What Happened?!


Alright it's been long enough that it's time for me to just acknowledge that and get on with it. So this is me just trying to get this recap out of the way. I need to clear my mental pathways, so let's do dis. I know for sure that I want to explore at least one topic separately in a later post, but perhaps I'll reflect on others at a later date as well.

Apparently I have some sort of superhuman capacity for delayed gratification, because it took me months to finally buy and build a gaming PC. With a friend to help pick out the parts, I started to purchase them as they came on sale after Christmas, completing the full set of purchases weeks later. Having a gaming rig is pretty great! I'm really enjoying the Firefall beta. It's nice to feel myself getting better at shooters. My husband watches me and says I can't say I'm bad at games anymore. :3 Diablo 3 is a treat, too, but that just kind of goes without saying.

Since I got the new PC, my four-year-old laptop has been wiped down to become an Ubuntu machine. It's... it's alright. I barely use it now. I took a free online software engineering course and used my laptop primarily for that. The course was great and the assignments were implemented with Ruby on Rails and deployed on Heroku. It was a good course! I enjoyed it. But to keep in line with the needed software, I used the course-provided Virtualbox Ubuntu image on my Ubuntu laptop. It was slow. The laptop runs pretty warm already, and this didn't help. Plus, it felt like I'd made Linuxception for no good reason. I also had a leftover Ubuntu VM for running the blog software, so the same ridiculousness applied when I wanted to make a blog post. So I've now moved the blogofile installation and repository to the host Ubuntu OS and I can delete both of those Ubuntu VMs. Life is much easier. The Ubuntu-within-Ubuntu was undoubtedly another barrier to writing.

The course ended shortly before PAX East and it felt like I had all sorts of things descending upon me at once. Around this time, I was also contacted by a reporter to discuss an upcoming feature on sexism in games. The phone conversation and subsequent in-person interviews went pretty well, I think. My understanding is that the feature should be available in June. During the recordings I was doing this weird breath thing where I never exhaled as much as I inhaled. Eventually my lungs would fill up with air, uselessly, until I couldn't speak anymore. Really annoying, haha. The job of this reporter was to ask the right questions to just keep me talking, and talk I did. Both sessions were around two hours. After each of them, I was just so sick of myself. I didn't want to know me, I didn't want to talk to me, I didn't want to talk about me, I didn't want to hear the sound of my (now quite worn-out and gravelly) voice anymore at all. I just never wanted to hear me yammer on about my vijya gaemz bullshit ever again. I've learned that happens to me after panels, too. I get so sick of myself that I need some time to just become a brainless non-interactive sponge that absorbs something else for a while. Movies and TV are good for this.

So with the course ending and the interviews happening, I was also spending a bit of time and brain power coordinating and organizing the panel content for PAX East. This time I also wanted to make sure I had notes to work from during the panel, so I was doing a bit of 'personal favourite topics' prep, too. The panel went great and I'm really happy with it. We took some constructive feedback that we got from the PAX Prime FUoS panel and applied it to this one. There have been some interesting audience stories that have filtered back to us. It might not be the right thing to do, but I keep thinking about these little stories of people who still "don't know" yet and how to continue to tackle that specific informational problem. However this may be unfair of me to focus on when, once again, the theatre was nearly packed and the vast majority of the audience was supportive and "got it." Do you preach to the choir and work on solutions or do you educate more people that the problem even exists? Not sure what's best quite yet. I, uh... also still need to watch the panel recording. It's hard. I dunno. I'll do it. Just feels weird.

Oh yeah, and since I wanted this panel video recorded as well, I decided to take that camera rental and apply it to other willing panels. My terrible camera work can be seen for the Child's Play panel, the Transgender Issues panel, and I think maybe the Borders, Bigotry and Body Dumps panel used the other camera's video for the eventual upload. So that was another part of my PAX East prep: getting the camera rental sorted out and reaching out to other panelists to see if they wanted me to record their panel for posterity. I'm glad I did it, but it was a lot of work at the event itself. The rental place was forever away (public transit from Boston to Newton? Never again!) and our hotel was also a bit far from the convention centre.

On the day of the panel I decided to wear a kind of playful, themed outfit. (Go Gaga or go home.) Since the panel was going to be primarily about sexism, harassment, and the humourous-yet-kind-of-detached way we interact with it, the outfit was my joking version of the humourless "militant feminist" stereotype -- complete with army-green tank top (matching lace trim), black collared shirt (blazer or military jacket would have been better), jeans tucked into severe black spike-heel knee-high boots. Kind of wish I had some creepy clown earrings or something to go with it. Anyway, those boots made it pretty rough to carry the camera and tripod around that day. I made good use of the hotel jacuzzi for my poor feets. Hotel jacuzzis are also an excellent way to relax and think about Practically Nothing during that "augh when will I just shut up already" post-panel phase.

Chronologically, this is the correct time to mention the Extra Credits episode on Harassment. Oh wow, so awesome. Look, I'm just going to link it and run, because it deserves its own post later on. For the purposes of this recap, I'll just say that this was an episode topic that took a while to come together, but through the magical power of proximity at PAX East I was able to finally speak with James Portnow about my obsession with dev tools. I'm really, really, really happy with the outcome.

If that wasn't enough, also occurring during the days before PAX East were the necessary introductions and invitations to attend another conference in Toronto. It was the inaugural Feminists in Games conference. Both myself and Jon (inklesspen) attended. We were invited to present just about FUoS for an hour. (We re-used the title from the PAX Prime 2011 panel.) You know, I once thought I would go to grad school but gave up that dream when I started enjoying a fulfilling career and financial stability. To now be asked to present for a whole hour at an academic conference? Two reactions:
1) Ahahaha, I totally snuck my way into academia without more schooling! suckeeerrrrz
2) oh god I'm going to a conference with SMART PEOPLE and these SMART PEOPLE are going to be listening to me yammer on about a STUPID WEBSITE where I write weirdly conservative innuendos aaaahhhhhh

It's difficult to claim that we attended "as" Fat, Ugly or Slutty. Amongst the four of us FUoS staff, we have varied and differing opinions on many things relating to FUoS, feminism, activism, and sexism. (This is part of why I wanted the retro series posts that we did after FUoS' first birthday.) Instead, I did my best to make sure that what we presented at FiG was still fairly de-personalized and informative. And I think Jon and I did well! We worked on the presentation topics and structure beforehand and I think it flowed nicely. It's still a bit "us" because Jon and I also provided our own commentary and analysis of FUoS' pros and cons.

I couldn't have done as well as I did without my husband helping me practice. His presentation experience was invaluable during my prep. He taught me how and what to prepare, plus how to manage the presentation flow as it's happening. The practice runs beforehand gave me a lot of confidence in myself, my topic, and my timing. In school, I could never present from jot notes. I had to basically read everything I wrote. Now I see that it was because I was presenting on topics that I had to research in a book for the sake of presenting. It turns out that if you know your topic well enough, you can just talk about it with a few small cues to keep you on track. I'm really glad I have that experience under my belt now, and I know I could do it again.

The rest of the conference was great. Lots of very interesting research going on right now. I was particularly interested in the discussion of EVE's playerbase and the analysis of Bioware's Femshep fan-voting incident. There were also several very early-stage initiatives organized and discussed at FiG. It's too early to talk about some of them, particularly the ones I might be involved with. But really, it's just fantastic to watch smart people figure out smart things to do. One of the pre-conference emails mentioned the EC episode as an example of how to start thinking about project proposals and activism. The next FiG will be held here in Vancouver, so I'm pretty sure I'll be there! (No, I haven't watched the video for this panel yet either. I will!)

Okay, so what's going on now? What's next? Well, right now, a lot of vijya gaemz. Also, my husband and I are going to play around with some hobby electronics/robotics. From scratch. He has declared this to be a "build-a-bot-kit"-free zone. So that's going to occupy some of my time in the next little while. As for things out-in-the-world, so far I know for sure that I'm attending Geek Girl Con and PAX Prime, both in Seattle. I'm spending spare moments thinking about what I would like to do at each of these. I also have ~ideas~ for other programming or FUoS-related projects. I don't know when I can tackle and refine these half-formed plans, though. Hmm. Maybe I'll have to just work on all of them a little bit at a time and see what develops.

Apparently I only enter Seattle during months that start with vowels. (I traveled to Boston for PAX East by flying out of Seattle.) Over the past few years it's been exclusively April, October and/or August. Now with two Seattle cons with dates in August, it's only getting worse.

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