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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Fall Conference/Festival Schedule

Here’s a schedule of places in which I’ll be making guest appearances in the next couple of months:

October 9-12IndieCade, Los Angeles, CA
I’m super proud to announce that Coffee: A Misunderstanding is an IndieCade finalist and I will be running a performance at the festival! I am also speaking on the “Influences” panel, wherein me and several other really smart game makers will talk about things that aren’t games that have influenced our work and why.

October 16-18Meaningful Play, East Lansing, MI
I’ll be giving a keynote speech called “Lessons Learned in Ruining Videogames”. I’ve never done a keynote before. Should be fun! *gulp*

October 25-26Queerness and Games Conference, Berkeley, CA
I’m one of the conference organizers this year, a first for me. We’ve got a really exciting lineup of speakers, workshops, and microtalks, to which I look forward! Plus, I’ll be running a game of Coffee: A Misunderstanding.

November 8WordPlay, Toronto, ON
I’ll be running a game of Coffee: A Misunderstanding, as an international special guest!

November 10-11Montreal International Games Summit, Montreal, QC
I’ll be giving a talk called “Designing a Game out of Cardboard and Duct Tape”, wherein I talk about making Dominique Pamplemousse.

November 14-16PRACTICE, New York, NY
I’ll be giving an in-depth design talk called “Designing Awkwardness”. I will also be running a game of Coffee: A Misunderstanding on Thursday the 13th, for the Indie Tech Talks series.

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Quing’s Quest VII: The Death of Videogames!

It’s been a difficult month to care about games. Sometimes, though, the best way to deal with difficult things is to channel your frustrations into art, so when Ruin Jam 2014, a game jam “open to anyone and everyone who has been, is being, or plans to be accused of ruining the games industry” was announced, I felt inspired to create something.

The result, a story I have titled “Quing’s Quest VII: The Death of Videogames!”, is a silly, over-the-top power fantasy, wherein you play a monarch of mysterious and indistinct gender exiled from their home planet. It’s made in Twine, because nothing says “hey, that’s not really a game!” like Twine, but there’s music, sound effects, incisive social commentary, old-school adventure game references, a cute genderfluid pirate NPC, a working toilet, and glitter.

Anyhow. You can either play online or download the game and source code with a pay-what-you-want option.

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Spiffy new URL!

I have now moved to squinky.me! Figured it was about time for a shorter, easier to spell website address, and this one was available, so I snatched it on up. [1]

Also, you can now send electronic mail to hey@squinky.me, in the event that you feel like doing such a thing.

  1. Don’t worry, all the old deirdrakiai.com links should still work; they’ll just redirect here to the new site.
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What to call me: a handy flowchart

As I’ve said before, it’s not easy being a person of mysterious and indistinct gender, and part of such is figuring out what you want people to call you. Hence, since it’s come up on multiple occasions, I thought I’d do the nerdy thing and make a flowchart. Hopefully, it will lessen the confusion.


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New Twine I wrote: “I’m Really Sorry About That Thing I Said When I Was Tired and/or Hungry”

Screen Shot 2014-08-07 at 9.46.18 AM

I’ve written a new Twine! It’s a mostly-autobiographical story of how it was like growing up among several different cultures and not really fitting into any of them. Go play it.

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Coffee: A Misunderstanding, or, what I’ve been up to these past several months…

I’ve been hard at work on a new… thing for my MFA thesis, called Coffee: A Misunderstanding. It’s a queer and socially awkward interactive play about the weirdness of online friendships that aren’t really friendships, set in the midst of a fan convention called AwesomeCon.

The way the game works is that two audience volunteers are called up and asked to read from a mobile device, which dynamically displays dialogue lines and stage directions. Meanwhile, two additional audience volunteers are given a mobile device on which they can select from a menu of choices that appear at key decision points in the story. It’s a combination of multiplayer Choose Your Own Adventure and improv theatre, resulting in a play experience that’s every bit as awkward as the story it’s trying to tell.

Details on future performance dates/times to come soonish!

Oh, and if you’re the type to want to peek at the source code for this project, it’s here.

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