Next weekend kicks off a super busy month for me!

I’m doing sooo much stuff in April, but it’s cool and I’m excited even if I’m a little tired just thinking about it. That means streams will be sporadic and not on the usual Tues/Thurs/Saturday schedule.

Here’s what I’m up to starting next Friday:

April 1 & 2: Queerness and Games Conference  Los Angeles, CA

I’m doing three things!

1) Gaming as POC: Where the Industry Has Failed Us, Where It Hasn’t and What to Hope For 

2) Microtalks: Out of Sheer Spite

3) Facilitating a round-table on POC in the industry

April 8: GenVidCon, Gender and Videogames  Keynote speaker, San Jose, CA

April 12: Let’s Talk Gaming!  Montreal, CAN

April 17: Guest Lecturer at NCSU

April 18-20: East Coast Games Conference, Speaker in Career track. Raleigh, NC

April 21-23: C2E2, Panelist  Chicago, IL 

My panel schedule for C2E2

29 & 30 April: GX Australia, Boss of Honor , Sydney, Australia

Excited to visit University of Oregon this week!

It’s my last speaking gig where I have to travel in 2016! Excited to visit with Edmond Chang at his campus.

Keywords for Video Game Studies: Diversity

 

Speaker series

Date: November 30, 2016
Time: 7:00 – 8:30 pm

“Why Diversity and Intentional Inclusion Is Needed in Our Games” with Tanya DePass

A brief talk followed by Q&A with students, staff and faculty on why diversity and inclusion in video games and tabletop is not just important but vital to keeping the genre alive.  From Street Fighter to Mafia III, games are slowly getting better about who’s in the lead, who lives, who dies and who’s story is told; but it’s still moving at a snails pace.  This talk will go into why representation is important for the player base that is not reflected in advertising, or who we see as the “industry” versus who is actually making, playing and researching games.  The history of why #INeedDiverseGames, where it started, where it’s going and why it’s important to bring diversity of race, gender, sexuality and ability to the table along with the latest killing everyone simulator will be threaded throughout the talk.

Tanya DePass is the founder and Director of I Need Diverse Games, a not-for-profit foundation based in Chicago, that is dedicated to better diversification of all aspects of gaming.  She’s also the founder and Editor In Chief of  Fresh Out of Tokens podcast where games culture is discussed and viewed through a lense of feminism, intersectionality and diversity. She’s also the Diversity Liaison for GaymerX and often speaks on issues of diversity, feminism, race, intersectionality and other topics at multiple conventions throughout the year. Her writing about games and games critique appears in Uncanny Magazine, Polygon, Wiscon Chronicles, Vice Gaming, Paste Games and other publications.

uofo-event-poster

Series made possible by Women’s and Gender Studies, English, Environmental Studies, the Center for the Study of Women in Society, the New Media and Culture Certificate program, the LGBTQIA Scholars Academic Residence Community, LGBT Education Support Services, UO Housing, the UO Residence Hall Association. and UO Think.Play.
Contact Dr. Edmond Y. Chang for more information at echang@uoregon.edu.

MY @GaymerX East schedule!

gxeast

Not long until GaymerX East in NYC!  Here’s my panel schedule which is much lighter than it was at GX4!!

Saturday November 12th

1:oo pm: Gaming Journalism from an LGBTQ Perspective

TimesOUT the LGBTQIA affinity network for The New York Times would like to moderate a discussion about the LGBTQIA perspective in gaming journalism.

2:30 pm: How to Twitch Safely as  POC/LGBTQIA/Female ID’d streamer 

Streaming on Twitch can be fun, but it can also be perilous for some of us. This panel will bring you some tips and tricks such as using bots, human mods and other methods to make your experience as stress free as possible.

4:00 pm: Miss Representation

Women from diverse backgrounds discuss the terrible job that media does of representing us and others from marginalized backgrounds. We focus on discussing women, but we’ll discuss all genders, and sexualities.

Sunday November 13th

12:30 pm What Playing RPG’s Can Teach you About Yourself

Playing an RPG is a great way to explore someone else’s mindset for a few hours a week, but the characters we make can teach us about ourselves too. A bard might show you love helping people out, or a sorceress might help you realize you’re a woman.

2:00 pm Your Story Doesn’t Need Cis Straight White Dudes

Tired of hearing about how some setting has no one like you because “the lore?” Let’s talk about stories where people like you (or like someone else) get to be the default, and straight white cis men are rare or not even present for a change of pace!

ICYMI – I’m in this @Offworld piece by @sangfroid_san

alreadyheroes

What can game developers do to better represent black women in games?

“They need to get some fucking empathy,” says Tanya dePass, a campaigner for better representation inside game worlds and among those who create them. She curates websites, hosts podcasts, maintains the#INeedDiverseGames tag on Twitter, works as a diversity consultant andspeaks at conventions and panels.

Work is steady, but change is slow. For critics and activists, the pushback on inclusion is constant, from other gamers and the industry itself. DePass finds it baffling: “why don’t you all like money?” she asks.

One of many black women disrupting an insular culture, DePass critiques games and offers an alternatives to often-toxic online communities. Hashtag activism this is not. As DePass notes, “change needs to happen from the ground up.”

Lauren Warren is a contributor to Black Girl Nerds, an online community “devoted to promoting nerdiness and Black women and people of color.” In addition to panel appearances, cosplay showcases, TV spots and endorsement by Shonda Rhimes and others, BlackGirlNerds launched two new series profiling women and people of color.

“I hope that the Women in Gaming and Diversity in Gaming series reach people who are interested in pursuing careers in the games industry, but may be hesitant because they don’t “see” themselves fitting into the existing corporate culture,” Warren writes. “It’s no secret that our presence is lacking behind the scenes on the game development side, on streaming sites and at major industry events and publications. The larger the community, the more visibility we have and the bigger our impact will be in the future.”

Warren says that substantive progress towards inclusion requires changing corporate culture, but also its perception by prospective employees. It’s cyclical: the more resistant toward change the industry becomes, the less that women and people of color will want to invest their time and energies into a potentially unwelcoming space. This breeds further insularity. The cycle continues—unless it’s disrupted.

Samantha Blackmon is one of the creators of Not Your Mama’s Gamer, a feminist gaming community made up of podcasts, livestreams, critical essays and their latest project, Invisibility Blues, a video series exploring race in gaming.

Blackmon told me that issues have gotten better over time, but many mistakes are still being made.

Infamous_2_Nix“When I look at playable women of color in games now I have more hope, but I still cringe at the characters that fall back on old racist stereotypes and add things like “tribal” costumes and “urban” language patterns,” Blackmon wrote, “or some clueless writer’s take on what those language patterns are.”

Color has meaning. And without people of color involved in the designing process, games are routinely unaware of these meanings. For Black women, this problem arises in a very specific way. DePass used the phrase ‘fantasy-black’ to describe the “not too black” design trope in games. As DePass notes, women in gaming designed to read as “Black” frequently have blue or green eyes, straightened or silver hair, or lightened or red-tinted skin. Preferencing black women who read as biracial or display some otherwise exoticized trait has troubling overlaps withcolorism, discrimination based on skin color. Colorism is a serious societal issue, evinced both by the disparity in punishment for black girls with darker or lighter skin and the huge industry of harmful skin-bleaching creams.

kara

So while all women in games are subject to staid metrics of desirability, black women have their blackness negotiated in a way that assumes blackness itself is undesirable. (Conversely, black men in games are almost uniformly depicted as having very dark skin—their color is ostensibly measured according to metrics of threat and physicality.)

“I know the lack of options is often the result of a lack of diversity amongst the development teams and there is no one present to advocate for creating and pushing these choices,” writes Warren. “Real change would need to start there and then consumers will ultimately reap the benefits of having more realistic images to choose from in their gaming experience.”

But instead of a robust and dynamic experience, players are instead faced with repetitive, one-dimensional and largely overlapping portrayals of Black women. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the overreliance on the “strong Black woman” trope. This derisive meme limits portrayal of black women in pop culture to, as author Tamara Winfrey-Harris writes, “indefatigable mamas who don’t need help [and] castrating harpies.”

Continue reading “ICYMI – I’m in this @Offworld piece by @sangfroid_san”

Dipping my toe into Twine dev…

So a while back I had a conversation with Sidney Fussel about black women in games/gaming. Out of that conversation came an idea for a game where the WOC protag would control her own fate and not be the princess in a castle, or the hapless damsel. If she wanted that you see, because so often WOC (women of color) don’t get to be rescued, or saved or the object of desire that I can’t really think of a game with set WOC protagonist where that’s an option.

So I started puttering in Twine with “Not Your Princess”. The idea is you are a black woman and you are a gamer. You want to find your own narrative in the games you play. She tries to find that in the anticipated high fantasy game she just bought, and is pleasantly surprised by the character creator cause surprise, surprise, natural hair exists in this land and it’s well done.

I’m still working on how the in-game fantasy game will play out and her choices. That’s one thing that’s made me pull back and reconsider how I write, and how I construct a narrative for a game. I can’t just write and write and write with no real sense of connection or how the story fits together.

I have to be aware of how things go together, how to weave the tale and do it well. That’s something I’ve not really been forced to examine while writing. Usually when I do fiction or fan fiction you can kind of write how you please and not get into too many loopholes or you can try to write yourself out a corner you put yourself into.

So for now, could you check it out and give me constructive feedback? I lost the thread and want to finish this game, maybe even update with artwork and simple things like being able to put your name in for the character.