The Bluebeard’s Bride Kickstarter campaign is live! And it’s a runaway success! Myself and my two co-designers are so proud of this game after two and a half years of work. The Kickstarter speaks for itself, so you should go check it out. There’s only a little time left, and no guarantee of what will be available for distribution outside of the Kickstarter, so back it while you can.
Had the honor of being a Boss at GaymerX. I love this con! Sat on some panels about game mastering, the space between video and analogue games, diversity and inclusion, and even had my first ever scheduled time at an autograph booth! It was a wonderful space and I look forward to attending again. I met so many cool people.
I sat on three panels at Pax West. One on horror, one on Twitch, and one where the audience tried to make a game or we would kill them and destroy the world. Who’s great idea was that? (Looking at you, Luke Crane!) The horror and the game design panel both easily had over a thousand attendees.
Aaaand I also went to E3, the golden paradise mecha of all games. I had the privilege of repping an amazing game anthology, #Feminism. I was there for the very first meeting of the #Feminism collective, and it’s so amazing to see this thing come together and be awesome. I’ll be honest. I freaked out at E3 really, really hard. I played the new Zelda demo. I saw all of Capcom’s new stuff. I nearly had an aneurysm. I did a livestream interview about #Feminism on Twitch, available here.
Also, I may have gotten on top of the giant golden chocobo after the convention was over and gotten chased down by security.
I did some writing for State of Decay 2 for the Xbox, which was awesome. And I also did a whole lot of writing and design for Scion 2nd Edition for Onyx Path. I did some consulting for the new Geist that Onyx Path is putting out as well. And finally, I popped out a little piece for the indie game Sig: The City Between. Now that I have all of those and Bluebeard out of the way, I have a little more room to think about what else is on my plate.
I was a guest of honor at PaizoCon! This con was fairly small and laid back, which was nice. I presented panels about mythology and games and how to diversify your game.
What, still not done yet? I’ve been doing some VO work in various places too. Turns out I really enjoy it. I strongly suggest you check out the sci-fi podcast drama The Voice of Free Planet X. I’ve done VO for a handful of episodes now, but this one is my favorite: Parable of the Leopard.
I’m still doing my thing at HyperRPG. My show, Weekly Affirmations, is still going strong. We haven’t run out of indie analogue games to explore yet : ) It’s also been moved to a prime time slot, and now airs at 6:00 PM PST on Thursdays right here. Did I mention the fan art is rad?
Death from Above, the HyperRPG show I’m on that takes place in the BattleTech universe wrapped up it’s first season! It was amazing and I won’t give any spoilers. So go watch it.
I’m sure I’m missing stuff, but this post is already overloaded from waiting too long to get it out. Cheers!
Prepare to be drowned in content! It’s been a while, so there’s lots to talk about.
I’ve slowed down my con appearances a little bit as I’ve taken on more work in other sectors of my life. And by slowed down, I mean attending 5 or 6 in a year, rather than 11 or 12 : P
I’ve also waded much deeper into the video game industry, and the work I’ve been doing there is very rewarding. It’s mostly been in the areas of writing and narrative design, and I hope that continues. But in addition I’ve been doing some consulting on diversity and inclusion, and for funding for companies outside the U.S.
Upcoming guest of honor appearances: GaymerX – GaymerX Boss of Honor, woo! OrcaCon – Special Guest
Right now I’m slated for three panels at PaizoCon. One on mythology and games, and several on diversity, inclusion, and community. It’s coming up real fast, so if you’re in the area stop by!
I recently attended The Game Developers conference. GDC Was awesome. I applied for and was accepted into two competitive initiatives for GDC. The first was the Amplifying New Voices leadership bootcamp sponsored by Oculus. They put upcoming leaders together with veterans in the field for professional mentoring. The free Oculus swag was neat, but sitting down with people like Caryl Shaw and Brian Sharp was very special.
I was also an #INeedDiverseGames Scholar. Through #INeedDiverseGames I got to connect with other minority folks in the game industry, share experiences, and build my network. I felt honored to be counted among so many talented people.
The highlight of GDC for me was the Narrative Summit. Yes, all of the Narrative Summit! It was like I had come home. It has very strong programming, and I hope that the rest of the organization can slowly get on board with the way the Narrative Summit does things. It’s good, good stuff.
We’re going in reverse chronological order here, so next up is Hive. Hive is a highly selective global leadership program for visionaries, entrepreneurs, etc. who are committed to positive global change. With all the brouhaha I kick up over myth and play, I figured I’d give it a shot. Several thousand people ended up applying for about 150 spots, and I was selected. Hive was four days of being surrounded by amazing people, and all of us working together to figure out what comes next.
I started a new adventure in the world of Twitch! The showrunner of Geek & Sundry recently moved up to Seattle to try his hand at a new channel in partnership with Harebrained Schemes. The channel is Hyper Rabbit Power Go! (or Hyper RPG). I started off hosting two shows for Hyper RPG, but found I didn’t have enough time. Now I’m solely dedicated to Weekly Affirmations, which is MY show, utterly. On Weekly Affirmations I run indie and freeform RPGs, talk about feelings and emotional safety, host local game designers, and generally just have a freaking good time. It’s my ship to run, so all the content and programming is my choice. It makes me very happy.
I’m involved with other parts of the channel too. I sometimes guest on Death From Above, a Battletech show, or Trivia Hops, in which I was forced to wear a unicorn onesie and answer questions about the Justice League. Hyper RPG is good people, and I’m glad to be associated with the studio.
My Death From Above Character, with awesome fanart from Stephzorz.
This is a video from Honesty Hour on Hyper RPG, where we talk about real stuff and I can put my hosting personality aside for a hot minute. Honesty Hour got very involved, and ended up being Honesty Three Hours instead, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat. We talked about some really interesting stuff.
Here is also the latest video from Weekly Affirmations! We played Our Radios Are Dying by Caitlynn Belle, which is a freeform game about lesbians hiding a forbidden love dying in space together. So many #GameFeelz!
The entire youtube playist of all Weekly Affirmation episodes to date is HERE. So far we’ve featured Fall of Magic, The Warren, Dread, Our Radios Are Dying, and now Monsterhearts.
Bluebeard’s Bride is in its final stages before release. We’re writing the copy and commissioning art. So THE BOOK IS REALLY HAPPENING OMG. If you want to get the down-low on Bluebeard’s Bride, join the Google+ community, follow on Twitter at BluebeardsBride, and check out the official page through our publisher, Magpie Games.
We have a bunch of actual play recordings now too. Be advised, all actual play content is considered to be 18+ and not safe for work. Trigger warnings for sexual violence, body horror, and other spooky stuff.
I’ve also been doing some voice acting for a recurrent role on The Voice of Free Planet X, a sci-fi podcast. This has been a lot of fun as the character evolves, and the creator of the podcast has informed me that there will be more coming up for this character. You should take a listen to the whole thing, but the episodes I’m in are linked below:
Let’s see, what else? I think I’ve mentioned the consulting I’ve been doing with video game companies on diversity and inclusion. On the whole, I think it’s been going pretty well, and with some of them I’ve seen the needle move a lot. I was a Special Guest at Big Bad Con down in San Francisco. I ran Bluebeard’s Bride and successfully made a player cry. In a good way! It’s how I know the game is really shaping up.
I was a judge again for this year’s Golden Cobra Challenge. Golden Cobra is a freefrom game design competition, and this is its second year running. year one produced some stellar games that are still being played all over the world. We had some fantastic games come through the door this year as well. The full anthology of this year’s games is here (warning, large PDF). The highlights for me were A Crow Funeral by Timothy Hutchings and The Other Place by Banana Chan. Look em’ up!
SandCon happened. Geek Girl Con Happened. They were both wonderful and I’ll be doing them again, I’m sure. SanCon is where I got to play The Warren for the first time, incidentally. At Geek Girl Con I got to hang out with some hard hitting ladies!
I was also prominently featured in a divsersity in table top games documentary made by John Sheldon. It’s very eye opening.
Here is the documentary:
Here is my full interview:
I spoke with John about the overall tone of the documentary, because it leaves the viewers hanging with a lot of questions. How do we change these things? What steps do we take? John told me that this first film is meant to establish a solid foundation for defining the issues around diversity and inclusion in tabletop. He felt we needed that piece first. He’d like to go on to make a second piece that details how we can affect a sea change. I really hope he does, and in my own interview we do get to talking about these things.
I was on a Virtucon panel about fostering local RPG communites. This one got a lot of views and comments, and people reached out to me privatly for months after it came out. I think it’s worth the watch also.
Finally, finally, we’re nearly at the end! Touching base on the game writing I’ve been doing for digital and analogue games, I’m afraid I can’t say much. I’m tied up with a lot of NDAs these days. However, I’m still writing for Undead Labs, who are the folks that made State of Decay. I’m on two big projects for Onyx Path, one for Storium, and I’m working on a handful of indie games. I think I’ll wait on listing specifics until I have something to point you to. My Warren playset Baliganapalli Fields is done and available at Bully Pulpit. My Urban ShadowsLos Angeles playset is available to backers. You know who you are. Just waiting for a lot of these other games that I’ve written for to come out!
Okay, I think I’ve linked enough media to keep someone busy for literally a week, so I’ll stop here. I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot of things. I’ll try to not go so long between updates next time.
2015 has proven to be quite a busy year already. There’s so much ground to cover! Where did we leave off? Ah, yes. DREAMATION 2015. It was a great con, and I was so busy that I actually didn’t get any photos this time! Both Marissa Kelley and I ran playtests of the game that we’re developing together with Sarah Richardson, Bluebeard’s Bride, which I’ve talked about before on this blog. Bluebeard’s Bride has finally ousted me out of my semi-retirement from GMing. We’ve been getting some really awesome feedback, and I’m pretty darn excited about getting it out into the wild.
Then there was Carnegie Mellon’s Transformational Experience Summit, which I co-presented at with Emily Care Boss. It was a great experience. Our panel was very well attended, and we met and spoke with a lot of amazing people, including the guys from over at Games for Change, and Heather Kelley, an amazing and awesome game designer and thinker. Thanks again to Jessica Hammer and Chris Klug for inviting me to the conference.
Then it was off to India for two months, were I did field work for Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project, which is the most astounding NGO I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. While I was there I playtested Shanna Germain’s No Thank You, Evil! with some of the kids at the school. These children had never encountered an RPG before, and I was a little nervous that it would just be too far out of our depth. However, they seemed to immediately grasp what RPGs were all about, and THEY LOVED IT. They begged me to bring No Thank You, Evil! again the next time I visited the school.
On the way home from India I made a brief stopover in Japan, and got to spend a day with Andy Kitkowski, who has translated some really great Japanese RPG titles into English, among many of his other distinguishments. He took me to a game store in Akihabara, and we discussed some of the fascinating differences between U.S. and Japanese gaming cultures (while also stuffing our faces with ramen). It seems that no matter what country I go to I can find something to do that involves games. I’m billing Japan as a vital games research opportunity : P
Immediately after coming back from India I moved cross country and started a new job. At the last minute before Gen Con I discovered that I wasn’t going to be able to make it. Much to my chagrin! Still, I had friends on the ground, and a couple of great GMs volunteered to run playtests of Bluebeard’s Bride for us. One even sent me a picture of my Industry Insider profile. I was honored to be selected as in Industry Insider, and so incredibly bummed that I wasn’t able to make good on it this year.
Now, on to actual content.
I had the pleasure of writing an article titled “Why Minority Settings in RPGs Matter” for TOR.com in April. It went off pretty well, and several other places picked it up. It was even translated into French! If there’s any of my stuff that I would point you to, it’s this. Go read it! Afterward I was invited out to Tor in New York City, and got to me my editor, Bridget, who is one of those people who can just light up a room. The whole staff is great, actually, and they stuffed a bunch of books into my hands, which anyone knows is the most direct way into my heart. I got to go a floor or two down to see my friend Liz Gorinsky, and she and I chatted about her lasted work, including editing The Three-Body Problem.Incidentally, it won the Hugo award for Best Novel last night! Eeee! A super hearty congrats to Liz!!
We did (or rather, Evan Torner did) a write-up in the Knudepunkt Companion Book for the Golden Cobra freeform competition that I helped judge, entitled “The Golden Cobra Challenge: Amateur-Friendly Pervasive Freeform Design“. Article starts on page 70. Jason Morningstar also did a write-up of the same title over at NordicLarp.Org. We’ve decided to host another Golden Cobra competition this year! We’ve invited a new judge into our rotation and changed up our challenge constraints. I’m really looking forward to what the competition produces. Last year’s games blew me out of the water.
Lastly, I’ve been working on a section for The RPG Studies Handbook with Jessica Hammer. It’s a university level text book that will be published through Routledge when it’s done. Can’t say more about it than that for now!
I’ve been on some panels and video casts, also.
“My Gaming Resume” hosted by Richard Rogers as part of Indie+
“Larping as Other” hosted by Julia Ellingboe as part of the Gaming as Other Indie+ series
“Lady Event Organizer Roundtable” hosted by Anna Kreider
As for the games I’ve been working on, my freelance docket is nearly full.
Urban Shadows has launched, and my L.A. City Guide has been released out into the wild, so I’m officially all finished up with that.
I’m developing a Greenwood District/Black Wall Street setting for Dead Scare, an RPG about 1950s housewives surviving a zombie apocalypse. I’m developing an “Encyclopedia Draconica” entry for Epyllion, an RPG about being a dragon. So badass! I’m co-developing with A.A. George a setting based in rural India for The Warren, a terrific and terrifying game about being rabbits. I love these indie projects, and they make me very happy.
Oh, and doy! I am of course in the middle of co-designing Bluebeard’s Bride. We’re getting very close to an open beta. If you’re interested in reading more about it, I post our playtest feedback and wax philosophical about the game over on my Google+ page.
In relation to larger publishers and studios, the things I’m doing are harder to talk about. I’ve signed a number of NDAs that basically mean I’m not allowed to tell you what game I’m working on. What I can say is that I’m doing a pretty good chunk of work for Onyx Path, in an area that directly pertains to my academic expertise. It looks like I’ll be signing on for a second project with them soon.
I am also writing for a video game being produced by Undead Labs. These are the guys that partnered with Microsoft to make State of Decay. Video games are a different animal than their analogue brethren, but I’ve really enjoyed the work so far. I’m considering opening up to video game writing more widely. I guess we’ll see!
I’ve been doing a bit of mentoring work through Different Play also. Not as much as I would like. It was especially hard to get anything done when I was in India. I’m looking forward to picking it back up again now that I’m back in the States. It’s a pleasure working with such creative people.
Coming up I’ll be ghosting around PAX Prime. Then it’s off to Sand Con on the East Coast. And finally, in October I’ll be a con sponsored guest at Big Bad Con. I know there’s a couple of things I didn’t get around to discussing this post. I just can’t remember what they are!
Hey Folks, Strix here. I’ve got a mega update for you, so buckle up!
When you heard from me last it was August and I was about to embark upon Gen Con. This year’s Gen Con was great, and really transformative. It’s the first year that I’ve hooked up with Games on Demand, and let me just say, they are THE best organized gaming collective I have ever come across. Professional, diligent, empathic, and really good taste in indie games. GoD does an excellent job at maintaining a safe space where everybody can have fun, and I was super impressed. It was a pleasure working with them as a host, and I’ll be coming back in 2015 as an organizer.
I also sat on a few panels about diversity and inclusivity, cosplayed, attended the Diana Jones Award, etc. This year was also my first Peter Atkison suite party. Very entertaining. Gaming as Other was on the ground doing some work behind closed doors. Things are still in progress, so I can’t say a whole lot about it at the moment.
Wolverine and Jean Grey professional cosplay:
While at Gen Con I also attended the Hacking as Women event hosted by Indie Game Developer Network. IGDN brought in some heavy hitters from the indie world and sat participants down to come up with new games and work on their design for a few hours. Which is exactly what we did. I ended up being paired with a complete stranger, Sarah Richardson. But we got on quickly and we found we had a shared passion for mythology and fairy tales. We decided that we wanted to make a game based off one of the classical dark fairy tales, but which one? I suggested we do Bluebeard, and it just clicked. We were placed with Marissa Kelly, IGDN organizer and designer of Epyllion, who was supposed to be giving us pointers, but we all got so wrapped up in it that when the hacking event was done, none of us were willing to let it go. There was just something about Bluebeard that was amazing, and as we pitched it around the room it was clear that we had something good.
The three of us have been developing it ever since, and it’s gone swimmingly. We had our first playtest at Metatopia 2014, and our next playtest will be at Dreamation. When it’s all put together we’ll be publishing through Magpie Games, sometime in late 2015. I’ve worked on a lot of other people’s games in different capacities. This is the first one that is really mine. My two co-designers are brilliant, and I am so exited about getting this out into the wild. Here is a little bit of what I’ve written about Bluebeard’s Wife before. If you’re interested on getting glimpses of the development process, I suggest you go circle me on Google+, where I talk the most about these things.
The fairy tale of Bluebeard is one of the darkest in the European tradition. It’s the story of a young, poor bride who marries a rich and cunning nobleman who has already had several wives. He whisks her away to his castle where he gives her pearls and silks, the keys to every door. But the smallest key, he says, you must never use.
It is a trap, of course. Bluebeard leaves his wife alone in the castle and she wanders the rooms, trying to avoid the one room she must not enter, but ultimately drawn to it, and her doom. When she opens that last door she finds…well, it’s best if you see for yourself.
In our game you play the Complexes, different aspects of Bluebeard’s wife; the Virgin, the Witch, the Mother, and many others, as Bluebeard’s Wife tries to navigate the castle, perhaps trying to find a way out of the front gate, or a way into Bluebeard’s heart, but always drawn towards the last room. The castle tests her sanity, and not every part of her will survive–if any part of her does at all.
This game is dark, erotic, and filled with creeping terror. It’s about the intricacies of feminine horror, which, trust me, is a vast and rich tradition. Unfortunately it’s a tradition that has remained virtually untapped in the indie gaming scene. We hope Bluebeard’s Wife will be the start of an exploration of a vital and powerful genre.
In short: PLAY BLUEBEARD. FEEL HORRIFIED.
In August I also sat on an hour long Indie+ web panel, “How to Build an RPG Community.” You can watch it here:
In September I attended SandCon, which really wasn’t a con at all, but a private event in a rented beach house out on the Jersey shore. SandCon was great because there were a lot of cutting edge thinkers there, and there were some very lively and intelligent discussions going on at all hours of the day and night. There were also great games, and new things being tried out. I got to test out John Harper’s Blades in the Dark as well as experience Jackson Tegu’s Silver and White for the first time. My big contribution was giving body surfing lessons and facilitating a larp in which all the players were eight year-olds at a birthday party. We did not bring enough paper towels.
I finished up the Los Angeles City Guide for Urban Shadows, and I’m very happy with how it turned out. There is a lot of awesome flavor, but my favorite piece of the work was bringing to life the kick-ass vengeful Chumash spirit bent on destroying L.A. Urban Shadows should be doing their full release soon. I can’t wait for you guys to play in my setting!
I also sat as one of four judges for the Golden Cobra Challenge, a freeform design competition. I was amazed, simply amazed by the diversity and quality of the submissions that came to us. There were about 50 entries, and it was extremely hard for us to pick the winners. My personal favorite out of the bunch is Still Life, a freeform game where you’re playing…rocks. But no! I promise it’s beautiful and compact and very cleverly designed and I am in love with it. There were so many other good ones as well, like REBOOT, Glitch Iteration, Dream Bear, I could go on and on. You can download the Golden Cobra Anthology of all the games that the designers elected to include here (Warning, massive PDF). I think that we are going to see many of these games become fairly popular among the indie and freeform crowd, and I’m honored to have been apart of such a massive creative endeavor.
I, along with a bunch of other talented and inspiring people, have also been helping with James Stuart’s brainchild, Different Play. Different Play is a Patreon initiative to diversify analog games. Our goal is to offer previously unpublished writers support through mentoring, feedback, editing, and design services. AND they get paid for their work. We’re really excited to be bringing this to life, and we’ve already received enough support to begin the development process with four new designers. You can find out more about them and their games on the Different Play website (different from the Patreon site). I would, of course, suggest that you invest in this particular Patreon project. Contributions will directly aid the community in developing a more robust and diverse design scene, which only makes the scene healthier, stronger, and more interesting.
All of us working on project CHINA decided to ice it for a few months, but in February we’ll be picking it back up again. The producers have put Tinker on hold for financing issues, and ADAM 8 is in the course of looking for its private investor funding, now that a sufficient chunk of pre-production has been put out. I’ve been so busy in the gaming industry that I haven’t pursued a whole lot of new Hollywood projects in the last few months. We’ll see what direction that goes from here.
As for the academic front, there’s been plenty going on there too. The AAR annual conference was hosted in my home city this year, so I got lucky. I passed my doctoral comp exams and received my masters degree in September. The paper I was publishing in the Wyrd Con Companion book got delayed, so it looks like it’s going in next round. I have several others in development, and I’m considering what conferences I want to submit to this year. My research with Carnegie Mellon’s game lab continues, and I’ve in fact branched out to assist with research in other areas of the HCI department as well. With assistance from Emily Care Boss I wrote a ludography of larp for CMU’s internal use. I also assisted with a study on massive online open classrooms (MOOCs). I’ve made friends at CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) too, which is a separate department. I’ve been invited out to speak at their transformative game conference this spring, and I’m currently consulting for a game design class in which students are tackling the sticky topic of sexual assault. Working with everyone at CMU has been a great pleasure so far, and I really like the institution. Their HCI department is cutting edge not just in their approach to science, but in their approach to their own culture. I really dig it.
Coming up in February I’ll be attending Dreamation. I don’t have the full details for the tranformative games conference yet, but it’s looking to be some time in April. Looking even farther ahead, I will likely be spending a large chunk of my summer—roughly a month to a month and a half—volunteering for an NGO in India where I’ll primarily be teaching at a residential school.
2015 looks promising, both for me, and hopefully for what I can contribute to the community. Be well my friends.
It’s come to my attention that in the last few days my contact form suddenly stopped working!
The issue has been fixed and it is now working as it should. If you tried to reach out to me during that time and were unable to, I apologize. I can also always be reached via G+, Twitter, and Facebook. Links to my social media pages are always shown up in the right hand corner there along with the links to my Academia.edu profile and my IMdB page.
Thanks for your patience and understanding. Cheers!