Waking Up, Sweet And Happy

My friend Tristane Penelope Nelson dreams. She used to tell me about her lucid flying dreams. More recently, she’s been dreaming about her dead sister. 

I can still see a round clearing in a crowded dance floor at an illegal warehouse party in Vancouver in February 1998. There was a girl dancing in the centre of the circle. Everyone was in awe of her. I was 17 and she was 15. That was the first time I saw Tristane and I’ve been in awe of her ever since. In September 1998 Tristane’s older sister Julia moved into my dorm. I was a lonely, asocial misfit with ugly glasses and bad teeth falling asleep in math and computer science classes. They were intimidatingly cool and charismatic sisters with great style and wit. Julia was in religious studies. 

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A Future I Would Want to Live In

Where are we headed? I'm concerned that most of the stories we are telling ourselves, especially within the games industry, are dystopian. Dystopia, no matter how beautifully rendered, is a resignation to a view of humanity or to our fates that is brutal, fearful, uncaring, and incomplete. I don't accept this view. I am optimistic about the future.

I grew up in the countryside outside Vancouver, Canada, before the internet. To know about interesting music, I had to take a bus for one hour and a train for another hour, then I had to know where in that scary, big city (ha) the interesting record stores were, and also how to conform to a certain style so that the people working there would talk to me. And then maybe, just maybe I would get handed a flyer to an interesting event...

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Games for Personal Growth: A Design Process

I love video games, deeply. Video games have been a resource for me at key moments of my life. They have been a safe space for relaxation, for meditation, for introspection, for identity experimentation, and overall, for growth.

But most of my friends don’t like video games. In fact, when I talk with my friends, their biggest misconception about video games is that games are a waste of time and don’t help them grow or change.

At my company, Tru Luv, we’re making games with the intention of repairing this misconception.

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Speech Anxiety for Game Developers

I've spent the past year and a bit travelling full-time from conference to conference, but I have no natural talent for public speaking whatsoever. The first time my boss asked me to speak on camera, I forgot my own name. Fifteen minutes before the second talk I ever gave, a man asked me if the seat next to me was taken and I was so nervous I couldn't understand the question and couldn't answer. I just stared at him until he walked away. 

But speaking at conferences is good. It's good for so many reasons.

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How To: Pack For Travel

I have a terrible memory but I live out of suitcases. So I use a list.

And living out of suitcases, I can only own a few things. I've discovered over time what things are good things. I've refined the list over many, many months.

For trips less than 3 months I use a carry-on suitcase and a laptop bag. For longer trips, I add a big suitcase. I'm happy with my Briggs & Riley suitcases. They have a lifetime warranty and after so many, many months they still look almost new. I'm currently using an Aldo laptop tote with bad zippers while I wait for a Dagne Dover Legend Tote to go on sale (as recommended by the fantastic Ann Lemay).

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Slouching Towards Relevant Video Games

I wrote a thing a while ago about how I love video games but my friends find video games boring. I made the case that the multitudes of white masculine gamers who dominate the games industry have made experiences that are relevant to them but not to most people. 

I made the case that life is really difficult, that our world has changed fast, and that what my friends are looking for in art is a relief from the constant overwhelming shock of capitalism (and now the looming reality of fascism). I made the case that video games that are about care and characters would be more culturally relevant to more people. 

But I think it's not only for cultural reasons that my friends prefer care to shock. I think there's also an underlying physiological reason why this is so. I think it has something to do with stress reactions. And I think this holds the key to the future of the industry.

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I Used to Work on Other People's Ideas

I used to work on other people's ideas. This is probably because I have always been painfully shy. Three years ago while shipping Child of Light I was diagnosed with cancer. A friend who I admired fiercely and deeply had just died of cancer and my mother had died of cancer at the same age as her and as me. It seemed bad. I kept busy with shipping the game and had the tumour removed the day the reviews came out. It turned out to be very minor and I'm fine now. But after that experience everything that seemed difficult about life started to peel away. I stopped trying to care about anything I felt I should care about but didn't. And I started to figure out what I truly cared about. 

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The Best Candidate Is a Lie

I make video games with people who don't like video games. I made AAA games for 10 years. The turning point that sent me here was years ago when I was crunching on a particularly difficult game, contemplating where it had gone wrong, and noticed how one colleague of mine had tried to consolidate power by pushing away people who were different (in gender, sexuality, and nationality) and pulling close people who was similar. They called themselves the Wolf Pack. 

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