”This is a war they started and, by God, we’ll finish it.” -former Britsh P.M., Margaret Thatcher
NorCal Gamer Grrls: Touch Chicas. Photo: Gary Dev
Vulcan ears, steampunk corsets, film-accurate weaponry, hot gamer girls and hard-boiled hooch. Slosh it all into a legendary, San Diego fun zone and you’ve blended up a tangy, spicy, smoking hot extravaganza. No, not Comic-Com, but that is coming soon, kittens. (BTW, yours truly will be on the floor and covering it live for the good folks here at GoodToBeAGeek! Costume? Still up in the air. Any ideas? I’ve narrowed it to Bellatrix Lestrange, Morticia Addams, Snow White or Ruby Red Riding Hood: the latter both of ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Drop a line here or @JennyPopNet and let me know which character you’d prefer!)
Speaking of Ruby Red, there’s a bonkers-wild nightclub right here in my own backyard, just moments from my haunt at the Hotel del Coronado. Welcome to The Ruby Room. Mis en scène amidst the ever active, far-too-hip-for-thou, Hillcrest crawl of downtown San Diego, The Ruby Room offers not only a hardcore, real drinking atmos, but also a nerdcore, real gaming atmos. Hang up your cloak and check your blasters; it’s The Ruby Room’s very own Nerdcore Night. It’s not Comic-Con, but it’s a damn fine tease.
As with many a social movement, Nerdcore Night was born out of a frustration of social-marginalizing and a need for unity amongst a growing, yet still underestimated subculture of a subculture. The case in study? Gamer girls, oft maligned by the gamer boys they’ve so frequently pwned. Nerdcore Night was divined by Miss Aubree Miller, a partner in the eclectic TheGamerGirls.com, a geek girl-oriented, lifestyle website encompassing more than the domain implies: music, entertainment, conventions, cosplay, art and design, fashion and so much more nerdy, girly goodness. The hook? These Gamer Girls are bonkers-hot!
Now, all you Modern Millies, riddle me this. Why call attention to such optics? Why feed today’s insensitive, insulting, brutal, throw-away, aesthetics machine? I’ve been fighting sexism since long before I died in 1934, and in Hollywood, to boot. Murder! That’s some serious skirt-chasing around the desk! From what I can tell, you contemporary chickadees carry a lot of huevos in your Louis bags. You know you’re red hot, no matter what mold you do or do not fit. You’ve got a confidence not seen since the Roaring Twenties ditched those Edwardian stuffed-shirts. You’ve got it in spades, and then some, and don’t seem to care a whit who likes it. So, why waste time proving something to that microband of worthless, useless, infantile, misogynist, insecure, fink gamers?
Lauded and gender neutrally-revered dorkettes like Katrina Hill, Adrienne Curry and Jill Pantozzi know they’re aces-beauteous. While mathematical, symmetrical beauty might be the first visual cue you get on these three, it’s definitely not the last thing you’ll remember about them. Amongst this geek girl triad exists an amalgam of journalists, writers, authors, models, TV personalities, comic book aficionados, film theorists, personal band-strategists, wicked WOW gamers, whip-smart businesswomen, fragile hearts, irreverent, humourous, kind, protective and loyal Earthlings. These broads might understand and shrewdly calculate the value of their charms to bring in unique fans, readers and viewers; but similar to a Harvard or William & Mary legacy, just getting beyond the hallowed brick walls doesn’t cut it. Once they’re being scrutinized, these ladies have to deliver, from the brain as well as the hip.
Left to right: Katrina Hill, Action Chick; Jill Pantozzi, The Nerdy Bird & Adrienne Curry, Mistress of the Dorks Photo courtesy of Katrina Hill
Still, all you other dames, isn’t that quiet beauty of yours, the fact that you know you’re pretty, plus so much more, enough to carry yourself like royalty, no matter where you trod? Haven’t all you Millenium muffins come far enough by 2012 that proving you’re a looker to a bunch of greaseballs and strangers online doesn’t matter a hill of beans? Apparently not in the gaming world. Miller says this facet of technology and entertainment is still flush with “female gamers who feel animosity from male gamers.”
According to Miss Miller, in a May 2012 interview with Chad Deal for San Diego Reader, “Whenever a girl beats a guy over, say, Xbox live or whatever, a ton of messages immediately start piling in about how you must be a fat stoner loser chick to have beat them at a game. Boys are petty. We use actual female gamers on [TheGamerGirls.com] who are hot to prove these kinds of boys wrong. Honestly, girls just want gaming equality.” (Please, feel free to read the whole interview, Nerdcore Night – A Safe Place to Geek … but, come back, okay?!)
I don't think this is sanitary. Photo by Jason Anfinsen
Jessa Phillips, keen pally, hard-line gamer girl and editor-in-chief of GoodToBeAGeek.com follows and covers gaming passionately: most notably, her Good To Be A Gamer weekly podcast with fellow geek David Lucier. Miss Jessa has had wild experiences with sexism in the gaming world and is cuckoo for Nerdcore puffs. She digs the concept of a night where chicas can get together, talk shop, listen to some tuneage, drink and not worry about some rude boy in Singapore, Bangalore, Seattle or Sack-of-tomatoes slinging personal insults and misogynist hate like cream pies in a Laurel & Hardy flick. Jessa knows her stuff, so when some dude calls her a hack, he’d best step off unless he’s complementing her Hack n’ Slash gaming style.
Playing since Nintendo hit the shelves, Jessa is bonkers for first-person shooting (FPS) and not frightened off by the violence amidst her fave games which, according to her, “also incorporate some amazing world building and storytelling”: God of War, Call of Duty: Black Ops, Gears of War, Mass Effect, BioShock and Assassin’s Creed. Just because she’s a gamer patootie, she’d rather not be identified as such.
“I do not believe that women who play games need to be singled out as a specific market segment. Developers should not be making games aimed to draw in female gamers. We are, regardless of gender, gamers. The difference between me and another gamer is the games we play. That is all,” Jessa states.
Even so, she’s suffered from unwarranted sexism. Seemingly innocuous, when pre-ordering the original God of War, she was questioned and quizzed by the store clerk, certain she was buying for a man in her life, certain “a woman would shy away from the graphic violence and sexual mini-game this title promised.” That was simple ignorance and most likely lacking any malice. Her first experience with down home, good old-fashioned, blatant sexism? Enter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
“I was not so naïve as to use a gamer tag that would immediately give away my gender. However, as soon as I spoke my gender was known and it was all over. I will admit, I am not the most skilled gamer, particularly when it comes to shooters. That being said, gameplay has never been my problem. The constant debasing verbal vomit some players spew at the idea that a woman is in their game. A woman can only bear so much trash talk and when she attempts to defend herself, is instantly label a b*tch which only furthers the issue. It is the targeted mean-spirited attitude towards female gamers in online multiplayer gaming that turned me away from the online space and into a single-player gamer.”
Jessa’s feeling a little better about online gaming as days go by; more women are entering the field of play and more men are even coming to the defense of women getting a verbal bullying. She also has a final bit of advice for the loser whom deigns to dis her during her next round, “So I get pwned by a better player, maybe even targeted due to my gender. I’m a big girl, I can take it. Being the man trashing a women who just pwned you with your friends standing by? Just makes you come off as weak.”
Again, don't mess with NorCal grrls. Photo: Gary Dev
Surprisingly, our very own Dr. Lucy is a rabid gamer girl and a dish, to boot. TGG, still looking for gamer models? Sure, she’s a Victorian gal at heart (died at The Del in 1904, in case you’re new here), but she shows up very nicely on camera, best with full-spectrum, infrared, HD cams. Full disclosure: sometimes she only appears as bright orbs … but, what a set of orbs!
Ever since D&D was gifted to RPGs in the 1970s, and then a later introduction to Mech Warriors she’s been a gaming, ghostie girl. Although she can’t always be seen, she can make a presence when she really wants to. Eventually, she moved on to Renaissance Faire; the men can be just as annoying, but her Old School ways fit in better there.
“I’m not into Resident Evil or the highly competitive shoot-em-up games like Halo or intensive online reality games like WOW,” Dr. Lucy confided to me by the hotel pool one night. “I do however still have my Super Nintendo and tons of ‘old school’ games like Mario Bros and every Zelda game ever made. That has to be my favorite platform game of all time. I have gotten a new platform like Wii just because the new Zelda game came out.” (Where does a Victorian ghost find such games, plus a Wii, my skeptical friends might wonder? Craigslist and BestBuy, of course.)”The games I play now are Zelda Skyward Sword, Heroes VI, and Civilization. The game I am saving up for now is Diablo III, and was just released this week!”
Whether it’s Faire, Zelda, Civilization or her long-ago, Victorian parlour games of Whist, Cribbage, Crambo or Hot Cockles, Lucy maintains boys will be boys.
“Heaven help anyone who ‘lets me win’ or gets all condescending!” she went on after yet another poolside-absinthe. “As for sexism, men ALWAYS think they know best and it does leak over into gaming. I find it entertaining when people who don’t know me try to categorize me. They usually get it wrong and reveal more about themselves in the process than they perceive about me. I know people need to stereotype others to a degree to feel comfortable so it makes me value those people who are capable of recognizing and appreciating people for who they are and those with the ability to recognize that all people evolve and are multifaceted.” Well, not all people, Lucy. Have you watched The Jersey Shore on your Kindle lately? Ick.
In the end, after all the womens’ studies, political hashing and academic posturing, Nerdcore Night is just damn good fun. Similar to Disneyland, Renaissance Faire, Comic-Con and FOX’s Animation Domination, it’s a few carefree hours to congregate with fellow goobs and let off some steampunk. Nerdcore Night is a girls’ night out and even though that seems a little dated in and of itself, it’s become a nice, universally nerdy haven. For, even though it started as an IRL meet-up for San Diego-close gamer chicks, it’s happily become an all-inclusive, guys and dolls, hipster doofus et al function: geeks, nerds, dweebs, gleeks, word nerds, orch dorks and so on. Hail dorks, well met! If you recall, I covered this pandemonium of geek culture previously, White & Nerdy checklist and all. Into which category do you fit?
Whatever you do call yourself, however or with whomever you identify, you’re welcome at The Ruby Room, any night of the week. Bring your hip game, though; Hillcrest ain’t Kansas and it ain’t Dr. Lucy’s weekly Hot Cockles … although, I imagine there’s a bit of that, not to mention some Squeak, Piggy, Squeak going on somewhere in the club.
By the by, for the rest of you cats whom tend to booze ‘n cavort sans cape and sword and just want a good Irish whiskey, Kentucky bourbon, I.P.A. or BOGO penny wells, The Ruby Room serves up a wide swath of divertissements: vintage burlesque –sadly, no Dita Von Teese, yet-, live bands, righteous DJs, art shows, charity functions, fashion soirées and themed karaoke nights. Whether you wield a French corset dagger or sport a slick set of Zildjian drumsticks in your back pocket, chances are excellent you’ll find a Ruby Room bash that suits you and your motley crew nicely. As the good folks at The Ruby Room humbly claim, “Not trying to be everything to everyone, but everything that is us.” Awww.
“Ladies don’t start fights, but we can finish ‘em.” -Mlle. Marie Bonfamillle, The Aristocats
Destination: San Diego. Warp speed, Captain! Photo: Rabbot
Hannah’s fave place to haunt online? JennyPop.net , jenniferdevore.blogspot.com and @JennyPop
The Proper Deets:
The Ruby Room
1271 University Ave.
Hillcrest, San Diego, CA 92103