That time of the year again

Well, that personal resolution of a “post a week” sure didn’t pan out, did it?

Last week was GDC. For the first time ever, there was an eSports summit present. I spent most of the day there and it was an amazing experience to be surrounded by passionate, talented people, in the field that I’m interested in. I met T.L. Taylor, a personal hero of mine, who penned the book Raising the Stakes, a thoroughly academic look at eSports and its growth. I met a host of fine women, all connected to eSports in a way, as they presented their views on the participation on women in eSports. I sat through a talk on college eSports, game balancing, and a design talk by Riot.

I’ve thought a lot about where I want to head in video games, what field I care about, and the eSports summit really solidified that eSports is somewhere I want to be. I care about its growth, its ability to be competitive for everyone, and the dynamic shift it represents in what people consider “sport.” I’m also wildly passionate about growing its diversity, particularly women. I want eSports to grow in the best way, and not the way that alienates, destroys, and disrespects the women and minorities that try to break into it. I want to be there, I want to be part of that.

I’m passionate about livestreaming, too, and while they’re not exactly the same thing, I feel that they go hand in hand. I’m intensely curious and interested in Twitch, its culture, and what it can do and how it can help. I’m interested in the challenges that women and minorities face on this media – and the ones that they don’t, and the ones that are talked about too often. I’m still wrestling with my views on entertainment vs fairness vs celebrity vs culture, and I don’t know if I’ll ever know where I stand on most of that.

In light of all of these things, this blog will change, somewhat. I intend to start playing DayZ again, so my journals will most likely be reappearing. I still play Smite almost every day, and I’ve thought about how to incorporate that into this blog. Maybe summaries of good matches? Maybe how I get better? I’m not sure yet. I also want to (except I really, really don’t want to) start playing other eSports, starting with League of Legends. Who knows? Maybe I’ll love it. I’m trying to stay optimistic!

Finally, my first contribution will be appearing on FemHype later this week (a summary of an eSports panel I attended last week at GDC, about women in eSports). I enjoy reading FemHype, and I feel that it’s accessible, encouraging, and smart. Sometime later this month, I’ll have more content posted on FemHype that I’m excited about, but don’t want to talk about just yet.

I feel that this is going to be a good year, and I’m terribly excited about it all.

My 2014

How are we going to remember 2014? I’ve been thinking of it in two terms: BG and AG. If you didn’t guess immediately, those stand for Before Gamergate and After Gamergate. I don’t want to write anything about that, as countless others have done better jobs, but it gives you a quick guide to how I’ve viewed the year.

I started 2014 with accepting a Conference Associate position at the Game Developers Conference. I had applied in the fall of 2013, telling next to no one, and was surprised when the email showed up in my inbox inviting me to accept the position. I was honored. I still feel honored. It was, without a doubt, a life changing experience that I’m eternally grateful for.

Before heading to GDC, though, I penned a piece in February about DayZ, which prompted the making of this site, as I needed somewhere to house it. That was this post, that spawned a cascade of comments, page hits, and interviews. I was interviewed by On the Media’s TLDR podcast in April, by Jed Pressgrove in May, and by a talkshow host in Ireland (an interview I didn’t even tell anyone about – the host had no understanding of video games and, I later learned, was the equivalent of a morning show DJ. I’m embarrassed by it still.). The piece was linked to in the Huffington Post, the New Statesmen, and showed up in Patrick Klepek’s weekly roundup on Giant Bomb and Rock, Paper, Shotgun’s Sunday Paper, as well as in Critical Distance. It was recently mentioned in the December issue of Bitch Magazine. For someone who hadn’t expected anything, who hadn’t written anything involving games before, I was blown away by the response. I wrote a followup, which got its own share of comments.

When that tornado finally staved of a bit, I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing more about video games, since it was the media I was spending the most time with. I started my First Impressions series and my journal of my experiences in DayZ, where I blogged a couple of times a month in each series. I spoke to a few people that I considered peers about possibly pitching a panel to PAX considering women and the livestreaming community. In July, I interviewed Jasmine Hruschak, a streamer I had long admired, for a series I called Women Who Stream, which the Border House hosted. I intended to continue that series, since I consider Twitch and livestreaming in general a new frontier, one that needs to be treated with care and explored thoroughly and carefully.

That was all BG.

I didn’t continue my Women Who Stream series (though I hope to revive it in the new year). I wrote very little from August until December. Part of this has to do with going back to school in the fall, and the other has to do with the sheer, overwhelming amount of feelings of hopelessness and from Gamergate. It feels a little silly, considering the little traffic my blog gets – though I remembered, of course, my picture being screencapped and shared on DayZ blogs, and the comments and few threats I got from my DayZ piece in February, that still trickle in now. A few of my comments about Gamergate were screencapped and on the web as well, particularly considering a developer friend I less than graciously unfollowed on Twitter. I don’t know if I’m using this as an excuse, but I want it to be considered that I, someone with a little blog, felt under attack. That Gamergate made everyone I know in the industry feel under attack.

Like I said, I don’t really want to write about Gamergate. But I wanted to mention its’ personal impact and try to put it into context in my view of the world. All in all, I wrote 24 articles in 2014. Definitely not something I’m extremely proud of, but something to think about. I want to double that – at least – in 2015.

I wrote little in the latter half of the year, for the reasons mentioned above, though I did get more involved with fat acceptance and activism. I was invited to appear on a panel at GeekGirlCon about being fat and in fandom. With a few lovely ladies, I submitted panels to GDC 2015 and PAX about fat characters in video games (both were declined – but I was happy to even have the courage to submit). PNW Fattitude, a great fat acceptance community in Seattle, interviewed me recently. I’m happy to have done these things, because fat acceptance is near and dear to my heart, and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to speak about it in relation to video games, the other thing near and dear to my heart.

Currently I’m working on a piece about fat acceptance and the video game community (a piece I’ve been working on and off on for six months, so I’m not expecting it to be done any time soon), a weird little fanfiction (yea, fanfiction) based on Desert Golfing, and more things about Smite and the Twitch community. I’m currently also helping out with a new game convention in Washington called OrcaCon, and a scholarship program associated with GDC that awards and helps house and plan activities for international people hoping to attend the convention. I’m also crossing my fingers that I’ll be selected as a Conference Associate again for GDC this year.

As far as personal goals, I’ve only set a few. I’ve set a challenge for myself, that I’m putting here publicly: a post a week, which I am more than capable of accomplishing. I’m in school again this week, to finish my Associates and then a transfer to the University of Washington for a degree in Media and Communications Studies. I’m toying with the idea of taking a programming class at the community college I’m in right now, because I have ideas of things I want to do and don’t have the skills to do them. I have an ever growing love and ever growing interest in the community of livestreaming and Twitch and e-sports, particularly in relation to gender and fair representation, and I hope to explore these things more in 2015. I want to seek out more diverse media, I want to be diverse media, I want to share what I have with a community that is only growing more diverse.

Most of all, I want to believe that my voice matters, and not to be afraid to raise it. I’m terrified of pitching to mainstream games outlets, but I feel that my writing is at least comparable to most things that they publish. If I don’t pitch anything this year, that’s fine – but I want to get rid of this Imposter Syndrome and stop believing myself to be a phony if I call myself a games writer. The only person I’m hurting is myself with these thoughts.

As for everything else in the AG, I hope we, as a community, can continue to grow and depend on each other, and move past what has been the most miserable six months I’ve ever experienced as a person in the games community. I only see it getting better from here, that this was our rock bottom. Optimism is the only tool in my arsenal right now that makes it possible to get through wanting to tear my hair out from the awful things happening to the people I care about, the community I know. Here’s hoping.