Nerd HQ has been a favorite stop of mine since I started attending SDCC a few years ago. The Nerd Machine, a company & brand created by Zachary Levi and David Coleman, produces the event. The event is primarily a place to allow con attendees a mini-con experience, party, and relax while supporting a worthy cause – Operation Smile. Operation Smile provides life-changing surgery to children who have cleft lip, cleft palate and other surgically amenable conditions. I learned from attending the event this year that the cost of each smile (surgery) is $240.
For 2016, Nerd HQ was located at The New Children’s Museum, two blocks north of the Marriott Marina. This was the second year at this particular location and the setup included multiple floors of space utilized for gaming, merchandising, relaxing, and the onsite panels (Conversations for a Cause).
Registration was rather easy and each attendee received a RFID bracelet. When entering the site there was a security check (very friendly group of folks) and then you “tapped in”. There was only one entry and one exit point so the flow of attendees entering and exiting the building is managed well.
FoCC tip – This is a popular event so line lengths will very throughout the day so plan your time accordingly. Also, do not tighten the bracelet too much because it does not loosen after tightening. If you leave enough room for the bracelet to come off easily you can take it off when you shower or have other things to do and not have to wear it the entire time.
The gaming setup was certainly awe inspiring and gaming sessions could be reserved in advance. There were friendly personnel in each area to explain the directions of the game so novices did not have to feel intimidated to try out a game.
In the arena for gaming there were many gaming demonstration stations setup throughout the facility and included:
– Battlefield 1
– Gears of War 4
– Dead Rising
– Titanfall 2
– Final Fantasy XV
I tried out Recore and was provided with an excellent introduction to the game and instructions on how to play the game by one of the staff in the area.
A new addition to Nerd HQ this year was the Hallmark pop-up shop. There was a good variety of items available for purchase and the staff on site were quick helpful. Personally I had to keep my wallet in check or I would have had to purchase two Christmas trees to decorate this year.
Conversations for a Cause is a highlight for most that attend and enjoy Nerd HQ. This year there were improvements to the panel room with the addition of risers for seating was a welcome addition and the air-conditioning improvements certainly won points with the attendees.
FoCC tip – Download the Nerd HQ app and setup the ‘push’ notifications to stay apprised of all updates and announcements.
I personally attended five panels this year:
– American Gods
– Orphan Black
– Men of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
– Chardich Boseman
Each panel I attended offered an intimate environment where the panelists answered questions from the audience. There were some delightful moments for me which included:
– The Neil Gailman impression by Bruce Langley (American Gods)
– Kristian Bruun wearing a “Free Donnie” shirt given to him by a fan (Orphan Black)
– Kevin Hanchard egging Kristian Bruun to “drop his pants” – like he did at the panel two years ago.
– The Emmy chant for Tatiana Maslany from the fans (someone started that – will not say who *wink*)
The parties hosted at the Nerd HQ are a highlight for those looking to dance the evening away. While I did not personally attend the parties the feedback from people I spoke with who attended was positive.
Overall, Nerd HQ delivers a great experience each year and always offers a unique experience away from the convention center. While the event is a mainstay the staff, volunteers, and security deserve a lot of credit for creating a fun and friendly atmosphere. I look forward to the return of Nerd HQ in 2017.
To see what others are saying about their experience at Nerd HQ click here to join the conversation on the FoCC forum.