Squinky Plays Squinky – Cubert Badbone

I made a Let’s Play video, like all the Kids These Days™ are doing! The subject of said video, in an exciting turn of events, is a game of my own that I made when I was sixteen. So, it’s kind of like a Let’s Play version of Throwback Thursday, except I’m either too late or too early for Thursday. Oh well.

Anyway. Cubert Badbone, P.I. was, much like its later and way more popular successor Dominique Pamplemousse, a sillier, floofier version of a noir detective story, and it was interesting to play this game again for the first time in many years, while documenting the process. Some general insights I noticed were as follows:

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GDC 2015: on community, family, and loneliness

Last week was my seventh year attending the annual Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. [1] I’ve been around long enough to notice that a lot of things have changed since then, to the point that this year, it felt like there were actually two conferences happening. There was the one where people were apparently really excited about VR, to which I didn’t really pay all that much attention. And then there was the one about the real world we live in, in which that-gate-that-shan’t-be-named and those complicit have been, and still are, destroying our community, and what do we do now?

As game makers, we think in systems, and the problem many of us are trying to solve right now is, how do we fix this so that we can go back to happily making games without fear of harassment? But there’s no easy solution, and in fact, there are even deeper problems. Marginalised gamedevs have being harassed and ostracised since way before 2014, not just from the outside, but from the inside, too. Even those of us who are ideologically similar in that we want game-making and game-playing to be accessible to everyone can be horrifyingly quick to turn on one another over the most trivial of slights. We talk a big game about inclusivity, but as soon as we feel included, very few of us actively continue to lend a hand to those still trapped in the margins.

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Footnotes:
  1. I’ve been going since 2007, but skipped a couple of years in ’09/’10 because, ironically, I had a game industry job that didn’t give me enough vacation days to go, and then got laid off the next year and couldn’t afford to go.
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Some places I’ll be in the near future

This coming weekend, I’ll be attending IndieCade East! I will be running a performance of Coffee: A Misunderstanding at Night Games from 7-8:30 PM, and am also showing Quing’s Quest as part of the Horizons exhibit.

From March 2-6, I will be attending GDC. On Monday from 11:15-11:40 AM, I’ll be on a panel called “Increasing Gender Diversity in Game Development Programs”. I will also be running sessions of Coffee during the IGDA Networking Event on Tuesday from 6-9 PM. Finally, I’ve stepped up as a co-organizer of the 3rd annual Lost Levels unconference, which is happening on Wednesday afternoon!

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Another new game: 36 Questions

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 10.57.46 PM

This weekend, I participated in the Global Game Jam for the first time ever. I decided to make a game wherein the player and a fictionalised version of myself re-enact the “36 questions to fall in love with anyone” experiment. [1] Moreover, since the game jam theme was “What do we do now?”, I decided to have the story take place as the world is about to end.

Play it here. I should note that the game asks for player responses, but doesn’t record said responses in any way. The in-story reason for this is that you are talking to a fictionalised future version of me, so to present-day me, the conversation hasn’t actually taken place yet. The more practical reason is, I didn’t want to deal with abuse and spam. So, consider this exercise to be something akin to writing a letter but never sending it. Alternatively, if for some reason you want to violate the spacetime continuum and share your answers with present-day me, feel free to email me screencaps.

Footnotes:
  1. Complete with a 4-minute Youtube video of just my eyes at the end.
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New game: Interruption Junction

screenshot

Hey, kids! Do you ever feel like if you don’t speak up — and speak up often — you’ll literally disappear? Do you ever feel like if you do speak up, everything you have to say is trivial and pointless and no one cares? If so, you’ll love Interruption Junction, a short one-button conversation game about being lonely in a group of people! If not… well, I envy you.

But anyhow: click repeatedly or mash the spacebar to interrupt.

Also, if you want to check out the source code, it’s available here.

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Live from internet land, it’s Squinky and the Squinkettes!

One of the fun things I’ve started to do this year is work on a solo musical performance act involving me, a euphonium, and the ability to make copies of myself using the magic of technology. [1] Here are a couple of videos of a performance I did last summer, which I’d been meaning to put up for ages but hadn’t gotten around to until now. Enjoy.

Footnotes:
  1. In this case, using Loopy HD and an iPad dock.
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On Success

I’ve had, by all accounts, a very successful year.

2014 began with me discovering that Dominique Pamplemousse was nominated for four IGF awards. It continued with me being invited to speak at games events all over the US and Canada, as well as running several inspiring sessions of Coffee: A Misunderstanding, including at IndieCade, wherein it was a finalist. To top it off, for the time being, I’m financially comfortable and surrounded by people, both in person and online, who believe in me and the work I’m doing — who believe I’m going to continue to go on to do great things in the future.

2014 was also the year that the continued harassment of women, minorities, and queer people in games reached a fever pitch. Friends and professional acquaintances — people with whom I’ve shared dinners, drinks, and great conversations — have been driven out of their homes through sustained death threats and worse. Others have become silenced online lest they suffer a similar fate. Meanwhile, corporations continue to profit off of hegemonic masculinity and white supremacy while marginalized artists struggle to subsist at poverty levels.

People tell me to show gratitude for what I have and the opportunities I’ve been given. I AM grateful. I’m living the kind of life I could have only dreamed of in my younger years. But I refuse to be complacent. My community is being destroyed, and if I don’t have a community, how can success even mean anything?

It’s seductive to believe, when you’re the odd one out in a field dominated by pale males, that you got there because you’re special. That you did something particularly excellent to deserve your place, as opposed to all those other uppity minorities who just complain all the time. What they don’t tell you is that once you start questioning the systemic reasons why there aren’t more people like you around, once you start noticing all those microaggressions that constantly remind you that you’re “other”, they drop you because you’re no longer useful to them as an inspirational minority. An inspirational minority who got to where they are against all odds, but hey, they made it, so nothing needs to change and everything is fine.

I refuse to be anyone’s inspirational minority. I want to help create a better world that allows for more ways of being, and I can’t do it alone, so I’m going to continue advocating for all of us to be treated like people. I know it’s not a comfortable thing for people to hear, but I don’t know what else to say.

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