Sunday, April 10, 2016

Fandom Round-Up: In the Sandbox (The Guild, Gamer Barbie, Gamergate)

  Researching fandom is basically researching the culture of my life and times. I'm ingesting so much wonderful, horrifying, intriguing stuff, I want to ponder and write something thoughtful (also brilliant) about it all, right away.
But instead I feel like I'm pouring too much  paint into a spin-art machine, which will spew out a splattering of sludge.

It might help if I turned the machine on regularly and at least spun off some of the paint, even if it's not perfectly calibrated...

I mean, it might help if I'd blog more often, even just a series of stash posts...

I'm going to try to do that more often here.

So... Last night I read You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) (2015) by Felicia Day––gamer, actor, creator of the web series The Guild * [episodes here on youTube, also on Netflix] about a group of gamers, and she also plays a sometimes-recurring character, Charlie, on Supernatural, and today I see that Day retweeted this: from Nicole Gary, Jan 28, 2016:

That Game Developer Barbie is a real thing
Due out this summer, 2016.

Is this Barbie a response to GamerGate, the hateful and terrifying [yet so boring] outpouring of male toxic slime against women [gamers]?
Maybe sorta: "Computer Engineer Barbie Gets a Rewrite".

Day wrote a Tumblr post––"The Only Thing I Have to Say About GamerGate"––in which she explains that she hadn't spoken up earlier because she was afraid of harassment:
"I know this entry will probably draw contempt from people in the Gamer Gate movement. Something to scorn, something to rile them up against me and everything I’ve ever made. Especially, and most hurtfully, to mock my vulnerability."
And her post, thoughtful, funny, and brave as it was, appealing to gamers' shared love of gaming, did draw that response.
You can read in her book about the awful, awful responses (e.g., guys sent registered mail to her home saying "I know where you live" etc. You won't see this if you go the the original post I link to above.)

I knew about gamergate, but reading about Day's experience made me despair of the wisdom of writing anything about fandom that might encourage young people to get online and play.

And yet. Day's point was:
"Don’t let other people drive you away from gaming. 
Games are beautiful, they are creative, they are worlds to immerse yourself in. They are art. And they are worth fighting for, even if the atmosphere is ugly right now."

Today I came across a heartening post by writer John Scalzi, whose novel about Star Trek background characters, Redshirts [i09 review], I had enjoyed:
"Why I'm Glad I'm Male" [boldface mine]:

"I’ll just come right out and say it: being male is easy. Being male, white, educated, able-bodied, well-off and attracted to women? Shit, man. Easier still. It’s perfect for me, you know, because I’m lazy. All these unearned credits and passes and wave-offs from ridiculous shit are perfect for someone like me. Why would I want to be anything else? Anything else is work.

This is all, obviously, horribly unfair in my favor. I am not opposed to — indeed, actively encourage and work toward — things becoming less negatively unfair for everyone else. Unfortunately, this idea makes many people of my kind twitchy, I suppose because they assume that making things less unfair for everyone else means that things get worse for them. The idea that everyone having the same rights and privileges isn’t a zero-sum game where someone has to lose apparently doesn’t compute. It makes me sad that a class of people who have so many advantages can still be in aggregate that completely stupid."
More than his post, I enjoyed his moderation of his comments.
I don't know much about this, but there's gotta be a way for sites to better handle "completely stupid" and dangerous twitchiness, like Scalzi does well. (Of course it's his private site, but still---he's inspiring.)

It's under discussion, for instance, here: 
 "What Twitter Must Do" [to halt harassment], Slate, Jan 2016.

I wish I could but of course I can't represent fandom as a Utopia; any misguided hopes (yes, of mine) that the Internet would make us better people were delusional from the start. 
But it doesn't make us worse people. 
It gives us space to play, and to play, you sometimes have to use your vorpal blade.

I take heart from Day's Tumblr post:
"So to myself and to everyone else who operates out of love not vengeance: Don’t abandon games. Don’t cross the street. Gaming needs you. To create, to play, to connect. 

To represent."

Also [merch for anti-bullying campaign]:

* On a fun note, a meta fanvid from The Guild: "Do You Want to Date My Avatar?" 
[you know, "avatar" = character a gamer plays in a video game]


The Crow said...

Re: your post - 'Twas brillig, and brilliant, Frex!

Frex said...

Aw, thanks, Crow, for the vote of support (nice ref to Jabberwocky!) I'm reading such a lot of complicated, interconnected stuff that deserves more thought and time, but at least I am starting to gather and sort it. Much, much more where that comes from...

ArtSparker said...

Love The Guild. Her character is kind of the patron saint for overthinkers.

Fresca said...

SPARKY: I want a Saint Felicia medal!!!