Anyone who is surprised that I have big heart-eyes for Felicia Day probably doesn’t know me very well. Number one, she is a redhead, so she gets automatic bonus points from a fellow ginger. She also appeared in Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which is everything fantastic rolled into one amazing miniseries/movie thing. My favorite thing that she’s done is founding Geek and Sundry, a web company that started off as a YouTube channel (and still exists there, though not as a YouTube exclusive), and has evolved into all kinds of amazing geeky content (someday I’ll write about my favorite thing that they do, which is their Dungeons and Dragons show “Critical Role”), and isn’t quite so Felicia-focused as it used to be.
Which after reading this book, I think Felicia appreciates.
But let’s get to the book – it’s a memoir (duh – says so on the cover), and so I got to hear the origin story of Felicia Day, which is GREAT. I’d heard in the past that Felicia and her brother were home-schooled, but never an explanation of why, and it seems to be for the reason that any smart but exasperated parents would do it – all the other options were terrible, or too religious or just plain nutty. And because Felicia’s mother was smart, but not super into structure, Felicia grew up getting to count reading novels as part of her educational time. SO JEALOUS. It’s also hilarious to hear about just how many activities Felicia got shunted into as a way to try and socialize her properly. But because she was coming of age in the 90s, and the internet was beginning to get interesting, there are also fascinating stories about her first online friends and their meetup(s).
I had known that Felicia was a classically trained violinist, but not that she was a prodigy of sorts who went to college early (despite not having a high school diploma), and also majored in math (because it was a sturdier fall-back in case of needing a job). Her desires to have friends, but also deal with shyness and anxiety are things I had to manage in college too, but I didn’t have the intense and driving desire to achieve that put Felicia where she is now.
It’s amazing to hear about the beginning of the creator part of Felicia’s career. She wrote The Guild as a vehicle for herself because she saw a niche that wasn’t being filled (gamers!), and wanted to own a stake in that world. Her DIY ethic was both a blessing and a curse (she recently appeared on the Nerdist podcast – or rather, not so recently…I’m a little behind in my listening to non-Serial podcasts – and said she wished she had known that it was ok, and LESS STRESSFUL to delegate), because it was the taking control of everything that kept the costs down and allowed her to do the show at all when it was first made, and at the same time, doing every little thing yourself is just crazy-making. According to the podcast, Felicia got seriously burned out in 2014, and took a big chunk of time away to decompress, and it’s easy to see how much happier she is now.
And then there’s the matter of her being a loud and prominent voice as a (female) gamer. More than a year ago when she wrote about how the GamerGate was making her sad because where previously she had felt kinship to all gamers regardless of sex, because of the issues surrounding that clusterf***, she no longer knew who was just your friendly neighborhood dude who liked to game, and who was going to call her a fake-geek, and try to shout her down about “ethics in gaming journalism”. The post she wrote was amazing, and heartfelt, and almost immediately someone put her personal information up in a threatening way. It’s just ugly things like that, and her reaction to them (which was just hurt and frustrated) that makes me admire her even more.
The empire she has created is one I love. I’m obsessed with Tabletop, and Titansgrave is what got me interested in RPGs. I adored LearningTown (and told that to Storm of Paul and Storm when I saw him at a Mythbusters show one time). The Flog makes me want to try new things. Felicia’s relationship with her brother Ryon on Co-Optitude reminds me of mine with my brother Ben. And I’m not the only one who watches other people play D’n’D for more than 3 hours every week in rapt attention during Critical Role.
Felicia may not be the star of every one of these shows, but it is her vision that brings it all together, and makes it ok to be an awesome geeky person (or specifically, lady) on the internet. She’s such an inspiration, and if I can be a little more like her every day, I think that would be a good thing.
PS – unrelated to the book content, this was the second ebook in a row that I’d borrowed from the library, and this time I actually finished it within the initial loan period, which is AMAZING for me and a kindle book. You don’t want to know how long it normally takes me to finish one borrowed that way!
Details: “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)” by Felicia Day, published 2015 by Touchstone.