Making games is easy. Belonging is hard. #1ReasonToBe

GDC 2014, the most overwhelming GDC I have ever experienced, has come and gone. I saw many friends, too numerous to list, and met even more amazing people. At the IGF Awards, Dominique Pamplemousse lost to Papers, Please, DEVICE 6, and Luxuria Superbia, and I feel quite all right with that, because they are all very worthy games and I’m more than flattered to even be in their company. Later that night, I crashed the Wild Rumpus party with my one-euphonium guerilla marching band.

But the most significant — and most nerve-wracking — thing I did, by far, was stand alongside a group of some of the most awe-inspiring women in games and give my #1ReasonToBe talk. It received a standing ovation and more people than I can count came up to me afterwards and told me that they related to it, and that it moved them to tears. I am beyond humbled. I’ve spent so much of my time in games feeling like the odd one out that I’m still trying to process what it means to call that into question.

Below is the full text of the talk I gave. (UPDATE: there is now also video; I come in at the end.)

Continue reading Making games is easy. Belonging is hard. #1ReasonToBe

Impostor Syndrome, now in the form of a videogame!

“Impostor Syndrome” is a short interactive story I wrote in which you play a woman of colour speaking at a tech conference. It wasn’t hard to program and design, but it’s one of the most difficult things I have ever written. And I’m so proud that I wrote it.

The story came to me in the spring of 2013, shortly after GDC and shortly before I publicly released Dominique Pamplemousse. I’d been profoundly affected by progressive things I’d seen at GDC — the #1reasonwhy panel, the Lost Levels unconference, Anna Anthropy’s powerful reading of “Romero’s Wives”. I was struck by a sense of awe that I wasn’t alone in being an outspoken feminist in the videogame industry.

I’d felt alone for quite some time, gaining a reputation in my pale male-dominated career for not just being neither pale nor male, but also not shutting up about it. Especially since I knew comparatively few people in my local community who really cared about both videogames and social justice. I mostly turned to internet communities to find solidarity. Somehow, seeing my people encroach upon GDC was powerful for me. Like I’d been waiting, and they’d finally arrived.

Continue reading Impostor Syndrome, now in the form of a videogame!

Dominique Pamplemousse in “It’s All Over Once the Fat Lady Sings!”

In this unique and offbeat stop motion musical detective adventure game, Dominique Pamplemousse, the titular protagonist, is a down-on-their-luck private investigator of ambiguous gender only one rent payment away from homelessness. When the CEO of a major record company shows up asking Dominique to locate a missing pop star, taking the job appears to be the straightforward thing to do. However, as things are never quite as they seem in these kinds of stories, Dominique winds up framed for a crime they didn’t commit, bringing to surface their mysterious past and the events that led them to take up shady detective work in the first place.

Oh, and did I mention it’s a musical? With singing and everything?

Buy for Win/Mac

An Introvert’s Guide to Surviving GDC

Yet again, that enormous annual conference for all the game developers in the galaxy is soon upon us. You know the one. I will, of course, be there, volunteering and also demoing Dominique Pamplemousse.

Anyway, here’s a thing I’ve noticed in the several years I’ve been a GDC attendee. When it comes to what a lot of people on the internet think of as the best parts of GDC — namely, ZOMG NETWORKING! and PARTIES! — I often feel at odds. I’m an introvert, which means that while I don’t necessarily hate being outgoing and sociable per se,1 I generally find most kinds of social activities to be draining, to the point of needing to rest and recover afterwards. Apparently, I’m not alone. So, here’s my list of ways in which I, personally, try to get the most out of GDC. Your own mileage, as they say, may vary. But if you’re the kind of person whose reaction to spending a week in close proximity to tens of thousands of people is more “eep!” than “yay!” then maybe some of these tips will help.

Continue reading An Introvert’s Guide to Surviving GDC

Why “if you don’t like it, make your own” is not a valid argument

Today, in response to critical outcry on a certain disgusting videogame trailer making rounds on the internet (relevant links here and here), Tycho of Penny Arcade fame responded saying that rather than complaining about it, people should instead be making their own art. As a creator of my own art for the last decade or so, this particular silencing tactic — because let’s face it, “silencing tactic” is exactly what it is — angers me on a very personal level, if only because I once bought into it completely.

Don’t get me wrong. I love creating my own art. It’s an activity out of which I get more joy than almost anything else. I love encouraging people to create their own art too, because the art I enjoy most is the kind that’s personal and intimate. I haven’t even so much as touched a big-budget videogame in quite some time, simply because none of them interest me very much, these days. The book Tycho linked to in his post, Anna Anthropy’s Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, is absolutely fantastic and empowering and I wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone reading this. And yet… that’s not all there is to the story.

Continue reading Why “if you don’t like it, make your own” is not a valid argument

Some notes on “The Play”

First off, I’ve released a new game! It’s called “The Play”, and it’s a text-based interactive story about a theatre director trying to make sure a dress rehearsal doesn’t go horribly wrong. Except, well, there’s a bit more to it than that. Anyway, go play it if you haven’t already. It’s not very long to get through, and it even plays well with mobile devices!

I also entered this game into the seventeenth annual Interactive Fiction Competition and it managed to win third place! Not bad for a first entry, or so I’m told. Squee!

Anyway, below the jump are some of my assorted spoileriffic thoughts on the game. Hello, sweetie!

Continue reading Some notes on “The Play”

Old Stuff

Some stuff I made when I was a tiny baby game designer.

Life Flashes By
Download for Mac
Download for Windows

The Little Girl Nobody Liked
Play online

BLEARGH: A Holiday Greeting
Play online

Des Rêves Élastiques Avec Mille Insectes Nommés Georges
Download for Windows

Pigeons in the Park
Download for Windows

Chivalry is Not Dead
Download for Windows

When We Were Kids
Play online

Facetious Nonsense
Play online

The Game That Takes Place on a Cruise Ship
Download for Windows

The Interview
SLUDGE source code

Cubert Badbone, P.I.
Download for Windows