Tag Archives: ludodecahedron

So, Gamasutra

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When I went to GDC in March I gave myself an ultimatum: I needed to find a job while I was there, or I would surely die.

Hyperbole aside, I really did need a new job. I’d been a moderator at a kids’ game for over three years, and although I’d been promoted twice, the time commitment versus the pay was terrible, and every shift left me feeling emotionally wrecked. The kids were terrible. Though my immediate superior and the coworkers I interacted with most were great, everyone else was a nightmare. And did I mention the pay?

It’s funny. I don’t consider myself particularly money-obsessed. I laugh at people who are. Look how frivolous you’re acting. But as a professor of mine might say, money is a game that’s very hard to quit playing. I had gone to GDC on others’ dime and unless I wanted to be faced with the same situation year after year, I had to improve my own take. Just a bit of breathing room would be fine. Nothing special. Just enough to live without constant anxiety attacks would be nice.

I didn’t, incidentally, come away from GDC with a job. I stopped by the career pavilion once, saw the lines of desperate fresh-faced college grads queuing at every booth, and turned around. I’m still using all the wasted resumes I printed as scratch paper.

The first few days back at home were demoralizing. I had had a great time, and met plenty of wonderful people, and Terry Cavanagh even borrowed my eyepatch. But I’d surely squandered all the hard-earned money everyone had given me through the GoFundMe campaign. I was a failure. I’d be working at this kid’s game until the studio went belly-up, which was probably soon, because for as much as I liked my manager I can’t at all sugarcoat how terribly the thing was run from the top down. I was preparing to ask my surrogate family if I could move back in with them.

Then about a week later, this happened.

I’m happy to report that I’ve been able to leave my moderation job and work solely for Gamasutra. It took a few weeks to get everything ironed out — at one point I was working 13 hour days working both jobs at once — but now things are laid back and happy and for the first time in my life, I don’t feel like a hostage to my employer. I don’t have to worry about not making rent in a given month because I’m too sick to work one day out of seven. I don’t have to drive myself ragged for a few extra cents worth of overtime.

There are other perks too. Psychological benefits mostly — and I don’t mean in the cheap corporate sense, but the actual good the Gamasutra job seems to be doing for my emotional health. I’m not used to a work environment I look forward to coming into each day, as I do with Gama. I’m not used to all these foreign concepts like supportive coworkers and weekends off.

I know, this is the sort of stuff a lot of white collar folks take for granted. It’s no doubt becoming increasingly uncommon, though, and I will never let go of how freaking privileged I am to have a job right now, to say nothing of one I actually enjoy. I’m not here to brag. Just express my thanks.

Thanks, everyone, who sent me to GDC. I accomplished what I set out to do and more, not in the way I expected to, but totally sideways and weird and much more gratifying, in the end.

Also, I highly recommend having an editor with the same first name as you, as it allows one to say things like “Yeah, Kris is a great editor.” No, that will never stop entertaining me. If I wasn’t easily amused I wouldn’t be such a Twitter addict.

(Finally: yes, I know I still owe plenty of people donor rewards, and yes, they’re coming! Now that I’m finally adjusting to the rhythm of the Gama job, I expect I can follow up on these things soon. In the meantime, there are always photos of my cat.)

Gone Funded Me

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So, this was a thing.

I was expecting, by today, to be doing a blog post in which I urgently requested my readers to take some time out of their day to look over my GoFundMe page and consider kicking in a dollar or two toward my trip to GDC, which in addition to being something of a game journo/dev Mecca also offers a pretty big career opportunity for me, as an MMO community lead wanting to work on Some Game Other Than The One For Which I Currently Work. I was expecting to get maybe 50 dollars or, at best, barely squeak by with enough donations to cover the wages I would lose out during my days on the road… I certainly wasn’t expecting to completely meet our funding target in less than 24 hours, or for the outpouring of support from friends and colleagues even after that to help improve the quality of the trip, work off Jason’s vet bills and make the conditions under which I work and try to make time for Critical Distance a little bit easier to bear. The last couple days have been nothing short of stunning and the words do not exist to adequately express my gratitude.

So I’ll try large fonts.

THANK YOU!

Critical Distance alum and very generous supporter David Carlton has written up a post making his case for why it would be nice if we can continue to see donations come in on the funding drive. The trip will likely be more expensive than I’ve budgeted and there are a lot of outstanding financial issues beyond the scope of the conference in March for which I would deeply appreciate the helping hand.

Recently I was denied for food stamps. This was the second time that I’ve applied and been rejected, and neither query was made as a spur-of-the-moment thing. My student loan repayment bills are starting to come in. My insurance has rejected every claim to help me cover desperately needed medical costs and recently I was hit with yet another large charge for unmade payments to one of my care providers. No matter how I run the numbers or how much I tighten my belt (and it’s quite tight- I’m averaging three days between solid meals and for as much as I could probably do with some dieting, that isn’t how steady weight loss works), I am just not earning the money I need to be making if I want to keep living in my current place, receiving the care and paying for the medication I need to keep functioning… far less run a volunteer operation like Critical Distance on the side. I’ve been looking into moving up to the San Francisco Bay Area for a while now but though I have a few friends up there with whom I’ve discussed getting a place together nothing has yet gelled, and even if it did, I couldn’t afford the moving costs. It’s really about as stuck in a rut as it’s possible to get.

I’m not by any means asking to be lifted wholesale out of my present situation and exonerated from all responsibility, financial or otherwise. I believe in hard work (I think you’ll find most people do) and in climbing out of whatever pit into which I’ve dug myself. Even sharing the details of my current hardship goes against everything I was brought up to believe was appropriate: talking about money is gauche, talking about not having it is humiliating, and so on and so forth. It was difficult to set up something like a funding drive. In fact, not even 12 hours prior to posting it I was having a backroom panic about needing to quit C-D, leave my current social circles, and, as these things go when one has a mental illness, take more drastic actions with myself… So the fact that we made our funding target so quickly only shows me that a great many people –friends, colleagues, readers, even total strangers– already sympathize with what I’m going through and know that this isn’t the equivalent of asking for a handout. And for that, I am extremely grateful.

Any support I receive from here on out is definitely a bonus, much-needed and deeply welcome, and if you will take the time to consider sending a little bit of cash my way on top of the amount that has already been raised I can promise you that it will be put to good use. I am thankful to all the support you have given me so far, whether in the form of a donation or sharing the link or just offering your moral support. It has all been wonderful. And I can’t wait to meet so many of you in March.

Beyond Complete Freedom of Movement

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The title of this post refers to Henry Jenkins‘s “‘Complete Freedom of Movement': Video Games as Gendered Play Spaces,” which itself references the 1998 game Die by the Sword. The article, as well as the book in which it appears, is a valuable precursor to some of the recent discussions the ludodecahedron have engaged in regarding games as a virtual outdoors.

It’s been over two years since Roger Ebert enraged the hive, and despite the insistent hopping about from all corners that No One Damn Well Cares about the “are games art?” question, we still seem to keep trucking it out. The latest came from Guardian guy-with-a-blog Jonathan Jones, whose forays into the “but is it art?” arena are long documented, and about as neatly thought out as shoving stuff into a blender to see what happens.

He’s just a guy, though, and not a terribly interesting one at that. It’s the damned question itself that seems to take on a life of its own and clog up my reading agenda for TWIVGB every few weeks. As games blogging strawmen go, it’s probably right behind “can games tell stories?” and just before “are casual games games?” in terms of frequency on my RSS feed, and none of them are terribly fruitful lines of inquiry (if only because the obvious answers to the three are yes, yes and yes).

Given this, the last thing I should be doing is throwing my own two cents (more a haypenny) in here. But no matter how often this “are games art?” thing gets brought up, and no matter how many bloggers leap to defend the vidya, I always feel like the best argument is one they aren’t making. Where “but X is interactive, and it’s considered art” everyone is quick to mention participatory theatre, dance, and all the rest, and yet they neglect to mention the most glaring example of all:

Installation art.

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