Last week we featured many of the talented artists, designers, actors, and developers of color who are working to make games better reflect the world we live in. This week, we’re highlighting the critics and academics who are instrumental in encouraging this same growth by the way they approach games. These people ask important questions of games and the community surrounding them, and by offering their viewpoints are helping to make games a more diverse art form and medium for entertainment. As with before, there’s no way I could find all the fantastic writers and academics out there, so if you know of any who should be added to the list, don’t hesitate to send me an email at Raeyn@Plus10toFireResist.com.
Creator of #INeedDiverseGames and the Fresh Out of Tokens podcast, Tanya works tirelessly to make the world of gaming the diverse platform we know it should be. Not only does she discuss how representation could be made better in games, she also fights for more diverse studios making the games. Recently, in a partnership with the Game Developers Conference, #INeedDiverseGames offered 23 All Access passes toGDC for those who otherwise would not have been able to attend due to financial limitations. Tanya is such an incredible force for good in this industry, but recently lost her job so if you would like to help support her and the work she does, you can do so by checking out her Patreon.
One of the founders of Not Your Mama’s Gamer, Samantha does rhetoric and game studies at Purdue, with her main interest being “critique of identity and identity formation in game studies”. In addition to her fantastic website (which, seriously, all of you should be following because it’s amazing), she is also the creator of Invisibility Blues, a series about race and representation in gaming. We talked about this a couple of months back when it was still in Kickstarter, and Episode 1.1 is already out for you to enjoy!
My first introduction to Austin Walker was while watching Stream Friends on Twitch. I loved the analysis he offered on the stream so I followed him on Twitter where I learned that he also wrote about games. One of my favorite pieces concerns Battlefield Hardline, and how poorly the game’s mechanics work with the narrative it’s trying to tell. You should read it here, it’s pretty great.
Mattie focuses on diversity in the games industry by bringing marginalized voices to big name games publications. She also frequently gives talks at the Game Developers Conference and IndieCade. Her writing looks deeply at narrative designs in games and attempts to reshape how we think in regards to “play”.
Too often poor Tauriq is at the center of some sort of harassment shit storm because he had the gall to say something that, well, needed to be said. Perhaps best known in games for the guy who wrote that piece about The Witcher 3, Tauriq isn’t afraid to discuss the Big Stuff despite knowing the mob will likely descend on him at any moment. One of the things I love about Tauriq’s writing is that, as he says on Twitter all the time, he can love a game and still be critical of it, something too many gamers seem to struggle with. You can find more of his work over at Polygon.
I love Katherine’s Twitter. This might sound a bit silly to start, but seriously, she always has the most fascinating stuff over there. As a trans Latina woman, the lens through which she views games is vital and important. Everyone, from those who play games to those who make them, has something to learn from this woman, and you should definitely be reading all she writes. You can find her writing on her website, or other places around the internet, such as this article from 2010 about the heteronormativity rampant in the World of Warcraft universe (which, c’mon Blizzard, this article was years ago and we still haven’t improved much at all, now have we?)
Founder of and writer for Kill Screen “a video game arts and culture company.” While I often find myself disagreeing with their articles (like this one. Ooh, and this one!), they do still expose me to beautiful games that I otherwise wouldn’t have found out about. Jamin Warren absolutely wants to see games expand and grow as a medium, and I can’t necessarily fault him for some of the questionable content of his contributors.
As I said at the start there’s no way I could list all the fantastic writers out there, so if you know of any more please let me know! Hopefully this list has helped you find more critics and writers to follow. The only way to get diverse games is by hearing diverse thoughts and promoting diverse ideas, and these wonderful people aim to do just that.