Tag Archives: The Border House

The Border House Wants You (to write for us!)

It’s almost Thanksgiving, which means we’re coming up on a third anniversary for the site.  Wow, has it been that long?  I’m fascinated by its growth over the past few years and really enjoy the community we’ve built up here.  But many of you have noticed that we’re just not outputting as much content as we used to, and it’s definitely not because there isn’t anything out there to cover!  We are in desperate need of new writers here, to liven up the space, bring some fresh perspectives, and increase our coverage of a wider variety of issues.  Please, will you consider?

What We’re Looking For:

  • General news coverage.  If you’re someone subscribed to hundreds of blogs through your Google Reader and you love scouring Twitter and the web for news and information, we’d love to have you.  We’d like to increase our coverage of the games industry through an inclusive light — not everything has to be a deep analysis.  We’d like to be a great place to come to get caught up with the latest happenings in video games without stumbling across language that offends and alienates.
  • Indie games!  Admittedly, many of the editors and writers here spend most of their time playing AAA titles (who can pass up a BioWare game after all) so our coverage of indie games is seriously lacking.  The indie games scene is also one of the most progressive – where lots of really interesting innovations in intersectionality are happening and we’re sad that we miss out on a lot of it.  We often hear disappointing sentiments that The Border House isn’t covering the great things happening in indie games, and the truth is that we don’t have anyone dedicated to playing these titles and discussing them here.  Could it be you?
  • Writers of color.  We can always be more diverse and we’d love to have more discussions here around race and ethnicity in games.
  • Like-minded e-sports players.  Games like League of Legends, Starcraft 2, Dota 2, Smite, etc. are on the rise and dominating the free-to-play space, so we’d love to see more coverage of these areas.  Particularly since they tend to be less inclusive than other genres in gaming, we’d love to inspire some change here.
  • Virtual world enthusiasts.  Second Life is still alive and well, and there are always interesting events going on that are progressive and interesting to cover.
  • Lower income gamers.  We feel pretty strongly that the video game hobby is a passion that everyone can share regardless of their socioeconomic situation.  We’d love to have a regular feature about sales, bargain-bin gaming, playing older freeware/cheap games, etc. to help out those less fortunate.
  • MMO coverage.  What better place for interesting interactions than multiplayer RPG type games?  Whether it’s the large MMOs like WoW, SWTOR, and GW2, or whether you’re playing the obscure free-to-play MMOs, we want to hear about it.
  • Contributors who don’t necessarily consider themselves game journalists or bloggers: we still want you!  We love the diversity of voices and one of our strengths is that the voices we broadcast are not ones that are frequently heard.  We will help you with editorial, with article ideas, and with support to help your voice be heard.
  • Regular columnists or occasional guest posts, either one is fine.  Ideally, we’d love to have more full writers who contribute regularly, but we’ll take what we can get!
  • Okay, I give up, we want basically everyone.  Console gamers, PC gamers, handheld/mobile gamers, you name it.  We want to amp up our content cadence in a big way, and we could absolutely use your help if you support The Border House’s efforts and greater vision.  You must be familiar with feminist concepts and not at the 101 level please.

What We Offer:

  • This is not a paid position, sadly.  We all operate on a volunteer basis, so please consider that carefully.
  • Your byline attached to every post, where you can link to your other sites and endeavors or personal projects.
  • The occasional free copies of games.  If you are ever interested in reviewing a game but don’t want to pay for it, you can reach out to the editors and we’ll see what we can make happen.  In many cases, I’m willing to personally pay you out of my pocket if you can give us some unique angle about the game you’re playing.   We also get offers for free review copies on occasion, though they are generally mobile titles.
  • Absolute freedom of schedule.  Many sites operate with a set editorial schedule, requiring you to adhere to posts on a particular day.  This is a very valuable management style that works well for most sites, but for The Border House it’s important that we allow as many voices to participate as possible.  As a result, we do not have any requirements for how many times a day/week/month that you post.  If and when you have something interesting to say, we ask that you write it up.  This could change in the future, but for now we think it’s a very inclusive method of operation for us.

How to Apply:

First, read our mission statement.  Next, read our discussion policy.  If you like what you’ve read, please send us an email at editors@borderhouseblog.com with the following information:

  1. One sample guest post of the kind of content you want to write here.  This can be something original created for the purpose of this application, or it can be something you’ve written at the past on your own blog that we have permission to guest post.
  2. If you include images in this guest post, make sure they are well captioned for sight-impaired readers who may be using a sight reader to access the website.
  3. A 2-4 sentence bio about yourself that we can post along with the article, which can contain links to your personal blog or website along with information about yourself to help frame your perspective for the post.
  4. Whether you’re interested in a regular ‘full-time’ writing position (misnomer since we don’t have any hour requirements) or just a guest post.

Our typical process is that we’ll post up your guest post and let you know immediately if we think you’d be a good fit for a author spot on the site.

We hope you’ll consider writing for us but if that doesn’t interest you, we’d love if you could spread the word and tell anyone you know who might be interested.

"The Border House" exterior in "The Longest Journey"

The Border House Community

Today I’m very excited to announce a new direction for The Border House. We’ve been having chats in the background for a while about setting up a more active community side of The Border House. I (kimadactyl) have been assigned as community manager (thanks to all the editors, I feel so proud!) so feel free to get in touch with any and all questions and queries. Without further ado then, I’d like to welcome and invite all our readers to our new features. There will be a few more posts like this coming up in the next few days, and we’ll fill in missing docs when and where we can. Onward!

"The Border House" exterior in "The Longest Journey"

Chatroom – IRC

We have a public IRC chat you can now  join and talk about games, or indeed whatever you like! You can join using your web browser, using a multi-messenger client like Adium, Pidgin or Trillian or a dedicated IRC client like mIRC. If you’re having trouble with connecting leave a comment and hopefully one of us can help you out. We hope that IRC will be the central organising place for everything else – support for our other services, organising future events and getting help.

Voicechat – Mumble

Thanks to a very generous donation from Jadissa (you can check their blog and twitter), we have our own VOIP server! This is using Mumble, which is cross platform (Mac, Windows and Linux) and very low latency. Feel free to join and chat, play a game with others, or just hang out. As voicechat can be very personal though, we’ve elected to keep this protected, to keep out any potential trolls and make sure any friends of friends joining adhere to our community values. If you’d like access to this either join the IRC channel and say hi, leave a comment, or send an email to community@borderhouseblog.com.

To connect:

  • Download Mumble
  • If you just installed it, you need to go to Configure -> Certificate Wizard, and make a Security Certificate – just follow the default options. This works instead of a password – when you’ve made it once, you’re set! You may need to restart Mumble afterwards.
  • Server: mumble.shallowandpedantic.net, Port: 64750
  • Once you’re on, you need an Administrator to authenticate your account – see above.

Steam Group

Our steam group is now open, hopefully making it easier to join. In the coming weeks/months, we will be using this to run gaming events and get-together. If you have any ideas for events, or would like to organise a gaming night, again – join IRC!

Clan and Guild Registry

In the coming week or two we’re going to start compiling a list of TBH groups in different games with listed contact people. Let us know if you’d like any adding to the list.

The not-so-small print

The idea of this community is to build on what The Border House does from a writing perspective to build a safe, happy community of niceness that people can search for in whatever game they’re playing and know they will be in good hands. Dawwww! With that said, it’s impossible for us to promise that the chat/VOIP will be a safe space at all times. We will try our best, and continue to review our practice: but even with the best will in the world we have jobs and lives and can’t be there all the time.

We’re proceeding with a policy of cautious optimism – we will keep things open/semi-open and see how it goes. I’m really not one for over-zealous rules (however it’s safe to say The Border House comment policy is a great place to start), so I’ll keep it short – just be nice, be respectful, and don’t attack other people’s identities. This is going to be a learning process for all of us, so if you have any issues or grievances please get in touch (email: community@borderhouseblog.com) and we will do what we can.

Comments, as usual, are great – but come join IRC this weekend and let’s get this thing going!

Geek Girl Con Recap

Left to right: Lake Desire (Ariel Wetzel), Brinstar (Regina Buenaobra), Quinne (Katherine Cross), and Deirdra (Deirdra Kiai) speak on the Border House Blog Panel.

The weekend before last, four  authors and editors from The Border House spoke on a panel at Geek Girl Con: Deirdra, Brinstar, Quinnae, and myself.  Despite being the last panel on Sunday afternoon, 50 or so people attended and many were enthusiastic regular readers of TBH.

This post is a brief recap for readers who couldn’t make GGC asked for a recap.
Deirdra moderated  and prepared an in-depth list of questions:

  • What’s your main goal as a writer and/or editor for TBH?
  • How can games be more inclusive towards women & other underprivileged groups?
  • What are some ways in which games have “gotten it right” in terms of inclusivity? What are some outstanding examples?
  • How do you maintain a balance between criticism of things the game industry does wrong vs encouragement of things it does right?
  • As a feminist gamer, how do you balance the feeling of “just wanting to have fun” playing a game vs. seeing it through a critical lens?
  • How do you balance the desire not to just be a “feminist 101” blog with the desire to attract and invite new voices? Preaching to the choir vs. educating?
  • How do you make an audience aware of games that do interesting things with representation, particularly if they aren’t well-known AAA titles?
  • What are the pros and cons of using metaphor to make statements about oppression? (e.g. racial tensions between species in fantasy/SF)
  • What are the pros and cons of customizable player characters (MMOs, Bioware games) versus games that explicitly have a minority protagonist as PC (The Longest Journey, Beyond Good & Evil, my games)?
  • How does the editorial process behind TBH work? How about moderation policies?
  • What do you do when you or another contributor makes a gaffe in a blog post and gets called out on it?

We didn’t get to every question, but we discussed how the hierarchy between hardcore games and casual games can be gendered, the characters/games done right series, how inclusivity and accessibility benefits everyone, and what we can do to make online gaming spaces safer for women and other marginalized people.

After the panel, a few different attendees told us they appreciated that the discussion assumed an understanding of feminism and anti-oppression so we could have a more sophisticated conversation about representation and identity in games and gaming culture.

Happy 1st Birthday to The Border House!

Text reading "Happy Birthday" with multicolored cartoon balloons floating above the text.

 

Hey everyone!

With all of the excitement of Thanksgiving, we completely forgot to mention that the last week of November was the one year anniversary of The Border House being open to the public!  It has been such an exceptional year for us, with many new authors coming on to contribute and 255 total posts written.  Whew.  I won’t speak for my other editors, but I personally was wondering if we’d be able to keep up the positive momentum and grow to a healthy readership – and we’ve done it!  There have been so many truly amazing posts and comments here, and we couldn’t do it without each and every one of you.  The critical thinking on The Border House is so inspiring to me, and I’m incredibly happy that I’ve been a part of it.

What happened over the past year?

We’ve had one heck of a year.  We’ve interviewed game developers who promote inclusive gaming, we alerted GLAAD to a transphobic Taco Bell commercial which was successfully pulled from the air in response, we’ve been linked on Jezebel more than once, WoW Insider has mentioned us, along with links from Shakesville and GeekFeminism.

Our most popular posts:

BeautifulPeople.com removes 5000 overweight members

Plate Mail Bikini

Internet Trolls to Real-Life Stalkers

Actually Breaking it Down: Penny Arcade’s Rape Comic

Fallout: New Vegas to feature transphobia?

Highmind’s Skirt Lift iPhone Application

Characters Done Right: Bioshock 2′s Grace Holloway

Madison Paige does pull triggers

What’s happening now?

You may have noticed that we have joined the BlogHer ad network, which is evident by the new banner ad on the right side.  We hope this will give us two benefits.  The first one is that we hope to make a little bit of spare cash to put back into the website.  We’ve talked about everything from a brand new site theme, to being able to provide a small amount of pay to the authors for taking the time to contribute to the blog.  The second benefit is that we will be promoted across the BlogHer network so that we can bring more like-minded community members over here to join us in reading and participating on the blog.  We have no intentions of The Border House turning into a “for-profit” venture by any means but we’d love to have some money to put back into the site and help it grow.

What happens next?

We have some pretty big plans throughout the next year, and many of them you can help us with.  First and foremost, I’d like to DOUBLE our contributing author pool in size.  This means we desperately need more writers.  If you are interested in contributing a post or two or becoming a regular author, please click here.  If you happen to know of anyone who would be a good fit, please spread the word!

We’d also like to grow in readership a bit.  This will happen mostly through more frequent high quality posts, but we could also use your help.  Tweet and “like” our posts on Facebook.  Become a fan on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.  Tell your real life friends and your Tumblr friends and your guild.  Let’s spread the word and have this site grow bigger and get more people thinking critically about video games through a feminist lens!

We’re also talking about finding a graphic designer/theme designer to make us a custom theme and logo.  We’d love to keep the site accessible but use a theme that isn’t free and popular so that we can stand out in the blog crowd.  If we get a good logo design, we’re even talking about putting up a swag store so we can proudly wear our gear at conferences and elsewhere!

All in all, we’re thrilled with where we are and where we’re going.  We’d love to hear what you all think!

What should we be doing differently?
What kind of features should we add to The Border House?
(For example, more short posts, open threads, more link roundups, etc.)
What do you like about The Border House?
What ideas do you have about how we can grow our site?
Any other feedback?

The Border House is Recruiting Writers!

Now that we have gotten settled and have established a tone and expectations for what posts will be like here at the Border House, we’d love to open up to some more contributors!

Who are we looking for?

The Border House aims to have inclusive gaming/virtual world news and opinion with a wide variety of representatives of marginalized segments and allies.  Right now we are looking for the following:

  • Gamers of color
  • Disabled feminist gamers
  • Transgender, genderqueer, genderless, or any other aspects of gender identity
  • Gay, bisexual, lesbian gamers
  • Feminist-identifying men (who are familiar with the concept of privilege)
  • Anyone else who is an experienced writer who feels that The Border House is the place for you!

In addition, we’d love to have contributors of the following:

  • Second Life residents who are active and versed in all of the great events and associations that are relevant here
  • Active current MMO players (World of Warcraft, Aion, Everquest 2, Warhammer Online, Lord of the Rings Online, etc.)
  • Inhabitants of other virtual worlds such as Blue Mars or IMVU

What are the requirements?

Right now we do not have any minimum posting requirements.  You are free to post as often or as little as you’d like.  We also do not have any word count requirements, so if you’re someone who enjoys posting tidbits of news or longwinded opinion pieces – either is fine!

The bare minimum requirement is that you are familiar with Feminism 101 concepts and are comfortable with posting from a feminist perspective.  We also ask that you are active in the comments threads on your own post to encourage discussion, and that you’re aware of our discussion policy.

How do I apply?

We ask that all new contributors do one guest post to make sure they’re a good fit for The Border House.  We will post it under a guest account prefaced by a short bio about you.  If we like what we see, we’ll have you register and make you an Author here on the blog and add you to the list of contributors on our About page!

If you’re interested, please email us with the following:

  • Your short 2-3 sentence bio (and website link if appropriate)
  • Your first post.  Should be relevant to what The Border House is all about. :)
  • Any additional notes to the editors that you want us to know about you or your writing.

I hope to see some of you great commenters send a post on over!  If you have any questions, please reply here or contact us.