Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Big Tent

I've occasionally harped on how representation matters, but I was reminded of that when I was cruising through YouTube last week.

YouTube surfing is like free association: you find something interesting, watch that, and you're pointed in the direction of other potentially interesting videos. Either that, or you end up being distracted by whatever is on the sidebar.*

But one of my "recommendations" was a blast from the past:

I remember vividly the first time I watched this cinematic trailer for SWTOR, because of the reaction of the mini-Reds.

Sure, all three loved it, but when we reached the 2:37 mark, the reactions among the girls changed from "wow!" and "cool!" to stunned amazement.

"I want to be her!"

"I want to play her!"

Representation is not a matter of trying to sideline people who are in the majority, but a way of telling the sidelined "Hey, you're welcome here, have a seat at the table."

It's akin to what happened when an old university friend and his family stopped by for the weekend a few years ago. Their two kids, a girl and boy, had recently discovered Star Wars,** so when they stopped by I was ready. I motioned over the younger kid and pulled out one of the mini-Reds' toy lightsabers. "You know what this is?" I asked.

He nodded wordlessly.

"Go ahead and push the button."

The lightsaber sprang to life, light and sound and everything.

His eyes were as big as saucers.

A second lightsaber found its way into the hands of his older sister, who knew exactly what to do. And for the rest of the afternoon, there were lightsaber battles and young padawans in awesome Jedi poses.

The last I checked, both kids were confirmed Star Wars fans, "For life!" one of them told me last year.

There is no reason why geekdom and the gaming industry can't say "Hey, there's a seat at the table for you, no matter who you are." There's absolutely no reason to feel threatened by making the tent bigger, because we all win when we open our arms wide in welcome.

*Probably both.

**Their dad helped a wee bit.


  1. I was always impressed by that story (can't find it now) of how a little boy whose mum and aunt (?) were both politicians asked them in wonder if men can be senators too, because he wasn't used to seeing anyone other than women in that role. What we see around us growing up strongly shapes our view of the world; there's no denying it.

    1. I remember that story, but I can't find it either.

      Having watched some of my neighbors' kids behave like entitled jerks --just like their parents-- reinforces the notion that kids are like sponges.

  2. Cute story, and I wholeheartedly agree with everything you've written here. Representation matters, and when a production team does it right, I notice and they get a +1 in my book. I'm currently watching Once Upon A Time, and although the writing is cringeworthy at times and there are many plot holes (something that bothers me), I still watch it, because it's one of those few series where female representation is right.

    1. I've never watched Once Upon a Time, but I do know its fans love the representation part.