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orion - Musings of Unayok

2004 Apr 05

13:52orion 

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Orion is over for another year. I think it went quite well. Attendance was a bit up from where we expected, and from what I've seen we did what we wanted to: let people have a good time, have a good time, and not lose money. Pictures shortly.

This year, like last year, we ran alongside Ad Astra, Toronto's traditional SF convention. It was cool to be able to see some of the SF crowd again too. Didn't get to talk all that much with many of them, but still nice nonetheless.

I'm part of the SF community. I'm part of the gaming community. I'm also part of the furry community. I'm often left somewhat confused at the complex and overall less than positive relationship that the three groups have with one another.

SF/F is generally considered somewhat of a cultural niche or even ghetto by the mainstream. This is worn alternately as a badge of honour or a undeserved burden by the fandom. Oki-fine. But then the SF fandom does their best to marginalise and ghettoise gaming and furries. Oh, to be sure, not everyone in the fandom does it and there are some remarkable exceptions, but this is the trend. I've seen it; this weekend there were a few reminders, definitely. It seems to happen more in the more elite circles of the fandom (SMOFs, BigNameFen, and to an extent the proffessional community) than in the general fanbase, but... it's there.

Gaming has an image problem. It's been described as a "ghetto within a ghetto" at some SF conventions, for example. Most of the gamers don't really care about that though. Except those of us who try to do things such as run cons/events, or do things that involve interacting outside of the gaming community. The response to the SF/F marginalisation is sometimes fairly childish. Guess what? That ends up as tit-for-tat and generally drags the level of discourse down. Depressing when you remember that the people on both sides are actually relatively intelligent. Apparently maturity is far more variable. But for all of that, gamers at SF cons generally stay in their assigned ghetto and amuse themselves, not troubling the bulk of SF fandom.

Furs are much more a problem in the eyes of "mainstream" SF fandom. Why? A couple of reasons, really. First, furry is a relatively new addition to the mix. A new (large) group of people who haven't had much time (culturally) to adjust to the mores of the SF community. They make mistakes and end up offending people who are relatively comfortable in the way that the community was organised before.

Second, furs aren't a lot like gamers. They like to socialise. This puts them into close interaction with the rest of fandom. This ties into the third point. The average age (chronologically and emotionally --shrug--) of furs is lower than the average age of the rest of the fandom. This leads to some generational anxiety as well as some near-instinctive rebellious response on the part of furs to comments/actions of SF fandom (some of which are rather ill-thought out to begin with). Add in the openness furs feel in expressing themselves and there's all sorts of possibilities for problems.

Solutions? Heck, I dunno. I try to do some bridging work, but I'm under no illusion that I'm going to solve things myself, or even that they're solvable, or even that it's worth solving. :) Just making observations here.

But the con was good, and maybe it will be next year too.

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Comments:

[User Picture]
From:e_richard
Date:2004 Apr 05 - 11:07 (UTC)
You speak of openness of it's a bad thing. :P
[User Picture]
From:unayok
Date:2004 Apr 05 - 11:27 (UTC)
You misread.

It is an observation, not a value judgment. For good or bad, the openness adds to the complexities and problems in the interactions between the two groups. This does not require the openness to be a "bad thing". Or a "good thing" for that matter.

There is (I will note) a point at which virtue becomes vice.

unay