I can finally talk about Ubisoft Quebec's project: Assassin's Creed. Very excited to be at the studio producing this one.
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:
Thanks a lot for having us on your show, GG!
Only a few weeks remain before I start working on my book full time. Happily, my hiatus coincides with NaNoWriMo, so I signed up. This is my first year participating officially; I hope it's as motivational as everybody says it is.
I'm trying to get a lot of the structural and prep work out of the way now, so that I can sit down and simply write come November. I already have the characters figured out, and I know the overarching structure and flow. Seven interwoven short stories, connected by theme. Here are the working titles:
I took this picture last night and already two working titles have changed and the order has shifted. So much to figure out; so much that could go wrong…or right. To quote Willy Wonka, "The suspense is terrible. I hope it lasts."
So…I’m leaving the game industry. I’m going to work on a personal project that is far removed from what’s happening in the triple-A universe these days.
As you may know, my contract with Airtight Games ends next month. I’ve considered my job opportunities carefully, but I don’t feel excited about any of the projects that have come my way recently. Coming out of Murdered, I want to work on something meaningful that aligns with my personal philosophies about the future of gaming. Luckily for me, I’m at a place in my life where I can afford to take a break. I don’t know when—or if—I’ll have this chance again, so I’m seizing it. I’ll devote the next few months to my own work and hope to have something ready for publication by the end of the year.
This doesn’t mean I’m leaving the industry entirely. I’m acting as consultant on a few small indie projects while I’m on hiatus. And maybe the perfect major project will come along and tempt me back. Who knows? In any case, I won’t be gone long.
NOTE: Some of you have responded with concern about my decision, so I want to clarify that this is good news. It's a luxury for a creator to be able to focus exclusively on her own work. I'm incredibly lucky to have the option of taking time off for a passion project.
I didn't make this choice lightly; I've been agonising over it for weeks. It's a scary step. However, I am absolutely confident that I've made the right choice. I hope you all will trust my judgment and support me.
NOTE 2: There is nothing wrong with the project opportunities available to me. I'm not casting judgment on the state of AAA titles or the current games industry. I simply prefer to work on my own project while I have this chance.
So…Patrick Klepek from Giant Bomb contacted me right before PAX this year. He wasn't going to be able to catch our panel, but he wanted to sit down and chat a bit. Of course I said yes.
With all the dickwolves controversy and the PAX anger, I feel the need to put this interview into context. I spoke to Patrick on Saturday evening—before I'd had a chance to see the Indie MegaBooth and before Gabe's statements about the t-shirts. If I could change two things about this interview, they would be 1) to praise the innovation and depth of the indie games I saw and 2) to sound less gushing about the accepting PAX atmosphere.
1) I wish that I had seen games like Contrast, Gone Home, and That Dragon Cancer before this interview. No, I was not impressed by the major titles on the main floor. There was nothing there we haven't all seen before. But the indie games sparkled. TDC in particular blew me away. It had the poetry, the mood of the moment rather than the epic story, that I've been yearning for. I feel renewed hope for the future of games. The industry isn't stagnating in a pool of sequels and shooters; innovation inhabits the fringes and pushes us forward.
2) If Patrick had interviewed me on Monday evening, I would not have been gushing about the inclusivity of PAX this year. I would have spoken about the contrast between the atmosphere at panels on inclusivity and the acceptance being promoted at those panels, and the very real discrimination I saw happening on the Expo floor. I would have mentioned the glares being directed at a young trans-woman, and how she didn't feel safe at PAX. I would have mentioned the PAX Enforcer who tried to take advantage of a drunk young girl to end his personal "dry spell." And I certainly would have mentioned the dickwolf shirts. I would have spoken about how much work still needs to be done.
I haven't had the courage yet to do more than glance at the comments on the interview. There are points I make that people can rightfully pull apart, but I hope people will generally understand what I'm trying to say. Mostly, this interview is a snapshot of how I was feeling that day at PAX and should be taken as such.
Looking for news about our PAX panel and I stumbled across this mention on MTV's Multiplayer blog:
I'm glad that somebody appreciated how provocative our panel title was. We worked hard on it.