I had a lovely chat with Aleen Simms at Less Than or Equal about gamewriting, diversity, and games stuff. You'll have to forgive my audio quality. I didn't have a headset and I was losing my voice, so I sound like a hoarse robot.
Or maybe Journal Game? I'm not sure what to call it yet, but it's an idea I've been kicking around since last fall. I was working on a bunch of short stories about gamifying everyday life, and I kept thinking, "Wrong medium." What better way to discuss that kind of gamification than to make a game of it? So I'm thinking of creating an open-ended Twine game, loosely based on the events of my recent life. An interactive journal. I'm not sure how much interest there would be in something so personal, but it will be fun to work on. I might even start a Patreon to fund it. This project will give me something to focus on while I'm getting my head together. If I can earn a little money for it, all the better, but that's not its purpose.
I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, if you know of any interactive journals or games about the dailiness of life, please link me to them.
Tomorrow it will be one month since my Old Man Cat died. Everybody knows Codille's death hit me hard and that grief laid me low for a while. I still miss him every single day. I've had a tribute to him on the front page of this website for a while, but now I'm moving it here. It's not about forgetting him or our fifteen years as companions—I never will—but I need to stop focusing on my grief and start trying to put my life back together.
I'm leaving Quebec City and heading home to DC for a little break. While I'm there, I'm interested in taking on new projects. Something small and fun would be exciting. If you're an indie company or small studio looking for a writer, or if you have a project that you think I could help with, please drop me a note through my Contact page. I'm looking for new adventures. ^^
Note: Many of you have written to support me and to lament that you don't know of any projects in the DC area. First of all, thank you all so much for your encouragement and kindness. It means more to me than you know. Second, I'm going to DC to regroup; I'm not necessarily staying there long term. And I'm emerging from this experience with the need to work on a meaningful project. So if you know of small or indie companies ANYWHERE who are looking for a talented gamewriter, or if you know of someone working on a game that screams "Anna" to you, please let me know.
I've started a little tradition on Twitter. Every Saturday I tweet about a lesser-known game that inspires or delights me. I went through some hard times this year, and it helps to remind myself of how wonderful games can be. Anyone can join in by tagging their tweets with #GameFaves, and it's been fun to tweet along with people as we discuss our gaming loves.
I've had guest hosts recently, and it's been interesting to see what games excite other people. For example, I'd never heard of Ecstatica until Marc Laidlaw mentioned it. Now I'm ransacking the used game stores in town to see if I can find a copy.
Because Twitter is ephemeral, there's no permanent record of our tweets. So this post is where I'll keep track of the titles we discuss.
- Thomas Was Alone
- Papo y Yo
- Kentucky Route Zero
- Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
- The Unfinished Swan
- Ecstatica (Guest Host: Marc Laidlaw)
- Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (Guest Host: Ian Hatch)
- Anodia (Guest Host: Matthew Moore)
- The Stanley Parable
- Tomena Sanner
- The Path
- Illusion of Gaia (Guest Host: Phil Salvador)
- Fragments of Him
- Actual Sunlight (Guest Host: John J. Ryan)
- Little Inferno (Guest Host: Mikko Rautalahti)
- ??? (Guest Host: Donna Prior)
I can finally talk about Ubisoft Quebec's project: Assassin's Creed. Very excited to be at the studio producing this one.
Some men in the games industry are as sick of seeing women left off panels and out of public discussions as I am. They got together and signed a pledge to not participate in any panels that don't have women on them. I hear that their stand will soon extend to all kinds of diversity, so we can hope to start seeing people of all races, genders, and sexualities speaking soon, too. If the industry listens.
This is a fantastic step for allies to take. This goes beyond merely supporting women or raising awareness. This is concrete action that will have an affect on the industry. Very excited to see this happen and can't wait to see the list grow.
Their Tumblr page is here: http://plzdiversifyyourpanel.tumblr.com/
So...as you all probably know, this has been a rough week for me. Murdered came out and was not received well by critics. To say the least.
There's a lot I'd love to say about what happened on the project and my role in it, but I obviously can't for NDA reasons.
I want to thank my peers in the industry who wrote to ask me for my side of the story or wrote just to support me in a difficult time. It means so much that you have faith in me. When things calm down, I'll write a post mortem about my experience on Murdered. I'll be contacting other writers and creators for anecdotes about working on projects that, uh…got away from them.
In the meantime, all I can do is refer people to the blog post below and reassert that there is very little of my writing or design in the game.
I've received a lot of questions about Murdered recently, so it seems like a good time to re-post this article about the game's dev process:
Shiokawa-san is not exaggerating. He had an extraordinary amount of control over every aspect of the game and should receive full credit for his ideas.
“I found that videogames allowed me to become a person who did things but usually only if I was willing to shed my gender. ”
Laura Hudson articulates with tear-summoning perfection what it is like to play most video games as a woman—what we must give up and what we must overlook. She describes the disappointment of feeling excited about a strong character like Samus being female—only to have that identity immediately sexualized and served up as fap material for a presumed male audience. The endless amount of unrelieved female sexualization in video games exhausts my soul.
I chose to sign with Ubisoft over the other companies I was talking to because of their recent work on Freedom Cry and Liberation. Specifically, Adewale and Aveline. Whether or not you're a fan of the DLC, you have to acknowledge that Ubi is presenting these characters as complex individuals with agency. Both could so easily have been horrific stereotypes serving only to bolster the PC's story or further the plot, but they're neither. Aveline's story, especially, felt fresh and interesting. It made me realize how starved I've been for stories like hers in games, for scenes that pass the Bechdel Test, for nuanced characterization. I can't wait to write more characters that let all kinds of people feel fully human when playing my game.
Well, my hiatus was wonderful, even though I didn't accomplish as much as I wanted to. But all good things must end, so I started job hunting in January. I'm extremely fortunate to have found something right away. I'm excited to say that I'm joining the writing team at Ubisoft Quebec to work on Unannounced AAA Title. I know, I know: game titles are so unimaginative these days.
I'll be around Seattle for at least another month or two while I wait for my visa to clear. That gives me just enough time to wrap up this writing project, say my goodbyes, and learn some basic French.
Today I got into another discussion with someone who claimed that "men in video games are sexualized too." The examples he gave me were straight from the False Equivalence textbook.Read More
So…I got into a little dustup on Twitter today. That's not unusual. Any woman in the games industry who puts herself out there finds her opinions challenged all the time. What's different about this argument is that Jessica Price storified it:
(Thank you, Jessica!)
The saddest part of the situation is that guys like that don't even see that they are part of the problem. This guy started off discussing how to get women more into the industry but ended up displaying exactly why there are so few. Conversations like this make me grateful for the all the open minds I know.
Some of the statements I made in my Giant Bomb interview continue to haunt me. Here, writer Cal.L examines my assertion that the industry is stagnating.
I like this article—not just because the author agrees with me and provides evidence to bolster my point, but because it gives a shout-out to indie games. I spoke with Patrick Klepek at PAX on Saturday, after speaking at my panel and touring the main expo hall floor. Everything I had seen up until that point confirmed my worst fears about the industry churning out formulaic shooters and endless sequels. There wasn't a single game I wanted to demo. Even my usual thirst for swag died in the face of so much sameness. I felt…bored. And it was directly from this experience that I went to chat with Patrick. I hadn't yet seen the Indie Games MegaBooth. If I had, my interview would have gone differently.
I want to be clear that I stand by my claim about the industry being trapped in stale thinking. I'm not taking it back. But I'll qualify that statement by noting that indie games are pushing innovation in ways that big-budget projects can't and aren't. Gone Home, That Dragon Cancer, Unfinished Swan, Thomas Was Alone, Kentucky Route Zero, and Papers, Please are all small titles with a big impact. The lonely poetry of KRZ is exactly the sort of game I told Patrick I've been missing. Gone Home offers a fresh narrative perspective. Papers, Please will make you question your ethics. All of these games are pushing the creative boundaries of the industry. They are redefining what the medium can express and how it can make people feel.
Maybe it's too much to ask that blockbuster games innovate. Maybe it's enough that they provide a familiar and reliable experience. I hate to give up on AAA titles, though. I would love to see more big-name projects borrow energy from their indie counterparts and try something besides a proven formula. I would love to see them take some major risks. I would love to see some unusual gameplay mechanics, at the very least. Until then, I'll keep funding Kickstarter projects and supporting independent studios.
Hilarious fan art of Ronan's existential crisis.
Robert Gee, our GW Skills Master, tries his hand at an ERBoT: Adelbern vs. Kisu
The name's Adelbern, the K-I-N-G
Retreat now Kisu you can't beat me
Halloween is a major holiday in Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2. Every year, ArenaNet works hard on decorations and festivities to celebrate the occasion and make it special for the players. Part of the tradition is a spooky poem themed along that year's events. Arena just posted readings of all the Halloween poems ever written for the game, including one I co-wrote with Matthew Moore in 2010. Happy listening!
I finally got my mitts on the video for the panel I spoke on at GeekGirlCon ths past weekend. Cameron Harris, Donna Prior (substituting last minute for Regina Buenaobra), Jessica Price, Jennifer Brandes Hepler, and I spoke about the #1reasonwhy phenomenon and what life in the game industry is really like for women. So here we are, discussing some deeply personal issues.
"Play to Win: The Real World of Women in Games."
*Big thanks to Matthew Moore for recording the panel for us.
I spoke on a #1reasonwhy panel at GeekGirlCon this past weekend and had a lot of fun. I'll be posting video of the panel shortly, but while gathering info on the GGC site, I noticed this:
Regina and Filamena couldn't make it, so we had to scramble a bit to rework our discussion. Jennifer Hepler's story alone sums up #1reasonwhy and explains #1reasontobe, so I hope we didn't disappoint Alison.
I did a live interview yesterday with the Grievance Gaming clan, on their Debuffed: Out of the Box show. I wasn't sure what to expect, but they were very cool people. Thanks, Steelheart and Ehvayne! John Ryan and I had a lot of fun.
You can see the videos here:
Things to look for as you're viewing:
- Codille's attempt to become internet famous.
- John Ryan's reaction to some hidden dirt about the British Museum.
- The sun slowly setting as the interview went on, leaving me in darkness by the end.
- Nixy turning my camera off.
- Fangirling by multiple people.
- And this:
Thanks a lot for having us on your show, GG!