Ethel - Writer of Stuff

1.Who are you and what do you do for ConTessa? I’m Ethel, aka solange simondsen when I'm online, and what I do for ConTessa remains to be seen in large part. My role is to write training posts and help out with other materials, too; to add some creative content here and there; to organize stuff and nonsense (although Stacy is her own little bundle of organizational madness) and generally be a help where and when I can.

2. Fill in the blank: Gamer by night, _______________ by day

My day job finds me in the somewhat stodgy world of project management for a health insurance company. I never thought of myself as particularly interested in a career in business, but while I was busy trying to make a living, I found out I love problem solving, building consensus, explaining technical processes to lay people and working collaboratively with a team. Many of those same skills and interests are what attracted me to gaming, particularly tabletop RPGs. Perhaps, the line between what I do for money and what I do for love is fuzzier than it seems.

3. What sorts of games do you play?

I haven’t really met a genre of game I don’t like. I grew up playing board games, card games and later video and computer games. I was an avid Zelda fan and got completely wrapped up in Myst and Riven back in the day. I also enjoy word games like Taboo and Scrabble. I play Breakfast Combo on Google+. I do crossword puzzles. I spend a ridiculous amount of time and energy raiding in World of Warcraft. OK, you get the idea. I like games.

I am fairly new to RPGs. They didn't really exist when I was a teenager, and I ignored them for a long time, but an online friend introduced me to them via a Swords and Wizardry game he started on Google+, and I was sold. That gaming group is still going on, and now I also play a kitsune character in a FATE-based game and drop in on the occasional one-off.

4. What is the appeal of gaming for you?

Certainly, one thing that interests me in tabletop RPGs is character creation. I do love min/maxing stats (although I am not always very good at it!), but creating a living entity with their own personality and back story is fascinating. Anything you can imagine, anyone you can create… it is all possible. Above all, though, it is gaming with a bunch of like-minded people, having a good laugh, enjoying a collective imagining of our own shared world, all of us letting our nerd flags fly. That’s my definition of a good time.

5. Explain ConTessa from your viewpoint.

I suppose each of us working on ConTessa brings a slightly different slant to what it means. To me, ConTessa is a platform to showcase women in gaming without any particular prescription as to the "right way" for women to behave or believe. It is a place for women and men to support the most basic principle that many of us share – that women should participate in this hobby in a fully equal way, bringing their unique gifts and perspectives. I've been involved in political struggles of one sort or another most of my life. As an activist and a feminist, I realize that in-fighting often dilutes our message and distracts from our effectiveness - that honest disagreements over strategy or ideals often prevent us from working together. It is as true in a virtual space as it is in real life. ConTessa is a place to set all that aside (be “apolitical”, if you will) for a few days just to strut our stuff. And the women I've met in online gaming have some pretty amazing stuff to strut! It is truly exciting to see it all come together. 

6. What is it about ConTessa that made you want to get involved?

Initially, it was a chance to work with Stacy Dellorfano. I have always been impressed with her talent, energy, professionalism and willingness to put herself out there in the world. But getting a chance to work on something with Stacy was just the hook. After participating in ConTessa 2013, I realized - not only does this effort dovetail well with my own worldview, but it is so damned fun! If you can find something in this life that not only supports your beliefs, but is also more fun than...well, than anything that is a whole lot of fun... you have to go for it, right?

7. How did gaming change your world?

Hmmm... I guess it didn't really. I don't cook proper meals as often as I should and the laundry piles up since I am online gaming most nights. Seriously, gaming in one form or another is just part of me and always has been. The best thing about getting involved in online gaming has been the great people I've met from all over the world. So that's where you'll usually find me in the evening. Screw the laundry.

Interviews, News (Feb- 2014)Ethel