December 2015’s #Scifi Women Interviews guest is Laura M. Crawford. It has been a wonderful inaugural year for this feature that will return in 2016. I am very happy to close it with Laura, whom I had met in 2012 at an academic conference about video games.
Laura M. Crawford is a lecturer, consultant and PhD candidate in the area of attraction to screen violence. She speaks frequently at conferences nationally and internationally on this topic. She is heavily involved in Australia’s games community, speaking at and facilitating events and discussions pertaining to violence in games, psychology of design, independent game design and social issues within the industry. She teaches psychology of game design and game theory at Swinburne University of technology. She is Vice President of the Digital Games Research Association (Australian Chapter).
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
CRAWFORD: When I was three, I heard Starman by David Bowie and it had a profound effect on me even then. In my first year of high school I read On the Beach by Neville Shute, as many a young impressionable mind did then, and fell instantly in love with the genre. It wasn’t until I discovered Phillip K Dick and Star Trek the Next Generation in my twenties that I really took it seriously. These amazing encounters then led me to a whole new world of more obscure fictions.
NG: What is Science Fiction’s responsibility in diverse and inclusive representation?
CRAWFORD: All fiction has a responsibility in diverse and inclusive representation. Science Fiction does have the advantage of representing fantastical realism and a future utopia so therefore should be progressive, yes. Unless it’s utterly dystopian and of course there is value in that too.
NG: Do you think Science Fiction is a fitting genre for societal commentary?
CRAWFORD: Absolutely. For the reasons listed above.
NG: Do you see Science Fiction as a welcoming genre for women (characters and creators)?
CRAWFORD: It can absolutely be both. I had naively thought diversity was a generational thing when first delving into sci fi. Then encountered 60s novels in which the lead characters were unquestioningly brave women and the early 2000s series Farscape which had some phenomenally well-adjusted and brave diverse characters, then recent offerings in which minorities are objectified and vilified. So short answer, it can be but is not all the time.
NG: What are you top 3 favorites for Science Fiction books, TV shows, movies and video games?
CRAWFORD: Now Wait For Last Year – Phillip K Dick
Dead Space (and all space survival horror)
Star Trek Voyager. No, Enterprise. No, Voyager. Both. Also Farscape.
NG: Are there any particular topics or concerns associated with Science Fiction in Video Game Studies?
CRAWFORD: All the things usually associated with videogames and various tropes – gender representation, diversity in relationships, super fictionalized representations of various characters. Then there are a bunch of games that do it right such as Mass Effect 3, Gone Home, and Final Fantasy XIV.
NG: What do you think of the relationship between Science Fiction and violence?
CRAWFORD: This is a huge question. Attraction to fantastical violence is my primary area of research and our relationship with it is very complex. I will say that sometimes fantastical violence is necessary as a narrative vehicle, at other times just because we enjoy it. When specifically looking at Sci-Fi it depends on what an individual’s version of the future is – will we live some utopian existence in which there are enough resources for all or will be left with not enough, desperate for survival? The third scenario of course being both – we have loads of resources and fight a lot just because we’re power hungry a-holes.
NG: Why do you think Science Fiction is such a compelling genre?
CRAWFORD: The endless possibilities, escape, and hope for a new future.
NG: What developments would you like to see in Science Fiction?
CRAWFORD: I’d like to see it become an even more popular genre than it already is. We can engender so much understanding via these stories.
NG: If you could write any Science Fiction story, what would it be about?
CRAWFORD: Changing the world through Science Fiction. 🙂