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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