|My name is Christina Kelly, alias Peanut, and I am a professional writer and editor, typically in the video game/esports space. I’ve worked for companies like Apportable (YC W’11), ESPN, and Blizzard Entertainment. Follow me on Twitter @PeanutSC or check out my LinkedIn.
Check out some of my writing below!
Also see the About page for a brief bio.
[This article was originally published on Aikido Journal in September of 2019.]
Christina Kelly is an editor for Aikido Journal and has practiced aikido for about a year, currently holding the rank of fourth kyu. She is a professional writer and editor specializing in video games and esports, and has previously worked in editorial at Blizzard Entertainment and ESPN Esports. Her last editorial on AJ was titled “Why the World Needs Aikido, A Millennial’s Perspective.” This editorial was written for a general audience who may not be familiar with aikido.
I’m a woman who has had a lot of experience in female-dominated activities (certain types of dance), male-dominated activities (video games), and roughly gender-equivalent activities (music) throughout my life. I started learning aikido about a year ago, and was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a substantial number of women practicing at my dojo, even if, overall, men were still the majority. As I dove deeper into aikido’s techniques and practices, I realized that it’s a discipline that offers benefits that are very helpful for women and it’s also an art where women have advantageous traits.
In this article, I’d like to lay out these benefits and advantageous traits as I see them, so that women have a better understanding of the way practicing aikido can help them achieve their goals. Nothing in this article is intended to judge women or men as a group – or their activities of choice – as good or bad, worse or better. The idea is to acknowledge and address the challenges women face, the skills or experiences that women value, and the various characteristics that gender brings to the table. Much of the information in this article could also be useful to men and gender nonbinary or gender nonconforming individuals as well. Now then, let’s get started.
[I wrote this after attending the tournament The Big House 8 in a response to a writing prompt from my friend asking for 500 words “on the relative peace and serenity that precedes a turbulent maelstrom of activity.”]
When people think about “the calm before the storm” in a traditional sense, it brings to mind hunkering down in a clapboard house with boarded up windows and flashlights and canned food, waiting for the nor’easter or hurricane to wreak havoc on power lines and traffic signs. The storm is an external elemental force, unknowable and unpredictable, an uncaring outburst from the whims of mother nature, which must be handled with caution and stern fortitude on the part of human beings. In esports, there is no external chaos, because the storm comes from within.
[This article was originally published on Medium on July 24, 2018.]
Let’s say you woke up today and spent a little extra time — maybe 10 minutes — doing something with your hair, just to mix it up a little. Gel, mousse, wax, hairspray, blow-drying, straightening, curling, whatever. You go through your day and run into that person who you think is pretty cute and want to impress. They take one look at you and screw up their face into a dismayed expression: “Uh, what happened to your hair?”
Depending on your mood and self-esteem, you might respond in one of several ways:
- A. Laugh it off — “Yeah, haha, guess I went overboard with the gel this morning.”
- B. Stammer and run away — “Ummmm … SEEYOULATER!”
- C. Fake it and slink away — “Heh, yeah, guess I … forgot to blow dry … gotta go now … ”
- D. Ain’t no thang — “Oh, you know, just something I’m trying out. What do you think?”
Each response has psychological consequences that interact with a concept named “emotional resilience.”
Today I was a featured guest on WNPR’s The Colin McEnroe Show out of Connecticut for their esports episode. I talked about the origins of pro esports in South Korea, StarCraft at the Pyeongchang Olympics, diversity and inclusivity in the Super Smash Bros. Melee competitive community, matchfixing in esports, sports investment in the Overwatch League, and more. I spoke alongside T.L. Taylor (MIT & AnyKey) and Michael Brooks (National Association of Collegiate Esports). Check it out!
[This article was originally published in the Aikido Journal in January 2018.]
We are in the middle of a very interesting time in human history. It’s true that violence overall has declined massively from the days of human sacrifice and laws that enshrined dueling to the death as a legitimate way to resolve grievances. However, we still find ourselves in a world where it seems harder and harder to communicate and collaborate with people who don’t share our views, and where people can still become victims through no fault of their own via terrorist attacks or bombs that were not carefully deployed in wars.
The human race desperately needs a philosophy that can teach us empathy for each other and demonstrates that even adversaries can work together for a greater good. In other words, it’s the perfect time for aikido to shine.
[This article was originally published on ESPN.com/esports on January 12, 2017.]
The year is 2008, and the world is suddenly not what it was.
You are in Seoul, South Korea, in a small television studio, giggling teens play hooky on a weekday afternoon. There’s a stage a few feet in front of them with a TV desk framed by two glass-enclosed booths, each large enough to fit a single person sitting down.
The house lights dim, the cameras start rolling, the announcers take their places at the desk, and two quiet-looking young men in racing-style jerseys enter each booth after shaking hands. An enormous screen above the stage comes to life.
The screen shows scenes of an alien landscape, but to those in attendance, it is as familiar as a map of their own neighborhood. It’s StarCraft, a popular computer game that has entertained players for years across the world. But here, those who came to fill the studio’s stands are not playing right now – they’re watching. And the intense faces of the men on stage clearly show that this is not just for fun.
For a first-time observer, the experience would be akin to a casual pickup basketball player watching an NBA game for the first time and being treated to Kobe Bryant or LeBron James’ mastery of the ball and the court. Teens gasp and cheer as the announcers in suits shout unabashedly as if calling the blow-by-blow of a title fight.
They won’t believe you back at home. But that’s OK, because you’ve just seen the future, and it’s going to be the coolest thing ever.
[This article was originally published on ESPN.com/esports on Nov 27, 2016.]
It’s match point at the grand finals of a huge StarCraft II tournament. One player booth contains a professional Zerg player complete with massive headphones and stoic concentration. The other booth is … empty. After Zerg wins in the late game with an unexpected tech switch to infestor/broodlord, the crowd goes wild. The pro player comes out on stage and accepts a huge trophy. They are proud not only of winning, but of dealing a blow to their opponent the likes of which could contribute to technology benefiting millions of people worldwide.
At BlizzCon earlier this month in Anaheim, California, Blizzard announced an ambitious new project in collaboration with DeepMind, a leading artificial intelligence research company acquired by Google in 2014. After creating the AlphaGo AI that bested the world’s top Go player earlier this year, DeepMind’s next groundbreaking challenge will be StarCraft II. If DeepMind is able to build an AI that could learn how to beat top players such as Byun “ByuN” Hyun Woo in the complex real-time strategy, tactics and resource management of this game, it would be a giant step forward in AI research. And with DeepMind’s interest in using its research to solve hard problems in areas such as healthcareand energy efficiency on a massive scale, this Starcraft II project could impact the whole world.