Episode 2.7 Playing, Losing, Failing

The author wearing black lipstick and a t-shirt saying "Fat Bitch" and looking very sternThis minisode is the beginning of a short thematic arc on play, and like the good feminist killjoy I am, I decided to start it off by talking about failure. Specifically, I want to talk about a brilliant book — The Queer Art of Failure, by Jack Halberstam — that turned my understanding of failure inside out. (One of these days I’m going to do an episode on why I love critical theory. And an episode on Dungeons and Dragons. And an episode on taking tap dancing lessons as an adult. And an episode on feminism’s relationships to potato chips.) Anyway, if you’d like to read more about failure, here are some links!

  • The fabulous feminist academic blog Hook&Eye has a number of posts on failure, but my favourite is probably Aimée Morrison’s “Failing, failure, failed,” which differentiates between failing and not-winning (not the same!)
  • I also really value this essay on “The Importance of Failure” by librarian John Unsworth, who thinks in very specific ways about what it means for a project to fail, and why the space to fail is so fundamental to developing new knowledge. Fun!

Download Episode / Read Transcription

The podcast theme song is “Mesh Shirt” by Mom Jeans off their album “Chub Rub.” Listen to the whole album here or learn more about them here. Kaarina’s theme song is “I Will” by Mitski. Follow me @hkpmcgregor, follow Kaarina @kaarinasaurus, and tweet about the podcast using #SecretFeministAgenda.

5 thoughts on “Episode 2.7 Playing, Losing, Failing

  1. Hi SFA,

    This will be fun! I should tell you that I was a  D & D old school player. Graph paper, pencils, bottles of Coke in the basement. That kind.

    Take care, Julie


  2. So is there any way to maybe summarize Kaarina’s Cozy reminders, either here or in the show notes? I’m trying to remember which episode somewhat recently that she talked about saying no in, and can’t find it.


  3. Relatable.

    I am pretty much constantly afraid of failing. When I did well at school, adults told me that I was going to do great things. Whenever I am failing at Doing Great Things, I feel like I’ve let everyone down.
    Hated school PE. I got a lot fitter once I realised that I could do non team things, and decided to learn some aerial silks and trapeze. Turns out I’m actually quite strong and reasonably flexible. Still rubbish at catching balls, though.

    Yes, D&D! Also other RPGS, like storytelling or Indie games; have you heard of Monsterhearts? Though I’m really more into the world of indoor, non-combat LARPs. There’s so many exciting things there at the moment: the rise of more emotionally intense gaming, games that explore different experiences, more improv games where the players have more power, the inclusion of safe words in games, and the idea that people can ‘play to lose’. At the same time though, I’m *still * asking for the existence of queer characters, on not being forced to sign up as either male or female, and people who want to run ‘historically accurate’ games, not to explore the experiences this created, but just because it’s easier to go with existing tropes than be welcoming to people who are not white straight cis men. And although female players and queer players are now standard encounters, there is a glaring lack of people of colour at LARP events, and most of us (and I include me) are just not bothering to do enough work to change that.

    …And I could talk for a while about diversity in LARPing. And have done, at panels.

    Mostly I love *writing* games. I pour out my thoughts and my experiences and share them with people, and there’s nothing like the feeling of watching people take this thing I made and add to it, make it real, make a world that we’re all sharing and creating together. And I’ve been writing queer characters, because I’m queer, and different experiences of relationships and gender, and so people see a bit about those experiences, and see how it can be part of games. My last game was explicitly a game about queer friendships through the years, about acceptance and the importance of chosen family.

    Anyway. Thank you so much for this podcast: I’ve only just discovered it, but it’s a joy to listen to so far. I’m hoping there will indeed be another episode about RPGs at some point!


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