lauren warren

lauren warren

I'm Lauren Warren. I'm 36 and right now I'm in Toronto, Canada. I moved here from D.C. about three years ago.

And as far as how -- what happened that made me lose interest in videogames? I moved to the D.C. area and got a job at an aerospace company in D.C. And there's a certain atmosphere in D.C. It's not necessarily that it's all political, but there's this sense of competition, keeping up with the Joneses. You gotta have the job job. The goal is to a program analyst and you gotta have make this much money and get your PMP and other biz certifications and blah blah blah blah.

PMP?

Your program management -- [Laughs.] You would think I would know this! Your program management certificate that looks really good on a résumé. It just says you know your stuff and can handle problems. There's all these different certifications that look good on your résumé. When you go from job to job they look at you, they look at your letters on your résumé and, "Oh yeah, she's got this and this and that and that. Yeah, we can lock her in at this much money." You know, things people chase while they're there. They chase certification, they chase money, they chase job titles. And I kind of got caught up in that chase.

I started off as an executive admin assistant at this company, did that for a year, and got promoted to a much higher position, one that I had honestly no idea what I was supposed to be doing. Had to Google my way through most of it, but they trusted me enough to just figure it out.

Given my sort of military background, or growing up in a military environment, they're like, "Well, clearly you just know how to get things done, so we'll just trust the same to you, that you'll figure out how to get this job done." And I did, and I'm actually doing that job five years later.

But in the midst of going to happy hours and networking events and staying late until 8, 9 o'clock, writing proposals and all these things, it didn't leave much time for gaming. And so, you know, it would go from a couple of days a week to maybe two days a week to one day a week to whenever I had enough energy to keep my eyes open and maybe sit in front of a TV.

Your priorities shifted.

Priorities shifted. Wasn't exactly happy with the priority shift, but I was just really trying to play along.

I think when you first emailed me, you told me you had a very corporate job and it sounded like you were saying you were trying to fit in.

I was definitely trying to fit in, trying to be a grown-up and suppress -- I basically suppressed all creative inclinations I had at the time.

I had dabbled with going to culinary school and then tossed that aside. I had dabbled with going back to school and getting maybe a Masters in Fine Arts. Tossed that aside. I even did a one-day stage [apprenticeship] at a restaurant, in a kitchen, just to see if I had what it took to be a chef and the guy offered me a job. [Laughs.]

Really?

I turned it down. [Laughs.]

[Laughs.]

Well, you know, it was a bit of a trek from where I lived and it really just wasn't paying that much and I had student loans. But, you know, I thought it was cool that even after just one day he was like, "Oh, I would hire you in a minute. When you can start?" And I was like, "Damn!"

"Damn my natural talent!"

[Laughs.] "Well, I got this other job lined up and I wasn't sure if I was even gonna be able to do this today, but I didn't really think you'd like it." But, yeah, I wound up turning that job down. Basically every creative aspiration I had, I pushed down to the very bottom of my gut and regretted it about six months into this new promotion into this job trying to play grown-up in D.C.

You said that was 2009, right?

Yeah. I got the promotion in 2010 and, yeah, that was when it was really, "Okay, I have to buckle down and get serious and see this thing through. Maybe one day I can be a VP and this and that!" [Laughs.]

Yeah.

Yeah right. [Laughs.]

My only full-time job as an adult was working at The Onion and despite its appearances, it had a corporate feel, but I'm sure it's not the same as the corporate experience you've had. You mentioned the time thing, but is there anything else to it?

Well, when you're surrounded by engineers and -- I work more with computers than anything, electrical engineers. And when you're having discussions outside of work or during meetings, making chit-chat, "Well, what are you into?"

Here I am 29, 30 years old saying, "Well, I play videogames." And I get that side-eye and it's like: don't judge me. [Laughs.]

Yes. I still play.

And it was kind of an, "Ew! You're a grown woman, what are you doing playing videogames?"

So, "Okay, I'm not going to talk about this anymore."

I just got a little shell-shocked bringing it up and then getting that strange, "Well, why do you do that? That's just weird. Grown people don't play videogames."

Well, that's a lie.

[Laughs.] This, I know now, is a lie.

But this is something that I think a lot of people who are deep into videogames don't realize is that there are still some perceptions from people who aren't into it like this. I don't know if you'd call them stigmas but what are those perceptions you run into?

There's definitely a negative stereotype that perhaps that maybe I'm not as mature as one thinks because I choose to alleviate my stress via a controller fighting a fake war as opposed to drinking away at a happy hour somewhere. One method of blowing off steam is not necessarily better than the other. It's just my chosen way of doing it.

I think there's just some sort of false equivalency that playing videogames equals you're not mature. You're not grown up. That you're not responsible for whatever reason. Maybe because it's associated with teenagers, mostly, I don't know.

But I think for some people who just aren't -- they're not about that life, they think that they're just immature. "Games are for kids and you're not a child, so why are you partaking in that?"

Does it ever seem crazy, though, that in 2015 people still think that?

Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

But I think it's just as crazy that people don't think that people think that. You know what I mean?

"I would never think that, so why would someone else?"

"Well, because not everyone is as savvy as you."

"Not everyone's as enlightened or evolved."

[Laughs.] "Evolved." That's the perfect word. [Laughs.]

That's a better word because now, look, you're almost surrounded by games. You have games on your phone, you have games on your TV. This is so different than what it was five years ago, so I think maybe some of those people who gave me side-eye then are probably sitting, playing Candy Crush Saga during a meeting now.

So where does this distinction come from of like, "Those aren't videogames?"

Because there's no console involved? I think maybe just people associate videogames with a console. Like, if it's not Xbox or PlayStation, it doesn't count -- which I think is bizarre. But if it's a game it's a game. Whether it's a tabletop game or a videogame that -- if you control something with your fingers, it is a game. You are playing it. It's a game. You are a gamer. Period.

So, okay. But you took us to 2010 and it sounds like over the last couple of years you were on again, off again playing and then the last few months again, on again and off again? What's been going on?

Okay, so, 2010 was the promotion and then 2011 was -- oh. Well, that's when the life thing kicked in. So, I got married in 2011. [Laughs.] And so I was living in Virginia, working in D.C., planning a wedding in Atlanta, and my groom-to-be was living in Canada.

Doesn't leave a lot of time for games. [Laughs.]

Your priorities shifted.

Priorities shifted once again. I was also dealing with all the paperwork to immigrate to Canada as well. So, yeah, priorities definitely shifted. But strangely enough, I took up another hobby during that time, but it wasn't game. I started making music. [Laughs.] My brother got me software and was like, "I feel like you can pick this up." And be damned if he was right.

I've found other ways to kind of keep my attention because I only had small spurts of time to devote to entertainment between work, between wedding planning, between visiting sites, between visiting him up here, and -- life. Life happened. So that takes me to about 2010 to 2012. In 2012, I moved up here. One day we were walking around Best Buy and I saw this Xbox 360 bundle that was on sale. And I said, "Ooh! I should get that."

And he said, "Really?"

And I said, "Yeah, yeah!"

He said, "Well, what games do you want to get?"

I said, "Well, I don't know. Let's see what's on sale."

So we bought this bundle and it had Skyrim and Forza 4, Forza 5, I forget which one. And that was our first Christmas gift to ourselves in our new house. And he started playing Skyrim and it was a wrap. We were both hooked on it all over again because he said he hadn't played in months, either. I mean, we played Skyrim so much we wouldn't even talk to each other. He would just come home from work, I'd been playing all day, I'd pass him the controller, go order a pizza, he'd pass the controller back. Like, little to no conversation between us. That was the game that kind of got us back in it deep again, was Skyrim.

Yeah.

I don't even -- [Laughs.] I'm trying to think if I can -- [Laughs.] We had our old collection of old games, but we were all Skyrim all the time for about a good three or four months.

Insert

What was it like picking back up videogames? What seems to have changed about them in the time that put them down? Like, what seems to have gotten important in them?

Well, definitely, I would say the technology but the graphics and the way stories are laid out were a hell of a lot cooler than before. [Laughs.] It wasn't that long of a gap of time, at least, I think from when I stopped playing and started playing again. I mean, I was heavy into Need for Speed. I think Need for Speed: Undercover was the last game I had gotten. And unfortunately, one of my brother's knucklehead friends stole it from me. [Laughs.]

He stole quite a few games and that actually made it easier -- I forgot about that. That's another reason why I stopped. We had one of my brother's friends staying with us and I was at work one day. My brother was at work. We came home and noticed that this kid was gone and that a shit-ton of our videogames and accessories were gone.

He took them to a store, sold them, bought a bus ticket, and went back to Atlanta, where he came from. And I didn't have it in me to replace everything that he took. Damn, I forgot all about that. [Laughs.]

Insert

That's a bus ticket from where to Atlanta?

Northern Virginia. Like, the DC border to Atlanta. It couldn't have been much. I really don't think it was that much, but he got just enough to high-tail it out of there and thought, "Okay, what can I sell that'll get me a bunch of money real quick?"

Because we're talking PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 games, our old Nintendo 64 games, and our original Nintendo games.

Oh man.

He took them all. Almost all. And sold them. I was just so pissed off I was like, "Fuck it. I don't even have it in me to replace this." And that kind of made it easier to stop as well. With what we had left, was like, "Eh." [Laughs.]

He left my brother's Pokémon games. [Laughs.] I do remember that.

Those are not worth stealing.

He could have taken those, really. [Laughs.]

[Laughs.]

I would've been okay. Damn. Can't believe I forgot that.

Well, but you asked what changed, what got important? The ability to lose myself in a different environment and just the manner of storytelling. I mean, I've always loved writing stories and to see how other people write and tell their stories because videogames do tell stories. The method of storytelling has changed and just the graphics have changed and it's a long hell of way from Pong, man. [Laughs.]

Little bit, little bit.

The enthusiasm from just having this new environment and this new world in front of you, and you can chart your own course and take matters into your own hands. It's like riding a bike. You remember what you like about it, you remember that feeling, and it comes back and you enjoy it.

How did your husband lose interest in games? You mentioned that in your email as well, right?

Yeah, I think for him it was just he works, he'd be working, he'd come home, he'd hang out with friends. He had a bit of a routine going and it just didn't often include gaming. I think he also kind of gave it a rest for a while during all the middle of the wedding planning and everything.

Because there was a lot of traveling back and forth and we just really didn't have the time. And I think for him, too, it's finding someone to play with. And so when he found out that I enjoyed playing, too, it was like, "Oh, really!" [Laughs.]

Well, you used the word "apparently" in your email, when you mentioned he was into gaming. Was that something you did not know about him until that moment?

Well, I knew that he was savvy. He knew what an Xbox was. He knew what a PlayStation was. And he knew about a few games. So I remember he and I having a conversation and I told him how one night my brother and I stayed up all night playing Gears of War once and he raised his eyebrow and he said, "I'm sorry, you did what?"

Insert

And I said, "Yeah, my brother and I stayed up all night, ordered pizza, chilled out, whatever, and we didn't want to turn it off so we just played Gears of War until we finished it. Stayed up all night. Same with Halo 2, I believe. We did the same thing."

He was like, "I'm sorry. I'm just shocked that you play."

And then we didn't really talk about it that much afterwards until we bought that Xbox some years later.

And you said you're losing interest in games again now, like, within the last couple of months since we started emailing?

I think it's one of those -- life is kind of kicking my butt and I'm trying to prioritize and sitting down and playing hasn't really been my highest priority.

I've been really trying to really get on the ball as far as entering these screenplay competitions. And so, when the day is over and I've put in eight, nine hours of dealing with Satan's Workshop foolery, which is -- that's my work nickname, by the way, because I never call them out by name. [Laughs.] I just call them Satan's Workshop.

Okay. [Laughs.]

That might be the name of the script, too, so if you see that in the future, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

It's just trying to find the energy to deal with other things and, yeah, videogames should be relaxing and I should be able to just kind of unwind while doing it but it's like, do I have time?

I have put in eight hours, I have a writer's hangout to go to, or I've got 15 pages to edit before next week. I'm trying to stick on schedule with this and that. Fifty other things pop up and it's not that I seem to have lost interest, it's just that I don't have a clone and I don't have enough time.

Yeah.

I pre-ordered Halo 5 because I'm taking off that day for sure and playing when it comes out but it's like, I don't have that, "Ooh, butterflies in my stomach, oh my gosh, I have to have to get this, have to have to beat that." Right now I just don't have enough energy.

Why do you think that says about games where you can have such intensity and then it can get to, like, "Oh yeah. I guess that thing's coming out." Does it really mean anything about videogames?

I don't know. I guess people get excited. The same type of excitement exists for film. I mean, like, everyone was hype about the Star Wars trailer. I don't know if the same still applies to music because people are now dropping albums without saying anything so it doesn't give you a chance to be excited about it. It just shows up.

Yeah.

I don't know. I would say the same excitement could possibly apply to film but I think it depends on the person and depends on the game. Because I can tell you right now if something dropped, brand new, that was Grand Theft Auto-related. I'd lose my shit and drop everything I was doing and go get it.

This interview is over!

[Laughs.] I got to go!

Hello?

But it's the same for Halo. But if it were Call of Duty? "Eh, I'll get it. Whatever. Meh. I'm not gonna run out and grab it."

I think it depends on a lot of things. I think it depends on the person, their preference, the game, and, really, just what's going on. And, yeah, and the medium. I don't know if, like I said, people get that hype about music. Maybe about a film or a television show. But games just have a whole subsect of fandom that is -- it's indescribable and it's interesting at the same time.

Like, I'm fascinated by it because it's almost like there's a part that's like hive mentality. [Laughs.]

For people who don't know anything about videogames at all, like, how would you describe the fandom and hive mentality that exists? What do you mean?

Hive mentality? I’d say the best description is collective consciousness, a group of people who think the same thoughts or have the same objectives. In online spaces and in reference to gaming and fandom, it’s sometimes hostile and is a real sight to behold. Whew. Dogpiling, attacks, "defense squads" -- all because people can’t agree to disagree or having differing opinions.

I don't know how or why people get excited about these things and that's part of what we're doing with the Diversity in Gaming series for Black Girl Nerds. I look at everyone's responses to how they got started in gaming and what they love about it and there's some small links. Everyone says the same thing, about how it's about to be able to immerse yourself in a world and the creativity and the storytelling, yadda yadda, and these are all things that are universally important to gamers, to film enthusiasts, to comic-book enthusiasts. If you have an engaging story and a world that someone can immerse themselves in, you're guaranteed success.

I did want to ask you about the site you've been writing for, too, but in a broader sense I was curious what the word "community" seems to mean to you both for being on the Internet but also being on the Internet and interested in videogames from your work with that website?

So, yeah, I guess, just for a little background on how that came about. [Laughs.] It was a piece, Tauriq Moosa did on The Witcher 3 and some people on the Internet just exploded when he pointed out a little problem, a little concern.

And after that, the #GamesSoWhite hashtag started floating around. And this is the first time I actually had to block somebody on Twitter. [Laughs.] I think I responded to a tweet -- not even directed towards someone. I'm trying to remember exactly how it came about but basically it was in response to the backlash against #GamesSoWhite and I kept seeing people saying, "Why don't you people shut up and make your own games?"

You people? You people?

So, I asked for a bit of clarification: "Who are these people you are referring to?"

And they dropped the N-word and, "You blacks keep complaining. So why don't you people just make your own games?"

And I said, "Well, what the hell makes you think that we don't already?"

So it started off as a means to answer the question, "Why don't you people make games?"

But who the hell says we're not? I'm pretty sure there's a bunch of developers who are involved in the process of making games. Now, there's not a lot, but they have a presence and I'm gonna show because I can show you better than I can tell you. [Laughs.] That was when we first put out the all call, "Hey, if you're a person of color and you're a developer, a streamer, you are an artist or a graphic designer or anyone, involved in any capacity with gaming, let us know because we're gonna show these people that we're out here and we're not just complaining." We're saying this is a fundamental, systematic problem and the only way to fix it is to get as many people of color involved.

And if you're not working, but looking for a job, "Hey, here's somebody you can hire right here."

So, it's created a community in the sense that people are now seeing that they're not alone. I've seen a lot of people say, "Oh my gosh, I thought I was the only person who played this game." "Oh my God! I thought I was the only person who did that!"

No. You two meet together, talk now, now you can play online together. There you go. [Claps.] You just made a new friend.

Insert

I don't really know if this question has an answer.

I'll do my best.

Isn't the Internet supposed to be a post-race place?

I think the lie that we tell ourselves is that the world is post-racial: America and everything is post-racial.

I don't believe that, do you believe that?

I wish you could see my face right now.

[Laughs.] I just imagined you believing it a lot.

Uh, no. It's more raised eyebrow and a sense of "Oh, please."

Yeah, I don't believe it at all, and I think when you give people the means to hide behind perceived anonymity and a keyboard and they can spout these ideas, things are said. Things that we all know they would never ever ever ever say in person. But I like the fact that you can see those things -- and that's the ugly side of the Internet and that's the ugly side of the world - but that you can also find your tribe.

This project has allowed a lot of people to find their tribe and to expand their community and realize that they're not the only ones who enjoy certain games, that they're not the only ones who play. They're not alone and that there is a community. It may not be a large one, not as large as -- our numbers aren't as big as the white guys. [Laughs.] Of course.

But there are black gamers, there are black women who game, and the more you can connect to each other, the better off we all are and the bigger our community gets.

What do you think the average non-black person doesn't realize about the experience of being on the Internet and being black or being around videogames and being black?

Oh. Man, I could attack that from a few different ways. [Laughs.]

I sometimes hate asking questions like those because I don't want people to feel pigeonholed.

Well, you know, the funny thing is -- so, okay, my husband is white. He, I think, has been educated about certain things because I don't think it would ever occur to him that he and I could be playing online together. Like, Halo: Reach for example. He and I could be playing Halo: Reach, for example, and I have a female Spartan and he uses a male Spartan. And he'll see that people go after me more so than they go after him. Well, because I'm a woman.

Now imagine that they could see that I was a black woman. The vitriol that would be spread in the chatroom, if we actually had our mics live and everything -- if they found out I was black, shit would implode.

And he asks, "Well, why is that?"

Because apparently I'm not supposed to be here. I think for some people they don't realize that there's this unconscious bias that exists and that if you're only surrounded by people who look like you, when someone who doesn't look like you comes into the picture, it can be scary.

If someone's not socialized properly or doesn't know how the real world works, people treat that as a threat. Little ole me, behind my keyboard or holding a controller is a threat to someone who has spent their life in a bubble and doesn't realize that other people exist.

Why is it even perceived as a threat if you're doing the same thing everyone else?

I look different.

It doesn't take much.

I mean, that goes back to elementary school, right?

As most things do, yes.

It starts young. It starts off young.

If someone -- like, redheads get picked on. Black kids get picked on. Asian kids get picked on. Because the unconscious bias and the default is white.

So, anything that deviates from that is looked at as strange, weird, or wrong. And I think for years, anything tech-related has been perceived to be a white man's thing or a white person's things.

So now that you have everyone partaking: "It's not ours anymore? What are we supposed to do. Don't we get to have something to ourselves?"

No. You don't. [Laughs.] No. The world is a huge place and you have to share.

And people are, I think, a little leery of sharing space, sharing tech, sharing time. It's scary.

I don't know if I'm doing this question justice, but I think we are just loaded with unconscious bias -- people kind of live in a bubble and if they don't see it happen, they don't realize that it happens because it won't/doesn’t happen to them.

You're certainly not the first person I've asked these types of questions and while I certainly don't want to dwell on it, I am curious: What do you feel the games media or games companies can do to help assuage some of these types of things?

[Laughs.] Oh my God.

[Laughs.] What do you mean, "Oh my God?"

Like, I don't know! Like, because -- it's a huge problem. It's a widespread issue and I don't know if it's something that can be fixed by media and developers. Something has to reach these people.

Because they didn't create the problem. The games media and the developers didn't create this problem. This problem was already here. It's just that now there are tools with which people can express their discontent, their discomfort, and their anger.

Yeah.

These thoughts were placed in their heads long before games media sites were up. If they weren't raised this way, they've been affiliated with people who believe this.

It's hard to deprogram years and years and years of behavior, so, I have no idea how they can fix it. I would hope that -- that's a big hope. Shit, I'd probably have a growth spurt first. [Laughs] But I'd just hope people would come to their senses and say, "It's just games. It's really not that damn serious. This is the hill you choose to die on?"

It's not worth doxxing people for. It's not worth harassing people off social media off of. For what? That's the part I struggle to understand. So, I don't know if games media can fix it. I don't know who can fix this.

I think it's just gonna be a wave we ride until it dies down.

What are the reasons you've been told you shouldn't be playing certain games?

I'm a woman.

That's it?

I'm a woman, what do I know about this?

Like, what the hell is there to know about? It's a freakin' game.

You buy it?

That's right. This is my money, clearly I wanted it.

I don't know. "Aren't you too old to be doing that? Isn't that a kid thing?" I get that from family every so often.

"Do you still play those games?"

Yes, I still play those games.

"You shouldn't be doing that. Why don't you all go get out of the house."

We get out of the house. We're not homebodies.

[Laughs.]

But mostly, I could be doing other things with my time and I'm a woman, women don't play. I could name, like, 50 right now who would call you a liar for that.

Or, you know, "You only play because your husband plays."

No. Nope. That's not true either. Try again.

It's just bizarre. But I've heard, "Oh, well, you're a woman. You don't play-play do you?"

What's the difference between play and play-play?

I think maybe that's like, you have a controller but nothing set up to it. Like, you're, just, in front of your TV.

[Laughs.] Just hitting buttons? Mashing buttons?

[Laughs.] Yeah.

Just button mashing my way through life, people! Okay. Yeah. I don't know.

So, but, you were saying that all of this took you on a path to writing about games and you said reviewing games, right?

Yeah. I did.

So, Jamie Broadnax - creator and founder of Black Girl Nerds - has done this great job at creating a safe space not just for people of color, but for everyone to write about certain topics. She invited me onto a podcast about retro videogames, which I almost didn't make because that very day I got laryngitis but managed to pump enough hot toddies in me to talk. Shortly after that, she asked me to start reviewing games for her website because she didn't have the bandwidth to do it herself.

Then it kinda turned into, "Would you just like to be in charge of most of the gaming pieces that we do?" And I said, "Sure."

I did a review of -- was it Battlefield: Hardline? It was the first one I did.

And then I did one for Dying Light. But that was during a time where things with the day job were a lot calmer. [Laughs.]

Yeah.

And I had more time to play and really kind of dive into every aspect of the game, which I love writing about. You know, the lighting, the sound, the story, the graphics and everything. That's how it got started.

And then it sort of evolved into me doing interviews with other black women and women of color who worked in the industry to show other black women that, yeah, not only can you play them but you can also make them too and here are some people who have parlayed this into a career. And then the Diversity In Gaming series started and that's been taking up most of my time now. I put that tweet up and I think I disappeared for 15 minutes to go into the grocery store and I came back and it had 200 retweets and my DMs were insanely full. I was like, "Oh boy."

I honestly didn't think people were gonna want to talk about this. "Who's gonna want to talk to me?"

Clearly I was wrong. [Laughs.] I was very wrong.

And for a while the response kind of died down, so, I redid the graphic and repinned the tweet and next thing I know -- like, right now I have 12 profiles I'm still waiting to go through to put on the website. Like, the response was just so overwhelming and it reassured me that maybe I was onto something -- maybe we were onto something good because I wondered if it was even worth it. I'm pretty sure Jamie would tell me, "Well, this is a waste of time and you shouldn't do this anymore." [Laughs.]

But I just wondered myself, you know, is it really helping? Are we really accomplishing something? And every time I get an email saying, "Oh my God, I'm so glad you guys are doing this. I feel a little bit better."

What surprised you about starting to write for the Internet?

That people care. I think I'm still shocked. That people care about what I have to say or people started inviting me to do podcasts and things. I'm like, "Why? Why do you want to hear me talk?" [Laughs.] "Why do you wanna hear what I think?"

I have to tell myself, "You need to stop asking that question."

So anything that happens is a huge surprise to me. I tend to dive headfirst into a lot without giving it much thought. [Laughs.] So it's like, whatever happens, happens and if it's a good thing? Great. I just walk into it with no expectations so that way there's no disappointment if it doesn't take off. That probably sounds so pessimistic.

I think it's just realistic.

Yeah, because you just never know. Especially -- you're putting it out there on the Internet for hundreds of thousands or however many people to see all those different opinions and perceptions. I can't please everybody, this I know. So, if I'm pleased with it and if Jamie's happy with it, then that's all that matters. And if anybody else is happy with it, then I do a happy dance at the end of the day.

[Laughs.] Do you consider yourself part of the games media?

Nah, not really.

Why not?

Well, I’m not sure why to be honest. [Laughs] I’m just a person who loves games and has some thoughts about them. I don’t get a byline per se; I just enjoy the conversation that arises from talking about them and the impact they have.

What do you notice about the games media as far as what they tend to cover or will never cover?

Well, as far as what they do cover? I mean, of course all the big names get coverage. But my eye always goes more towards who's doing the covering.

The writer.

And what does that writer look like?

What do you mean?

Do they look like me? Or do they like you? Because that can affect how the piece is written. I think.

How so?

Well, what you see and what I see, what you get out of it and what I get out of it may be two drastically different things. If I play a game a certain way, my husband may play that game differently. We're not gonna maybe get the same experience out of it. If I'm a -- let's take Wolfenstein, for example.

He plays Wolfenstein, he can see himself in B.J. Blazkowicz and that's great and that's all fine and dandy. I'm a black woman playing as a white dude in Nazi Germany. So -- my take on things is gonna be a little bit different than his.

He is the hero. He is always the archetype for the hero and I'm not. If I'm a professional journalist, yes, I'm supposed to put that aside and just go for the experience and the game, but that's part of the experience of playing the game -- can you relate to the character? How do you relate to the character? I know a lot of people say, "I don't see race when I play."

Well, dammit, I do and I’m not gonna lie about it. I do look at it.

[Laughs.]

I don't focus on it but I’ll say, "Oh, that's interesting." And I keep going. It doesn’t effect how I enjoy or play the game.

But I feel like people who say that are making a show of saying and they do see it and they just want to act like it's not a problem.

I know. You know. Yeah.

I know.

[Laughs.] We're on the same page here.

But I wonder who's writing. As far as what they won't cover? No, I don't think they're gonna cover the ugly side of the Internet when it comes to their games. And I think that's smart.

You mean, like, the stuff I'm covering?

Yeah. Because -- but what you're covering is important. It's a conversation that needs to be had.

Yeah.

But I think for any sort of games media to be involved would inevitably lead to a bunch of finger-pointing and accusations and taking sides and it would just be ugly. So maybe it's best they avoid it.

I don't know. I don't think there's a real answer here. It would have to be some publication outside of the games media to write about the games media not covering that.

Yeah.

And that would just be weird and would probably still get hate, but that's okay.

Do you want to write about games for a living?

[Sighs.]

You can plead the fifth.

[Laughs.] Let me run through my response real quick. If the opportunity arose, I would welcome it.

Yeah.

I'll say that. If the opportunity arose and I could make a living from it, shit, absolutely. I ain't turnin' it down. I love it. It's a topic I love and I'm no fool. I'm not gonna turn down a check.

But for me, it wouldn't be about the check. It would be about immersion into games and being able to analyze and critique and dive into that world on a different level than just an enthusiast.

But on the same token, if someone said, "Here's $50,000 to go take your scripts and make 'em into a short film." I'm gonna probably do that first.

How come?

That was my first love. I’ve always loved storytelling That's what my degree is in.

I think there's also something to be said for being creative yourself as opposed to writing about other people's creativity in a creative way.

Exactly.

"Well, I'm writing about what So And So did. Well, what if I can do what So And So is doing?"

[Laughs.]

Yeah. That's cool. I don't know if it's grass is greener syndrome but it's like, "But I wanna do that thing."

See, part of me is looking for that way to -- so you know we're not even knee-deep in it. We are neck-high in comic-book adaptation and superhero right now.

I think we're philtrum high.

We are. It's almost at forehead level.

Depends on the shape of your face.

And how tall you are.

[Laughs.]

Because I'm covered in it. And it's fine. I love that superheroes are getting their due and superheroes are all of a sudden cool.

But I feel like videogame adaptations always get the short end of the stick.

And so for years, I've always wondered, first of all why that is the case and what can be done to stop videogame adaptations from sucking. So, years ago, when I did play I would kind of think, "Okay, how could this translate to a movie or a TV show or maybe even a short? A five-, ten-minute short." And so I've always liked trying to take games to a film -- trying to transfer games to a film medium because it combines both my babies, both my loves.

To me, that would be the best way to make a living. If I could somehow get into adapting this existing IP successfully -- let me rephrase that. Successfully adapting the existing IP into either a television show or a short film or something, to give these projects a chance, I would do that in a heartbeat.

I love them both. I love my games and I love film and television. I don't see why the two can't be married up and produce a successful project like comic books and comic-book heroes. So, that would be the ideal job for me.

I'm just thinking about comic-book adaptations and video-game adaptations and why are they still so bad? The video-game adaptations. There have been some good comic adaptations.

Yeah. Let's just clear that up. I love comic books and I love the comic-book adaptations. Don't get me wrong.

But with the game to film adaptations, I feel like somewhere along the line either they're adapted by people who know nothing about the source material or the studios who know very little about the source material get all the notes and changing the very crux of what makes a story the story. Or you're bringing in someone who's maybe a new director and a new writer to get on the same project and they're kinda button-mashing their way through this whole process themselves and it's not really given the time and attention that it deserves.

Or you're taking a franchise that has a long history and trying to cram as much as you can into a two, two and a half hour time frame. And you can't do that.

I think there's so much story to be told with some of these that, you know, you need to take your time. Maybe a movie isn't the best way to tell that story. Maybe a limited run series, six episodes of something is a better way.

There have been a few good adaptations. I personally enjoyed Halo: Forward Unto Dawn, which was kind of a -- it wasn't exactly a prequel but it was a spinoff going into the origins of how someone became a UNSC soldier. Master Chief had, like, a two-minute cameo in it and it worked. Totally worked. Totally lower budget compared to its counterpart, Halo: Nightfall, which was released to coincide with Halo 5. But to me that one wasn't as good, and that one had a big name behind it. That had Ridley Scott as executive producer. How do you go wrong with that?

Oh yeah. I heard about that.

Yeah.

I heard that wasn't that great.

It wasn't.

And you had Mike Colter -- how do you mess that up? Mike Colter and Ridley Scott should have been fireworks. But it just dragged. And it's like, "Okay, clearly, having a big name behind it doesn't mean anything if the script is bad and if you lose your focus."

And I think that's where a lot of these projects fall flat.

Sometimes I wonder is it just because the source material, like, maybe the stories aren't that strong?

I think that can be a problem, too. You're trying to create something where there is nothing. and then you're trying to stretch it out into an hour and a half, two hours, and you should probably stop.

[Laughs.] "You should probably stop."

You should just cut it down to where the story stops making sense and -- so, maybe it doesn't need to be an hour and a half. Maybe you could just do a series of 10-minute shorts. Do five of 'em. Fifty minutes. Be done. You don't have to stretch it out just to see all the pretty monsters or whatever. If there's no story, I don't care about the monsters. You just can't have monsters for monsters' sake.

Yeah.

But, yeah, that's definitely a problem where you're trying to create story where there is none. Where there's too much of it, you cut too much of it out, leaving the story unrecognizable. You have too many people with their hands in the pot who don't understand the story or know what it is, and then you wind up with a completely unrecognizable property. And then hand-wringing when it fails.

What do you think videogames have accomplished?

Like, overall?

Yeah.

Well, as a medium, I think they are definitely giving Hollywood a run for their money -- well, as far as taking people's money. I think they have the potential to be far more successful than film. It's a labor of love, just like a film, just like a television show. And the payoff in the end for the consumer is huge.

I think they are as immersive, if not moreso as a film and just -- [Laughs.] Damn, that's a hard question.

That's why it's last.

Yeah, it's a good thing it is last. If it was first, I'd probably hang up and have to call you back.

[Laughs.]

[Laughs.] I mean, as a medium, yeah, I think it's giving more competition to film, more competition to just whatever's out there, and I think it's definitely earned the praise that it gets. Developers and everyone involved in the creation of a game put years into making something that they aren't sure what the payoff is and unleash it hoping someone likes it enough to spend their hard-earned money. You know, kudos to them.

I think games do a great job in uniting people. Even through all the division of all that group and everything else. They do unite people. They do create a sense of community. They do bond people. It's a means of bonding with friends and family all over the world. I think they do -- as a medium, it's an excellent way to tell a story, it's an excellent way to tell multiple stories at once.

They are technical and narrative successes and I look forward to watching them get better as time goes on and I know I'll still be playing them, I just don't know how often. [Laughs.]

[Laughs.]

I will continue to be in awe because I've been around them since I was five. I mean, you just don't -- you can't drop something like that when it's been in your life almost 30 years. You may not enjoy it as much as you used to, but you'll always appreciate it. And I think games will always be something people appreciate, even if they can't sit down and play. But you can appreciate the hard work that's been put into it. You can appreciate the story that they're telling and how it's being told and how it bonds people all over.

I’d tell people "Don't quit your day jobs, kids" but also don't put your gaming aside for your work. Always be sure to indulge your creativity and your fun side. That's for damn sure.

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