Tagged: Discworld

Emily S. Whitten: NADWCon is BACK, Baby!


Yes, that’s right, The North American Discworld Convention, previously held in 2009, 2011, and 2013, is coming back to an as-yet-unannounced North American location in 2017! And yes, I’ve ordered my con-runner’s straitjacket, as I will be co-chairing the Con along with the Chair from the 2013 Con. (For those who are not aware, I also co-founded NADWCon from 2005-2009, Vice-Chaired the 2009 Con, and Chaired the 2011 Con. In other words, I know a bit about con-running.)

Despite knowing I’m probably going to lose a healthy dose of sanity before the end, I’m super excited to be helping to bring back this awesome Discworld Con for North American (and world-traveling!) fans. We took a break in 2015 (due in large part to Discworld creator Sir Terry Pratchett’s declining health and sad passing in March) but even with Sir Terry gone, his creations and fans live on, and we will continue to celebrate that “until the ripples they cause in the world die away.”

For further convention news, please stay tuned to the new NADWCon website, and check out our first press release there, reprinted in full below.

Fourth North American Discworld Convention to Take Place in 2017 – Convention will celebrate Discworld and the works of Sir Terry Pratchett

The North American Discworld Convention (NADWCon), a literary convention focusing on the works of Discworld series author Sir Terry Pratchett, will be returning to the fandom convention schedule in 2017. NADWCon, which debuted in Tempe, AZ in 2009, and has since taken place in Madison, WI in 2011 and Baltimore, MD in 2013, is a four-day convention of approximately 1,000 attendees which consists of themed Discworld and other Pratchett-related programming and guests.

The 2017 NADWCon will be organized by RavenQuoth, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that was responsible for NADWCon 2013, which raised over $24,000 in charity funds that were split equally between the Orangutan Foundation UK and Alzheimer’s Research UK. The 2017 NADWCon will be co-chaired by Emily S. Whitten and Richard Atha-Nicholls. Emily S. Whitten was co-founder of The North American Discworld Convention, Vice-Chair of NADWCon 2009, and Chair of NADWCon 2011. Richard Atha-Nicholls was Chair of NADWCon 2013 and is President of RavenQuoth, Inc.

In the summer of 2014, RavenQuoth, Inc. received approval from Sir Terry Pratchett to organize future North American Discworld Conventions. Sir Terry, best-selling adult fiction author in the UK, award-winning writer of over 70 books during his career, and creator of the Discworld series, passed away on March 12, 2015 at the age of 66 after living with Alzheimer’s disease for eight years. NADWCon 2017 will be held in memory of Sir Terry, in honor and celebration of his works, and in the style which Sir Terry so enjoyed while attending as the Guest of Honor at prior Discworld conventions.

NADWCon 2017 and RavenQuoth, Inc. will provide further announcements and details about the 2017 convention in the upcoming months. Further information will be available at http://nadwcon2017.org.

Until next time, The Turtle Moves! And Servo Lectio!

Emily S. Whitten: Terry Pratchett – Shaking Hands with Death

Best-selling author Sir Terry Pratchett passed away on Thursday, March 12, and the final tweets from his Twitter account were a fitting and poignant way to announce his passing. Even though I knew it was coming, given Terry’s long struggle with Alzheimer’s and attendant health issues, it broke my heart a little bit more to hear that it really was the end.

I was fortunate to know Terry for almost ten years, beginning with my work on The North American Discworld Conventions after meeting Terry at a book signing in 2005 Along with being a great light in this world and one of my all-time favorite authors, he was also my longtime friend; and it’s hard to know how to sum up my feelings in the wake of his passing.

So much of my life would be different and much less rich without having known Sir Terry. From lending warmth and humor to the reading breaks I took from dry law school texts, to the experiences and wisdom and new opportunities I gained through building conventions from scratch, to wonderful friends I’d never have met if not for a shared love of Discworld, to all of the myriad ways his writing has caused me to ponder and question my views of the world, reading and knowing Terry literally changed my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know that I am not alone in my feelings here, and my sincerest condolences go out to Terry’s family, his other friends, and the many, many other Discworld fans who are also mourning his death.

It’s both a nice thing and a strange one to see all of the public tributes to a person I am mourning on a personal level as well as due to the loss of his amazing talent; but I am very glad to see Terry getting the honor he deserves the world over for his achievements and contributions. Many are paying tribute to and writing about him and his works, and I’m sure that won’t cease any time soon, which is as it should be. It’s great to know that his impact on the world will be felt for years to come; and it’s comforting to read or listen to the social media posts and discussions by fellow Discworld fans and friends. (And this talk by Neil Gaiman, who honored Terry by devoting much of his time at an event onstage on March 12 to reading a bit of Good Omens and remembering Terry in conversation with Michael Chabon.)

Discworld fans are some of the most fun and intelligent folks I’ve ever met in fandom. As sad as I am over Terry’s passing, it delights me to see the many tributes, stories, and testimonials to how Terry and his work continuously changed people’s views and lives. It also surprises me not one bit to see that Pratchett fans have already begun to think up ways to ensure the memory of Terry lives on forever not just through his works, but through what his writing inspires other people to create. The “GNU Terry Pratchett” code is both a touching reference to Going Postal, and a bit of nerdy fan fun that would have delighted Terry, who was always glad to see fans enjoying Discworld, and unfailingly giving of his time and attention to those who appreciated his work.

But that doesn’t sum up the essence of Terry. The best summation of the Terry I knew comes from Neil Gaiman, in the foreword he wrote for Terry’s most recent collection of non-fiction writings, A Slip of the Keyboard. It can be read here. As Neil noted, Terry, while often genial, could in fact also be angry and impatient – with stupidity, with injustice, with unkindness – and he wasn’t one to hide or repress that anger. Instead, it underlies a lot of the genius that makes the Discworld series great. Underneath the humor and the fantasy, and the trolls, dwarves, wizards, witches, dragons, and more that inhabit that magical land, lie currents of deep and incisive observations and thoughts about how the world is versus how it should be if things were just and fair; and how and why we humans both often fail at being the better people he imagined we can be, and sometimes, against all odds, succeed in glorious fashion.

Terry’s brilliant satire both skewers humanity for its shortcomings and lifts it up for its goodness because of, as Neil put it, his love “for human beings, in all our fallibility; for treasured objects; for stories; and ultimately and in all things, love for human dignity. …anger is the engine that drives him, but it is the greatness of spirit that deploys that anger on the side of the angels, or better yet for all of us, the orangutans.”

This is the Terry that I treasure and will remember forever, from our first genial meeting in a small Virginia bookstore, through discussions and plans about what the North American convention ought to be like, (“by the fans, for the fans!”), and into odd and entertaining conversations had over a shared bowl of edamame at whatever sushi place we could locate wherever we happened to be. Along with his work, the funny and sharp yet still sweet moments I shared with Terry are what I will continue to hold dear. Like the story about the National Book Festival that I told BBC Radio 5live in the interview about 5 minutes from the end of this program. Or the time at the 2009 NADWCon when, after half a day of rushing around with Terry as his Guest Liaison, we found ourselves in the Green Room for a few unprecedented moments of calm. As Terry signed some books that needed signing, I took a pause from working at 2 p.m. to eat my first meal of the day, a yogurt and a granola bar (hey, I never said I acted like a sane person while running conventions). A couple of bites of yogurt in, Terry looked up from where he was industriously signing away and said, in a voice of concern, “Are you alright?” I said, “Yes, Terry, I’m fine. Why?” And he replied, with that slight twinkle in his eye, “You’ve gone quiet. That can’t be normal.” And there it was, the slyly sharp and observant Pratchett humor, poking fun at me for my regular stream of chatter, with which by then he was very familiar; but combined with a genuine concern that maybe something in the universe wasn’t quite right for a friend just then and something might need to be done about it. That was Terry to a T.

From start to finish, Terry was also defined by being a prolific and driven writer. Starting out as a journalist for the Bucks Free Press at the age of seventeen, Terry never stopped writing. Even near to the end, Terry continued to be driven to write, and has thus left us with one more finished Discworld book to look forward to; The Shepherd’s Crown, which should be out sometime this fall. It’s a Tiffany Aching book, which delights me both because Tiffany has always been a favorite of mine (Wintersmith sharing the title of My All-Time Favorite Pratchett Book with Night Watch), and because The Chalk where the Tiffany books mainly take place is closest in Roundworld geography to the area in which Terry lived. When I visited the area and walked out to Old Sarum and the surrounding area after reading the Tiffany books, I experienced the odd sensation of seeing The Chalk through Terry’s eyes and storytelling, and feeling the overlay of his magical fiction on the reality I walked through – or, to put it in more Pratchettian terms, feeling the thinning of the fabric of reality between the Discworld and Roundworld. For that experience as well as the beauty of the area and the feeling that, like Tiffany, Terry was very connected with and grounded in that land, The Chalk has always held a special place in my heart. I find it fitting that the last Discworld book is set in the Discworld equivalent of the land Terry lived in and loved.

In thinking of Terry’s passing, I recall that over the years, Terry noted that many people had told him that they feared Death less thanks to his portrayal of the character as an, if not exactly friendly, then at least comfortable and natural presence in the Discworld series. As with Terry’s other characters, Discworld’s Death reflects some of the fundamental truths about human nature that Terry understood and was so well-versed in; and is, I think, a Death Terry would not have been afraid to meet. It deeply saddens me to know that I will never again share a bowl of edamame and a fascinating conversation with Terry, but it comforts me to think that Death came for him as for an old friend with a mutual understanding of how the world works, and that they are now off somewhere together, keeping company with cats as they “murder a curry” during a companionable journey across the black desert to the ultimate end.

Although I can’t converse with Terry in this life anymore, the final thing I would like to say to him is: Even though you’ve left us, Terry, you’ll always be with me in spirit. I’ll miss you forever. Thank you for being my inspiration and my friend for so many years.

And when it comes to your writings, whether they be the much re-read favorites or the newest and last book of the Discworld series, I will always Servo Lectio.


Emily S. Whitten: Adventures in Podcasting with Made of Fail

Made of FailYou know what’s awesome? When, completely unexpectedly, your two amazing friends who started a fun geek culture podcast  back in 2008 and have been dedicating their time to making it bigger and better ever since, schedule a conference call with you and your friend Cleolinda Jones, and tell you they want you to have it. Like, you know, if you want it and stuff.

That’s what happened to me one month ago. And now, ladies and gents, I’m the new co-host of the podcast Made of Fail! Which is so awesome that it even has its own page on TV Tropes. Of course, there is some reasoning behind this change. You see, way back in the annals of history (a.k.a. 2008), Cleolinda (the author of the Movies in 15 Minutes parodies and book, who you may also remember from this ComicMix interview), was invited to be a guest on Made of Fail. Naturally when she told me, I started listening to it, discovered what a great podcast it is, and continued to listen and be a fan of the show. Eventually, co-founder Kevin O’Shea and I bonded over Terry Pratchett and Discworld  fandom and he invited me to be a guest on the show, too. Since then, I’ve been a guest on four episodes; and Cleolinda has been a guest on, oh, thousands (give or take). And we’ve both become good friends with the original hosts.

What’s really cool about this podcast is that the co-founders and original hosts, Kevin O’Shea and Dayna Abel, are great friends who started the show just to, essentially, share the geek things they are enthusiastic about. The listener base started out pretty small, as just their friends and family; and as it grew, it seemed to retain that family-and-friend vibe, spawning new circles of friends who met through the show. I am fortunate to have been part of this circle for years now, meeting both online and in-person friends (including Kevin and Dayna) thanks to the show. And I am most fortunate to have been one of the people who came to mind when they realized that, for various reasons, they needed to pass the torch of the show to a new pair of friends.

I’m really excited about this opportunity, and Cleolinda and I both have lots of great ideas for future episodes, which we hope to keep true to the original intentions of the show. And, in the spirit of this being such a warm, friendly, familial-feeling sort of show, I’d be super-happy if some of the ComicMix family (I have many families!) wants to check out the show as we take over. So in case you’re looking for something fun to listen to, here’s an episode listing for most of the past episodes, including episode 40 which features both me and Cleolinda; and here’s this past month’s transition episode, featuring both the old co-hosts and the new! Give it a listen, eh?

And until next time, Servo Lectio!


Emily S. Whitten: J!NX! You Owe Me A Baby Pig!

Eat More PizzaJust kidding, J!NX. You don’t owe me anything, because in fact you just sent me a whole bunch of things, and they are awwwwwesome! Although I’m not lying when I say I have a soft spot for baby pigs. But to get back to the point at hand – on Friday, I arrived home to a Mysterious Package of Mystery from J!NX, a store known primarily for video game-themed apparel and other merchandise. You can imagine my excitement! Upon tearing into it, I found a bunch of J!NX’s new merchandise – three cool women’s tees, two cool men’s’ tees, a hilariously fun hood, a Minecraft collectible/toy I can really get behind, and, of course, a couple of J!NX stickers.

First up was a shirt that shows J!NX knows where its priorities are and wants to make sure I do too: a.k.a. the women’s fit Eat More Pizza shirt. It’s pixelated deliciousness and it looks pretty yummy when worn, too. I love the color, and all of the tees feel soft and comfortable (yay!). Next in the batch was the women’s fit Pixelution tee, which shows the evolution of one wee red pixel into a cute l’il pixelated wizard. This shirt is downright adorable. And nerdy. It’s nerdorable! Also? The wizard makes me think of the Unseen University wizards of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, so bonus points for that.

The next shirt came in a women’s and men’s fit, so clearly my boyfriend and I must wear them together for maximum gamerliciousness. We can also wear them around young children and then turn off the lights if we want to terrify them twofold, because the shirts are the frightening DOTA 2 Day Walker Night Stalker tees, and they glow in the dark!Mwahaha! I love things that glow in the dark!

And last up in the tees department was a men’s shirt that I’m sure my boyfriend will relish, given his favorite sweatshirt has the J!NX skull on it. You may think the regular ol’ J!NX skull is a little unnerving on its own; but if you really want to intimidate people, why not go for the Valhalla skull tee? With its nasty, big, pointy, teeth! It’s a winner.

And speaking of winners, to go with the tees, J!NX sent along the best hat. Well, okay, cowl, a.k.a. the DOTA 2 Meepo Cowl which has ears. Eaaaarrrrs!!! I’m a sucker for hats with ears. The cowl fits well, and the ears are soft and detailed and, despite being long and not having any wire inside, stand up very well, just as they should. Hooray! Clearly I’ll need to wear this at the next con I go to. And if you’re a DOTA 2 fan, it could definitely make a good costuming piece.

Last, but certainly not least (I saved the best for last), as someone who for a long time owned an accurate do-it-yourself plastic human skeleton, and who has a strange desire to own the Visible Gummy Bear that always seems to be out of stock on Thinkgeek, I was excited to receive the Minecraft Creeper Anatomy Deluxe Vinyl Figure. It’s both totally creepy and totally fun, with clever packaging “explaining” the parts of the Creeper, which include the brain (“Cerebral Cortex Programmed To Follow And Wreck Your Stuff”) and TNT, even though you can’t see the brain when the Creeper is all put together. And despite the assembled piece being half skeleton, and being the representation of a complete pain in the butt in the actual game, when put together it kind of looks like a weird little tragi-comedy pet. I confess I’m already rather fond of it (expecially given the TNT is fake and it can’t blow up any of my stuff).

If you’re a Minecraft fan and are looking for a fun piece of collectible merchandise, this is a pretty cool one to have. Although really, even if J!NX didn’t send me a plush pig, they should have sent me a plush ocelot to keep my Creeper in line! Right? Right?? Oh well. Maybe I’ll just have to do some shopping on my own. Including maybe picking up a few pretty cool Portal 2 things.

… Hey, do you guys hear that noise? It sounds like… someone crying? Oh. Oh, it’s my wallet. I’d better go calm it down.

But don’t worry, I’ll be back shortly; and until next time, Servo Lectio!


Emily S. Whitten: A Female Gamer in the Maelstrom of #Gamergate

For today’s column I was going to write about fan conventions. I’ve been covering fan conventions pretty non-stop since the con season really kicked into gear, and I’ve still got a plethora of great pictures, videos, and interviews to share. I’ve got interviews from Dragon Con with Bill Farmer, the cast of Arrow, and Mary McDonnell. I’ve got a report on the Harvey Awards and Baltimore Comic Con and all the great comics creators who were there. Heck, I’m not even done writing about SDCC panels, even though July seems like a distant memory now.

But instead of writing about all of that fun stuff, I’m going to be writing about something entirely different and much more distressing. And that is my thoughts as generated by the current state of the gaming community, in the wake of a series of events and attacks that is so widespread, nebulous, and in some instances so based on hearsay that it is difficult to condense into one comprehensive and reliable article with accompanying links. Instead of trying to cover every corner of what’s been going on, I’d like to address my own ruminations on what I’ve seen. But before I do that, here is one of the best summaries I’ve read of “Gamergate” and the events leading up to it.

Let’s move on to why I’m writing about this. At the heart of much of the animosity spewing forth from the various factions involved in Gamergate is the issue of the place of females in the gaming community. There are people being attacked as hateful misogynists, and people being attacked as whiny feminists (and their “dimwitted knights in shining armor”). Some of this is cloaked in “concerns” over journalistic integrity in the gaming journalism community (spurred by an airing of dirty laundry between exes in the community). But I’ve read as much as I can stomach of the Twitter hashtags, news write-ups, etc. as I can for now, and mostly what I’m seeing is gender hatred, skewing heavily in the direction of hating on or negating the views of female gamers. And frankly, it’s horrifying and depressing to read.

I am female, and I am a gamer. I self-identify as a gamer because I love playing video games and have spent countless hours doing it; I’ve participated heavily and vocally in a months-long beta for a game I was excited about and wanted to see done well, including discussing game mechanics and story and character design directly with developers; I review video games when the spirit moves me; and at Dragon Con a couple of weekends ago I was super-excited to finally cosplay as Chell from Portal 2 (not the first video game costume I’ve done, either). And even all of the above is only part of my life-long involvement and interest in gaming. I call myself a gamer by choice, and (this is key) no one can tell me I am not a gamer, because it is my choice to be one, and it is not anyone else’s right to tell me what or who I am.

And yet (a) more than a few times in various fora, in conjunction with someone being aware of or finding out that I am a female, my identity as a “real” gamer and my opinions about gaming have been called into question; and (b) due to the ugliness surrounding the current state of the gaming community, the positive feeling I would ordinarily have in discussing games with someone else who plays video games and telling them that I am a gamer too is tainted and tarnished. And that’s very sad, and why I feel the need to address this subject now.

I want to talk first about point (a), because some people in the current discussion are using the gamer/not a gamer delineation as a way to negate others’ opinions on how things should be in the industry, and who has the right to say how things should be; and coupling that in many instances with gender. This is a classic example of something I’ve written about in detail before, i.e. geeklitism, and it’s just as invalid a stance to take in gaming discussions as it is in all other arenas of fandom.

The first reason is that like any other area of fandom or enthusiasm (whether it be geeky, sports-related, carpeteering, or any other avocation or vocation), identifying as a gamer is a choice of self, not of others. The person identifying as a gamer is the one who knows what makes them feel like one of the group, whether it be hours and hours of play, vociferous discussions about game developing, actual paid work in the industry, or any number of other things that make up what someone with a love of video games might do with their time. (Note: it is never simply “because I am a dude” or “because I am a gal.” So why do we keep bringing that into it at all?) No one else has the right to tell them they are or are not a gamer, and so basing a disagreement on this delineation negates the validity of the disagreement.

The second is that whether someone is a “gamer” or not does not determine whether they have a valid opinion on what is happening. Granted, if someone opines about things they literally know nothing about, then their opinion isn’t worth much. But if anyone out there does their research in the form of seeing and understanding what is going on and what everyone is saying about it, then they are entirely capable of forming and expressing a valid opinion on the issues. It might not be your opinion, but that doesn’t make it invalid or wrong, nor does their position of not being as into gaming as some other person out there (or being of a different gender, or whatever) negate its importance.

The third is that life is a fluid, fluid thing, and we grow, develop, discover new things, and change our lives constantly. So whether someone is at the same exact stage of their identification with a particular group as someone else is always going to be in flux, and some people are always going to be ahead or behind the median. But that doesn’t mean that those who are “ahead” are more in some way than those who are “behind,” or that this makes their opinions more valid. There is no one point on the graph where all fans or enthusiasts of something fall, because we are all different people.

As an example of what I’m talking about here, I’d like to look at one of my own geek loves – the Discworld, created by the wonderfully talented Sir Terry Pratchett. I’ve been a Discworld fan since approximately 1999. There are people who have been fans much longer than I; there are people out there who have just recently discovered and are delighting in the Discworld books or Discworld fan community. There are people who only know me from my Discworld fandom; and there are people who have known me for years and have no idea who Terry Pratchett is or that I have read all of his books numerous times. When I first started out as a reader of Pratchett, I literally had no idea there were fan communities online, or fan conventions in the U.K. for the Discworld series. Fast-forward to today, and I am known in much of the Discworld fan community for having co-founded and helped to run successful Discworld fan conventions, and for a period of time ran the website and social media for those conventions as well. Over the course of a number of years, I got more and more involved in the community of fans surrounding this particular body of literature; but at no point in my involvement did I actually feel like more or less of a fan. Once I started loving Discworld, I considered myself a fan, and that was that. And being a fan, there is no reason that my opinions on Discworld are more or less valid than any other fan’s.

Now let’s look at the effect of trying to use the geek/not a geek (and by extention, gamer/not a gamer) argument on someone to make a point. Are there any benefits to the geek community from taking the geeklitist stance? None that I can see. The only result of excluding someone’s opinion through this argument is to ostracize a person who identifies with you in some way, and to potentially lose their contribution to the community. Imagine if someone had said to me, once I’d identified as a fan but not yet really become heavily involved in the larger fan community, that I was not a Discworld fan because I didn’t post a lot on message boards; or because I hadn’t gone to the Discworld conventions; or because I’d never analyzed a Discworld book from an academic standpoint; or because I am a woman; or some other random category of geeklitist thought. It is entirely possible that I would have been discouraged from continuing to embrace the fan community, despite being a fan of the books. The North American Discworld Convention of 2009 might never have happened (although that’s not to imply that it was anything like a singlehanded accomplishment on my part, obviously.).  And that would have been pretty sad for everyone, because that was a great con at which over 1,000 Discworld fans had a great time.

To move this back into the arena of “gamers,” each person who identifies as a gamer has gone through some variation of the arc I just described above, or is in the process of going through it. But once they are into gaming enough to consider themselves a gamer, what makes any of us a better judge than the person themselves of whether that is accurate or not, or what criteria is valid? Nothing. And more importantly, what benefit is there for gamers who hold themselves up as judges of another person’s identity and passion and the validity of their opinions? All we are doing, when we do that, is alienating a potential friend or discussion partner, and stepping in the way of someone’s path on their journey of discovery into a thing we all purport to love, and into the possible positive consequences this could have for the community as a whole. Imagine if someone did that to you when you were first discovering your passion for gaming – and consider seriously whether it would have curtailed your pursuit of that interest, at the very least in the communal sense. Every time a member of a community questions or attacks someone else’s identification as a member of that community, or their opinion as such, they are hurting the community, and acting in a way I am sure they would have decried if it were done to them. Which brings me back to the point that geeklitism is not a valid or productive stance to take when having a discussion about gaming.

Now let’s look at point (b), of the current ugliness that is circling the internet rounds about gamers and the gaming community, and the effect it has. Whether the rumors related to one couple’s imploded relationship, and its impact on gaming journalism, are true or not, they have served as an ignition point for an enormous amount of hate, much of it aimed at females in the gaming community (a common form of geeklitism). After reading through what I see being posted on Twitter and blog posts, I expect that just by writing this piece I am inviting people to accuse me of things like lying about something, whiny feminism, or lumping all gamers into the same group (the #notallgamers tag on Twitter has been in part misused to try to downplay the misogyny that’s out there, by saying it’s only some gamers that are like that, like that makes it something we shouldn’t decry). I sincerely hope that I am not bringing down upon myself more personal attacks, like those aimed at Games Journalism Prize-winner Jenn Frank, Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, and others. I don’t deny that some small part of me fears that writing about this topic is going to result in harassment or abuse, despite there being no reason for that result in a fair and logical world. But right now, after reading about “Gamergate,” the gaming community doesn’t seem to me to be a fair and logical world. It seems to be a world full of unreasoning finger-pointing and blame and hate, aimed at women who are trying to follow their passion.

Whatever percentage of gamers or the gaming community are engaging in the behavior of misogyny, sexuality shaming, hatred, harassment, and abuse, they are the loudest voices in this debacle, and are making the entire community look absolutely terrible. I know for a fact that not all gamers are like that, because I am a gamer with gamer friends. But when I read this stuff, that terribleness is the part that I see. And it’s not even unique. It’s the same terrible behavior I’ve seen aimed at women in costumes and in comics fandom – of treating females as less valid than male peers, or as objects there just for male enjoyment or abuse. The gaming community, while it has its own unique flavor, is not a special snowflake that needs to be defended or it will fall to pieces. It is, like other geek arenas, a group of people that, to date, has clearly not done enough to root out hatred towards a portion of its population, or has even actively participated in that hatred. It is also a group that could be made stronger by taking a hard look at itself and its treatment of a portion of its membership. And it is a group that runs the risk of losing people who make a valuable contribution to its growth and development if it doesn’t do so. I fail to see the upside of that, and that’s something the folks spreading hate should stop and think about.

As a female geek, I move through the world of geekdom being aware that I may be belittled, dismissed, harassed, or attacked in some manner, whether verbally or physically, for engaging in geek fandom. Why do I know this? Because I’ve already experienced these things. Multiple times. In ways that I have never seen happen to my male counterparts. And although I continue to participate in fandom and express my love for the geek things I love, I would be lying if I said each time I see things like Gamergate, or am personally and negatively affected by the attitudes I’m seeing in Gamergate, it doesn’t make me a little less likely to want to engage, and also a little less likely to want to have a reasoned discourse to try to resolve the underlying issues that cause the ugliness.

It makes me more likely to want to say that all I see around me is hatred and misogyny, and that it just ain’t worth it. I both identify with and dread the possibility of winding up in the position of Jenn Frank, who reached the point where enough was enough and simply quit. I can’t imagine being on the receiving end of so much harassment that I am forced to give up a part of my identity and passion in order to feel safe and not hated by the world. I feel sad that she was forced to that point, and that the world of geekdom, in all its fiefdoms, is still not a safe place for women. I hope we can change that; because if we don’t, no matter what the haters might think, the reality is that everybody loses.

Until next time, Servo Lectio.