Today’s been a great day at work, as we’ve opened up access to more beta testers. I’m always happy to see more people talking about Gods & Heroes and it’s great to see new people on our Community Forum. Most people who are reading this know exactly what I do when I tell them I’m a Community Manager for a video game. Some family, some friends and a LOT of acquaintances don’t understand at all what I’m doing. And that’s okay. I just link them to the awesome and tell them, “This is what I do”.
I’m excited that I was asked back to run the Games Room for Steamcon III in Seattle. I had a great time hosting Games the last two years and I know this year will be even better. I reached out to last year’s volunteer team and so far, a lot of people are on board again.
Our theme for Steamcon III is ‘20,000 Leagues under the Sea”. The theme will totally change the way the event looks & feels, which should be pretty fabulous. Last year, we had “Weird West” so it was very casual at times. This year, I think we’ll see a lot more Military/Navy/Formal outfits and activities.
This carries over to Games, too! Which means I’m looking for some great people to run some great games. Mostly, I’m looking for people to run 2-4 hour RPGs, demo board/card games and general helpful volunteering.
All the folks who ran a game last year or ran a demo, of course, will get first priority on their choice of dates/times. We’ve got some great space this year so we should be able to have room for everyone who wants to run or demo something.
Interested in being involved? Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll chat about it!
My plan is to allow people to sign up ahead of time for game slots, if possible and have the information easier to read, along with printable matrix so folks know when/where everything will be.
Chatter about Gen Con Indy 2011 is flying fast and furious on Twitter. Soon, it will be that time again and we’ll be off to the wilds of Indianapolis to play games, talk about games, enjoy tasty beers while playing games and try not to wet ourselves during the Hickman Killer Breakfast. That is, unless we die a horrible level 1 death.
I’ll talk more about Gen Con as it gets closer, but I wanted to get my schedule up. Also, if you’re interested in joining one of my talks as a panelist, drop me a line. I’d love to have some more folks on board to talk about these topics with me. Get a lively discussion going, which is my favourite kind of Seminar!
SEM1120076 – MMORPG 101 Thurs 3pm – 4pm Marriott Phoenix
Massively multiplayer online role-playing games have revolutionized computer gaming, and become the dominant mode for computer role-playing games. Thought about playing one? Are the acronyms confusing? Can’t follow the gaming chatter from your friends? Come learn about MMORPGs. Get suggestions from our panelists on the type of MMO would fit your gaming style, schedule and budget.
SEM1120077 – Gaming & Community Fri 2pm – 3pm Marriott Phoenix
Game communities have grown beyond small game clubs, web forums and IRC as social networking has become integrated with game companies and created even more game communities. Our panelists will discuss social networking and creating a positive community via chat tools, web forums, Twitter, Facebook and 3rd party news/blogs.
SEM112007 – Video Game Addiction Sat 2pm – 3pm Mariott Indiana Bllrm B
Have you noticed friends and family members pull away from the things they used to do so they can make that raid in World of Warcraft? Are your children glued to their console games to the point of missing school and interacting with their peers? Do you wonder if you truly have an addiction or if you’re simply enjoying your favorite hobby to the fullest? Come discuss how to strike a balance between a love of gaming and being addicted to a game.
SEM1120081 – Steampunk Gaming Sun 2pm-3pm Marriot Indiana Bllrm D
Steampunk is hot. Literature, fashion and the DIY approach appeals to more and more people every day. Can the DIY approach carry over to your RPGs? Which video games have a Steampunk theme or are adding Steampunk elements? What card & board games have a Steampunk theme? Is there really THAT big of a fan base? What is the difference between Steampunk, Dieselpunk and Cyberpunk in games? Come learn about the future/past setting of Steampunk gaming.
Now, this post isn’t what you might think it is about. Okay, maybe a little bit. In my PAX POX fevered dreams, I kept thinking about why Booth Babes bother me /now/ when they used to not. As always, a little history and context is probably great to help myself sort out what I want to say.
I moved to Texas in the 1976, the last month of 5th grade year. It wasn’t so bad (ZOMG HEAT AAAAGH) because I was looking forward to starting Middle School. The great part about that was there would be a whole new group of people who didn’t know each other; not just /me/ standing out as the “new girl”. I had been equally bullied and ignored for as long as I could remember, due to our moving around a lot (and being dirt poor, sometimes not having food & shelter). As an aside, you who are judgmental towards others, making snide comments about people who are different? It’s YOUR children who treated me this way. They didn’t learn it on their own.
Anyway, living in the Dallas, Texas in the 70s/80s, one of my favourite things was attending the Texas State Fair. We were all given free tickets at school. They would bus us out or we’d all get rides to Dallas so we could spend the day wandering around. Being poor and hungry, I loved all the free samples and saved scads of recipe cards. In my dreams, I’d some day have enough money to make them all and feed my family. My second favorite place at the faire was the Auto Show. The building was air-conditioned (yay!) and was so flashy and fancy. There were all kinds of shiny cars and equally shiny women showing them off. They were so glamorous with their long dresses, studded with sequins and big hair.
Those glamorous women? I wanted to be them. I was short skinny runty thing. The women were curvy and seemed to have their shit together. They were always nice to me, even though I wasn’t a target audience or anything. I also looked up to the Kilgore Rangerettes. I wanted to be one so badly, along with being a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader & a Rockette. On the other hand, I also looked up on them as “bimbos”, who were too stupid and pretty to have a Real Job(TM). My desire for dance & performing was at odds with my inferiority complex. I mean, the women showing these cars weren’t smart. They were just to lure men into looking at the cars. None of them could possibly even figure out how to check the oil on a car, lest they break a nail. The women who were in the cheerleaders and drill team members were just Pretty Faces(TM). I assumed that none of them had a brain. In my silly Middle School mentality, I thought, “I will be the one who breaks the mold.”. Of course, I had no idea that I would stay short, skinny & runty.
Eventually, I auditioned for and became a member of my high school drill team. I was totally ready to take on the world, becoming a Smart Girl Who Did Amazing Things.
I loved it. I loved dancing and performing. I loved so many things about it. What I did love, however, was how all of a sudden, people treated me as I had lost my brain. I was no longer a Smart Girl, but was now a Pretty Girl. It was encouraged to become /more/ feminine and demure (which was already stretching things, just so I could dance). I was encouraged to ONLY be friends with certain people. All of a sudden, I was visible to a whole new set of boys, who had previously ignored me. Most of my geek friends didn’t care, but many of them wouldn’t talk to me any more. I was all of a sudden “One of THEM”; the people who looked down on the poor, the weird, the geeky and misfits. But really, I wasn’t! Nothing changed for me, except that /I/ became more open minded. I found that many who I had judged as being like this, I had judged them unfairly. I learned that people are going to be jerks, no matter where the come from. SOME of the “socials” as they were called, were jerks and bullies. But then, so were many of the “jocks”, “stoners” “drama fags”, “nerds”.
I chafed under all these expectations of my new status and didn’t like it. I didn’t like being treated like a pretty thing, without any other value as to sell something. I realized that the women who I thought had it easy, didn’t. I learned that PEOPLE TOUCH PRETTY THINGS THEY SHOULD NOT. And by pretty things, I mean, girls and women. Eventually, I was burned out by it all and quit. I couldn’t afford the jackets, the “sister gifts” and all the things that go into being a part of the drill team. I loved performing, I loved dancing and even became friends with girls I never thought I would like. However, as a poor person, I just couldn’t do this to my mom. I never got the letter jacket I wanted or a bunch of other things. I just couldn’t keep expecting my mom to fund it. Food & bills was the priority.
How does this relate to Games Conventions & Booth Babes? Well, through the years, I didn’t attend any large conventions. I went to smaller ones because I was so caught up in the renfaire scene (I love you and hate you, alt.fairs.renaissance. *kisses*). My first “big” gaming convention was PAX 2006. No booth babes and it was so very small and intimate. Once I hit Gen Con Anaheim, I ran into my first booth babes. There weren’t many, as there wasn’t that much focus on video games. Which leads to a whole ‘nother topic about the differences with table top booths & video game booths. For another day, perhaps.
Initially, I’d approach the women, as I love costumes and games. It quickly came apparent that I was talking to models. I felt sorta betrayed, that someone representing a company wouldn’t be able to tell me about the game. Why on earth were they there? (Duh moment came later) I was angry that I “wasted’ my time trying to have a conversation with A) someone who didn’t make or buy the costume B) someone who had no idea what games were. WTF people?
I also found out what is is like to be smart, beautiful and MAKE video games. I attended a few events while working on Pirates. We’d all dress up and YARRR all over the place. There were lots of requests for photos, especially with the younger attractive women on our team. That was okay, I was more interested that we were all having a good time and that plenty of people experienced the game.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the way a lot of men treated my co-workers. The assumption was that pretty + costume = booth babe. Which meant, completely ignorant of video games. That they were only “window dressing” to get people to look at the game. Men would flat out stare at them, ogle, pose for pictures and turn to ME to answer their question. I’d say, “You should ask X, who you just took pictures with. SHE was the one who designed that/created/whatever Y”. It never occurred to these men (and some women) that Pretty Girls Make Games, Too. They would look at X, look at me, and then completely dismiss them.
I went through a similar experience the years I was working in tech support. Invariably, men would always ask to speak to “someone else, I know you have a guy in the back”. They would constantly call me “darling, sweetheart” and tell me to get a “man on the phone”. When someone disagreed with my troubleshooting, they’d get abusive and would report me. Of course, I’d be told that I need to be “gentler” and “woman-like” to make them feel more comfortable. WTF?
Anyway, just call me tangent girl. I will bring it back to Booth Babes. I fell in love with the PAX team continually saying, “No Booth Babes Allowed. We want an inclusive and welcoming event.”. Duke Nukem Booth Babes (who are gamers) aside, there were HEAPS of Booth Babes out and about and a good many of them NOT in game booths, but in game hardware booths. By allowing Booth Babes in the game space, you devalue the models to be nothing but gamer fantasy meat. It makes for an uncomfortable space for the countless women developers and attendees. We’re being told again, “You don’t matter” and that it is perfectly acceptable to continue pretty =/= smart and smart =/= pretty. I’ll quote from this great article from Nerd Appropriate regarding the “One of Us” panel. I’m highlighting the important parts.
I was under the impression that PAX had a strict “no booth babes” philosophy and was surprised to see booth babes everywhere. I have to admit that I didn’t understand what the big deal was. Every “nerd” convention has them, so why all the fuss? Ali Thresher summed it up perfectly when she stated that as a female game developer, the presence of “booth babes” undermines her professionalism as a developer. It clicked for me. Women that work in the male dominated world of gaming want to be respected for their skill and intellect, not their curves. Having T+A readily on display is a step in the wrong direction (I can’t believe I just wrote that). Alli even mentioned that she was once groped by a male attendee who believed she was in fact a “booth babe”, because that’s okay right? I get it now, and so should PAX.
The issue has never really been about the models who work shows. They’re doing what they can to make a living. They are people and we should respect them as such. Agree with a Booth Babe policy or not, RESPECT THEM. As far as having booth babes at PAX? I expect it at a media show, like E3. I expect it in a variety of places. However, I expect that a convention billed as “an event FOR gamers BY gamers”, would actually take the time to respect other gamers. Be the inclusive experience it should want to be. It’s disrespectful to all. All. Of. Us.
The first thing I did when I arrived back in the office last Monday, was write up my PAX East 2011 report for my office. The report I turned in and the report I’m writing now are very different. One seen through the eyes of someone working in the industry for a specific game, the other seen through the eyes of a gamer. Okay, so the pro report and my personal feelings, which, as always, don’t necessarily reflect my company or game.
Today on Twitter, I managed to get into some discussions regarding PAX vs Gen Con, Exclusive vs Inclusive and the perceptions of both. It is difficult to carry on a conversation about it over Twitter, to really dig deep into so many of the questions which were thrown my way. Tack on that I was feeling horrid, I just didn’t have it in me. I blame them for motivating myself to tell my stories. Hah! I persevere, you vile PAX POX! /NyquilDosing At any rate, I’m going to talk about PAX itself and how I felt about it and then do a separate blog about how the game industry ignores women. This post will be /mostly/ related to tabletop (RPGs, Minis) and some video games. But for now, just the plain PAX East post.
After not enough sleep from attending the Game Developers Conference, I managed to make my way to Boston.
Minis I want. Alas, no one actually talked to me about them. Also, Ghost Busters cosplay.
I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but I was to arrive around 7:30pm but didn’t make it to my hotel until 11:30pm. I had been in Tweets with my buddy, Xany, who I had previously met in-person at Gen Con. I first “met” Xany on a Rush community and he recognized my icon in the #GenCon on Twitter. Turns out, he’s staying in my hotel and was sitting in the bar! Score! I didn’t have to leave to see a friendly face! He introduced me to his new buddy, Chris, who was attending his first PAX. They’re both from Florida so had lots to talk about. Shortly after, Dane, Community Manager at WB in Seattle, walked in and we caught up. We all agree Troy is a poopy head for missing yet another great convention. We love you, Troy!
On Thursday, I managed to schlep thousands of Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising beta keys from the hotel to the convention. They had a free shuttle, but after brekkie, we ended up waiting 30 minutes or so for it. I didn’t make it to the convention center as early as I wanted. I did run into my some of my BioWare pals who pointed me to the Expo Hall. I was lucky, as I was pretty close to the entrance where the Geek Chic booth was located. Once I saw them, I knew I was close to where I needed to be.
Some photos I took from the main entrance escalator.
The lovely folks from Massive Online Gamer, Wizard 101 and Guild Launch were kind enough to let me crash the booth. I was there to hands out HEAPS of beta keys and promote the Massive Online Gamer Gods & Heroes Correspondent Contest (Seriously. Enter. Free Trip. Get paid to write.) They were all incredibly supportive, kind and very nice. We talked many great topics about games, booth babes, whether or not it truly is a family show, numerous conventions and plotting which I cannot talk about. Yes, I have a nice halo, thanks.
Me, holding up the Massive Online Gamer pages with the Gods & Heroes articles. Also, prize wheel & prizes.
While all this is awesome, I kept thinking something was missing. I’m quite the lover of PAX Prime after attending my first in 2006. I’ve always felt welcome, hosted my own private beer tasting party. I’ve coordinated fan events, worked in booths, been a speaker…all over the place. The spontaneous gaming, singing, dancing and assumption that everyone is a gamer? Not so much at PAX East.
Watching the Star Wars: The Old Republic “Deceived” trailer and my haul from the Cookie Brigade.
It was, at times, like pulling teeth to get people to talk to us. Some of the Enforcers were friendly faces I’d seen before and were totally on the ball. Some of them? They looked shell shocked and didn’t really notice a lot which was going on around them. The presence of booth babes, after numerous assurances that they were not welcome at PAX, kinda peeled back that inclusive vibe I’ve always experienced at PAX. I’d wander around the convention, trying to get ANYBODY to interact. That is, anyone who I didn’t already know. I visited many booths full of people I know, so they don’t count towards my feelings that…
I no longer belong at PAX.
I walked into big booths and small booths. I visited shops, tried to get the attention of people, but alas, no dice. (No pun intended. Seriously.) I was asked to point out some of these companies who do this, but instead, I’m going to spotlight the companies who were AWESOME.
- Robot Entertainment’s “Orcs Must Die” booth. Every time I stopped to watch the game, one of the people in the booth asked me if I wanted to try the game out or had any questions. These folks are passionate about what they’re doing and they want everyone to play. While I do know Justin, Robot Ent.’s Community Manager (and keeper of The CM List he wasn’t around all the times I stopped by.
- Spy Party booth. I have been wanting to get my hands on this since I saw this article on Kotaku. When I finally could see it, they were full up. I was told to “RTFM” *snicker* as the very nice chap gave me a flyer. I loved the humor in this booth.
- Kinect booth. I didn’t really want to stop but the young lady showing the roller coaster game in the Kinect Carnival was so sweet, I stopped to watch anyway. I was dog tired, but she perked me up, happily showing me the game.
- Fantasty Flight. I was asked numerous times whenever I walked by if I wanted a demo. I did, but didn’t have the time. what was important is that they /asked/.
- Utilikilts. I think there must be a secret code, much like the “jeep wave” for people who wear kilts. Both blokes working the booth were friendly and outgoing, even if I wasn’t interested in buying a kilt.
If I didn’t name a booth, it’s because I didn’t stop for any amount of time (or it was completely staffed by people I know (*cough* BioWare *cough*). Or I just didn’t make it. I was sad that I found zero help in the miniatures area. I guess I”m so spoiled with knowing so many Privateer Press and Wyrd Games people, that I kinda figured it was a “We’re all in this together” kind of thing. Alas, it just brought back my feelings of Not Being Included Because I am a Girl. To be on another post tomorrow.
The view from our booth. “Yeah, you can find us behind PokeAss”. Also, Mr. T cosplay. He was awesome.
I did pick up a new game. I’ve been a big fan of Lisa Steenson and her Gut Bustin Games. Trailer Park Wars & Red Neck Life are very funny. When I saw Oh, Gnome You Don’t, I had to pick it up. See, I play a lot of board and card games with people who don’t know how. Whilst I believe this review to be spot on quite a bit, it would be a great game to present to my non-gamer fiends, just like Trailer Park Wars & Red Neck Life. Saturday night, I gave up on the parties and some of us decided to do dinner and play games. We played Cthuhlu Dice, Poo and Oh, Gnome You Don’t. And it was all good times.
The game board and pieces tickled me greatly.
Uh oh. The PAX POX is starting to catch up and the Nyquil wearing off. Must re-dose and go to bed. I’ll leave you with this.
The bad part about weather delays is that your whole schedule is FUBAR. You’ve plotted out your meals, tried to coordinate possible long layover meetups and your arrival plans. And with some bad weather, that’s all screwed.
I was supposed to arrive in New York at JFK in the afternoon and catch a 6:30pm flight to Boston. I would get in, take a van to the hotel and then find friends to have dinner with. Get settled in and ready for the big opening on Friday. Instead, our flight left over 2 hours late. Spent another hour circling around the New Jersey airspace, before we could land. Once we arrived at 6:30, I find that my flight to Boston is delayed to 8:45. The good part about that is that I will eventually arrive tonight. It will mostly involve checking in and then finding a glass of wine before bed.
The nice thing about the late arrival and longer layover is that I get to eat dinner! I found an Italian wine/bar bistro and settled in for some tasty foods. Pasta with Parmesan Fonduta, mushrooms, garlic, shallots & black truffle oil? HELL YES PLEASE.
I’m now mellowed out and awaiting my flight. Which is surprisingly /not/ filled with gamer geeks. From years of Nerd Traveling (TM) I can spot a gamer a mile away. We’ve got a good amount of people headed to PAX on this flight, but not as many as I would have expected. But then, the hardcore ARE ALREADY THERE. *shakes fist* That being said, I am watching a teenager playing Tetris on Facebook. /score
Funny thing. As I’m on Twitter with someone from Darth Hater, a bloke in this shirt just sat down across from me at the ‘OH HAI, GET POWER FOR YOUR LAPTOP HERE’ place at my Jet Blue gate. Hahah!
I’ve been keeping myself amused by reading the Star Wars: New Jedi Order series. Whilst I have read & re-read various parts of all the EU, I have put off this..what..21 book series. And for good reason. BEST PART SO FAR was today. WRAITH SQUADRON. As my friend Meeshes suggested, I should hit a re-read the X-Wing series once I’m done with the NJO. I WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE.
It looks like we’re about to start boarding. I hope. I don’t know how much blogging I’ll get to do each day whilst at PAX East. Might just take notes and follow up when I’m home.