Highlights from GDX Edmonton: Inclusion in Games

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending Sunday at Game Discovery Exhibition Edmonton, (GDX). It was a mad crazy weekend, followed by an insane week so I’m sitting down now to write some thoughts about the conference.

The first panel I attended was Inclusion in games, moderated by Emma McDonald, the panel included Bioware vets Sarah Hayward and Sarah Beck, programmer Sagal Adam, Designer Bree Emmerson and activist Emily Dutton. All of these amazing women gave fantastic advice.

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Why Diverse Games: “Ask Why”

Today I’m interviewing another awesome gamer who responded to my call for interviewees. She would prefer to remain anonymous to protect her privacy.

K: What do you think makes you a ‘gamer’?

E: For me, a gamer is someone who is passionate about video games. For me it also means I spend an ungodly amount of time gaming; whether that can be considered a pro or con depends who you ask.

K: What attracts you to videogames over other forms of entertainment?

E: Books, movies, plays, and art – all of these are mediums for telling stories and creating incredible worlds, but video games allow you to be an active participant. You aren’t just watching a story unfold, you’re immersed in it. In many cases, you also have a direct impact on your environment. That’s not something you can find anywhere else, and that’s what makes games such an exciting and invaluable medium.

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Why Diverse Games: “Do Your Research”

Today I’m sharing an interview with a fellow gamer (and Dragon Age lover) Elizabeth. She’s got some great insights! Here she is to introduce herself in her own words:

E: My name is Elizabeth, I’m a white, bisexual woman in my twenties, and the very first gaming device I ever had was Nintendo 64 followed by a Game Cube and a Nintendo 3DS for my 16th birthday. Pokemon Stadium and Quest 64Quest 64 were my first introductions to video games. Considering how horrible a game Quest 64 was, I’m surprised I decided to stick with it! I didn’t purchase an Xbox 360 until the Xbox One had already been released, since I had to buy it for myself on a retail salary. I did, however, recently buy a PS4 and I’m super excited to finally play Sony exclusives.

K: What do you think makes you a ‘gamer’?

E: It really depends on your definition. For me, a gamer is someone who plays many types of video games. Focusing on one genre would be like calling yourself a wine connoisseur but only ever tasting white wine. It’s OK to have a preference, I’ll admit I’m far more into RPG’s than I am first person shooters for example, but gaming is much more than just one game, or one genre. I feel like limiting yourself does a disservice to the variety of games out there.  So, I guess what makes me a gamer is that I enjoy a wide variety of games, from GTA to Journey.

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Why Diverse Games: Lisa Lindsay Art

I’m fortunate in life to have met some fantastic people who are passionate about gaming, and even a few who are currently in the industry.

Lisa is a professional game artist and illustrator with over seven years of experience. She has contributed to more than 16-shipped titles including StarForge, Office Jerk and Atari’s Asteroids Gunner. She also participates frequently in Global Game Jams. In her spare time, Lisa is working on personal projects including a comic about women in Mexican wrestling. (Adapted from her member profile on boneshakerpress.net)

K: What do you think qualifies you as a ‘gamer’?

L: I would say that anyone who plays games can identify as being a ‘gamer’. Even though these days I can only play an hour or two of games each week, I still identify as a gamer because I’m very passionate about games and the industry.

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Why Diverse Games: Starting Close to Home

I’ve been emailing furiously with friends and contacts I’ve made online. I’ve been sending out queries along the lines of “HEY, you’re a gamer, how do you feel about DIVERSITY”. I’ve been reading articles, trawling Tumblr for opinions and all whilst wondering what people must think of me — a straight, white woman from Canada who is hounding them for what can be personal experiences.

Of course, I’m linking all of these wonderful people to this website. They will probably  find my one lowly game review and a pretty header. If they are very diligent they might  find my Tumblr or my AO3 account or even my art portfolio where they will be bombarded with my oh-so-professional Dragon Age Fangirling (professionals can still fangirl right?).

The fact is, you might not know me very well and if you do, you might not understand why this topic is one that means so much.

Since I am going to feature interviews with all kinds of gamers on this subject, I wanted to start closest to home — with myself. So, here’s my story, and my take.

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Game Review: Firewatch

(This post has been previously published to my blog, Light a Candle, here.)

Firewatch is the premier game of studio Campo Santo, who describe themselves as “a small but scrappy game developer in San Francisco, CA.” who “set out to make games about interesting people in fascinating places.”  (from the Campo Santo website).  Now, at the outset of my review I wanted to explain a few background things. For myself, player choice and representation have always been an imperative part of story telling in games, and when I started playing them I made tons of ludicrous statements such as “I’ll only play games where you can play as a woman.” Of course, if you’re a gamer you know this kind of stipulation is entirely unrealistic (perhaps woefully so).

Prepare for some very light spoilers below. I promise I won’t give away anything that doesn’t occur in the first five minutes of game play.

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