One Geekified Interview: Erin Campbell

Welcome one and all to yet another fun-filled interview for your eyes to enjoy! Lets not waste time, lets just jump head first into my interview I had with an awesome lady Erin. Please give her some love it will be worth it I promise. These are probably my favorite posts to do and I hope everyone enjoys reading them as much as I have fun doing them!
Remember Geeks come from all walks of life, shapes and sizes, lets celebrate our lives as geeks, nerds, and whatever else we like call ourselves.
Tell us a little about yourself. Anything you would like to share.
My name is Erin Campbell.  I’m a 30-year-old transgender woman from Milwaukee, WI.  I’ve been gaming all of my life and can’t think of a time where I didn’t have a game that I was playing or that I was in love with.  Currently, I’m pretty focused on Magic the Gathering and have a podcast about it, called “The Deck Tease.”
If you could give a geek from this generation advice what would you say?
Do what you love and don’t apologize for it.  On the same token, don’t be so quick to immediately squash what someone else loves.  I feel like the automatic response for a lot of people when someone says ‘I love this’ is to give them reasons why they shouldn’t or to tell them they are wrong.  You don’t have to like it, but you also don’t have to be so open about it.  You can keep that to yourself or save that opinion for when you’re asked about it.
Who has inspired you to be the person you are today?

I was raised by a single mom who worked two jobs and who raised me to feel like I could do anything and be anything I wanted to be.  I also had a godmother, who was a very important figure in my life, and she was just as strong, and loving.  I never once felt like being a woman was something to feel ashamed of or like something was out of my reach.

How has social media impacted/improved your life?

It’s definitely made it easier for people to connect and to relate to one another.  On the other hand, it leaves you open to more criticism and sometimes feeling like your words or your opinions aren’t just yours anymore.  It’s funny – it took me this long to really see the impact that I have on people through social media.  I have been making more of an effort to only post things that are worth sharing or that I think others might want to see.
If you had to give one geeky hobby up, what would you drop and what would you replace it with?
I would probably give up Magic and try to learn more about coding or how to be overall better with computers.  I need so much help when it comes to the most basic tasks.  It’s really kind of embarrassing!
What’s your favorite thing about playing Magic the Gathering?
The people.  It’s great seeing the major events get bigger and bigger and to be in a room with three thousand players who share the same interests as you.  One of the things I regret most about WoW is that while I met so many great people through it, I never really got to ‘meet’ them.  That’s not to say that those friendships weren’t real or that they didn’t mean anything.  But I feel it means more when you can actually see and touch the people you meet through your community and see them often.  There isn’t that bittersweet feeling of, ‘This is great, but I’m never going to see you again.’  You have this network of friends whose couch you can stay on, if you want to go to an event and need a place to stay.  Or you can do the same for them.  It’s really quite lovely.
If there was one thing you could change about geek culture, what would it be and why?
I would increase the number of women that can be found at the forefront and behind the scenes.  It blows my mind that this is the year 2014 and we still have so much work to do.  That’s not to take away from the progress that has already been made, with regards to women who are designing games, and making elaborate Cosplay, and pushing for change in the community.  But sometimes I get so excited about one thing and then look over at this huge, glaring issue, and go ‘Oh.’  It’s hard to stay positive, sometimes.
You said on Twitter you use to play World of Warcraft. Why did you stop and will you ever play again?
I had been playing pretty consistently for about six years or so.  I was a hardcore raider and that’s pretty much the sole reason why I played.  There was always some degree of work involved, to maintain that lifestyle and that status. But I felt like the latest expansion, Mists of Pandaria, really came with more work.  Instead of spending a couple of evenings farming materials or what have you, I was now having to spend three or four evenings getting what I needed.  It just got to be too much.  I started to really resent that my time wasn’t my own anymore and especially the expectations put on me for how fast I needed to reach max level.
I still have my characters.  I didn’t sell my account or anything.  If I felt like I could come back to the game and play at the level that I enjoy playing at, without the hefty time commitments, I would come back.  I think the biggest hurdle to overcome would be that I have been gone for so long and I know that any raiding guilds I would try to apply to would have a problem with that.  I have a lot of accomplishments from the past, but nothing recent.  It would be an uphill climb to get back to where I was again.
How has being a transgender women affected your life as a gamer or geek?
I have been pretty lucky, in that I haven’t really been treated any differently for being trans.  Both the Magic and WoW communities have been very supportive and welcoming towards me.  I think it’s given people the opportunity to say that they know someone like me and that alone can open a lot of doors towards helping people become more accepting or more understanding.  It’s a lot easier to be intolerant when you can pretend that someone or something doesn’t exist.  But when you can point to someone and say that this decision affects them or you can put a face to something, that really changes things.  So, I would like to think that being a visible transgender presence has made people more accepting or made people ask questions they otherwise wouldn’t.
 
Tell us a little a bit about your podcast ‘The Deck Tease.’
Well, I started the show about two years ago.  It started off being a solo podcast, where I recorded these ‘mini-episodes’ and would talk about my experiences getting back into Magic.  Around twenty episodes in, I started having people on the show and found that I had a knack for interviewing people.  Eventually that became the thrust of the show.  Once in a while I will have a round table episode with other awesome women who play Magic or I will do a spoiler episode when a new set is about to come out with a dear friend of mine.  But mostly I’m known for my interviews and the caliber of guests that I have on.
If you could pick your favorite card for Magic which would you pick and why?
There is a couple.  I would have to say ‘Mutilate.’  I’m a Black mage at heart and there’s nothing better than wiping out a board full of creatures and knowing that there is very little your opponents can do about it.  It fills me with joy!
What other games do you enjoy playing other than WoW and Magic the Gathering?
I enjoy a nice ‘dungeon crawler’ game, like ‘Torchlight’ or ‘Torchlight 2’ or ‘Diablo 3.’  I dabble in ‘Rift,’ from time to time.  I like card games, like ‘Phase 10’ or ‘Skip-Bo.’  ‘Dominion’ is fun and has a lot of similarities to Magic.  I’m also a big fan of board games, of all kinds.
What has been your best experience as a geek and a gamer?
I would have to say that without having nerdy hobbies or pursuits that I would have never found my voice through my blog and then through my podcast and then I would have never met the wonderful people who are currently in my life. I get so much love from people, for doing what I do, and that’s something I didn’t have a lot of from people growing up.  I can’t say I would be as confident as I am now or that I would know who I am, without the experiences that I have had playing these games.
If you could give any advice to other transgender women what would you say?
I would tell them to make sure that you’re seen and that visibility is so important.  It’s a lot easier for people to dismiss you when they can’t see you or when they can’t put a face to whatever they’re discriminating against.  I understand that some communities or locations may not be as friendly as mine were.  But I do think that it is important to get out there and do what you love, despite what people might say or think.  Especially in the Magic community, we want to find more women and more trans women.  If we know you are out there, we will do what we can to support you and encourage you.  There’s Twitter and Facebook groups.  We’re just waiting to know who you are and do what we can to help.
As geeks, we’ve been ridiculed at some point in our lives.  How did you deal with that and how has it affected you as an adult?
I not only grew up geeky, but geeky and queer, which was even worse.  I actually found solace in my geeky hobbies.  I kind of had the attitude of ‘If I’m going to be weird, I’m going to be the weirdest.’  People already didn’t like me because they thought I was gay or what have you, so I had nothing to lose.  It was nice finding other people who were outcasts and banding together like that.  As an adult, I do still feel like the bullied kid on the playground sometimes, especially when it comes to my show.  Having people shower me with love or praise for what I do can be very overwhelming.  I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop or for them to be pulling my leg.  I have learned to expect the worst and sometimes the best just throws me for a loop.  It’s something I’m working on!
Where can my readers find out more about you and other projects you work on?
I’m extremely active on Twitter, @originaloestrus.  The podcast has its own Twitter account, @thedecktease.  The show is available at GatheringMagic dot-com also through iTunes or Stitcher Radio.

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