Blog 3 – Preparing for Comic-Con

Why yes, I'll be waiting ten hours in line for the Walking Dead panel.

Why yes, I’ll be waiting ten hours in line for the Walking Dead panel.

In exactly one month I will be flying down to San Diego for my primary data collection at San Diego Comic-Con International. This is going to be EPIC. But first, I have to get everything ready for data collection. Because I’m going to be there to, you know, work.

After several hiccups in figuring out my methodology (the reasons why this post is a bit late), I’ve decided to tweet my survey with the #sdcc hashtag on an hourly basis, and see what happens. Now that I’ve figured out where I’ll be getting my subjects for the survey, I can complete my IRB application (as well as my RPG – it’s coming, Gerick!). I might still hand out cards linking to the survey at Nerd HQ events that will be happening concurrently with Comic-Con (I have yet to hear back from them regarding permissions, so it’s still up in the air).

I’m hoping that in a few weeks I can use you guys as subjects for my pilot survey to test my instrument and figure out any kinks that might be there. Some of the questions I’ll be asking include:

  • Do you identify as a geek?
  • What kind of a geek are you? Describe your geeky activities.
  • What media are you geeky about?
  • How did you get into geek culture?
  • How long have you considered yourself a geek?
  • Besides Comic-Con and Nerd HQ, what other conventions do you go to?
  • Do you visit forums? Why or why not?
  • Do you have geeky friends or family?

Then I’ll get to the more pointed questions regarding gender perceptions in geek culture:

  • Have you ever witnessed or experienced sexism in geek culture? Please explain.
  • Have you ever witnessed or experienced sexual harassment of fellow geeks? Please explain.
  • Do you think there is sexism in geek culture? Please explain.
  • Do you believe there are “fake geek girls”? Please explain.

As you can see, the questions about gender will have both quantitative (check boxes) and qualitative (text boxes) aspects.That being a research update, let’s go on to what I find fascinating about my research. The thing that really draws me to this research are the conversations geeks are having online about geeks and gender. Arthur Chu recently connected the misogyny of the UC Santa Barbara shooter with entitlement in nerd culture. What I liked about this article is that it pulled no punches about rape culture: it exists, and it is prevalent in geek circles. The very plot of Revenge of the Nerds is a geek dream where the geek tricks the hot girl into sleeping with him by making her believe it’s her jock boyfriend. Chu writes:

“Classic nerd fantasy, right? Immensely attractive to the young male audience who saw it. And a stock trope, the “bed trick,” that many of the nerds watching probably knew dates back to the legend of King Arthur.

It’s also, you know, rape.”

 

Look at that. A bunch of white dudes. How original.

Look at that. A bunch of white dudes. How original.

Here’s an example of how discourse is bounced around online. It deals with gender and gaming cultre.. At the recent E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) event, European game developer Ubisoft announced that there would be no playable female characters in their upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity game, and it caused an uproar. When asked why there would be no female characters, creative director Alex Amancio had this to say:

“It’s double the animations, it’s double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets . . . especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work.”

This excuse didn’t exactly fly. People flocked to Twitter to voice their disdain, using the hashtag #womenaretoohardtoanimate to make their point:

Cheryl Cottrell-Smith The Pulp explained why this is a bad thing:

“It’s important. Of course it is. The marginalization of women in what was traditionally a boys’ league of video gamers isn’t a new issue. ‘Girl Geeks’ generally have to deal with a lot of negativity, competitive attitudes, and resistance towards their membership in the realm of gaming and nerd culture. There is a growing number of women in the video game and comics industries, but the progress to perceive them as a part of the culture is taking a lot longer than it should.”

Ubisoft technical director James Therien tried to explain their reasoning to VideoGamer:

“Again, it’s not a question of philosophy or choice in this case at all I don’t really [inaudible] it was a question of focus and a question of production.

“Yes, we have tonnes of resources, but we’re putting them into this game, and we have huge teams, nine studios working on this game and we need all of these people to make what we are doing here.”

However, with all those resources, they’re not able to spare any to create a playable female character? This becomes a question of philosophy and choice when it comes to priorities, and with Ubisoft, women just weren’t a priority.

It’s this discourse that has really drawn me to the topic of gender and geek culture, because “geek” has become a part of many women’s identities, and yet the industry that supply geeks with their geeky media doesn’t seem to care. DC Comics and Warner Bros. can’t seem to get a Wonder Woman movie together. Disney and Marvel have yet to announce a Black Widow movie. And apparently Ubisoft can’t be bothered to create a female character, even when the BBC declares that 48% of gamers are women, and Time notes that games that do have women are either misogynistic or objectify women. It’s an ongoing controversy that women are underserved in geeky industries, and creates a culture where women aren’t welcome, but by blogging and Tweeting about it, someone should notice pretty soon.

In addition to blog 4, this week I’ll also be doing a special Anita Sarkeesian linkspam, introducing the Gloria Steinem of the girl gamers, so expect that to continue the conversation.

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2 thoughts on “Blog 3 – Preparing for Comic-Con

  1. Pingback: Semi-Scholarly Linkspam – Anita Sarkeesian Edition | Geek Girls and Gatekeeping

  2. Alexis –
    I cannot express enough how fascinated I am by your blog post relating gender to geek. Your mention of the lack of female characters purposely left out of the upcoming Assassin’s Creed game filled my head with stereotypical gender norms. “Women don’t play video games – those are for boys.” “Women don’t fight, they’re supposed to be LADIES.” Are you kidding me? It’s a lot of extra production work? To me this just sounds like pure laziness. Thank you for bringing this to light, and for fighting those gender barriers in geek culture (and in life!).

    P.S. The hashtag #womenaretoohardtoanimate sounds like it needs to be on a shirt, right across my “visual assets.”

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