A few years ago (2008, to be exact), I faced a super-long train commute from my home in Brooklyn out to the very edge of Queens. While looking for something to listen to on my Zune, I noticed Microsoft was offering a free web-series, available for watching on the XBOX or downloading to the Zune. While I had not played a video game for a year or two, the premise sounded interesting. That short web-series set into motion the Internet star and geeky TV darling started it all. Her name is Felicia Day.
Felicia Day is known as “Queen of the Geeks,” that chick who is famous on YouTube and that one girl who is on every sci-fi show! But really Felicia Day is an Anomaly in every sense of the word as we use it here. She was home schooled in the South, started college at 16 with a double major in Math and Music, grew up in musical theatre and decided to head to LA to chase her dream of acting. After realizing she was playing more WOW than going to auditions, she basically forced herself to write up a draft of a show about the real people behind the gamer avatar facade. The rest is history and pretty hilariously described in her first book, a memoir entitled “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost).”
After the success of The Guild, Felicia Day felt like she had more to offer the world and created one of the first channels on YouTube – Geek & Sundry. Geek & Sundry was a one-stop shop for truly exploring the geekdom. There were YouTubers expounding on cosplay, recipes for geeky foods and drinks, tabletop gaming and more. Her channel includes other internet famous people like Wil Wheaton and is a standalone website that offers a home base for fans. The website describes itself as “the epicenter of gaming and lifestyle for pop culture fans with an independent spirit, bringing together people from all over the world who love things in counter-culture.” To round out the experience of geeks taking over the internet, Geek & Sundry boasts a hugely popular Twitch.
One of the best things about Geek & Sundry is newly relaunched show “The Flog” – a video web series led by Felicia Day (and sometimes her friends from The Guild and the G&S world). In the series, Felicia Day offers up interesting bits of geekdom for you to explore. One of the latest episodes featured a bookish delight – a website called “Out of Print” that offers shirts, totes, and other accessories featuring out of print book cover designs from classic literature. The show also allows views to tag along with Felicia as she challenges herself to level up in real life by doing things way outside her comfort zone, which has included trying out trapezing and playing Quidditch with a local team.
Felicia Day is now on tour promoting her book. I had the chance to meet her at her first book signing in NYC at HousingWorks bookstore in Soho. The bookstore raises money for those battling homelessness and AIDS. It was a warm, welcoming place – the perfect venue for more than a 100 geeks to take over every available space to listen to the author and the host Lev Grossman, the writer of “The Magicians.” Grossman asked questions about home schooling and the struggles of writing. Some time was taken to answer hand written audience questions including mine which was “What was the first book you fell in love with?” (She had a hard time naming just one, but cited “Anne of Green Gables” as being one of them). To finish off the night, Day remained to sign everyone’s book and take pictures – and when it was my turn I was able to give her a quick hug and thank her for the book.
The book itself is a quick, inspirational read. It starts out with a forward from someone she has worked with numerous times: Joss Whedon. Felicia was a Potential on the last season of “Buffy” and the star of another internet phenomenon “Dr Horrible’s Sing Along Blog” alongside Nathan Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris. Both of those projects were close to Whedon’s heart and highly identifiable to fans.
Like many other memoirs, Felicia Day describes her awkward childhood and teen years, college experimentation and struggles in Hollywood. Unlike those memories, Days stories revolve around the burgeoning of the internet in the 90’s, chasing an A in theoretical mathematics, and being successfully typecast a new archetype on television. For newcomers to her work or fans since The Guild, the book is a wonderful insight to someone who grew up on the web and became a key player is revamping our ideas of how we create, distribute, and consume media.
Finally, the book is a call for all geeks, no matter their background, to stand up for themselves, ignore trolls and doubters, and be themselves.
I recommend this book for all Anomalies and Singularities! If you grew up with a bulky CPU and remember the whirring of connecting to the internet, this book will bring back some serious nostalgia for the days of web 1.0, where there were no trolls and chat rooms about a video game was still a novelty.