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Felicia Day Talks the New Season of Her Hit Web Series 'The Guild' and the Hazards of Being a 'Girl Gamer'

By Robert Echevarria | Indiewire October 2, 2012 at 8:56AM

If you get on the internet for anything other than email, you would be hard-pressed not have heard of Felicia Day. An actress seen on shows such as "Eureka," "Supernatural" and "House," Day is the multifaceted creator, writer, producer and star [as Guild Priestess Codex] of the smash-hit web series, "The Guild." Achieving longterm success in an online medium known for its short attention span is no small feat, but "The Guild," which is centered around the lives of a group of gamers involved in an MMORPG, is moving into its sixth season, which premieres on Day's YouTube channel Geek & Sundry on October 2nd. This level of success is no surprise when you look at the stats -- "The Guild" has garnered over 69 million views and several awards, and has launched a handfull of music videos that have Day’s fangirls and -boys bubbling in a hormonal tizzy, which is ironic, because “sexy” isn’t a word that Day would use to describe herself.
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As you come up against these issues, do they influence your characters, such as Codex?

Definitely. Fans of "The Guild" and the shows on Geek & Sundry are amazing. It’s a vocal minority who are attempting to sully the pool. At the same time, what I’m proud of is that people also stand up for each other and don't allow that kind of bullying to be okay. I’m not trying to paint with a broad brush, but I know what I see, and these issues have influenced the storyline of "The Guild."

It sounds like you’re a role model giving back to her fans.

The reason we did a slate on Geek & Sundry that had table-top gaming, comics and fantasy/sci-fi literature, and why I do my own romance book club, is not because I was thinking, “Hey, this would be a really great business move.” I see things that aren’t represented by video yet, which serves as a vehicle for socialization on the web, versus passive entertainment. Video is best served as a form of communication. All these shows either celebrate independent creators who make table-top board games, or write a comic or a romance novel, and at the same time, they educate people about options that may enrich their lives.

Every single thing I do is meant to give back to people, so they can find out a little bit more about themselves. That’s part of who I am. I was always fascinated with personality tests, horoscopes and palm reading. I was always thinking, “Who am I?” and it took many years to find the person that I am now. Hopefully, I never stop growing. And that should be the aim for everyone: experience things, learn if you like them or not, and grow.

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You were gaming online like it was a job. What was the catalyst that motivated you to start working on "The Guild"?

To quit gaming, I joined a support group with other women who would meet, tell their goals to each other, then come back the following week and report how it went. For several months, all I said was that I was gaming a lot and that I wanted to write something. Finally, the other women told me they thought I should quit talking about writing and just write. After that, I gave myself a deadline. It was midnight on New Year's Eve, and I did it. It was my willpower that enabled me to do it. You have to be ruthless with yourself. Draw the line in the sand and say, “No matter how uncomfortable it is. No matter what I have to sacrifice or have to turn down, I’m going to accomplish this.” This doesn’t pertain to how I treat other people. It’s how I honor myself.

How did you keep it up?

Uploading that first video and seeing those comments was exciting. Good and bad, those comments drove me through every single video. Just knowing that I could see a comment and know that person was impacted by my video was a rush. If they laughed, I wanted to make that person laugh again. I’d never made a video before and uploaded it. That instant feedback was what got me hooked.

Have you been treated differently as a gamer because of your gender?

I know a lot of the people who run video games, and I know they are circumspect, respectful and very nice people. I also know there are games that market to the young, male demographic, and the developers know that if they put a bunch of scantily clad nuns in the trailer, that sales are going to go up. Television will also try to dumb things down to the same population. On the internet, if a girl is half dressed, compared to a girl showing less skin, it’s going to get more hits.

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Is that worth it to you? Say the slavery concept was what drew people in.

This is part of a much larger conversation that I find really interesting, and it’s timely, but not all sexuality should be condemned just because it triggers people. I think looking at people in a one-dimensional way, like a women who is dressed sexy in an online video, and then condemning her outright, is exactly the kind of hate that’s motivated some of the comments on my videos because I might be dressed in shorts or a tank top. This invites girl hate as well. You’re devalued if your sexuality is included as part of “your package.”

This is destructive and hypocritical, because the base urge is to click on that video with the girl sitting down with her boobs out. So now, there’s people trying to tell these business men to not make or market what’s popular. There are degrees, with a very narrow tipping point, to where you are hating on someone for being authentic. People may say that a girl is a “real” geek or a “real” nerd, but once a person says, “Oh, her skirt is two inches too short, so she obviously isn’t real,” then you’re inviting someone else’s metric of “Well, she’s wearing a sleeveless shirt. She's obviously a slut and doesn’t really like video games.” It creates a trickle-down effect. I get the same vitriol. People will say I’m not serious or a real gamer, because of these broad-scale and granular decision-making processes.

Do you have a favorite Internet acronym?

I use LOL all the time, but I also like TIL – today I learned -- because it’s always accompanied by something interesting.

This article is related to: Television, TV Interviews, Interviews, Felicia Day, The Guild, YouTube, web series