Rolling Dice in Anger

Heromeet takes place in bar uno at Bangor university it is part games soc reunion part games fest.  I’d been invited to go along by friends who are long time gamers, we boardgame with them quite regularly and had been told that we would be very welcome to join them at this meet.

Friday night was spent playing board games, Ticket To Ride, Seven Wonders at least that’s all that I remember playing there was a lot of general catching up with folks we knew and general merriment.

But Saturday was mainly taken up with playing Dungeons and Dragons.  Oh my freaking squee. Its worth pointing out at this point that I’ve not played ADnD or any RPG for that matter for more than 15 years.  I got adopted into the Games Society at University in Freshers week, they were my people even though I didn’t know it at that point.  All I really knew was that the other girls in my flat had taken against me for no reason that I could fathom and the guys in the games soc were friendly a couple of them were rather cute and they were more fun to hang out with and they were more than happy to have me hang out with them even though I knew very little of table top RPGS or running around with rubber weapons although that would change.

So playing some ADnD at the weekend was pretty freaking cool.  I played a warrior whom I named Catlyn and all was well with the world.  I have missed rolling dice in anger.  I have missed the shared storytelling, the stupidly funny situations which are only funny to your party because you really had to have been there.  I may have bugged the DM afterwards to run us another session in the not too distant future.

There are Role Playing groups out there, but they are all very established and I dont’ have the guts/gall to approach and say, hey can I play and the reasons for that are many.  It always was very much a male hobby.  Or at least the groups I played with were.  When I broke up with my first boyfriend post uni that was pretty much me out of Role playing.  So I’ve been out of the hobby for years.  Lately I’m aware of male friends who have a regular group but when I asked about maybe popping by I was told that the group would probably not be a good fit for me it being very laddish and bantery.

I’ve never had the confidence to run my own games I don’t know enough, they get pretty technical and I wouldn’t want to screw things up for people being a GM is a difficult job. But after this weekend I have hope.  I am going to prod my friend who ran the session and see if he’ll make it a more regular thing. I’ve missed it and I want to play some more.

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On Fandom, snobbery and other ills

I’ve been thinking about fandom and the arbitrary hierarchies that are constructed by the tribes within. I’ve written before about how I find it problematic and one thing I really dislike is the way some people like to laugh at ‘lower/less worthy’ fandoms. I’ve been guilty of it myself I have rolled my eyes at someone else’s and I have come to the conclusion that it really is just not on to harsh on someone else’s squee.

Which brings me to Twilight. I read the books and the first film and decided it was not for me. It made me feel all kinds of wrong. However, an awful lot of young women loved the books and it is not for me or for anyone else to tell them they are wrong. Tastes change and evolve, the important thing is that they have connected with people who share the love for something and that is incredibly cool. When they move onto other fandoms – and they will – it is kind of awesome. I would have had a much better time at school had I been able to geek out with more people.

Now this next part is controversial. I’ve not read the books and I’ve not seen the film but have read a tonne of articles about how horrendous Fifty Shades of Grey is and how it is bad for “the women’s self esteem.” This is the thing that gets me riled up, is that reading it or watching it is somehow going to make them more susceptible to abuse. And I call bull.

What this is about is snobbery. Oh you like reading that do you… Oh I won’t read it because its badly written… Started out as fan fic. Its about fear of women publicly consuming and enjoying something risqué. There is no difference to teenagers passing round Judy Blume’s Forever. It is the same feeling of reading something ilicit.

It annoys me that women are pouring scorn on other women for wanting to go and see the film. We have to trust each other that we can separate fact from fantasy, we’re all doing that on a daily basis after all.
Fundamentally all of this about respect. It is about groups of people needing to feel superior by deriding something else.

There is enough gatekeeping within fandom as it is. If fandom is supposed to be an inclusive space then it should be without judgement of those who like different things.

Gatekeepers and why I’m not a fan

I have a problem with Gatekeepers in geekdom and fandom. Self-appointed guardians of what it means to be a fan. Those who have a personal credo and if you don’t know the answers to the questions or you weren’t there at the beginning then you can’t be a real fan.

I’m quite a sensitive person, I’m a survivor of bullying and I hate us and them mentalities. I understand the need for folks to create their own communities where they create safe spaces and the desire to control that space by building walls around it and pulling up the drawbridge. I am someone who usually ends up outside the castle and from the outside all these coteries, cliques and fandom look mean.

I also struggle with those who can only things their way and who insist others follow their example whether it is right for them or not. Those who create a cult of personality around them to ensure that they get their own way. It is a subtle form of bullying but it is a form of bullying, especially when their own rules are used to put others down.

I avoid these spaces and folks who behave this way – that said you can stumble across these people accidentally and before you know it you are feeling like you have done something unforgivable when all you have done is expressed an opinion.

I think what I’m trying to put forward, rather inelegantly is that there is always a plurality of ways of looking at things and there are no definitive answers when it comes to fandoms. Anything can and indeed will go. Judging people who do not conform to your expectations is not good, snarking about them or their fandom or the way they take part in fandom is just low and if its being done to make themselves feel better, then maybe some time reflecting on this is the best way forward.

Ten things you should do to survive at a convention

Having just got back from Nine Worlds I’ve been reflecting on Conventions of this type and how just attending can really impact on your body.  Folks tend to push themselves beyond their normal capacity for doing things because there are so many shiny things to do happening from dawn til dawn if we’re honest so here are some tips that have helped me.

  1. Pace yourself.  It sounds lame but it really helps survive the cons that run over several days.  Don’t get stupidly drunk, try to grab some sleep you will handle everything better.
  2. Plan your panels and have back up choices.  Try to get to panels early and if something is full or not going to work for you go to something else.  At nine worlds I had to plan carefully and I kept having to miss things because rooms were full or I had been distracted by something shiny.
  3. Be polite.  Let people come out of a room before trying to enter it. Be aware of what you are carrying and try not to take people out with it.
  4. EAT. No I mean it you will need to.  My strategy is load up on breakfast and then try to grab a decent evening meal.  In between times I have a bag with various snacks that are designed to keep me going.  Also be prepared to wander away from the hotel in order to find cheaper food.
  5. DRINK. Nine Worlds were brilliant for making sure that there was tonnes of water freely available some tracks had tea available (yay feminism) but I didn’t know this in advance and I carried bottled water everywhere just in case.
  6. Don’t try to do everything as a huge group.  You will block thoroughfares, you will annoy other con-goers and half your group will be resentful of going to things they don’t want to. Instead meet up at prearranged times in pre arranged spots to squee and stuff.
  7. Try some panels on your own. Scary I know but I ended up sitting next to or by some very interesting people who were lovely to talk to and I’m now stalking them on the twitters. A great way to make friends.
  8. Compliment people. Not in a creepy way, when someone was wearing awesome cosplay or were wearing something cool. Or had done something cool at a panel I tried to say hello and that I liked what they were doing.  It was a way of giving them a little bit of kudos and it started up a couple of cool conversations.
  9. Enjoy yourself. That’s what cons are about at the end of the day, you get out of them what you put in.
  10. Thank volunteers and organisers.  They have worked very hard to make things happen.  Show them your appreciation.

Add your own tips in the comments.