, telling stories. Attendees got a chance to perform at nightly open mics, and there was also a storytelling circle hosted by Leslie Datsis. Attendees shared their favorite books through the HPA’s Apparating Library and got to talk to their favorite authors in panels and signings. The con came to a close with a performance of the Neo-Futurists’ “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind,” a play that depends on audience participation in order to exist. From beginning to end, the participants as well as the creators were what made NerdCon: Stories special.
When Hank first announced NerdCon, it sounded as if each year the convention would have a different theme. But from the reaction of this first year, I wouldn’t be surprised if NerdCon: Stories were to come around again.