Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dear Gen Con: This is not ironic. This is stupid.

Many of my friends and fellow gamers have railed on about the icon that Gen Con uses for it's non-gamer programming -- specifically called "Activities for the Better Half". I'll probably mention them at the end of this, but I wanted to get my view out on the stupidity of its icon:

What's more annoying is Gen Con's official response to Vanir's open letter to them:

Thank you all for your opinions and for calling attention to a wonderful program that Gen Con is proud to support. The process for picking the icon was not an arbitrary one; thought was put into it. It’s hard to pick one “icon” for such a diverse group of people and event types and to find one that wouldn’t be misconstrued as something else. The icon was chosen for its tongue and cheek aspect, nothing more and will remain as is for the time being.
I'd recommend that you also go and read the official letter on Vanir's website. To say that it makes one stabby would be an understatement.

I know that this isn't 10 years ago, or even 15 years ago, when having women at the gaming table was akin to a yeti sighting. I know that we see more women at these events and even young girls at these events. But to use an icon like a ball and chain is demeaning to the non-gamers who come to these events.

I won't go into the history of the ball and chain symbol, like my friend, Katie. I'm just amazed that Gen Con would call this tongue-in-cheek. Whoever thought this was a good idea has not had to sit at gaming tables and feel like they're entering a "boys club" of sorts. Or see the constant pin-up pictures. Or the shirts that make jokes about women (I won't even go into the one man's shirt that was a print of porno actresses making the "O"-face).

It's gotten better, there's no doubt, but things like this continue to give the impression that women aren't welcome.While it's nice that Gen Con has created events for the "better half" -- several of which I would consider attending as a break from dice-slinging (and are going to attend with my husband), the icon is silly.

It's not ironic. It is a blatant dig at nongamers as killjoys. I have always railed on about the stereotype of women as supposedly more "mature" and being the ones who have to rein in the "boys" from their "silly antics." Simply because someone's interests don't always mirror their partner's or family members' does not make their opinion less valid.

Overall, I agree with my friend Alan, who calls it "bad business branding." I would be careful about that Gen Con -- studies (which these Public Relations people should have learned by now) show that women are the majority of buyers in a household -- up to 83 percent in 2008, according to Lisa Witter and Lisa Chen. Do you really think that changes when they come to Indianapolis?

Just something to think about. If you're not willing to take into consideration the opinion of many women gamers like my friend, Eva, at least think about it from the business end. We women have a strong say in where the money goes, and I don't think it's a good idea to forget that.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Some date nights are dinner and movies...

For Jeff and I, we went to see an aging punk icon rant on a state for three straight hours.

Thanks to our friend Heather (who is also the kid's favorite person in the whole wide world), Jeff and I were able to leave the house to check out Henry Rollins at the Barrymore last night. The kid got pizza, the Muppet Show and a buddy to play with. We got the Weary Traveler (Bad Breath Burger is full of WIN!), beer, discussion about Age of Conan and Rollins.

I love Henry Rollins. The man is a smart, funny, articulate person who, despite his appearance is a hippie at heart. I've always been fond of his spoken word CDs (I own a great deal of them and they're great for long drives). The guy I had one of those "it's complicated" things with before I met Jeff introduced me to Rollins and I think that was the best thing I got out of that mess.

In any case, it was awesome and inspiring. I can't talk about everything he discussed because it bounced from Constance McMillen, the 2008 election, health care, the Bad Brains, masturbation (despite a coy attempt to beat around the bush), working on Sons of Anarchy, his University of California Sonoma commencement address, judging Ru Paul's Drag Race and traveling around the world.

I think that for me, the biggest thing I always take away from these events is a sense of optimism and hope, albeit rather foul-mouthed, punk sense of hope, but it's hope. It's the idea that life should be gone at full gusto and we need to enjoy these moments. We have chances to be good people and do things right. Being a cynical bastard does nothing good. And sometimes we all need reminders of that.

If you do get the chance to see him, I suggest you do so. Make sure you have an empty bladder and are prepared to sit for hours, because you will get your money's worth.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

How I became obsessed with Jaffa Cakes

A few months ago, I was introduced to the joys of a BBC show called Spaced. Made by the same geniuses who created Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, I found myself addicted to the show.

The best way I can describe it is that it tweaks a lot of the pop culture stuff I also riff on and brilliantly describes that time after college, but before the mortgage and kids. That time when I remember playing a lot of games, throwing a lot of random parties and just doing whatever I liked with the money we had.

It also helps that the music is awesome. I can't stop playing Mint Royale's From Rusholme with Love:

Or Lemon Jelly's The Staunton Lick:

But the best thing ever (WHICH I HAVE YET TO GET PROPERLY) is the A-Team dance remix:

I find it interesting that Simon Pegg has said definitely that there will never be another season of Spaced (it only ran for two seasons and 14 episodes total). I can't find the interview, but I recall him saying something on Twitter along the lines of "who would want to see 40-year-old Tim and Daisy doing the same thing over and over again?"

So like everyone else, I'm slowly moving on. A friend of mine has introduced me to a show called Outnumbered. And I think that this one may sum up the joys of life with kids and a mortgage:

I can picture myself having this conversation with my child in about a year or so.

But no matter what, I'm going to have a fond spot in my heart for Spaced. And Jaffa Cakes.