5 Ways Felicia Day Has Made Gaming More Accessible to Women
She's so much more than a geek icon.
Gaming has long been treated as something just for the guys, but why should they get to have all the fun?
I was raised on the Commodore 64 and the Nintendo Entertainment System, and I just couldn’t stop there! I can’t even begin to guess how much time I spent on the Sega Genesis and Nintendo 64 when I was a kid.
From Kingdom Hearts to Tomb Raider to Heroes of Might and Magic II, I found myself enchanted by any game I could get my hands on.
But geek culture has changed and developed a lot since I was young, and my local gaming club is... well, it’s a real sausage fest.
A lot of stereotypes have developed around what it means to be a gamer, but we need to start breaking some of those barriers down. The whole point of gaming is to have fun, to take ourselves out of the ordinary and into the fantastical.
Let’s get rid of the “sweaty person in their mom’s basement” look and show the world that a gamer can look like any type of person there is.
To that end, I’d like to take some time to talk about everyone’s favorite geek icon: Felicia Day. From being valedictorian at her college to graduating with a math degree to beating her addiction to World of Warcraft, Felicia Day seems to have it all—and is loved by men and women alike.
She’s adorable and perky, and the things she’s done for gaming for over a decade frankly dwarf the efforts of other celebrities to bring geek culture into the limelight. (Did you know that Vin Diesel loves Dungeons & Dragons?)
One of the best things about Felicia Day is that she’s helped to show that gaming is multifaceted and can be fun for anyone. Above all, she’s considered relatable, and that goes a long way.
Felicia Day has done a lot to make gaming more accessible to women, particularly through her company Geek & Sundry. Let’s take a look at 5 of those things...
1. The Guild
Wil Wheaton’s character, who’s introduced midway through the series, is not a member of the eponymous guild, so he’s not in the banner.
The Guild (a completed Web show of 6 seasons) is arguably one of Felicia’s biggest accomplishments for the gaming community, especially through the show's female characters.
If you’ve ever played World of Warcraft, then you’d definitely appreciate the show. It focuses on a group of people in a local guild for their favorite MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game), The Game. It’s incredibly similar to WoW but develops more into its own thing as the show progresses.
The main character is Cyd, played by Ms. Day herself. She generally goes by the name of her priest character, Codex. One day, she and her guildies notice that Zaboo, a member of their guild, has gone missing.
It’s in the middle of this conversation that Zaboo shows up at Cyd’s door, declaring his love for her. He has decided to live with her.
This is the face of a woman who is questioning every single decision she has ever made in her entire life. People: if a person looks like they are dying inside, then you should give them some space. You should also try not showing up uninvited at someone’s house when you have literally never seen them in person before. The More You Know!
Cyd is nervous about standing up for herself and asking him to leave but eventually folds under the pressure, as many women do when a man forces himself into her space without invitation. (I cannot stress enough that you should never, ever do this to anyone—regardless of their gender and how you feel about them.)
She grows increasingly uncomfortable and finally tries to force him out. But he won’t have any of it.
What I hope that everyone gets out of watching this plot line is how uncomfortable and miserable Cyd becomes, especially when Zaboo actually shows up at her room in nothing but his underwear and a wizard hat. (Please, please don’t do this to people you are not in a romantic and/or sexual relationship with.)
As the show goes on, Cyd learns that being nice all the time isn’t good for her well-being. She becomes much better at standing up for herself and her guild.
Everyone in the guild ends up meeting up, and they slowly become friends outside the game. No group of friends is complete without drama, especially in gaming crowds (sorry, it’s just plain true), and they grow up over time after causing problems among guild members both in and out of the game.
And now for a musical interlude!
The Guild shows what it’s like to be a female gamer among typical male gamers.
The four main male characters are Bladezz, Zaboo, Vork, and the sometimes-antagonist Fawkes, who’s from a different guild. While it may seem at first that Bladezz, your typical rogue troll, is the real issue in the group after he steals the majority of the guild’s funds, Zaboo is absolutely a bigger menace toward the beginning of the series.
The show’s refreshing diary sections and honesty give us a deeper look at what it means to be a woman who is stuck being around a man who clearly doesn’t value her wishes.
After we get more of Zaboo’s back story, we find out why he’s like this. As time goes on, he learns to grow on his own and not rely on Cyd for his emotional well-being. His emotional and mental health significantly improves because of this sense of independence.
Cyd, Clara, and Tinkerballa give viewers a great representation of different types of women who play video games. They all have their own problems, from having low self-esteem to being self-absorbed, and they grow exponentially as the series goes on. None of them have the personality of being “the girl” in the group.
The characters of The Guild are complicated and multifaceted. Cyd begins with an addiction to The Game and what looks like social anxiety. By the end of the series, (spoiler) she actually is able to hold a job and manage relationships of all kinds (/spoiler).
One of the things I love the most about the series is how it shows what it’s like to be the person on the other side of the screen.
2. Voice Acting in Dragon Age II and Guild Wars 2
Felicia has another Web series called Dragon Age: Redemption. It’s comprised of only six episodes, but the character she created, Tallis, has actually been included in some Downloadable Content (DLC) for Dragon Age II. The DLC, “Mark of the Assassin,” is a story of infiltration and intrigue.
Because the show is so short, I won’t say too much about it! Just watch the first episode for yourself.
Action Hero Felicia! Coming soon to stores near you. (Not really, but they should.)
But that’s not the only character she’s voiced for a video game—Guild Wars 2 has been graced by her presence.
Her NPC (non-player character) in GW2 is an Asura named Zojja. The Asura are a proud race of tiny creatures with huge brains and an ego to match. Asuras typically are heavily involved in various fields of science, especially robotics.
MR. SPARKLES WILL SEE YOU NOW.
The elementalist Zojja is a former member of the group Destiny’s Edge. Her mentor, Snaff, was a great researcher and inventor—someone even an arrogant Asura like Zojja regarded as a genius—but was killed through what she believes was the carelessness of a fellow member of Destiny’s Edge.
Zojja is particularly attached to Taimi, the cutest Asura ever.
TAIMI IS SO CUTE.
Taimi is smaller than most Asuras and has a distinct limp, despite her clearly young age. Zojja took Taimi under her wing and takes care of her almost as a mother figure.
Zojja is a woman of few words, but Ms. Day gives her just the characterization she needs to become an individual with whom you can identify and empathize. She has a chip on her shoulder and has absolutely no problem speaking her mind, which makes her particularly relatable when she voices her feelings about the death of Snaff.
Giving Tyria a voice: a look inside the voice acting of Guild Wars 2
Two of a kind: a couple of the geekiest people on the planet
Dungeons & Dragons has always been considered something quite uniquely nerdy/geeky/dorky. There are certain geeks who couldn’t imagine themselves stooping so low as to participate in D&D.
But Ms. Day isn’t afraid to try new things, so she gives tabletop gaming a try. Wil Wheaton hosts a show called TableTop and invites your favorite geek icons to join in. Various types of tabletop games are played from start to finish so you can learn about the game and watch celebrities play together.
While Felicia isn’t in all of the episodes, her company Geek and Sundry provides a great platform for TableTop. The third season ended on August 20, 2015.
In one of the episodes Felicia appears in, one of the guest players is Alan Tudyk (known for his roles in Firefly, Wreck-It Ralph, and Suburgatory, among others).
This episode may be close to 40 minutes, but it’s definitely worth a watch. There are such mature statements as “it’s peepee water” and “it’s kind of like a muffled, airy fart.”
The Forbidden Desert... Why do we always have to go to forbidden places?
By creating a casual venue where likable, famous people can play tabletop games, the show allows a variety of games to be showcased. They’re clearly a lot of fun, and I hope that the show has helped geeks of all stripes to understand that we don’t need to be judgmental about what we play.
So how does this affect women in particular? Well, D&D has long been seen as the realm of basement-dwelling men, but Felicia’s appearance in and support for the show gives us the opportunity to see a woman playing in a tabletop game without being judged for it. In fact, her presence isn’t just tolerated—it’s welcomed.
My local gaming club does have a lot of men in it, but feeling welcome there really allowed me to be myself and learn how to play modern tabletop games.
The more women we see playing tabletop games, the more we’ll see women actually joining in on tabletop games. Visibility and acceptance are everything, especially in the gaming community.
4. Gaming Live-streams
If Felicia Day says you’re never weird on the Internet (almost), then live-streaming can’t be that weird, right?
With the advent of Twitch TV, live-streaming video games quickly became an important part of gaming culture.
Buying video games can get pretty expensive, especially when it comes to new stuff, so watching a person play something before you buy it can save you a ton of money if it doesn’t end up being your thing.
Renting games has become a part of the not-so-distant past, but watching a game stream can give you almost the same effect—but with entertaining commentary and reactions.
Many streamers are male, but there are quite a few female streamers out there that are making names for themselves. Felicia Day is now one of them!
Live-streaming + video games + Magic: the Gathering + Felicia Day… It couldn’t get much geekier.
With how many male streamers there are and how the gaming community sometimes treats women, it can be pretty intimidating to imagine being a female streamer.
Heck, sometimes, it’s intimidating being a female gamer in the first place. One night when I was playing WoW, this one guy whispered me and asked me to have my character come up and dance on him. He promised it would only take a few minutes.
That was one of the last times I played. It definitely wasn’t my reason for not playing anymore, but it stands out as something that was really uncomfortable.
Felicia Day has bravely stepped into the sphere of streaming, and I feel like this is a good step for women who like to play video games, as well as women who are thinking about getting into gaming.
5. Music Videos
“I’m The One That’s Cool” is an anthem for every geek and nerd that’s ever been bullied... which is basically all of us.
“Oh, no. Don't pretend I didn't see
You roll your eyes at my gaming tee
Don't know if you can read or if you've seen
The sweet piece in this week's Wired magazine
The latest trend has hit its peak
They say that geek's becomin' chic
So now you're out of style as you can be
And I'm in vogue, so you can bite me”
Long have we nerds and geeks been laughed at and mocked. But Felicia Day, much like other geek celebrities, advocates being yourself and liking your geeky things despite whatever the haters are saying.
While a lot of geek culture has seemingly become mainstream, there are still plenty of naysayers.
But Felicia even shows us that anyone can make a connection with each other—even a gamer girl and a country boy:
Probably the only country song you’ll listen to on purpose.
“Game On” (seen earlier in this article) is a music video based in the universe of The Guild. One important part of it is that Cyd/Codex is trying to play The Game less. (Of course, Zaboo convinces her to get online, through Bollywood-style song and dance.)
Cyd’s previous therapist quit on her because she was too addicted to The Game to get a job and move forward in life.
Rather than tell Cyd that her addiction is okay, Zaboo encourages her to enjoy the things she likes.
It’s okay to have fun playing games if that’s what you want to do with your free time. It lets you step out of your body and into a fun world for a little while.
Cyd is concerned about how people view her—they just don’t understand why she likes to play video games. But Zaboo helps to bring her out of her shell and remind her that a having an escape from reality is important.
The last of the music videos I want to talk about it is “Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?”
And here come the obligatory snide comments about how a healer doesn’t need a Dexterity-based vest.
It’s fun, it’s silly, it’s catchy, and it shows people being willing to be in relationships! In so many games and basically every other type of media (movies, ads, etc.), women are often treated like a prize by the men instead of being an equal party in a relationship.
But not here! Codex (Cyd’s priest character)’s guildies are being open and honest about their intentions. They ask if you want to date them and explain that it doesn’t have to be anything serious if you don’t want it to be.
“Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?” has strong messages of consent, which I think is becoming more and more crucial in today’s society.
By allowing the characters in the music video to be themselves, Felicia shows that the most interesting relationships come when both parties are interested in each other! It’s a novel concept—I know.
I’m obviously not going to try to speak as if I know what was inside her head when she was writing the song and deciding how to shoot the video, so I’m sure plenty of the stuff I got from it isn’t 100% intentional. But I do think that it really says something that the song and video don’t reference forced relationships at all.
Even though Zaboo spent a lot of time trying to get Cyd to love him, the video shows all the upsides of dating someone through a game, rather than shoving their admittedly confusing relationship to the forefront.
Meanwhile, Felicia shows off her prowess with the violin in “Star Spangled Pride Pants.”
Felicia Day is a smart, savvy, sassy businesswoman. She’s relatable, funny, and honest. She has been very open about her former WoW addiction and has used her experiences as a female gamer to make life better for other female gamers.
I’m not the only one who believes that.
It’s important to show people like her playing games, because some people need to be reminded that there’s no such thing as a “fake geek.”
You either identify as a geek, or you identify as a non-geek. And both of those are valid and perfectly fine identities.
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