|Author Guest of Honor: Ryka Aoki|
Ryka Aoki is a poet, composer, teacher, and novelist. Her latest novel, Light From Uncommon Stars (Tor Books 2021) was an Alex, SCKA, and Otherwise Award winner, and was also a finalist for the Hugo, Locus, and Ignyte Awards.
Ryka is a two-time Lambda Literary Award finalist for her collections Seasonal Velocities, and Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul, and her first novel, He Mele a Hilo, was callled one of the "10 Best Books Set in Hawaii" by Bookriot. She has been recognized by the California State Senate for "extraordinary commitment to the visibility and well-being of Transgender people," and her work has appeared or been recognized in publications including Vogue, Elle, Bustle, Autostraddle, PopSugar, and Buzzfeed, as well as the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. She was also honored to work with the American Association of Hiroshima Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors, where two of her compositions were adopted as the organization's "songs of peace."
She has an MFA in creative writing from Cornell University, and is currently a professor of English at Santa Monica College.
|Artist Guest of Honor: Winona Nelson|
Artist/writer Winona Nelson was born in 1983 and grew up in Duluth, Minnesota. She has drawn all her life and began painting digitally as a teenager. She studied classical realism and art for the entertainment industry at the Safehouse Atelier in San Francisco.
Winona is a queer, Two Spirit Indigenous person, and her fine art often focuses on the stories and history of her tribe, the Ojibwe of Minnesota, and on gender and diversity.
She now freelances fulltime, working in illustration, concept art, comics, fine art, children's books, and worldbuilding/IP development. Clients include Marvel Studios, Naughty Dog, Wizards of the Coast, and Scholastic Books. She teaches concept art and illustration for SmArt School.
Winona illustrated "If You Lived During the Plimoth Thanksgiving" by Christopher Newell (named one of the School Library Journal's Best Books of 2021 and received starred reviews in the School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews) and "If You Sailed on the Titanic" by Denise Patrick Lewis for Scholastic Books. Past publications include DC: Women of Action, Women of Wonder, Spectrum 17, Spectrum 18, Spectrum 19, Spectrum 20, Gorilla Artbook, Exotique 2, and Exotique 4.
Winona has participated in gallery exhibitions in Connecticut, Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New York City.
She lives in Pennsylvania with artist beau Anthony Palumbo and their gentleman cats, Diego and Tod.
|Fan Guest of Honor: Tanya DePass|
Tanya DePass is the founder and Director of I Need Diverse Games, a not-for-profit organization based in Chicago, which is dedicated to better diversification of all aspects of gaming. I Need Diverse Games serves the community by supporting marginalized developers, attendance at the Game Developer Conference by participating in the GDC Scholarship program, helps assist attendance at other industry events, and is seeking partnership with organizations and initiatives. Tanya is a lifelong Chicagoan who loves everything about gaming, #INeedDiverseGames spawn point, and wants to make the industry better and more inclusive for everyone. She's part of the "Rivals of Waterdeep" actual play stream on twitch.tv/rivalsofwaterdeep, a partnered Twitch variety broadcaster; and often speaks on issues of diversity, feminism, race, intersectionality & other topics online, at conventions and as a public speaker.
She's the creator and Creative Director of Into the Mother Lands, a new, Twitch supported, sci-fi afro-futurist RPG developed with a team of all POC and Black creators; live-streamed on her twitch channel, cypheroftyr. She's also contributed to publications at Green Ronin, Paizo and Monte Cook Games and is the co-developer for the Fifth Season RPG based on N.K. Jemisin's three time Hugo award winning Broken Earth trilogy. Additionally, she is a Senior Annenberg labs Civic Media Fellow at USC.
She's named as one of The Game Awards Future Class of 2020, a diverse group of builders, thinkers and dreamers whose voices elevate and diversify our art-form. It recognizes individuals around the world who represent the bright, bold and inclusive future for video games. She was also named as one of Gamers of the Year 2020 by Kotaku along with three of her contemporaries. She was also invited to the Xbox MVP program in February 2021.
Her work to make the industry more inclusive has been highlighted in Game Changer. The short documentary premiered at Tribeca 2021, as part of the Queen Collective; an initiative started by Queen Latifah.
Tanya is the programming & diversity coordinator for OrcaCon and GaymerX. She also serves on the Board of Directors for OrcaCon and was named the Chair for Take This in January 2023. She often speaks on issues of diversity, feminism, race, intersectionality & other topics at conventions. Her writing about games and games critique appears in Uncanny Magazine, Polygon, Wiscon Chronicles, Vice Gaming, Paste Games, Mic, and other publications. She's the editor of Game Devs and Others: Tales from the Margins (2018, CRC Press) and contributed to The Advanced Game Narrative Toolbox. (2019, CRC Press)
Photo Credit: CamRicePhoto