Tuesday, November 8th, 2005

I read this article at Escapist Magazine (produced, it appears, right here in beautiful Durham) on Sunday.  It is a collection of fascinating experiences one woman has had online, from IRC to running a raid instance in World of Warcraft.  Her conclusion, based on what everyone tells her, is that she does not exist.  There simply are not, she is told, any women on the Internet.  What fascinates me is the childishness so universally exhibited by the boys she encounters; when they find out she’s a woman, they demand pictures.  When she refuses to send them pictures of herself, they insist she must be a guy.  When they think she’s a guy and she mentions a guy being "hot," they think she’s a gay guy and get freaked out.  And yet, as she rightly points out, there are plenty of female characters running around. 

What I don’t get is that their expectation that all players are male must mean that they also expect all female characters are being played by men who are doing electronic drag.  She points out, again quite rightly, that some of these people actually offer to tip female characters if they dance for them.  And yet, they think the person on the other end of the keyboard is a man, and yet they are homophobic.  If you hold your breath for a moment, you’ll hear my brain pop as it tries to process this.

Bottom line, though, It’s not that I’m shocked that there are silly boys or desperate and socially unskilled men online (I’m not – there are also socially unskilled and desperate women online, and that the Internet and a life that can be filled with one’s immersion in same come more easily to the poorly socialized of either gender should shock no one), it’s that no one really seems to step forward to treat her like a person.  Assholes are common enough in the world that I think the more fair-minded among us are accustomed to at least trying to separate ourselves from them when we get the chance.  I’m talking about things like her guild leader telling her he thinks her guildmates were immature.  Where are the other people out there who, if they won’t slap the offenders, also won’t hold out their hand in friendship to the offended?  Admittedly, her guild leader does step in and thank her for speaking aloud on Ventrillo and asks her to try to expose the boys in her guild to a woman on a more regular basis in hopes it will make them more mature, and at least he’s thinking along those lines, but I’m not entirely sold on the idea that using her as a teaching tool, like any other stuffed and mounted animal, is really "equality" – and no one will ever convince me that it’s fair to expect her to spend her personal free time doing what amounts to workplace equality training.  Her guild leader should not expect her to pay $15/month for the privilege of spending her spare time training twelve year olds not to be assholes.

That entire issue is about women and gaming, and well worth a look-see.  Given that it was a woman who convinced me to try World of Warcraft, I find it stunning that people are so bothered over the idea of women as gamers.  That said, I’m also at least twice the age of anyone who’s that big of an asshole.  At least, I hope I am. 

While looking for that story, however, I wound up on a different website with "Escapist" in its title.  This one is definitely funny, though (and you will need a good laugh if you read the story linked above).  Bottom line, this guy does some pretty solid scientific investigation into Harry Potter’s and D&D’s abilities to teach us real-world sorcery.  If you have a mom or dad or aunt or minister who rails against the demon-worship inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, they might find this sort of empirical data interesting.


Lots of things to update on. First off, GARMONBOZIA is going to be playing again. Woohoo! They’ll be at Reservoir (formerly Go!) in Carrboro on Thursday 17 November at 10pm. You know you want to see them.

You know it.

Also, apostropher posted a link to his Frappr map. I’d never heard of Frappr, so I went and added myself to his but then made one of my own. Add yourself, if you feel like it. It just seems like a neat toy.

Finally, went to see the 2nd Carolina Rollergirls bout on Sunday. It was pretty goddamn awesome. You may remember that last time I said it was like watching a sport, not a game, that suddenly it was a very different, much faster, much more polished performance? Sunday they were a little hectic but it was even faster. I don’t really endorse a continual upwards spiral – I don’t mind if a game takes two hours as long as it’s good – but damn, they were giving it 110%, on both teams, and really, really into it. A couple of friends were out for the first time, and loved it. Todd from Monkeytime nearly got run over by a skater. If you’re in the Triangle and you’ve never been to a bout, the 3rd bout of the season is coming up in December.

My friends and the Rollergirls’ friends and I are not the only people starting to take notice, either. WB22 was there to cover it (though their report was utter shite) and UNC-TV is broadcasting a hopefully more substantive piece tonight at 7:30 on North Carolina Now. And there was a “sideline reporter” there from some other local media outlet, though I don’t think they identified which one. After the WB22 piece, I told The Boyf that it’s all too easy for me to imagine some WB22 producer cocking his hat upon hearing about the Rollergirls and going, Tits on wheels! Get a camera out there! Happily, NC Now can be relied upon to offer a lengthier look at things. I expect their story will be a lot more interesting and more substantive. I expect WB22’s take was that this is some sort of flash-in-the-pan fad, but I’m here to tell you that despite years of having professional and semi-professional sports teams in this area, the last time I paid to go to a sporting event it was a Raleigh Icecaps game at Dorton Arena. Despite liking Arena Football as a kid, I never once went to a game of the… uh, what were they, anyway? The Cobras? Something like that. And hell, I barely noticed when the Hurricanes went after the Stanley Cup.

In contrast, I’ve been to almost every Rollergirls bout, and I can’t imagine missing one at this point. It’s a big deal, with inter-league bouts and a national championship and the women I know who are out there on the boards day in and day out have been at this for years preparing and training and competing. This is no fad. This is definitely highly organized, and yet it retains its ability to appeal to the community in a personal way. I know some of the women out on the rink. I know some of the women who are thinking about trying out for the team. It remains accessible in a way no other local sport can claim, and yet it’s more exciting than any other local sport I’ve ever watched. Sunday was a sell-out crowd, and I’m ordering my tickets for the next bout this week because I somehow doubt that there are going to be tickets available at the door next time.