As Comic-Con attendees, we don’t really like change.
Which is perhaps why we were all a little apprehensive when Nerd HQ announced that they were moving from Petco Park – which had been a great location for the offsite event in 2013 and in 2014, though last year it did start to feel a little too crowded. Although Petco was the only location that Nerd HQ has stayed in for two years during their five-year-run, it came to define what the event was for a lot of attendees, as during those years its popularity boomed (and for good reason).
In the end though, there was nothing to fear – as The New Children’s Museum offered not only a stellar new location for this year’s Nerd HQ, but also brought back the hangout vibe that had been missing a bit last year due to the crowds.
With three floors offering gaming, drinks, celebrity-studded Conversations for a Cause panels, and a place to relax, Nerd HQ was easily one of our favorite spots this year to sit down for a few minutes and just let everything soak in. They had more seating than ever (and new sofas!), as well as food trucks outside, a “Share a Coke” station, a brand new line of 2015 Nerd HQ merchandise, activations from X-Men: Days of Future Past the Rogue Cut, and more. Best of all, although there were lines (it is Comic-Con), they never felt outrageously long, as the flow of people moving in and out seemed steady and kept things moving at a fast pace.
Attendees could also swing by on Thursday or Saturday nights, when the venue transformed into a dance floor for the popular Nerd HQ dance parties open to the public. Fans dropped by for a chance to dance the night away, dance with raptors, and snap photos at the Nerd HQ photo booth.
— Lisa Poje (@Pojemotion) July 12, 2015
The shining star of Nerd HQ though was, as always, the Conversations for a Cause panels. This year brought back a lot of familiar faces, as well as some exciting new ones, for intimate panels. Because of the venue, the amount of seating for the panels shrunk a bit – but if anything, that just led to feeling like the event was going back to their roots of trying to make the Conversations extra special for the lucky few in attendance (and honestly, we can’t imagine squeezing in more seats to the room without adding stadium seating).
This year’s guests included William Shatner; Sherlock; Con Man with Alan Tudyk, Nathan Fillion, and more; Elijah Wood; Stephen Amell; Orphan Black; The Maze Runner (three years in a row!); Joss Whedon; Supernatural; Marvel TV with Chloe Bennett, Clark Gregg, Hayley Atwell, and James Darcy; Heroes: Reborn; Supermansion with Bryan Cranston, Seth Green, and more; The Last Ship, and so much more.
We say this every year, but if you’ve never been to a Nerd HQ panel – the difference between the panels happening across the street are palpable. Here, although most attendees are there to promote something, it feels more like an informal chat with the fans. Questions aren’t screened, which is how you end up with a wide range of Q&A’s, in which you get everything from fans asking the cast of Agent Carter and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to do a DubSmash for Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood (which they did), to Joss Whedon answering a fan question that perhaps Steve Rogers could have picked up Thor’s hammer in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and simply chose not to. Anything can happen, and it’s that excitement that will always make Nerd HQ one of the hottest tickets around Comic-Con.
They also offered more gaming panels than ever before this year, with special presentations for Battlebots, Project Morpheus, and even a chance to play a 20 versus 20 battle of Star Wars Battlefront. Also on one of those teams? Zachary Levi. Where else would you get that opportunity? Plus, it’s all for Operation Smile.
Sure, we’ve got a few minor quibbles with this year – the venue got a little toasty at times, but that’s a problem widespread across most of San Diego. The buttons on the redesigned app were so small it felt a bit like extra promotion for Ant-Man.
But overall, this may have been the best year yet for Nerd HQ – and if they choose to utilize The New Children’s Museum again next year, we’ll know there’s absolutely no reason to worry.
Here’s a look at some of our favorite moments from Nerd HQ 2015, and if you couldn’t attend the panels live, you can also catch all of the livestreams from IGN.
A closer look at the new venue:
Did you stop by Nerd HQ 2015? What were your thoughts? Let us know in the comments.