I’m here to kill a man on the Internet.
From a psychological point of view.
We collect virtually for the first time since the pandemic started to record our longest podcast to date, and for good reason: in lieu of E3 happening this year, we instead have to contend with an eternal summer of announcements.
And in the final quarter of this episode, we discuss the ongoing allegations of abuse in the industry — content warning for discussions of sexual abuse and sexual assault — along with the failure of the industry to protect victims and oust abusers.
Games include Tabletop Simulator, Just One, Wits & Wagers, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, Dépanneur Nocturne, Knuckles’ Chaotix, Spellbreak, Hitman, and Hitman 2.
Where in the world are Zach and Ivy?
Josh discusses the unique way he streams games for the site, balancing gameplay with thoughtful discussions with the chat, as well as the different lenses we use to critically discuss games — commercial, technical, artistic, social, and more.
Meanwhile, The Last of Us Part II release is making waves about storytelling in AAA — we reexamine the struggles of ludonarrative dissonance and its less spoken off compliments ludonarrative resonance and ludonarrative harmony and how gaming’s attempt to escape this constraint is reflective of society striving for something better.
And we cap things off with last month’s Wholesome Direct and Josh’s role in helping bring the showcase to life!
Who is Yu?
Over the past week, police departments across the country have responded with violence and brutality in response to protests denouncing the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Derek Chauvin and the inactions of other officers of the Minneapolis Police Department. This is just the latest act in a long history of police brutality used to kill innumerable members of the Black community.
I and all of my colleagues that create content here at Ward Games stand in solidarity with those that fight against police brutality, systemic racism, and oppression.
We want to show our support for Black creators in games and games media by showcasing resources that aspiring creators can use, as well as highlighting amazing creators who you can support.
Resources for Black developers and creators
Here is a list of companies and people that are looking to help Black games industry members. Please consider reaching out to one of these organizations if you think they can give you a hand:
- Humble Bundle has created a $1 million fund for publishing games by Black developers. You can email Humble’s Jenny Graf at email@example.com for more information.
- The amazing Game Devs of Color Expo is connecting experienced members of the games industry with Black game developers to provide mentorships.
- The Black Game Developers database is a great resource to find Black devs across multiple disciplines. Add yourself to this list or look through it if you’re looking to add any of these skills to your team.
- Patrick Klepek is offering help and networking opportunities for Black games media folks.
- Kim Belair and Sweet Baby Inc. are offering connections and support to Black devs, aspiring or otherwise. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Robot Teddy is offering free consulting on business, production, and pitching twice a week for the whole month of June. Email Ranjani Natarajan at email@example.com.
- Jason Schreier is offering help and advice in games reporting and book publishing.
Follow these folks
If you’re looking for Black creators in games to follow and support, I want to shout out our colleagues who do amazing work.
First, I want to shout out my incredible friend Kahlief Adams who works tirelessly on Spawn on Me to showcase and speak about games as a Black content creator. The most recent episode of Spawn on Me had Kahlief along with Parris Lilly, Blessing Adeoye Jr., Zombaekillz, Pikachulita, and Cameron Hawkins talking about the murder of George Floyd and how the games industry is failing Black creators:
Another important follow: Dante Douglas, who is critical, thought-provoking, and funny, and he’s always tweeting about important causes. I also recommend checking out his game about his time in quarantine, A Solitary Spacecraft.
Mike Williams over at USGamer is one of the most cheerful people I’ve been lucky enough to meet and has made USGamer a part of my game coverage rotation. He is always happy and excited every time I see him at PAX, whether it’s on the show floor or on a panel stage.
Of course, there’s Austin Walker, who constantly does good work talking about the social impact of games. Austin’s voice on Waypoint Radio has definitely helped me find the language to talk about difficult topics within and outside the games industry.
Xalavier Nelson without a doubt possesses one of the sharpest wits in games, and he honestly runs rings around me whenever we get a chance to have a chat. His narrative work on Hypnospace Outlaw and the upcoming An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs is just spectacular.
Josh Boykin is an incredibly kind human being who I got to meet this past PAX East. I loved talking to him about content creation with his work at Intelligame, and I was excited to hear that he was one of the hosts of the Wholesome Direct. He also raised over $13,000 for the Minnesota Freedom Fund last week.
In our local game dev community in Richmond, Lentz Marseille is an incredibly talented 3D modeler and character artist, and I am flabbergasted that he hasn’t been hired by a AAA studio yet.
And I could not forget my Wardcast co-host Nelson W. Johnson, who I was lucky enough to meet through a mutual friend and knew instantly that I needed to have him on the podcast. He is empathic, hilarious, and I consider his contributions to the show invaluable.
There are even more folks that I’ve only met in passing or know them from their work, but are awesome nonetheless: Shawn Alexander Allen. Tj Hughes. Tanya DePass. Gita Jackson. Chris Kindred. Cicero Holmes. Shareef Jackson. Allegra Frank.
If you haven’t yet, please get these people in your Twitter timelines, your Twitch subscriptions, your podcast feeds. Follow them. Support them. Buy their games. Donate to the causes they share. Donate to their Patreons. Drop their résumés to a hiring manager. Work to make the games industry better by raising their voices.
Hold companies accountable
There are plenty of games companies tweeting out their solidarity with Black Lives Matter and protesters, but these same companies also benefit from racism and oppression within their products and platforms. Hold them accountable for actionable change, whether it’s in the form of monetary donations to named charitable causes — not generic funds — or changes in their business dealings:
- Activision Blizzard voicing their support for protesting against injustice, yet punishing player Blitzchung for voicing support for last year’s Hong Kong protests.
- YouTube standing in solidarity against racism, yet monetizing — and hiring — content creators like PewDiePie that incorporate racism and bigotry into their videos.
- Riot Games also standing in solidarity against racism, but has yet to address the toxicity and racism that plagues League of Legends’ community and in-game chat.
And most importantly, hold us accountable. As much as we try to showcase and support Black creators with our podcasts, promotions, and panels, we could always be doing more.
Where to donate
If you’d like to know where you can donate money to help promote Black voices and Black justice, here are a few places you can do so:
- itch.io is hosting a game bundle, the proceeds of which are donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Community Bail Fund.
- Or you can donate to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund directly.
- If you’d like to support protesters that have been arrested, you can contribute to the Minnesota Freedom Fund to help protesters in Minneapolis or to your local bail fund to help your local activists.
- Donate to the GoFundMes for the families of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery
These are just a few of the places you can donate to. If you’d like more, I recommend this Polygon article that has a larger list of resources as well as information about protesting, white supremacy, and white privilege.
To Hell and Back Again: A Revenant’s Tale
We talk about organizing in light of COVID-19, finding where workers draw power, the importance of solidarity, and challenging the old wives’ tales used to suppress worker wages.
The circumstances of one’s birth doesn’t, like, make up your whole deal, man.