Exclusive – Genese Davis Stops In For A Chat Part 2

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We ran the first of three interview pieces with Genese Davis this past Saturday. In part one I spoke to Genese about what initially spurred her deep love for gaming and her quest to change the word “gamer” forever with The Gamer in You. This time we’ll be talking to Genese about things like cosplay and delve into her creative process behind her acclaimed gamer-lit novel; The Holder’s Dominion.

You’ve adorned a fair amount of cosplay costumes in your time. When and why do you think cosplay became such a sensation? Anything funny/embarrassing ever happen while in costume?

At every convention or signing, I meet fans that, like me, look forward to seeing extraordinary cosplay. Many cosplayers describe cosplay as “Becoming a live sculpture of your favorite character,” and explain that while cosplay is for the most part a hobby, it is also a passion, and one of the best ways to show your affinity for the anime, manga, comic book, video game, TV, and film characters that are most memorable or influential. I always thought I’d be too shy to cosplay, but the armor designs in MMOs got me interested. When I first glimpsed the tier-six priest design in World of Warcraft I thought, “I’d cosplay that in a heartbeat!” Little did I know that a few years later, I’d join forces with a great seamstress for a Frostmourne photoshoot.

 

During the photo shoot the most comical moment was when the photographer asked me to hoist the Frostmourne sword across my back, and it was too heavy for me to hold. As I strained to lift it high enough for the photo, I lost my balance and almost toppled down the hill, sword in tow!

 

At WorldCon this year, I had the exciting opportunity to moderate a panel specifically about cosplay. The panelists and I discussed tips and tricks to cosplay modeling and addressed various pop culture cosplay topics. To view snippets of the panel, visit my YouTube page.

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You’ve parlayed your love for the social aspects of gaming into a career as a journalist, author, and gaming personality. Did you ever expect to become so involved in gaming when you were in college?

Life always seems to open new roads we’d never expect to take, but I’m tremendously honored to be a part of this positive movement for gaming, and thankful to have the opportunity to share my perspectives on the industry. The best way to describe how it happened is to share an inspiring quote from Bluesky’s movie Robots: “See a need, fill a need.” It all started when I saw the need to show how impactful online games can be. I wanted to fill that need by creating a basis for family and friends of gamers to understand them and their world. As I began writing The Holder’s Dominion I knew this story had the chance to show the amazing experience of collaborative video games and the communities that grow up in and around them. This suspenseful thriller reveals the secret side to online games, and offers an avenue for different generations to understand one another. Even if a reader has never touched an MMO, he or she can read The Holder’s Dominion and find out why gamers game.

Kaylie, the protagonist of The Holder’s Dominion seeks out college life in Austin as an escape from her very real problems. She’s then whisked away into the world of MMO’s. You attended university in Austin, and you’d experienced much else that life had to offer before becoming an avid gamer. How much of Kaylie’s backstory was inspired by your own?

Kaylie and I do share a few similarities! For example, we both came to gaming pretty late in life. The best way to write authentically is to write what you know. Working with industry professionals, I gained a deep understanding of video games and their artists, lore, culture, and development. After years of working alongside video game industry professionals, my research and experience became the prep work for Holder’s.

 

Creating the details and intricacies for a next-gen MMO on my own still had its challenges. This book’s overarching concept and details within the story were composed to relate to the experience of a large and well-defined gaming community. Kaylie is sucked into an epic journey that brings validation to gamers while intriguing them with speculative technology and a new world to adventure. Yet, the entire book is also an intriguing read for anyone who has never before touched an online game.

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Gamer-lit novels aren’t known as a highly mainstream genre. How surprised were you by the success of The Holder’s Dominion?

The reception for Holder’s has been incredible, and I’m honored to have endorsements from video game industry legends like Dr. Richard Bartle, Christie Golden, and Micky Neilson. Seeing this book come to life and witnessing its story shape video game perceptions is truly exciting.

 

I think The Holder’s Dominion intrigues both gamers and non-gamers because the story reveals the ins and outs of gaming on a personal level. Gamers will recognize the guild and raiding dynamics, while non-gamers can connect because the story doesn’t avoid real issues; it weaves them in to its suspenseful plot. This book highlights the often-underestimated degree of connection between the online world and real life; it treats the internet—and online gaming—as an extension of human society, not an alternative to it.

 

I’ve been so fortunate to meet fellow video game enthusiasts, as well as fellow writers and filmmakers. When we filmed the movie teaser for Holder’s Dominion, the art of filmmaking became even more wondrous. Check out the really unique vision directors Brian Horn and Eric Kieron Davis had for the film here.

We’re you inspired by other gaming related media ie. Tron? Lawnmower Man?

My hope when writing this book was to encompass all the little details that make playing an online game so thrilling and engaging. Hence, the main inspiration for the story came from actual player experiences. While playing alongside fellow raiding and PvP gamers, I adapted our experiences into the story. Players were the driving force that inspired ideas for how Edannair (the MMO in my novel) could come alive.

 

Beyond that, the novel’s virtual world of Edannair shows what I hope we can look forward to in next-gen MMOs. It was really exciting creating an online game that incorporated new races, classes, and unique PvP and PvE elements. Even though some of the technology I added to Edannair hasn’t been fully developed, I think we’re on the cusp of inventing the same kind of AI found in Holder’s online world.

I was completely ecstatic being able to pick Genese’s brain about her creative process. I’ve interviewed some of the top talent in gaming, but admittedly this is my first real conversation with an acclaimed author. One of the easy things to discern from my chat with Genese is that her love for all things gaming is completely genuine. What’s really awesome is that she’s parlayed her love of the medium into a career as an accomplished author and columnist over at MMORPG.com to boot. In our next article we talk the future of MMO’s, free-to-play game models and I get Genese’s opinion on how the industry will continue to evolve over the next decade. Stay tuned, because part three of our interview will be going live very soon!

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Dylan Zellmer

Dylan splits time between games journalism, designing video games, and playing them. Outside of his deep involvement in the games industry, he enjoys It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Shameless, A Song of Ice and Fire, fitness, and family.
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