My mother was (and is) a fan of all things science fiction and fantasy. She named me Rayna after an android from the Star Trek TOS episode “Requiem for Methuselah.” My first introduction to gaming was when I was six, when she brought me to her D&D group, and when I finally got an Atari. Needless to say, the influence of geekdom on my life began early on. My fascination with Ancient Egyptian culture started to grow. Through this framework, my interest has always included psychology, history of humanity and people’s individual stories, since my childhood exposed me to a mixture of science fiction and real world characters.
Once I became a teenager, death narratives took more of my attention and I wanted to explore them further. I started researching death rituals of Ancient Egypt and then eventually explored them in different cultures. I found the ideas of how and why humans perform such death rites fascinating. My geekiness continued as I began to play table-top games such as World of Darkness’ Vampire: The Masquerade, Wraith and Changeling.
I currently study as an undergraduate anthropology student at York University and I have a strong interest in liminal states between life and death. Delving further, I have come to respect the research of Margaret Lock, Sharon Kaufman, and Tiffany Romain, all of whom tackle the complex nature of the body. Other research interests include classism, social advocacy, science and technology studies and outer space ethics.
Throughout all of this, I have maintained a strong interest with studying space exploration and the alien “other.” Among my favorites are Star Trek:TNG, Deep Space 9, Stargate SG1, Farscape, Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, Mystery Science Theatre 3000, and Firefly. For me, these stories showcase different possibile scenarios that we can observe. As an audience, we watch the narratives being played out through the creative vision of the writers, producers and directors. When doing anthropological research, I find that the television medium offers plenty of information to work with.
For a more immersive experience, I regularly play RPG’s via video games. I have more control over what my character does and how she interacts with other characters and alien species. Some of my favorite games for character development are Dragon Age, Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Mass Effect, and Legend of Zelda. JRPG’s (Japanese) including Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Chrono Cross, Tales of Symphonia and Graces F, and Studio Ghibli’s Ni No Kuni, also offer interesting character growth options. When playing video games, the anthropologist in me arises from time to time offering critiques of the portrayal of women and analysis of possible new kinship forms.
I want to contribute to this blog as a way of creating further conversations about what it means to be geek and what issues may be looked at through an anthropological lens. I will explore, in particular, topics such as vampires, video games and space narratives.
To me, being a geek is about breaking social norms in order to explore ourselves and to learn and grow as individuals. People use their imaginations to think deeply about potential scenarios and use science fiction stories as mirrors for our own humanity. I have learned much about myself and others through the exploration of characters in these fictional worlds, and I would not change a thing. Geek for life!