Great Gamers (June Edition): Felicia Day

I have decided that once a month I will be releasing an article called Great Gamers where I detail out one person, duo, or group which positively influences and affects the video game community, culture, and/or industry.  I haven’t decided whether it will come at the beginning or the end of the month, but this is the first one.  Great Gamers will look at what the person has done for the community, the culture, and the industry (although they need not affect all three to be a Great Gamer) and how their influence over these areas positively affects the gaming world in general.

Why Felicia Day is a Great Gamer

There are two main reasons why I think Felicia Day has a very good and positive influence on the gamer community.  1) Felicia Day has created characters that positively represent female gamers in the community as real people rather than mere objects of plot, and 2) she actively helps to shape, create, and change the video game culture and community in a positive way (even if she doesn’t intend to).

In all honesty I don’t know if Felicia Day actively tries to change the video game community for the better but I don’t think it matters.  In creating the works of fiction and gamer related media that she has (i.e. The Guild, various music videos, Dragon Age: Redemption, etc.) Felicia Day is leaving a mark that, I believe, is changing the sphere of gaming for the better.

In this post I’m going to explain line out three points as to why Felicia Day is a Great Gamer.  I could ramble on and on (especially considering the crush that I have on her like most male gamers do), but I will stick to 3 things that I believe exemplify the work that she has done.  First I will explain why I think Gamer Girl, Country Boy, the music video, is a great piece of gamer media.  Second I will explain how The Guild is an excellent series that is helping to change the negative mentality that male gamers harbor towards female gamers.  Lastly I will look at the Dragon Age: Redemption the Youtube series that she created (with Machinima in association with BioWare) as a demonstration of the power that gamers as a whole wield.

Note: In thinking up this article I decided on one thing that I had to do: avoid the fact that Felicia Day is female.  I want to focus on the great things that Felicia Day has done as a gamer, and the fact that she is female should be, and is, irrelevant to this conversation.  So let’s get started.

Gamer Girl, Country Boy

Felicia Day’s most recent music video Gamer Girl, Country Boy is an excellent piece of gamer media for several reasons, but most of all because it actively fights against the isolationist/Hikikomori-esque view of gamers.  Often times gamers are thought of in terms of the negative press that they get.  Articles circulate in newspapers about people dying while playing video games, gamers who spend hours upon hours playing by themselves locked in rooms or basements, and horror stories of marriages ending in divorce because of MMO’s like World of Warcraft (I personally know someone who divorced her husband because of this).

This gives rise to stereotypes of gamers as a group that is anti-social and unwilling to work with others.  This might stem from the old nerd stereotype that was huge in the 80’s and into the 90’s.  The stereotype of the IT nerd who doesn’t talk to people, wears pocket protectors, and is completely inept when it comes to any sort of social interaction.

But in making a country music video that gamers can relate to (even if you don’t like country I’m sure you can sympathize with at least having a crush on someone who isn’t a gamer) she is demonstrating the social side of gamers.  In my experiences at conventions, meet-ups, and meeting friends of friends gamers are actually very social people and willing to talk to just about anyone.  We are often indiscriminate in judgments (even though we like to joke about revoking someone’s gamer card for not playing landmark games like Portal) and are happy to socialize with people other than gamers.

In creating this video Day actively reached out to people who are not a part of the gaming culture and gaming community.  It gives a positive, fun representation of what it is to be a gamer.  As a country music video it also has the ability to reach out to those who love country music but might not be gamers.  It has a great representation of gaming and costuming/cosplay while showing that you don’t have to be a gamer to have a friendship/relationship with someone who is a gamer.

The Guild

Felicia Day’s The Guild is an excellent piece of gamer media that reaches out to gamers through what we all do best: game.  Based on a guild in an MMORPG the ragtag group is great, funny, and, for many people, relatable.

But it’s not just the premise that makes The Guild part of what makes Felicia Day a Great Gamer, but it’s the characters that she has created.  All of the characters, with a fun spin on the weird kooky stereotypes of video gamers, are fully fledged characters with personalities unto themselves.  The Guild doesn’t rely on cookie cutter tropes and stereotypes thrown into new settings.  Vork (Jeff Lewis), Bladezz (Vincent Casso), and Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh) are the male characters in the series, all very complex characters with their weird quirks and obsessions (like Vork’s refusal to spend money to the point where he likes to steal the free bread from restaurants).

But it is the strong female characters that I think lend The Guild to Day’s resume for Great Gamer.  Clara (Robin Thorsen), Tinkerballa aka Tink (Amy Okuda), and Codex (Felicia Day) are all just as 3 dimensional as their male counter-parts.  In having complex, 3 dimensional female characters Felicia Day is creating a more positive and realistic view of female gamers.  The female characters are not there purely for the sake of plot and they are by no means objects within the series, they are people.

This actively creates a more positive image for women in the gaming community, even if Day didn’t mean for this to be the case.  The female characters in The Guild represent a realistic approach to women in the gaming community.  It portrays the women who game as women with real life problems and real life personalities ; fighting the male perspective that women who game are only casual games, can’t be hardcore gamers, and don’t belong in the gaming sphere unless they’re a booth babe.

Dragon Age: Redemption

Dragon Age: Redemption, made by AMD, in association with BioWare, and produced by Knights of Good is an example of participation in the video game community.  I claimed earlier that Felicia Day is actively shaping, creating, and changing the video game community and culture.  I think Dragon Age: Redemption is an excellent example of just how she is doing that while using a perspective that we can all relate to: fandom.

Felicia Day created this video series as an alternate story line within the Dragon Age canon.  I would call it a work of fan fiction and I think it’s a great example of just how amazing fan fiction can be.  Fan fictions are created by people who are truly vested in video games’ characters and story lines.  These people work hard to think deeply about the world that video games have given us and produce works of art that expand upon the original (most often in the story telling format rather than video format).

But Dragon Age: Redemption went even further than that because it influenced BioWare so much that when they released a downloadable expansion they included Felicia Day’s character, Tallis, in the downloadable content.  She actively created content that impressed BioWare so much that they included the content she created in their game.

This is a demonstration of the power that gamers wield when they actively participate within the video game community.  Commenting on videos, posting in forums, creating Youtube videos, vlogs, and blogs are all ways in which people create, comment, and make accessible their ideas for the creators of video games.

Felicia Day demonstrates the passion that so many gamers have and brings it to the next level by creating excellent media that we can all enjoy while simultaneously influencing the industry.  It’s the metaphorical two birds with one stone.

If you would like to learn more about Felicia Day here are some more links for you to follow:

Felicia Day’s Website and Blog

Geek and Sundry: Youtube Channel by producers of The Guild (includes Felicia Day)

The Flog: Felicia Day’s Video Blog (on Geek and Sundry)

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