Interview With Liz Bauman, Gaming Community Builder
Liz Bauman is the creator and moderator of the Twitter community #rpgchat, and co-writer of the blog Character Generation, with Lyndsay Peters. She's also the woman behind the first publishing endeavor for The Illuminerdy, Adventure Begins at Bedtime.
How does being a wife and mother influence your engagement with the hobby, and the gaming community?
Early on in my time in the gaming community (and early on in my marriage), being a wife meant I was constantly on the defensive. I needed everyone to know that I was a gamer, not the WIFE of a gamer. I wasn't gaming because it was something my husband did. I wasn't gaming to be the weird nag of a wife who wouldn't let her husband have his own hobbies. I gamed because I loved it.
But, no matter how hard I tried, I'd have some dude come up to be at a convention and ask me point blank, "Did you write these characters? Or did your husband?" To this day, I'm never sure if those guys were actually asking me if I actually wrote my characters, or if they just trying to have me confirm that I was, in fact married. But it created an inherent self-consciousness about my identity as a gamer and drove me, in many ways, to separate myself from my husband to prove that I was, in fact a gamer.
As for being a mother? It makes gaming so much more amazing. There's nothing like spending time with a child to ignite your sense of wonder.
When did you decide to start blogging on gaming related topics?
I've been blogging off and on since the early 2000s. From my long-dead LiveJournal to the once active d20blonde.com, I've long used blogging as a way to hash out game ideas, recap adventures, and muse about gaming culture. However, it wasn't until I started engaging in some joint-blogging ventures with my husband and friends that I started to love it.
Why did you create #RPGchat?
Like most of my best ideas, I stole it shamelessly from someone else. You see, back when my son was an infant, I participated regularly in a Twitter chat for postpartum depression (#ppdchat). As I made connections with the other participants, I often found myself thinking, "I'd love to see something like this for the gaming community."
I talked it over with friends, Tweeted about it often, and - eventually - decided to take the plunge, tentatively scheduling a chat for a Thursday evening... and the response was profound. (Who would have thought - gamers love a set time and place to collectively talk about our passion!)
How do you think social media and online spaces will change things for women in the hobby industry?
Social media connects us, amplifies our voices. It gives us the proverbial level playing field in communication (even though it can be marred by jackass trolls).
I think it changes things by giving us equal access to "industry insiders," giving us a chance for our "big break." Or to create a following all our own so that we can create a big break for ourselves. I think, more than that, it gives us a platform for meaningful relationships - enduring friendships that make us better people and better gamers.
In the 10 years I've been involved in the online RPG scene, I've seen a lot of competition, jealousy, and fighting among women... and that sucks. A lot. I won't spend a bunch of time musing about why that is, but I will say that I think that social media gives us a place to leave that competitive bullshit behind, to invest ourselves in building each other up, rather than tearing each other down.
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