- Solon and I left at at midnight on Friday at midnight (so Thursday night or Friday morning depending on how you feel about it). We didn't post up much during the night as we drove, we mostly worked on my talk (I had barely begun drafting it when we started driving.) We did take this very nice selfie when we got into California though:
- Along the way, we realized the terrible choice we had made:
- We showed up in Berkley way early for the conference, so we did a tiny bit of sight seeing. There weren't many sights to see, but I did remember one of serious importance.
- We went to 924 Gilman Street. Located there is a music venue mostly known by it's street address. A number of bands played there, but to me, it's mostly important as the local venue which first hosted Green Day, even back in the days when they were known as Sweet Children. Green Day was, growing up, my favorite band, and they remain my favorite band performing anything that isn't metal. The band was banned from performing at the venue when they signed to a major label heading into the recording of Dookie, the album that made them famous, though they have, numerous times, played the venue again, most notably as their alter-ego band Pinhead Gunpowder.
Frankly, that they were ever banned from the venue is mainly a reflection of the absolutely childish politics of punk scenes in the US. I like a lot of punk bands, but punk scenes are pretty universally insufferable from the word "go." That's kinda what happens when you organize a musical genre around "rebellion" whose pioneering band's primary objective was to cut 50's pop singles and get rich who simply failed to do so.
Anyway, there was a speaker's dinner that night that I attended. It was a good time, but I didn't end up taking any pictures.
- After the Speaker's dinner, Solon and I were informed that there was a great cocktail bar nearby called the East Bay Spice Company I believe. Got my first ever whiskey sour, I'd now call it a drink of choice. This is a notably classy improvement over "Two shots of fireball inside of an Apple Cider." That Sour may look like it's hitting me harder than it actually is. You wanna see me getting busted by alcohol? Stick around.
- This was taken the morning of the first day of the conference, right before the opening ceremonies. Yes, I wore a tank top. Yes I'm doing the DX Crotch Chop. Two seats to my right is Clarris Cyarron, a good friend and peer, sitting next to Richard LeMarchand, who I had never heard before. If you don't know who Richard LeMarchand is, I cannot introduce him. Meeting him was an overwheliming, positive experience for me, as his games were each hallmarks of my growing up that shaped and continue to shape my critical approach towards videogames. I'd now consider him a good friend as well, something I'm deeply honored to say.
- My talk is at the top of this video and you can hop to a little later to hear me answer some questions about my talk as well (though the other speakers were also excellent, kudos to them.) This is the reason I was here, to give a talk about masculinity in what I consider "Late" Final Fantasy.
Giving the talk I wasn't very confident in it as my construction of my powerpoint had been sloppy at best. It also felt weird to give a talk about stoicism in particular while realizing each of the things I was doing and would continue to do to distance myself from the audience. I believe at one point I start to lean up against a poll, something I would later do in a microtalk when attempting to talk about my first day at the conference. I identify Squall and Seifer's tendency to dress heavily as a form of protecting themselves emotionally, I'm basically doing the same thing. It's California and I'm wearing a heavy jacket. It wasn't cold that day at all.
Later I watched the talk and realized "of course I know what I'm talking about" which is exactly what people were telling me in my twitter mentions as soon as the talk was over. Having that many people (including Richard LeMarchand himself who later told me that he thought are writings are very intelligent) validate my intellectual pursuits was a new experience for me. I felt like something of an intellectual impostor being at an academic conference considering I dropped out of college after three years with nothing to show for it because I could never get out of Algebra I, but people at QGCon went out of there way to make me feel welcome.
On top of all this, because of what QGCon is (the Queerness in Games Conference, if I haven't written out the full name) much of the talks focused not just on gender, but also sexuality, which is a good way to be reminded of how incredibly single you are. This is deserving of its own discussion sometime later, but attempting to perform any kind of queered masculine sexuality in public places can be incredibly difficult, the result being I had a difficult time performing anything other than a public persona, rather than attempting to connect with anyone on a personal level. (Yeah, I know, Cry Me A River, etc.)
This was pretty overwhelming, and I realized I wasn't "feeling" all of this the way I should be. I was probably in some small amount of shock from going from one extreme end of emotions to another, but I started to wonder whether maybe, because of so many years of stoic performance that helped me get out of high school, that I had simply rendered myself incapable of accepting that people actually like me because all I really could feel was how very, very lonely I was, even surrounded by supporters, peers, and friends.
That's when the drinking started. Drinking can be very easy for me because it's a good way to express my competitiveness. I'm not gonna boast about who I "beat" drinking because that'd be useless. I drank the 3rd margaraita to put myself on par. I drank the 4th to put myself over. Then I drank the 5th to prove I could.
- This entire time I had not been eating and I had not been drinking anyway water. I had specifically chosen to do so because I believed it would help me get more drunk. I think part of the problem with trying to shame myself for getting drunk is that it's honestly too funny when I try. That one's pretty good just because I'm smiling so much and I always look like an idiotic dork when I smile, but the next one is way funnier.
- The next day I woke up with a hangover, so I remembered what I learned from TV. Go eat and get some caffiene.
- I genuinely really do like that iced McD's coffee. It's a good mix of stuff. Anyway, that plus walking half a mile to and from the McD's helped kill my headache and stomachache.
- Other notable things: met Sandy Stone who also said I was smart, which was pretty great since I didn't understand a word of her talk, though I'm assured by others it was very good. There were great group talks on being nonbinary and trans I took a part in. I talked to Richard about how weird I was feeling and we had a good conversation. Solon and I had to leave early on day 2 because he had work the next day. On the drive home we watched most of Wrestlemania XII (spoilers: it's good) and also had some hot theory talks.
- and that was QGCon 2015. Sorry for the lack of usual CritSwitch, hope this makes up for it.
If you want to support me going to more critical conferences and giving more talks, consider supporting Critical Switch on Patreon: Patreon.com/CriticalSwitch
From Olympia, WA: Play is Labor. I'm Austin C. Howe.