Here is the talk I presented at Tedx Ultimo this year. It explores the concept of social media as a game, looks at the effects of games on players, and steps we can take to foster healthy online communities.
The tips and tricks to keep you safe online!
I just walked out of Interstellar and felt like I had nothing to say. So, ironically, here I am writing about it.
Some of the best film experiences I’ve ever had took me on a journey of emotions – then left me hanging at one. Be it hope or despair or pure inspiration, I walk out of that cinema feeling somehow changed by what I saw.
With Interstellar I left the cinema in the same state I’d walked in, and since it’s one of the most beautifully made films I’ve ever seen – with great acting, incredible special effects, a solid and very interesting story topped off with the perfect soundtrack – that’s definitely not what I expected.
Because this was a film that took me on a full gamut of emotions. It had me on the absolute edge of my seat, gasping and crying and in pure awe at the journey I’d been witness to. Then all of it was wrapped up nicely, no loose strings, a bow stuck on top, and I was sent on my way.
For all those feelings this film evokes – and it most certainly evokes a lot of them – they are self contained. It’s left me feeling nothing in particular having experienced them.
Except perhaps a curiosity that I may have missed something.
A few months ago my good friend and all-round funny person Alli Reed asked if she could borrow a bunch of my photos to help make an online dating profile. The premise was to have someone that would be considered physically attractive, but have a personality so repulsive that no man would want to go there. At all.
Alli made the profile, wrote the story, published it on Cracked – and it’s had over 2 million hits in 24 hours. This has led a lot of people to my social networks to debate the article and even ask if I am “aaroncarterfan”.
So here’s a couple of FAQ’s answered – if there is anything else you would like to know, feel free to ask below 🙂
*I’ve never listened to Aaron Carter. The 90’s for me is grunge, grunge and more grunge. It’s still the 90’s, right?
*Since I didn’t make the profile or write the article questions surrounding it are probably best directed at Alli herself – her twitter is a great place to contact her (she’s also a hilarious addition to your twitter feed).
*The profile image is from a short film in which I played all 7 Deadly Sins. This one was, appropriately, “Lust”.
*No, I won’t pull your teeth out or give you a mermaid tattoo. I am in a happy long term relationship and my activities of choice include spending time with my partner and 12 year old son. Boring, I know 😉
*Most of the modelling I do these days is cosplay related, but I also do lifestyle, bridal and portrait work.
*I primarily work as a video game, consumer technology, comic book and pop culture journalist. I also work as an actor, voice artist and MC.
I have a little thing I do to keep myself in check. When I find myself judging other women for choices they make in their lives, I try walking a mile in their shoes to better understand their motivations.
Once upon a time I used to think that women who entered beauty pageants were vain, shallow and conceited. I realised I was making a sweeping generalisation. So I entered one.
What happened was I ended up gaining a bunch of confidence, had lots of fun, and made some great new friends. The other women were in this competition for fun, prizes, to help launch a modelling career or simply because they were dared to by their friends. It was an experience I’ll never forget, and taught me a valuable lesson about judging people by my own pre-conceived notions of why they do what they do.
In 2013 I took my first selfie. I know that seems a little late to the party, considering it was also the year selfie was added to the dictionary, but I didn’t want people to think of me the way I thought about other people that took constant photos of themselves. Yes, there I was judging others again. Seeing daily updates of people’s faces in a scungy bathroom mirror had me questioning why they do this. Is it for attention? Validation? Are they hooked on how many “likes” they get? Does that give them the confidence boost they need to get them through the day? Or do they simply believe they are shit-hot and want to world to know it?
In 2014, I am about to find out. Rather than spamming my usual social networks with my mug in various states of attractiveness, I have started an instagram account called “@raevstheselfie” where I will upload one selfie a day, for an entire year, accompanied by the greatest number of hashtags possible. I am hoping by the time 2015 rolls around I will learn a few things – about others, but mostly about myself.
Let the narcissism begin.
First screened at Sydney Film Festival, then at ImagiNATIVE Film Festival in Toronto, The Chuck In has been added to the program of Australian short films screening at Flickerfest International Film Festival in January 2014 at Bondi Beach. Flickerfest is Australia’s only Academy® accredited short film festival – the winner will be eligible for Oscar nomination.
Produced by Ryan Griffen and Brown Cab Productions, and Directed by Jon Bell, in The Chuck In I play the dual role of “Dream Girl” and French backpacker Genevieve – yes, I speak French in this film!
If you’ll be in Sydney on January 16th and would like to see this beautifully funny short, you can buy tickets here.
Waiting for a coffee at my local café, a fellow customer noticed my Bioshock Infinite t-shirt. How did I know he noticed? Because he was glaring at me with what could only be described as haughty disapproval. My curiosity at his reaction was quickly satisfied when he suddenly and venomously accused: “You probably haven’t even played it”.
Despite the overwhelming majority of my colleagues, readers and viewers being completely accepting of my work in the gaming industry, I meet skepticism about my passion for video games on a daily basis. I’m not even going into the abuse I get whilst gaming online. Once people get to know me they quickly learn I am “legit” – but does this happen to my male counterparts? Sometimes, of course, but absolutely not to this extent. Reasons I’ve been given for my “obvious geek fakery” range from having worked as a model, an actor, and having passions outside of gaming or the “geek world” but the most common by far is my physical appearance and ultimately, gender.
This incredulity at my existence not only in gaming media but even just as someone who simply enjoys gaming has even extended to questions about the legitimacy of the event I described in my tweet. Did I believe I should tweet about the best comeback I’ve ever had to someone accusing me of being a “fake geek girl” – to my face? Without question. I tweet about when I’m watching Adventure Time or when I’ve eaten too much cheese, why not this? Did I have any idea it would go viral? Not a chance. I’m hoping with this post I can clear up some questions asked.
I’ve never been a confrontational person. Standing up for myself in person is something that terrifies me, and I was shaking not only with anger but at the thought of responding to this man. Did I consider just ignoring him? Yes – that’s my usual default in situations like this. That, or just saying something like “Oh, yeah – actually I have. I finished it a few days ago – have you played it yet?”. Trying to turn the conversation into something amicable is something that years of hospitality training ingrained into me. But this man was aggressive and rude, and I’d made a promise to myself recently to never stand for this kind of behaviour, no matter how difficult it was for me.
My first thought was to tell him the ending as a way of proving I’d played it. Why I should even have to aside, the idea he could have a retort along the lines of “you just read a wiki” or “you probably watched it on YouTube” didn’t occur to me – this happened quite quickly after all. As I’d finished the game myself only 3 days earlier, and discussed it in length as a guest on the GameArena Podcast 2 days before, the key points were fresh in my mind. What I ended up (calmly, mind you, despite my anger) telling him was enough to be obvious that I had in fact played the game, whilst – yes – at the same time spoiling it for him if he hadn’t. In the midst of doing so, I realised by the look on his face he mustn’t have finished the game himself.
I won’t lie, it felt fantastic to have someone who was intending to make me feel awful – on my birthday of all days – have the tables turned on him. Does that make me a bad person? You tell me. I collected my coffee, then walked away with the biggest grin on my face, adrenalin coursing through my body. There were only two other customers at the coffee shop, both sitting some distance away, and I’m honestly not sure if the barista overheard the conversation. I do sincerely hope I didn’t spoil it for anyone else. I can’t even begin to describe how proud I was for standing up for myself. I deal with guys like this online every single day, and to be able to get revenge – with dignity – felt unbelievably good.
I could never have predicted what would follow. Within minutes of tweeting the incident I’d received hundreds of retweets (there has been accusations I receive career and financial gain for this – I can assure you that assumption is categorically false). Within an hour I was trending on San Francisco then the United Kingdom, Canada, Melbourne, Australia and finally my hometown of Sydney. Whilst buzzing from the enormity of what was happening on twitter I was contacted for an interview with media news site IT Journo.
It ended up on tumblr and was reblogged by Gail Simone, a writer for the Wonder Woman comic series, of which I am a huge fan. The Mary Sue wrote a story on it. It hit the front page of memebase. Wil Wheaton reblogged it on his tumblr, then responded to my thanking him on twitter. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any more surreal, Forbes wrote an article. Imgur posted it. It was added in a buzzfeed and shared all over facebook and instagram. I was inundated with thousands of people thanking me for standing up to that man. I’ve been called a hero, an inspiration, a badass, a liar and a drama queen.
All I did was what I felt was the right thing, in a moment of frustration, brought on by years of being the target of misogyny online – culminating in that one real life opportunity to fight back.
I’m hoping this serves to answer some questions I’ve been asked via twitter and in the comments of articles on other sites. If you do have any further questions I’m happy to answer them here. Also, please – share your stories of similar events – I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been able to manage a killer comeback. I’ll be deleting any Bioshock Infinte spoilers from the comments, so there’s no need to fear scrolling below!
EDIT: It has also come to my attention that Courtnee Draper, the voice of Elizabeth also responded to my tweet! The amount of support I have received is truly amazing, and I can only hope it encourages others to not stay silent in a similar situation.