Like a latter-day, geeky Forrest Gump, Felicia Day has been a part of almost every event in nerd culture over the past 20 years—from AltaVista-era chatrooms to an appearance as Vi on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her first fame came from The Guild, one of YouTube's first web-series hits, which followed a World of Warcraft guild—a game that Day, also played. In her book, You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) (Touchstone, 272 pages, $16), she recounts her her tenure as a violin prodigy and her eventual rise to fame. She spoke to us about nerds, #GamerGate and embracing weirdness.
WW: Is nerd culture just mainstream now?
Felicia Day: There's a lot more people who enjoy "geek" stuff. I think that's a great thing because it supports more creators. And also it increases the diversity in the kind of people and the backgrounds of people who are into comics and TV shows. I don't see a downside.
In your book, you write about getting addicted to World of Warcraft.
To me, gaming isn't inherently addictive or destructive, but I used it as a tool to escape the things I should've been focusing on in my life but didn't. Ultimately, I turned it into something creative. If you're someone who's spending more time in a virtual world than the real one, it's probably a red flag.
After writing about #GamerGate, you immediately had your address shared online. Any advice to women?
I think the kind of prejudice that women are experiencing—I don't think it's ever not been there on a small level. But in the last few years, people feel a lot more comfortable about hateful speech, and trying to push people with diverse opinions out of the world of gaming.
It's sad, but I don't think it's going to go away—that vocal minority—because the internet allows people to become entrenched in their agendas. I think the best thing we can do, as people who love games, is encourage people from different backgrounds as kids and younger to be into games as creators and consumers.
What do you hope people take away from your book?
Embrace your weirdness. The things that make you different are the things that make you stand out, and you should never abandon them because of peer pressure and societal pressure. No matter what you're interested in, or what kind of person you are, the internet can connect you with people who are like you.
There's a chapter in your book where you talk about hanging out in Portland. How many coffee shops did you say you went to again?
I went to all the ones downtown.
All of them?
Well, not all of them, but everything I could get to walking. Heart was my favorite.
GO: Felicia Day will sign copies of her book on Wednesday, April 20, at Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, 800-878-7323. 6 pm. Free.