Activities For The Civic Geek: Support The Troops

Being in the military is challenging, as many people know.  Support the geek troops by supporting your mutual interests!

Being stationed away from home and loved ones, moving around when required, tough training, unexpected surprises – being in the military, simply, isn’t an easy job.  We’ve all known people in the military life, know the challenges – and know supporting the troops is one way we civilians and current civilians can help our.  If we’re geeks, gamers, and so on, we can help out our geeky brethren who wear the uniform.

After all we’re geeks.  We know the importance of games, comics, literature, anime, and so on.  We know what our fellow geeks in the service like.  Let’s make it easier to get it to them.

You could:

  • Join any number of groups (I’ve got a few listed below) to help out.
  • Your events, club, and conventions could support groups that help out geeky troops.  Imagine a manga donation marathon!
  • You could invite current and former members to speak on their experience to your supporting group or club so people know exactly what they experience.
  • Find ways to get care packages of appropriate material to those in the service.
  • Work with current military charities in your own geeky ways.

You get to make a real difference in the lives of people, you’ll learn more about what military service is like (or show people), and you get to do good for people in uniform.

In your own, geeky way.



Literature and Technology

  • United Through Reading – Connects US military personnel with their children by video-recorded book readings.



Video Games

  • Military Gamers – A community and support network for military and former military gamers from the US military. Promotes healthy gaming and support.
  • Operation Supply Drop – A military gaming charity that delivers video game care packages for American and American allied soldiers in both combat zones and military hospitals.



Activities For The Civic Geek: Promote Accessibility

Access to geeky pursuits can be challenging for some people; but you can help with access for people and even do more!

We take it for granted that people can enjoy the same geeky stuff we do.  It’s out there, right?  Accessible, right?  Not quite.

Some geeks suffer from assorted challenges.  It may be temporary, like a broken leg or reaction to a medical procedure.  It may be far more permanent in the case of disabled limbs and color blindness.  If you’re an able-bodied person who’s ever been seriously injured, you know exactly what it’s like to not be able to do the things you love, if only for awhile.

However we geeks are inventive folks and are at our best when more people can enjoy our community.  It’d be time well spent to help geeks who have some challenges, temporary and permanent, enjoy the same things we do.  You could:

  • Work at a convention and advocate for accessibility policies.
  • Work with groups that make video games, books, and more accessible to people who have limits.
  • Promote awareness of just how geek communities can be more open and accessible to people who have their limitations.
  • If you’re really technical, perhaps your geek group could get involved in charities, fix-it-shops, repurposing/refurbishing technology, and other ways to provide accessibility to people – geeks and more.

These activities aren’t just good for geekdom and the people benefiting – they’re good for you and your communities.  You learn how other people live, broaden your horizons, open your hearts and minds – and learn ways to help others.

Here’s a few geeky activities to look into to get you started:


  • CosAbility – A group focused on helping cosplayers work their physical challenges/disabilities into cosplay!

Video Games

  • Able Gamers – A charity that works to improve the lives of people with disabilities through video games, including charity work, consultation with gaming companies, and more.
  • Special Effect – Helps people with disabilities play video games with special technology and a variety of fundraisers. Takes donations and runs events.


No, Actually I’m Pretty Fine With My Emotions And Everything Else

“You’re being irrational.  That person is being irrational.  Those people are being irrational.”

We all know the drill.  There’s a discussion or an argument, often about politics, and then it verges into that special brand of stupid where someone declares that A) the people they disagree with are irrational, and B) Imply directly or indirectly that they themselves are thus rational.  This is intended to end the argument.

Usually – but not always – the person who invokes the argument is really just derailing the conversation.  When I encounter this “aggressive statement of rationality,” the person making it is usually pretty emotional – either seething with rage or displaying the kind of smugness that produces seething rage.  Occasionally they just seem emotionally dead and distant, as if that’s somehow good and implies a functional decision making process as opposed to the need for therapy.  Rarely does the person making the rational/irrational argument come off as someone that should be listened to.

(And usually I find the rational/irrational argument is best made by being the person who basically doesn’t freak out, act like a jerk, or come off as emotionally stunted.  If the argument is true – and relevant – it will be made on its own.)

But the use of this argument ignores a larger issue.  Emotions aren’t bad, the emotional/rational divide is nonexistent, and the idea of a separate rationality is meaningless.

There’s nothing wrong with emotions.  Evolution (or if you want to get metaphysical God or whatever) seems to have given us one hell of a range of behaviors and reactions.

They’re the hardwiring of the soul.  From the reaction to pain that saves us from harm, to the passion of love that drives us, to the snap of rage that lets us land a punch on an attacker, emotions are actually pretty awesome.  They’re part of being human.

Emotions aren’t separate from our rationality.  We use our rational intellect to decide how to make a meal more like mom used to make.  We use rationality to charm the person we love with, emotions helping us find the right choices as we carefully plan.  A rush of inspiration is deconstructed later into useful parts.  We get angry then intelligently plot revenge.  We get happy and calculate the best gift someone would want.

It’s all processing of information – with different levels and context, all lumped together.

In fact, emotions are a a font of meaning.  That ability to feel connections and reactions is powerful.  The awful taste of a bad food that saves us from poison gives us caution in other areas.  The sense of camaraderie brings us close together, and infuses a holiday or a job with substance and context.  Curiosity drives us onwards.  The visceral elements of emotions gives us a sense of being of reality.

Really what is rationality without some human element to it?  Processing information without connection, the idea of humans as unchanging ping-pong balls bouncing around.

I’m just bang along fine with my emotions.

I’m not sure were the idea that “emotions are bad” and “I’m super-rational and thus better” came from.  Freudian ideas of ID and Superego, idea of separation of soul and body, no idea.  Emotions can backfire like any other part of being human, from our senses to our appendix to our rationality.

So no, when people try to argue they’re rational and thus right, be suspicious.  Chances are they’re neither – and not very self-aware at that.


  • Steve


Activities For The Civic Geek: Get Historic

Love your fandom, love your geekdom? Get involved in archiving and preserving history.

History is important to all of us – to understand the past, to know where we came from, to predict where were going. Preserving history and recording history are important for that very reason. With our preserved and recorded history, we loose something.

So go and preserve and record the history of your geekdom.

With a little research, you can probably find some organizations, group, or club that’ll let you make an effort to expose future generations (or much younger generations) to the history of your given geekery:

  • There’s collections that preserve fandom artifacts like ‘zones.
  • There’s archival museums and organizations that keep track of rare artifacts like video game memorabilia.
  • There’s living museums, where people can see displays or even inexact with things like old games and toys.
  • There’s almost certainly organizations, mailing lists, and groups dedicated to recording history about given subjects.

You can probably find some way to help keep the history of your favorite geekery – and preserve it for others to study and learn from. From making donations of money to donations of artifacts, from recording history to pointing people towards useful research, you can do a lot so we can all learn later.

Or learn now . . .


  • Comics
    • Cartoon Art Museum – A museum for all forms of cartoon art, performing preservation, displays, events, and more. Established in 1984, it has a permanent home in San Francisco.
    • Digital Comics Museum – An enormous archive of researched, curated, public domain golden age comics available free – and always open for donations and assistance!
    • Wonder Woman Museum – A museum dedicated to Wonder Woman – and sponsors various charities as well.
  • Computing
    • Computer History Museum – A Silicon-Valley based museum of comptuer history, complete with exhibits, programs, and many volunteer opportunities.
    • International Internet Preservation Consortium – An international organization focusing on improving tools, standards, and practices of web archiving and preserving information. Reports, events, and memberships are available.
    • Internet Memory Foundation – A non-profit focusing on preserving the internet for heritage and cultural purposes, and develops a lot of technologies and projects. There’s opportunities to get involved.
  • General
  • Pinball
  • Video Games
    • Atari Party – A Californian organization that hosts events with hands-on use of classic Atari game consoles. Always looking for volunteers – and you can always found your own!
    • California Extreme – A convention of video game and pinball enthusiasts where the actual machines are brought into one big arcade. Includes panels and other events – and accepts volunteers.
    • Digital Games Museum – An archive of games and game memorabilia that does shows and displays. Based in San Jose, California, but open to support from anywhere.
    • The International Arcade Museum – A giant database of games that you can help with! Also contains huge archives of past relevant magazines and more. They even hope to build a physical museum someday!
    • Video Game History Museum – A video game history museum that covers a wide variety of subjects, histories, games, and focuses


  • Steven Savage

Update – Sailor Moon Book

The good news is that Bonnie and I are back to the Sailor Moon Book – and making progress.  Work has me a bit busy, and the delay was a bit longer than expected, but we’re getting our groove back.


We’re at roughly a halfway point in our interviews, maybe more, and want to take time to analyze the data we have to see what we’ve found so far – it’ll hopefully give us some ideas of book structure and best approach.  Then we’ll get on with more interviews.  And, yes, that’s a hint.

Two things that are unexpected:

  1. We’re seeing some very common patterns, more than we expected.
  2. History of Sailor Moon is recorded very erratically.  It’s scattered among magazines, web articles, a few books, websites, and more.  This means we’ve had to add an extra month to just research things so we get the history right.  You could probably do a whole book on the history of Sailor Moon, but it won’t be us.  Yet.

I hope when this book comes out it inspires some full scientific studies of the series’ impact.  There’s a lot to study.

– Steve

Latest Update – Way With Worlds

So I did a huge update on Way With Worlds this weekend.  About 80+ pages edited.  I’m actually pretty pleased with it – I think I was being a bit harsh on some of the less well-written areas.  A lot of it is pretty good.

I’m going to try and get it to pre-readers next week – which gives me a two month break while my pre-readers go over it.  Mostly I want to have a review conceptual review more than anything else – the grammar and spelling will be the domain of my editor.  Grammar and spelling can be edited – its getting the actual concepts right that’s important since that’s kind of the goal.  Worldbuilding isn’t exactly a science, and I want to make sure my modest contribution to it is clear and helpful.

It’s also still huge – 462 pages at the last count and probably be about 500 pages with formatting.  This is gonna be a hefty one, but should be worth it – plus it’ll make a great gift!

  • Steve

Why “Go Make Your Own” Is B.S. – Mostly

“Go make your own,” is something I hear said more and more when people find a beloved piece of media critiqued. I’ve heard it a lot in video games, a lot in fanworks, often in comics and written fiction, and at times in other forms of art. “Go make your own” has become a kind of default response to critique of something one likes.

As much as we hear it, I can’t consider it a legitimate answer to critique. It’s an a response that’s wrong for a number of reasons I’d like to address here.

There are many flaws to this response, but one truth . .

Reason #1: Those Saying “Go Make Your Own” Often Aren’t

By the way, if you’re gonna say it . . .

When someone says “Go Make Your Own” to a critique their favorite game or comic, the responder rarely seems to be “making their own” as well. I consider this to be hypocrisy

When someone says “Go Make Your Own” they suggest that a critic of a media must for some reason create (often similar) media. Perhaps the idea is “then you’ll understand.” Perhaps the idea is “if you don’t like it just do your own thing.” I’ve not seen particularly good justifications of the “Go Make YOur Own” critique anyway, which alone should make one suspicious.

But if there is value in “Making One’s Own,” then shouldn’t the critic-of-the-critic also be “making their own?” If they require someone to be a media creator of some kind to critique, shouldn’t they hold themselves to the same standards? After all, a person who’s response is positive is still indulging in a critical reaction.

Negative or positive, if “Making Your Own” is necessary to be a critic, it should be a requirement for any reaction to media.

Besides, it seems I see the “Go Make YOour Own” critique the least from writers, artists, etc. Probably as they have at least enough knowledge on an unconscious level to know it’s bunk.

Reason #2: Making Media Can Involve Many Different Things

OK so maybe there’s a value in making media . . .

Though I consider the “Make Your Own” response to critique to be dishonest as noted, there’s a second flaw. “Making One’s Own” as opposed to making a critique of something is meaningless as making media is an individual experience. If there is some value in “Go Make Your Own” it would suggest there is a relatively common set of lessons/experience/validation that making media brings.

But the experience of creating a book, a comic, or a game is a widely varied experience for each creator.

Some people can write easily, while others struggle. An artist can do one style and not another. A programmer can code motion but not particle effects. Some people are good at one thing or not another. Each person thus will have a radically different experience creating media, even if its the same kind of media.

They will also have a variety of non-media skills and experiences that come to bear on producing media. Organizational skills, people skills, typing speed, etc. The supposed value of making media is diluted by all the non-creative skills involved in making it.

The creative experience is so different for people that the idea that creating something blesses a person with unique ability, insight, or legitimacy is incorrect. The experience is far too unique to individuals, and what similarities there are (which I address below) are different.

Issue #3: Making Successful Media Is A Varied Experience

Well, maybe people should go make their own and be successful to see what it really involves . . .

When I see people use the “Go Make Your Own” argument against critique, at times I hear “and be successful” silently appended. It’s as if success would legitimate the critic somehow. This only raises more questions that show the holes in this approach.

Let us say that someone took the “Make Their Own” critique to heart and, upon being told to sod off and not criticize a comic, went and made their own. That, as I note, does not confer any legitimacy. But perhaps the success of said comic is a measure or imparts some ability or right to critique, or special argument?

Success first of all would need to be defined. What is “success?” Is the success parallel to the work criticized – and does it have to be? What, in short, is the criteria here?

Though even if we have criteria for success, does this success actually measure anything?

Things are successful for a variety of reasons. To argue success is the goalpost for someone to be able to critique media is ridiculous. SUccess is a variety of favors, from time to timeliness, to the right endorsement to sheer luck. Success if a fickle, unpredictable thing . . . as many artists and writers know.

Because success often has little to bear on quality, skill, virtue, or indeed any one factor good or bad, there’s no what it someone confers legitimacy on a critic.

Issue #4: Critique May Come From Its Own Skillset

Why do you have to have the same skills and experience as what you’re criticizing . .  .

Creating media, successful or not, doesn’t really grant anyone a right to criticism. It involves so many other factors that one’s own creative experience doesn’t compare to anothers. One may at best get some perspective, but one doesn’t get granted some “right” to critique because there’s simply no comparison between creative experiences and legacies.

Having noted that engaging in creative work doesn’t give some kind of special license, let’s now turn to the act of criticism itself.

The Flippant “Go Make Your Own’ argument ignores that despite some people not making media, they are equipped to criticize, and often quite legitimately. For many critics, their ability or not to create media, their success or not, does not negate the fact they are suited for critique.

  • A nutritionist may rightly criticize a delicious meal for it’s unhealthiness.
  • A historian may criticize a novel for historical inaccuracy.
  • A well-read or well-watched person may have the breadth of experience to critique work – professionally or not.
  • A person of a given race, gender, or background may call out a comic for getting their experiences wrong as they lived them.
  • Almost any reasonably informed person may call out a story for tropes and stereotypes.
  • Some people are not only suited to critique, they may have more knowledge or experience (or common sense) than the creator they critique of some subjects. The creator, in this case, is a less legitimate source of information, nothat that negates their work, but it should be kept in mind.

Good criticism is something many people can deliver. In fact . . .

Issue #5: Critique Is Its Own Art

The critic’s art is their own art.

To tell a critic to “go make their own” really misses that criticism is its own art form. It takes a skill, it takes ability, and it takes effort to develop. A good critic’s work is its own art – it is, in a way, their”making my own.”

It’s just not a work. It is a response to a work that is also a work.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t plenty of awful critics out there, one merely has to read online reviews to see that. It means that a critic should not be judged by if they make their own, but the intelligent effort they put forth in their work. You may not like it, but if they can be honestly good about what they do, it’s worth appreciating, if disagreeing with.

Admittedly the highest critique may indeed be “making your own,” to take lessons and apply them, but that’s not for every talented critic.

We need critique.  Brushing off critique with “Go Make Your Own” degrades its value.  We’ve got enough lousy critique as it is.

So what does “Go Make Your Own” Really Mean?

After hearing the “Go Make Your Own” argument for awhile, the argument is essentially a defensive derailment of a conversation.

It’s derailment in that it distracts from the conversation at hand to be about the critic. Wether it suggests the critic lacks legitimacy, or is wasting their time, or whatever, it changes the subject. Perhaps one simple doesn’t agree, but switching the subject avoids conversation.

It’s also defensive in that it’s an automatic attack on the critic. It does not involve engagement or analysis or conversation. It’s an attack-as-defense reaction that doesn’t involve actual interaction. In some cases – too may cases – it goes way, way too far.

Though I’m no fan of the “Go Make Your Own” argument I do wonder if some of it is because of the amount of awful, bad faith, sensationalist criticism out there. That is something I may address in detail in time to come.

But having said “Go Make Your Own” is an illegitimate response to criticism, let me know there is something of a real point in there. Let’s take a look at that reason

You Should Make Your Own

Though it’s obvious after a giant essay on it that I think “Go Make Your Own” is not a legitimate response to criticism, I do think people should all try and make their own art.

It could be any kind of art. Painting, drawing, writing, speaking. It could b fiction or nonfiction. It could be jewelry-making or cooking. Something that is creative, expressive, and about communication should be a part of everyone’s lives.

This is not because it gives us some “right” to criticize or involves us marching off to create a media revolution no one wanted. It’s because to do this helps us become better communicators and better consumers of media. These are always important – but moreso in modern times.

To practice communication lets us find better ways to work with others – more and more important all the time in a smaller world of multiple cultures that often finds new ways to come apart. Any kind of experience creating for people helps you get better at interacting with them.

Developing creative outlets also let us understand how others create, and how they may both satisfy us – but also manipulate us. To write a book can tell you in turn what you may like, or what tricks are being used to sell you a crap novel. To learn he art of cooking can not only be nutritious, but let you find out when someone is selling you something bad for you in the guise of delicious.

I said earlier that the act of creating varies for each person in what it involves. But the above benefits I find are nearly universal.

Your art may even be critique. Go for it.

So, yes you should “Make your own,” but not for the reasons critics say.

And the first people that should “Go make their own” are those telling us to “go make their own.”

– Steve

Activities For The Civic Geek: Get Academic

Your fandom may not just be fun or expression – it’s an area people want to study and you can help.

At first draft, fnadom activities may seem a bit shallow to an outsider. However they aren’t to passionate fans and to people that study psychology, history, and culture. Fandoms offer fascinating areas of exploration and understanding.

This is why people can get actual degrees in popular culture. There’s something there worth studying. This is why there are academic instutrions that study video games, because it’s worth it.

If you’re so inclined, it’s worth getting involved.

There’s many things you can do so a few suggestions:

  • Join an academic organization and fund them. A membership pays the bills after all.
  • If you can contribute, do so! Write, provide web mastery, whatever.
  • Help academics speak at conventions, clubs, or events.
  • If you’re an academic, go speak on issues – even if you’re an amateur.
  • Promote the appropriate organization through your club, event, or writing.

There’s a lot of options. Go find what works for you.


  • Anime
    • Anime And Manga Studies – Focuses on news and articles on the academic studies of anime and manga. It’s owner also does a symposium an Anime Expo
  • Comics
    • Comics Research – A curated guide to books and resources about comics books, comics trips, and fannish information. Open to contributions of material and suggested resources.
  • Video Games


(This is all part of an ongoing effort to create a geeky guide for civic geeks)



Activities For The Civic Geek: Help Out A Group

Maybe you’re not up for founding your own group or club.  Fine.  Take your specialized skillset, go find an existing club or convention or event that needs your help, and volunteer.

Geek clubs and groups and events are usually made up of volunteers – and frankly, not enough volunteers in most people’s experiences. Your average convention needs a lot of good will, a lot of warm bodies, and a lot of volunteer brains to run. These clubs and organizations need people that can help out.

That’s where you come in as a Civic Geek.

Ask yourself what skills you have, what skills you can provide, and go volunteering. If you’re willing people will respond – and if you’ve got a specific skill set you mind find yourself deeply involved right away. Good skills and good volunteering are important combinations.

Don’t know what you’re good at?  Doesn’t matter.  Gophers, people setting up the snacks, whatever.  Start somewhere.  You’ll find your niche.

Most conventions, clubs, or events have some kind of contact web page or volunteer form, so it shouldn’t be hard to get access. Some good networking will help as well.

On top of all of this, you might improve your existing skills or develop new ones. Maybe you’re an accountant and you help with a conventions finances. Maybe you want to develop public speaking so you run public auctions for a comics club. Helping out can help you out.

It’s my firm believe that every geek should be involved in some geek group, preferably local.  Being involved face-to-face is good for civic geekery.




(This ongoing series is an attempt to write a free guide to Civic Geekery – one idea at a time)