Wally S is a game developer, author, artist, and cosplayer who has written such Twine games as The Leggy Blond and Your Merman Boyfriend. Wally recently made their GaymerX East speaking debut with the presentation “The Great Chasm of Nonbinary Content and How We Can Fill It“, examining not only how far LGBT representation has come in video game narratives, but how much further there is still to go for nonbinary characters, and how our existing stereotypes and tropes can be useful for creating atypical characters.
Nicole Hunter is a freelance writer and a moderator for Black Gamers Revolution. This community Black gamers extends to Twitter, Tumblr, Twitch, and Discord, providing a safe space for Black gamers to share their experiences free of harassment or the wed to educate others. The group regularly plays in online games such as Overwatch, League of Legends, and Destiny 2.
In this episode, I chat with Nicole about how she got her start as a freelance writer, how she decides what to publish where, and her thoughts on Golf Story, an indie RPG for the Nintendo Switch. We then talk about Black Gamers Revolution: the need for such a space, who it serves, and how it’s policed. Plenty of safe spaces exist for cisgender and heterosexual demographics, but what about intersectionality? How does one make a safe space for everyone, and what rules are necessary? What are identity politics, and do we need them? Also, is Assassin’s Creed Origins problematic, or does it handle representation and diversity without whitewashing?
Susan Arendt is the editor-in-chief of Genii Online, a website that covers magic and deception for magicians and anyone interested in the art and craft of magic. While Genii has existed as a print magazine since 1936, Genii Online’s September 2017 launch marked the publication’s online debut. It also marked a shift for Susan: after many successful years helming gaming publications such as GamesRadar+, Joystiq, and The Escapist, Susan is bringing her digital media experience and expertise to the realm of magic.
In this podcast, Susan and I chat about how she landed this magical gig; what constitutes legitimate magic, and whether magicians get their powers from dealing with the devil; how Susan assembled the team behind Genii Online and what new skills she’s had to learn in this industry; and whether print is a sustainable business model for a niche publication. We also talk about Continue, her new co-hosted gaming podcast (and which I back on Patreon), as well as Take This, the mental health non-profit she co-founded. What’s the best way to help someone who’s experiencing an anxiety or PTSD attack? Susan offers her advice.
Kellian Adams Pletcher is the mastermind behind Green Door Labs, which builds location-based, transmedia games for museums and non-profits. Kids and adults alike use smartphones, pencil and paper, and other tools to learn the stories behind art, what life was like on the Oregon Trail, how to use a library, and more. Green Door Labs’ experiences leverage existing resources and platforms to make the design of fun, interactive experience accessible to any organization, no matter what the budget. From her international experience as an educator in China to working with one of the first mobile payment apps, Kellian brings a wealth of experience and passion to these pursuits.
In this interview, Kellian and I talk about the value of gamification to learning; the company’s roots in social location-based gaming platform SCVNGR, which became LevelUp; the replay value and portability of games designed for specific locations; the advantages of Green Door Labs’ own platform, Edventure Builder, to Inform and Twine; how Green Door Labs compares and contrasts to live experiences such as escape rooms or augmented reality games like Pok;#0233;mon GO; how to get adults to cosplay when they think dress-up is for kids; and Club Drosselmeyer, her interactive swing club with live actors and puzzles.
Tanya DePass is the founder of I Need Diverse Games, a non-profit that advocates for diversity in gaming. In addition to offering speaking engagements, GDC scholarships, and diversity programming at events such as GaymerX, Tanya has also hosted Fresh Out of Tokens, a weekly interview-based podcast, in which she interviewed such gaming luminaries as Zoë Quinn, David Gaider, and Jim Sterling. After two years and 95 episodes, Fresh Out of Tokens, went off the air in July 2017.
In this episode of Polygamer, Tanya and I discuss what got us into diversity podcasting, how we found our guests, and what we’ve loved and hated most about producing our shows. How do we know if our show is “successful”? Has our show made gaming better? Have we learned anything about ourselves? What advice would we give to someone interested in starting their own diversity podcast? How will her upcoming guest appearances on the Spawn On Me podcast be different? All these topics and more are covered in this post-mortem.
Katie Hallahan is the chief communications officer, co-founder, game designer, and public relations director for Phoenix Online Studios, a developer and publisher of point-and-click adventure games. The studio began in 2002 when Katie and her fellow directors set out to create an unofficial King’s Quest fan game, The Silver Lining, the fifth and final episode of which is releasing this year. Phoenix Online Studios has since partnered with legendary game designer Jane Jensen to release Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller and Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father 20th Anniversary Edition. In her spare time, Katie writes for 411mania.com, covering The Walking Dead.
In this interview, Katie and I discuss the many legal trials and tribulations involved in publishing The Silver Lining, and how the release of The Odd Gentlemen’s new episodic King’s Quest game affected the studio; how Phoenix Online Studios came to work with Jane Jensen; the transition from Torque to Unity game engines, and what this means for multi-platform releases; the studio’s experiments with publishing games by other developers, such as Quest for Infamy by Infamous Quests; and how to get into the games industry as a narrative designer. Finally, Katie and I talk about The Walking Dead universe of comics, games, and shows, whether we’re reaching peak zombie, and what the endgame is for a show based on a comic with no end.