My experience at Nerd HQ 2014

HQ-logoI haven’t been to San Diego Comic-Con in a long while; since high school in fact. I started to feel as if I personally didn’t really have a reason to go any longer. I’m not a huge collector and I don’t feel as if I need to be the first to hear major announcements or see premiere content, especially when social media has stuff up literally within seconds. If you are a collector or really want to be present for special announcements, more power to you. No judgement; it’s just not my priority. In addition to all that, I’m tiny (4’10”, under 100 pounds), so large crowds can sometimes be a tad scary for me and it’s no secret that you have to be in a certain state of mind and body-readiness to brave SDCC these days. I will admit that I missed being a part of the shenanigans and fun of the weekend though, so I decided to go down to San Diego this year. I did not, however, purchase or obtain a badge and decided only to attend outside events as an experiment in fun. Could I have a good time and not feel left out of anything if I never planned to step foot inside the convention hall? The answer is yes!

Four years ago, actor Zachary Levi, in conjunction with his venture The Nerd Machine, started an event called Nerd HQ. It is now held at Petco Park. The interactive floor is free for attendees. They hold panels that you can purchased tickets to for a surprisingly low price. These panels don’t require a mad rush to get in because of the ticketing process. You can also pay a small price to have your photo taken at their photo booths with some of your favorite stars. The best part? All proceeds benefit Operation Smile, a charity near and dear to Levi’s heart that provides children with cleft lips and palates in undeveloped countries with receive the surgery needed to correct these issues. This year, they raised over $260,000 to benefit Operation Smile.

23I spent the majority of my days at Nerd HQ. It was my first time and it did not disappoint in giving me a wonderful experience. There was so much to do and see, that I never felt left out of the SDCC happenings and I felt justified in the money I was spending because I knew it was going to a good cause. This year, some of the attractions Nerd HQ had included interactive gaming stations, numerous old-school arcade games (which included my all-time favorite Tetris), a remote-controlled car race station, interactive photo booths, and sneak peaks at upcoming games like Sonic Boom and Alien Isolation. There were also food and drink areas and several lounge spaces to sit and chat, something that I appreciated immensely. Sometimes I just want to chill and talk geekdom.

dgThe panels, dubbed Conversations for a Cause, were incredible. Some of the people who held panels this year would have ridiculously long lines at SDCC, but the panels at Nerd HQ only hold about 300 people. There’s a bit of a dash to purchase tickets initially, but never to get in if you are a ticket holder. The sessions are intimate and entirely Q&A based, so die-hard fans get a very special opportunity to interact with their favorite stars. You can see and read about my experience about many of these panel here on NR.

Thursday evening, Nerd HQ held a fan party in which a DJ was brought in the the dance floor that was largely ignored during day festivities was suddenly the place to be. I attended with several fellow NR writers and we had a fantastic time.

My favorite part of the entire Nerd HQ setup was the Wall of Honor though. Levi crowdfunded a portion of Nerd HQ this year, something he got a lot of flak for from some. I always maintained that since it was an event that provided a weekend of fun for fans and ultimately benefited a charity, that the crowdfunding campaign was warranted and within reason. Any donor during that campaign had their name put on the Wall of Honor. It was a serious point of pride for many people who attended and that was lovely to see.

sfdI will definitely be back next year!

For more information on Nerd HQ and Conversations for a Cause for next year, visit The Nerd Machine.

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