ConBust: Smith’s Genre and Gaming Convention

Photo by Carolyn Brown '16 | ConBust is a gaming convention put on each Spring by Smith Science Fiction and Fantasy Society.

Photo by Carolyn Brown ’16 | ConBust is a gaming convention put on each Spring by Smith Science Fiction and Fantasy Society.

 

Celena Farrell ’14J
Contributing Writer

ConBust is a sci-fi/anime/gaming convention with fantasy elements put on each spring by Smith Science Fiction and Fantasy Society (SSFFS). This three-day event traditionally runs the weekend following the return from spring break and provides fans of various fandoms the opportunity to gather and enjoy their interests in a welcoming group. Panels, workshops, and vendors are present throughout the weekend, as well as a varied array of guests.

This past weekend, guests included Tamora Pierce, Smith graduate Stephanie Dray, and Kelly Turnbull. In addition to these guests were panelists including the Doctor Who Club of Western Massachusetts and the Salem Zouves, a historical weapons reenactment group.

All the guests and panelists came to Smith College for ConBust with the goal of sharing their love of speculative fiction as a lens through which to view the world and its events.  The end of the ConBust mission statement echoes this sentiment: “What sets ConBust apart from most other sci-fi, fantasy, anime, and/or gaming conventions is its focus on the female members of the participating community. While the various realms of geekdom remain stereotypically male-dominated, ConBust is held to celebrate the work of women within these genres.”

ConBust’s most notable event is the panel called “Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy,” but this year panelists asked to run two more specific panels on the same theme: “Women in Doctor Who” and “Women in Anime.”

Many specific areas of what ConBust attendees themselves refer to as “geekdom” had representation at the weekend event: fans of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” had their own panel run by members of BronyCon; the Doctor Who Club of Western Mass. ran two panels; members of the webcomic Homestuck fandom ran a panel entitled “Let Me Tell You About Homestuck” while in full costume and character; a member of ConBust staff ran a panel on Lolita fashion; a role-playing-game Gamemaster ran panels on how to moderate games.  There were also many panels on writing, which included how to create characters – with an emphasis on female characters – and several panels on the publishing industry and how to enter into a male-dominated industry.

CJ Prager ’14, head co-chair of ConBust, said that this was the “nicest and most respectful” group of con-goers she has ever seen. “It’s a common sight to see con-goers clustering around each other, complimenting costumes and joining in conversations about fandoms with people they have only just met, or otherwise just laughing and smiling and having a good time simply because they’re surrounded by people who understand what it is to be in fandom, and thus often seen as slightly marginalized and outside of the norm.”

As a weekend-long event, ConBust strives to be a place where people of every gender, race, and creed can come and intermingle through a shared love of fandoms and a desire to see more gender equality in a stereotypically male-dominated field.

For more information on ConBust, please go to sophia.smith.edu/conbust, email conbust@gmail.com, or find Conbust on Facebook or Tumblr.

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