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NO. 1

MAGAZINE The Adventurous Art of Playing





Action Day for New Talent in Tech DIGITAL BUSINESS AND MEDIA Berlin, April 23, 2015 www.berlin-meets-poland.de






Sometimes it takes a woman to get the job done.

Out now on iPhone, iPad and Android www.agentalice.com

Dear Readers, as we were working on this issue, I realized that whenever I choose my character in games, I choose a woman. I’ve never had to ask myself why. It just is the most comfortable virtual persona to me. Perhaps my digital ego is a woman... Coincidentally or otherwise, our theme for this issue is: WOMEN. Why do we need this reading? Obviously it’s very important as we are in the midst of a storm filled with hate and disrespect. As founder of A MAZE. and creative director of A MAZE. / Berlin and A MAZE. / Johannesburg, I see my most important task as bringing people from different cultures and backgrounds together and showing unique works from around the world and different

genders. Since I am active and reflective in the field of independent games, digital art and playful media, I am very sensitive about ensuring diversity in the medium I love. But A MAZE. Magazine No. 1 is not only because of Gamergate and the disgusting harassment stories. From my point of view I still cannot understand all these things. I am always astounded at how stupid and disrespectful some people can be. I really don’t get what they fear. This issue is about women who are working in the games industry. It presents women at work, women fulfilling their dreams, women being part of a movement, women representing the world they live in and women creat-

ing groundbreaking works. It presents women who are opinion leaders and creative minds; strong women who are pushing creative boundaries and starting their own companies and who are forerunners for, hopefully, even more passionate women who want to make games or be a part of a production team where what matters is being professional and doing the job right. You might be wondering if we are featuring men in this issue as well. Yes we are; they complete our vision of love for human beings. Ultimately, we base our judgement on work, quality and beliefs – not gender. It is also important that criticism and journalistic reflections respond to these criteria instead of singling out character or personal attributes. The medium will lose power if we exclude diversity!

I am super excited about this issue. This is the first time A MAZE. is bringing something of value in the US. Huge thanks to my editorial team, including editors Krystle Wong, Franziska Zeiner and Dennis Kogel, FUK Graphic Design Studio, Mark Essen and his mom for helping us to find a printer, also to IndieMEGABOOTH, GDC and all the contributors to A MAZE. Magazine No. 1.

16 A MAZE. Award 18 Trafo Pop 20 On Our Own Terms 22 Games in Common Poem 23 The Future Of Man Is Woman Comic

24 A Temple For All Our Gods 25 Just Julie 26 Rogue Queen Type-In Game 27 Sexist Conference Bingo 28 Adsono

I wish you all a good read and hope that you will help us spread the love for what we work for: GAMES! All yours, Thorsten S Wiedemann Editor-in-Chief

Content 4 »The Tech Industry Is My Home« 6 Carmen A Short Story Fiction 7 »We taught girls in Palestine and Denmark how to make their own games.«

8 Feminist Porn: Is That a Thing? 10 Womenize! Bringing more women into tech 12 Consentacle: A Sex Game Or A Game About Sex? 14 »I Have a Fucking Agenda«

Textgame by Jerry Belich

Just One More Thing Before You Go... [0]

“It’s been an absolute pleasure having you with us, and we DO hope you’ve enjoyed your stay!” - “The pleasure is mine!” (goto 4) - “Yes, yes, but I must be going.” (goto 5)



“It’s not that they GET to, but rather how much they LIKE to be in charge. Not ALL of course, but it’s SO much easier to generalize. They LOVE making decisions for others... SO thoughtful.” - “And XXs don’t like control?” (goto 15)

by Na’Tosha Bard


t was the summer of 2010, and I was living in Copenhagen where I had just moved to with my husband a few months earlier. Despite the new adventure I was on with my personal life, I was gradually becoming more and more depressed with my work. I had been working for the same company for a few years, for a while even remotely in Copenhagen, and I was going through the slow, sad realization that sets in when it’s time to leave a job and look for something else. I had given my job everything I had to give, and it was time to move on. I needed something new – both to challenge me and to give me a chance to move forward in my career. Freshly polished CV in hand, I began scouring the internet and sending mails to anyone I thought might know about relevant opportunities.

product and a user-base that both makes me proud and scares me every single day. Holy crap, how can this many people actually be using the software we make?! My focus in the beginning was simple and straightforward: I began crafting and honing the area of build engineering within Unity. Software development is actually very hard, so I put in place tools and processes and systems to make it easier (or in some cases just possible) for us to work together. Eventually, I put in place people to start taking care of these tools and processes. After realizing that very few people understand what build engineers actually do, I also started blogging and giving talks about build engineering and related topics whenever I could. The tech industry is my home. It’s the place I understand, it’s where the people to whom I can relate are, and it’s the only place I want to be. I certainly haven’t »got it all figured out« – although I’ve never really been sure what »it« is in that saying, anyway – but I have learned a few things along the way. One of those things is how multi-faceted the game industry is, and how many different ways there are to be a part of it.

I had recently met Steffen Toksvig, Director of Development at Unity. Unity was, at the time, a small 80-something-person company in the middle of a crunch to ship Unity 3.0. I decided to drop him a mail to see if he knew of anything. I particularly wanted to know if he might be able to help me get a foot in the door at Nokia’s development office. (They closed their Copenhagen development office not long after, so I guess I dodged a bullet there.) We chatted about the type of work I was looking for, and he told me he thought I might be a good fit for a Build & Infrastructure Developer position that Unity had been looking to fill for some time without any luck. After some thought and discussion – and a series of interviews that included a live coding exam in Perl, of all things – appropriate contracts were written, signatures were exchanged, and I was officially a member of the Unity team. I wasn’t exactly sure where my path would lead – being the first person hired in an area that’s not owned by anyone is a bit daunting – so I decided to put my head down and make the path go where I wanted it to go. One of my favorite female role models, Grace Hopper, did once say it’s better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission, and so far I’ve tried to go through my career with that mantra in mind.

Unity on Linux 2012 saw the release of Unity 4, with a feature I was particularly proud of: Linux runtime support. The Linux player in Unity had been a labor of love for a few of us at Unity for quite some time, and we were thrilled to finally see it released. Although my regular job at Unity is in the build and release engineering area, working on the Linux player provided a great benefit for my regular work: as I worked on Linux support in the Unity runtime, I better understood how the other members of R&D at Unity work and how they use the tools that the build and release engineering team makes. For the first time, I was actively working on the engine itself, just like they did every day. In fall of 2012, a couple of other Unity developers and I joined the Ubuntu Developer Summit, where we participated in workshops about improving the usability of certain

I’ve been a part of Unity as it’s grown from that small 80-something-person company to over 500 people, with an industry-leading


“A smart choice, sir. I DO think it will be much easier. The best of luck to you; I know you’ll do well. Ta-ta!” *** THE END ***


components for gaming (xorg, compiz, gamepad input, etc.). After the release of Unity 4, I travelled to a series of conferences to give talks about Linux publishing in Unity, and we were happy to see Linux support roll out smoothly without any real hiccups. Valve had been working on Linux support for Steam at the same time we were working on Linux support for Unity, and we watched as the number of Linux games on Steam steadily grew – 957 as of today – taking pride in the number of them that were made with Unity.

Internal Tools Focus and Shift to Open Source After the Linux player was shipped, it was apparent to me that I needed to refocus on my first priority: Unity’s internal tools and processes. By this time, we’d finally hired two other developers in the build and release engineering team at Unity, and, after battling scalability and performance issues with various systems for months, it was apparent to me that we needed to make some serious changes. One of the foci I had for our internal toolset was to leverage the power of open-source tools and their communities. In 2011, we had switched our version control system from Subversion to Mercurial so that we could take advantage of better branch-based development. We were, and currently still are, using Mercurial with an extension to better handle our large, undiffable binary files. Our initial switch had us using Kiln, a proprietary system that was linked with our bug tracker, for hosting Mercurial and also allowing developers to more easily do peer code reviews. The ease of doing code reviews was great, but after a few months the performance of this system degraded quickly and it soon became nearly impossible for us to work.

A Custom Continuous Integration Solution In late 2012 we decided we needed to switch to a different continuous integration (CI) solution, as our current solution was also rapidly degrading in performance. After researching possible solutions, I decided the right thing to do was to pursue a custom solution on top of an open-source CI framework called Buildbot. (To be fair, we are a company that makes a game engine, not build tools, and our CTO did try to talk me out of going down this route.) This was a year-long project that had a lot of different ups and downs, but it turned out to be very much worth the investment. The source for this CI solution, which we have called Katana but is really just a heavily customized fork of Buildbot, lives on both Bitbucket and GitHub.

Looking Forward Nowadays at Unity, the build team works on everything from growing and maintaining our internally hosted build cloud to continuing to maintain and develop our CI solution to maintaining our open-


»The Tech Industry Is My Home« source code review and hosting solution. (After switching to RhodeCode, we eventually worked with the Mercurial project and the Software Freedom Conservancy to fork RhodeCode into an alternative product, Kallithea, after the RhodeCode maintainers made some licensing decisions that some people in the community perceived as questionable.) We’re also in the middle of developing a custom publishing portal to maintain the ever-increasing number of releases – 2014 saw a shift to weekly alpha/beta releases in the 5.0 cycle, as well as the introduction of weekly patch releases that get critical fixes into our users’ hands faster – and we’re currently in the middle of switching our low-level build system from Jamplus and Perl (yes, those same Perl scripts I was fixing in my coding interview some years ago) to Gradle. Most of the people on my team are all people I’ve met through the open-source projects Unity participates in and contributes to.

Photo by David Llewelyn

Anyone who works in any kind of ops position is all too familiar with the hot seat when critical systems go down. In a hurry, I analyzed and evaluated alternative version control hosting solutions and started working with the Mercurial open-source community to get the custom largefiles extension integrated into Mercurial itself. Mails were exchanged, patches reviewed, and Mercurial 2.0 saw the landing of the first version of the largefiles extension in Mercurial proper. I was then able to work with a consultant that I’d met through the Mercurial development community to switch from the proprietary hosting and code review system to an open-source solution called RhodeCode, and, we were up and running again. This experience made me an even bigger supporter of the use of open-source tools. It reiterated in my mind the value of not only using open-source tools, but participating in their communities as well.

Build developer Na’Tosha Bard (right) at Unite Asia 2013

These days, my focus is shifting more towards how to streamline our development and release processes at a higher level. Unity is now over 500 people strong and R&D is no longer that little 50-person team that it was when I started – it’s now 256 people spread all over the world, and I’m still convinced that Unity is a place, or rather the place, to do great things.

“I suppose, if you’re quite sure. If this is truly your decision, I do wish you the best of luck. I suppose I’ve let fear get the best of me. Don’t make the same mistake.” - “It’s just a chromosome. I’ll decide who I am.” (goto 22)

[4] 5

“You know, if you fancied staying a few more weeks I’m sure it could be arranged. It’s only been eight and a half months after all...” - “You’re too kind, but I really must be going.” (goto 5) - “Well, I suppose a few more weeks couldn’t hurt!” (goto 6)


Carmen A Short Story by Rilla Khaled


sit down at a booth in the nondescript Montreal diner where Carmen Sandiego and I have agreed to meet for an interview. A harassed-looking waiter comes over to take my order and I tell him that I’m still waiting for someone. »Are you Rilla?« asks a soft voice with an unplaceable accent from behind me. Other than her trademark auburn tresses, she is unrecognisable, dressed in a grey cashmere sweater and black jeans, with not a trace of makeup. By the time she adds, »I’m Carmen,« I realize I’ve created an awkward pause in the conversation. I apologize and she throws back her head and laughs. »Let me guess,« she says, »you were expecting someone a little different.« We proceed to order: coffee and toast for me, and pancakes with bacon for her. »Whenever I’m in a diner, I feel ethically obliged to order pancakes,« she explains. As soon as she has mentioned ethics, I am dying to ask her what it’s like to be the leader of the Villains’ International League of Evil organization. Instead I ask her what she has planned for the day. »Not much,« she says. »I rarely plan for much. What I’d love to do is go window shopping in the Mile End.« As I have my car with me, I suggest we head there after eating. But even before the food arrives, she receives a text message. »Sorry Rilla, maybe another time? Something came up and unfortunately I need to go.« Suddenly she’s gone.


A few weeks later when I’m in Paris for a festival, Carmen gets in touch to say she’s in town for a few hours, and asks whether I want to accompany her while she shops. We meet at a café in the Marais, where she greets me with a bisous. »Sorry about last time,« she explains. »But I’m always on the clock, you know?« The phrase no rest for the wicked automatically pops into my head, but I refrain from saying it. We leave the café and head for the upmarket vintage stores she likes that »aren’t teeming with baby hipsters.« She asks me to take photos of her on her phone as she models different hats. I ask her about her famous fedora, which prompts a chortle. »I’m over fedoras. Everyone’s wearing them these days.« As I hand her phone back to her, I catch a glimpse of her desktop photo. It shows a much younger Carmen sitting on the porch steps of a large wooden house next to an older girl, both wearing matching white dresses. Later, while Carmen is at the counter paying for a fur hat, her phone rings and she answers. The call lasts only for a minute, during which she speaks heatedly in Spanish, becoming visibly agitated. »Rilla, I’m sorry, I’ll contact you,« she says, slipping out the door before I can even respond.

her interview with me over Skype. She declines on the grounds that »it’ll be too mediated,« but assures me that our paths will cross once more. I shelve the plans for the interview, convinced that Carmen has no real intentions of trying to meet. I don’t hear from her for seven months.

not do it,« looking me directly in the eye. We get to the end of the bridge, and she stops walking with me. »We have to part ways here,« she says. »I have a ride to catch.« By now I know the drill. We hug goodbye and I cross the bridge. She waves as she steps into a red convertible that has pulled up alongside her. Seconds later she is whisked away. ***

*** I’m at a hotel in Karaköy, Istanbul, for a conference when I get a message from reception that I have a visitor. I’m not expecting anyone, so when I see the familiar auburn head of curls I’m simultaneously pleased and a little creeped out. We hug as if we are long lost friends reunited. My mind turns to how she tracked me down. She mentions something nonsensical about a movie deal and asks if I have time to go for a walk. As we’re walking over the Galata Bridge, she says with a glint in her eye: »Here’s something you can write about me: three parts of this bridge are missing. And I might know something about it.« This is the first time Carmen has volunteered information about what she does with V.I.L.E. There are so many things I want to ask and I fear she’ll disappear again before I can. So I ask the big one: »Carmen, why do you do it?« Cars rush by as she remains conspicuously silent. Eventually she replies, »I cant

*** Over the next few days, I do my best to convince Carmen to complete

“Oh that IS splendid. You know, why don’t we get the final paperwork out of the way now, so when you’re ready to go, *toot-toot* you’ll be out in a jiffy!” - “A grand idea.” (goto 7)


Through Carmen’s Facebook feed, I try to determine where she is and what she’s doing. The possibilities are endless and ever-changing: tennis in Bangkok? Stunt driving in Oslo? Dog walking in London? Ruby shopping in New Delhi? *** One day she writes as a Facebook status update: »Arriving soon in a land of flags red and white!« I am certain that she’s en route to Montreal. I go to the diner and wait for her to show up. But she doesn’t. I head over to the Notre Dame de Bonsecours, as I’ve heard it`s a favourite haunt of hers. I question a guard who has worked there for years... »I’m sorry, I have never seen the person you are looking for.«


ame Girl Workshop is a short and intensive workshop where young girls are inspired to have fun with technology and get a »crash course« in the different game development disciplines: Game Design, Audio Design, Graphics and Coding. The girls get introduced to audio, graphic and coding programs and are encouraged to brainstorm and come up with their own ideas to develop a narrative that they can transfer into a computer game. We began Game Girl Workshop as a response to the significant lack of women working in the games and technology industry. The idea for Game Girl Workshop started at the Nordic Game Conference in Malmo in 2010. The theme that year was »the emerging Arabic markets,« which spawned the idea that, since this is a relatively new industry in the Middle East, it could perhaps be the perfect opportunity to get more girls into games. The idea grew on us and also made us more curious about the idea of putting a bunch of young girls into a room and giving them tools to create computer games: would they create new game narratives or would they copy a game that they had seen or played before? After a successful Game Girl Workshop at the Islamic Arabic Private School in Copenhagen, we travelled to the West Bank, Palestine, in 2012 with funding from ActionAid Denmark. We carried out several workshops in Denmark and Palestine and there was a clear difference in the storytelling between the games that were developed in Palestine and the games developed in Denmark. The games developed in Palestine were very literal; almost every game had an archetypical male hero. There was, for example, a game about a farmer. You play the farmer who has to harvest his crops and you have to do it before the insects eat them. Once you have harvested enough crops, you have to – following a very real world logic – drive the crops to the market to sell them. So there are several scenes in the game where you’re just driving a truck with the crops. The same goes for another game, Fisherman, which is a game about fishing from a boat. The game doesn’t start with you being on the boat and already fishing. In the girl’s logic, you still have to walk onto the boat before you can start fishing. It makes sense, but those are all steps we often skip in a Western way of thinking about storytelling in games. When we asked the girls why they did not have any female characters in their games, they answered that »as a male I have the power to go out in the world and do something.« Being a woman, you obviously couldn’t.


»We taught girls in Palestine and Denmark how to make their own games. by Nevin Erönde and Andrea Hasselager

Here’s what we learned.« When young girls get their hands on technology with no prior experience with the programs that we use in the workshops, some interesting compositions emerge in the visuals as well as in the music and soundscapes. Find Me is a puzzle game where you have to find the right person in the crowd. The music/soundscape does not have a certain harmonic structure, which expresses the feeling of being lost. Even though the girls have no formal musical training, they were still able to express their feelings through the software. Find Me’s eerie soundscape can also give you, as a player, associations of the creepy school yard, where everyone is wearing a mask.

The games developed in Denmark were much more individualistic, much more abstract. The games from our first workshop took place at the Islamic Arabic Private School in Copenhagen in 2010. The theme that we gave the girls was »Home.« The reason we chose this theme was that many of the girls had an ethnic origin in the Middle East and North Africa. Some of the girls wore scarves and some of them did not, but it was clear that this school and their families were very supportive and ambitious on behalf of the girls’ education and future. One of the games they developed was Darbie Going Crazy. The game starts with the story of Darbie, who is a doll. A friend of Darbie’s owner is very jealous and comes up with an evil plan to throw Darbie into a garbage dump. When the game starts, you embark on a long journey trying to survive through the garbage dump and other dangerous places before you can get back home to your own home. The levels are made up of drawings of dangerous worlds full of poison and dogs that you have to avoid in the maze, where you also get to pick up delicious strawberries and other items. The game level backgrounds are also dominated by drawings of historical personalities such as Elvis Presley, Albert Einstein and Abraham Lincoln, but for some rea-

Another thing that we observed from all the games that were developed in Palestine was that there were no stories or references to the political conflict between Israel and Palestine. The only political context we could see was in the archetypal male game characters that reflected gender in the social structure in Palestine. Also, the visuals were full of nature – flowers, forests and the sea – but the reality was that, especially for the last workshop in Palestine, which took place at the most populated refugee camp (Balata Refugee Camp), the girls had lived all their lives inside a refugee camp made up of concrete buildings.

“Ohhh, of course! Things to do, people to see! There’s just one final bit of paperwork to take care of, and then you’re off! Oh, it will be sad. Eight, almost nine months with us!” - “Please, go on...” (goto 7)


son, they swapped around the characters’ names, so Einstein became Steinein. These were all famous people who had history in art, science and politics. It was interesting for us to observe that there were no female historical personalities. Another game developed in Denmark was Movie Night, a game with an almost linear tale about growing up from childhood and stepping into the adult world. In the game, there is a conflict with the father. At that age you are still not free to do whatever you want, and you are bound by the duties in your parents’ home. One could interpret this game as being a story that reflects the girls’ personal lives. Game Girl Workshop is not only about the tools, although we give them a crash course in many skills and software programs. It is, more than anything, about the girls creating their own narratives instead of just copying a classic game play mechanic, for instance a shooter or runner game. Ultimately, the hope of Game Girl Workshop is for more women to be included and to advance within the games and technology industry, thus helping to achieve a balance in the workforce and to create a multitude of game narratives. Website: http://gamegirlworkshop.org/ Try the games: http://gamegirlworkshop.org/the-games/

I N T ERV I EW A conversation with film director Erika Lust by Miriam Suter, translated by Franziska Zeiner

Feminist Porn: Feminism and pornography may sound like an unlikely couple, especially for an indie game magazine featuring women and empowerment. But, seriously, can’t a bikini-clad woman be sexy yet not sexist at the same time? Miriam Suter interviews Erika Lust, a feminist pornographer who seems to have found a way to make pornography without turning women into sex objects. Perhaps the games industry can learn a thing or two from her.


“A final decision must be made that you’ll need to live with for quite a while, so please DO consider it carefully.” - “Absolutely! Do tell, what shall I consider?” (goto 9) - “Oh spit it out, I hate when you beat around the bush so.” (goto 8)

to talk to Erika about stereotypes in pornography and 50 Shades of Grey and why the porn industry urgently needs more feminists. Erika, how old were you when you watched your first porn movie? It was when I was in my teens, when some girlfriends and I had a sleepover. We decided to watch a porn film after one of them found their dad’s porno DVD in his secret hiding place.


or a long time I didn’t like pornography at all. As a teenager, I explored YouPorn. The clips I found there were extremely disappointing. Some jerking off, a couple of different positions, a quick in-andout and, at the end, the sticky face of a woman. It was always the same. My interest disappeared quickly.

And how was it? We were all really excited. We were about to finally discover the big secret that surrounded SEX! But what did we see? A woman with huge breasts who was sliding her big red lips over a huge cock belonging to a guy who had just fixed her car. It was incredibly disappointing!

As a feminist, I was frustrated with the silly and often degrading representation of women in porn as sex objects and bunnies, who are, of course, willing to do anything, anytime. I lost all interest in pornography until, one day, I discovered Erika Lust’s erotic videos. What I saw was people who enjoy having sex and who look the way normal people do when they have sex.

Who were these people? I didn’t find them attractive or relatable or that the sex they were having was anything as exciting as I’d expected. We felt cheated of an important experience. So the DVD went back and that was that.

Erika’s movies are widely considered feminist porn because they are authentic, tell stories and don’t always end with a glorified cumshot. You might wonder how feminism and pornography go together, if this combination is even possible. Pondering the same concerns, I decided


dirty word associated with something tacky, ugly, chauvinist and embarrassing. Good sex shouldn’t be embarrassing.

I understand what you mean. I am also annoyed by the exaggerated, unnatural representation of sex and people in mainstream pornography. Besides performers with watermelon breasts, puffy lips and bulging cocks, mainstream porn is overwhelmingly filled with repetitive, unimaginative, chauvinistic films made by the same type of men. Women are objectified and used for pleasure; nobody cares about them. Porn has become a

“It is simply my desire to make sure you make the best possible decision for yourself. The world can be such a cruel place.” - “My apologies. Will you please elaborate?” (goto 9)


Where does the stereotypical »female sex kitten« image come from that we often see in porn? I know! As though we’re all desperate to have any kind of sex at any time with anyone. I guess it’s a male fantasy that is as naïve and pernicious for men as Prince Charming has been for women. I guess centuries of chauvinism have contributed to this image. What can women like us do to contribute to this change? Honestly, I don’t believe in destroying anything. I’d rather highlight the evidence that such stereotypes are boring, idiotic and out-of-date. And of course, I want to shoot films women want to watch. My work is about inspiring other women to get into leadership roles in erotica, as directors, producers, scriptwriters etc. I myself have an almost 100% female team for the production for my films. This is how we can have bigger voice and make the kind of explicit films that we want: creative, intelligent, realistic, and, most of all, sex-positive for men and women as equals. The role of women in porn is changing, as it is in other places in society.

Is That What about men? They suffer from porn, too. What could be the solution? That can be solved by the same ethos I go by. Feminism is about the equality of both sexes. Men should be represented as much as women, receive equal pleasure and have more variation in the images of men that come across in mainstream porn. Not everyone likes the muscular, well-endowed man; some like them skinny, hairy, big, etc. So it’s important to make sure they are as relatable to the viewer as the women are. I’ve watched some of your films and really liked them. Still, could you please explain to our readers what »feminist porn« looks like to you? What’s important to you in your films? Feminism implies that a woman’s point of view is taken into account and this informs everything I do, not just in film. It influences the way I am, the way I think, the way I educate my girls. So inevitably it is always a part of my work. In the same way that gadgets, explosions and girls in bikinis are always an inherent part of James Bond films. How does that look like in your movies? My erotic films are feminist because they avoid chauvinistic clichés and are women-centric, focusing on our needs, passions and desires. But, most of all, my films are fun and sexy! I try to make them smart and

imaginative, while focused on the female perspective. Their purpose is to inspire and arouse sexual desire. So it’s important that they are creative, contemporary and realistic, with beautiful settings where locals and performers all come together to inspire the sexual fantasies of women, men and couples alike.

And how do people approach you? We use Twitter a lot as a casting tool. We contact performers directly or, if they have seen my films and liked them, they will ask to be involved. We then interview them via Skype and decide whether they will fit into a particular role we want to portray. And finally, we are constantly watching porn (professionally!), and whenever we find a new interesting performer we try to locate them.

How do you choose your actors? Is there a way to apply for a role? Do you cast? Diversity is very important for me when choosing our cast. We try to find people who embody the stories I want to create, who bring something to that particular role. We also want people with vibrancy, whom we get on with personally. I won’t shoot with them if I don’t share the same ethos and goals. We also look for people who are different from the porn stereotype – natural men and women with aesthetics of their own and have something unique. We want people who are good performers both in and out of bed. Some of them are professionals in adult entertainment, which can make things easier on set, but some of them are more like amateurs. This combination has worked pretty well so far!

Many feminists I know don’t like porn. Did you get negative reactions from feminists for your films? Of course! Many times, since porn is still an incredibly controversial subject among feminists. It’s still seen by many as a chauvinistic and violent practice against women. So it was only natural that my version of porn was still going to cause issues with others. I am a sex-positive feminist. This means that consenting adults can have sex in front of the camera if they want, the same way that I think that women should be able to enjoy porn like men have been doing for years. I shoot the films that I want to watch, where women are represented in a different way.

But of course our choices in diversity can be limited by money, distance and scheduling issues as well, so there is only so much we can achieve in trying to represent different characters, stories and locals.

Your book La Cancíon de Nora is about 24-year-old Nora who can’t decide between two men. An erotic novel: your answer to 50 Shades of Grey? I consider what I do to be a different genre of erotica from that of 50 Shades. Let’s say that 50 Shades of Grey is for beginners, ha ha... No, seriously, the main difference is that in my books and in my films the female characters are strong and take the lead. They are curious; they are not just waiting for another Prince Charming to teach them how to enjoy themselves in bed.

XConfessions Vol. 2 by Erika Lust

A Thing? 9

… just like Christian Grey, who shows Ana Steel in E.L. James’ novel how to have »real sex?« Exactly. This has nothing to do with submission in a BDSM relationship, which, by the way, I think is rather watered-down in 50 Shades. In my view, it capitalizes on a very unrealistic story of BDSM, from a very chauvinistic viewpoint and with an amazing marketing campaign. On the other hand, now that women have realized that they have the right to get aroused through erotica (the fact that everyone is reading the book sort of legitimizes it), maybe some of the 50 Shades readers will become curious and go further. Do you watch your own films for pleasure? Oh god no! Because I spend so much time carefully working on them – from the script to the editing and even promotion – in the end I’m absolutely exhausted. I think many writers and filmmakers go through this as well. If I were watch one of my films, I’d start thinking: »Why didn’t I put the camera in that corner instead?« or »Next time we should leave the music on for longer,« etc. I wouldn’t get much out of watching them for pleasure. Can you name some other feminist super girls out there in the porn industry who make films like yours? I really like Murielle Scherre, Ovidie, Sonya JF Barnett, Tristan Taormino, Jennifer Lyon-Bell, Madison Young, Maria Beatty… We are more every day! In fact, this is a very special moment for the alternative adult industry. It has been 10 years since I opened my production company and 10 years of feminist porn awards. It is curious: a lot of colleagues began their careers 10 years ago, as if we all had the same urgency at the same time.


An Interview with Ruth Lemmen by Dennis Kogel

Can you tell me a bit about yourself ? Who are you, what do you do and how did you get involved with »Womenize!«? My name is Ruth Lemmen. I’m working as a freelance consultant with a focus on the international games, film and digital media industries. Together with Michael Liebe, head of International Games Week Berlin, I developed the concept for »Womenize!« I am the event’s program director and am currently busy with its strategic and conceptual planning. Michael Liebe and myself used to work together on different projects when I was still with the BIU, and we had always wanted to develop a new event together. That’s how »Womenize! Tech, Digital Business and Media« was born. As we’ve both worked for different institutions and companies in the digital and gaming industries for years, we felt that there is a need to bring more women into these fields of work. There are a lot of qualified and creative female talents out there who could carry new impulses into those industries.

Bri ng wo ing me m o n tec int re h o

in PR or marketing. We want to set up a hub for information, networking and exchange, and primarily help the companies of the digital industries to overcome their skill shortage. There is a huge potential for that! What can I expect as an attendant of »Womenize!«? We offer a recruitment and training experience for women’s career building in games and tech. We want to firmly establish the subject well beyond 2015 and to carry it into other industries. We offer companies in tech and digital business the opportunity to present themselves and to get in touch with young creative and qualified women seeking to start or change their careers in the business. The conference program will contain lots of keynotes and presentations on career building, mentorship, job profiles within the digital industries, advanced training opportunities, and female entrepreneurship. The workshop program offers coaching and consulting for our female audience and for companies planning on recruiting more women. We are counting on approximately 150 national and international participants. What we don’t want are some knowit-alls telling girls what to do. Our action day for new talent in tech,

What makes this goal, bringing more women into tech, so important to you? Skill shortage is a huge problem for companies in the digital field – they are all looking for creative and qualified talents. The games industry, for example, has succeeded in tapping new target groups by addressing women with their products. Women know what women want to play and can make a difference to the look and feel of a product if they are involved in the development processes. I am convinced (and this is backed up by surveys) that diversified teams work more successfully together. On the other hand, we see a lack of information and a lot of reservations among young people: they are digital natives who are online constantly, playing, chatting using social media platforms and so forth. But, interestingly, they don’t necessarily have those industries in mind when planning their careers. »Womenize!« will focus on further developing the culture of the digital industries and help to empower and motivate women to work in tech, games, media and digital industries – in development, creative jobs,

! e z i n e m o W [9]


“It’s the matter of your... sex. Here, on this form, you must simply check a mark next to the final chromosome you’d prefer. Either X, or of course, Y.” - “Uh, ok. What’s the difference?” (goto 24) - “Ah, yes. Well, I’m ready to choose.” (goto 19)

“Well, why not go with a bit of variety? An X and Y would make for a splendid pair!” - “You think I should develop male?” (goto 13) - “Why not indeed! Check away, I’ve things to do.” (goto 2)


Soni Riot by Anna Niedhart

digital business and media is all about engagement, sharing know-how and leveraging experience. Surveys show that women need role models to promote their own careers more easily, so that’s another aim: to present role models and to foster mentorship. For us, »Womenize!« is especially successful if some of the participants meet their future employers at our event, and if we can actively do our part to change the way our industry is structured. What advice would you like to give women who want to work in games and tech? If you want to work in the digital industries, excellent knowledge of English is a must. In a lot of companies from the digital field – though based in, for example, Germany – English is the working language. Career starters should try to build a solid and broad network right from the beginning and try to get as much information as possible on the different job opportunities and job profiles


that the digital and tech industries have to offer. Young women should be self-confident, trust in their qualities and make themselves visible in social and business networks. My personal advice for all young talents is to focus on their online profiles. LinkedIn and other online business networks, as well as Facebook, are not a parallel life but your personal online business card. I also recommend setting up an online portfolio with references and a Curriculum Vitae. This could just be a simple blog, but everything should be bundled in one place. And last but not least: Go for your goals! You might end up in an industry that offers more possibilities than you may have expected.

“Ah. Before I tick the box, are you absolutely sure?” - “I’m not sure you can be SURE.” (goto 10) - “Of course I’m sure.” (goto 14)


Consentacle: I N T ERV I EW

A Sex Game

An interview with Naomi Clark by Krystle Wong

When Consentacle was first announced at the Sex Games panel at last year’s Different Games conference, heads turned. Sex and tentacles?! A cooperative card game for two players, Consentacle represents a consensual sexual encounter between a curious human and a tentacled alien. Players have to figure out how to build trust and do sexual things with each other, even if they can’t communicate easily. What to make of Consentacle? Is it brilliant? Icky? Different? To me, what one of the most fascinating things about Consentacle is how it sets out to quantify the unquantifiable: sex. Actions like winking and penetrating are assigned a certain number of Satisfaction Tokens and totaled up at the end of a game, and players can interpret those numbers using a table provided with the card deck. I talk with Naomi Clark (@metasynthie) to find out the process behind one of the most original card games currently out there.

[12] “Oh dear, this is JUST what I hoped to avoid. People don’t like to change, and there are just so MANY of them. There are challenges whatever you choose, but that’s LIFE. Picking Y... They often want so much more. I’m simply worried for you.” - “I give up. Just check the box.” (goto 2) - “Then I will give them more, but it’ll be on my terms.” (goto 3)

Tell me a secret: How did you decide on the number of Satisfaction Tokens given or taken for each action? Did you have long and, I imagine, fun ref lective sessions over how to quantify sexual acts? Hah! Unfortunately it’s not anything particularly exciting. The game has an arc with more tentative actions that tend to happen near the beginning, but also recur throughout, building up towards the more intense and difficult maneuvers to pull off – the things that take more trust. Those actions were always the ones I intended to be more racy and worth blushing about. As for the exact numbers, however – it was a process that involved a lot of math and simulating theoretical games in a spreadsheet. Totally not sexy – which of course is part of the amusing paradox of the whole thing, what makes the game feel like »Love in a Time of Systems« to me.

I always want to make sure that I peer through. So much of our interaction with the world, with other humans, with various constructed experiences is mediated by systems, even if looking at everything that way is far from the whole truth. There was something horribly appealing to me about dealing with the economy of trust, love, and sex; these are sacrosanct facets of life to most of us, things we like to think of as being beyond the influence of economies and numbers and rules – but of course, systems around us are influencing our relationships at a deep level all the time. I don’t just mean through overt economies like money, but also in scarcity and difficult limitations of care, and trust, and affection, of structure-born differences between people and the expectations of society about relationships. All of that was in my unconscious mix as I began working on Consentacle, although it took some time for me to be able to articulate it. The system of Consentacle isn’t the aspect that brings mystery, intimacy, or ineffable qualities of connection to the experience of playing it – I have to rely on the players for that, and maybe I should. After all, I’m just the person trying to set the stage or arrange furniture for a party, I’m not even there most of the time when people play my game. The system is, though not the villain of the piece, definitely part of

Consentacle is like an entire economic system in and of itself! How did you come up with the mechanics of it all? Why so system-oriented? System is a huge area of interest for me when I design games. Although I wouldn’t say it’s the only thing or even the most important thing, it’s an ingredient in my work that I always want to keep an eye on, or a lens that 12

what constitutes a shared struggle, the backdrop that’s defining what you go through together. The origin point for many of the mechanics in Consentacle was in Netrunner, another two-player card game with a lot of play that swirls around intimacy and communication and hidden information, but with a very different theme and a competitive structure. I actually ended up imbibing too much Netrunner while I was in the early stages of designing Consentacle and had to pull back to go in a different direction; games like Hanabi and puzzles like the Towers of Hanoi were also pretty key influences. Competitive models of gameplay traditionally rely on numbers to determine who wins and loses. Consentacle does the opposite; its collaborative gameplay allows for a range of possible outcomes. Why did you choose to do that? I’m interested as a game designer and as someone who thinks about games in terms of the number of unexplored possibilities for what some people have called »disequilibrial outcomes.« Traditionally, this just means winning and losing: although both sides of a competitive game tend to start out roughly balanced, if the game is such that one side must win, that balance is disrupted. There are so many other possibilities to disrupt a placid or relatively equal starting point, though, and so many different processes or journeys along the way. In making a game about sex, I always knew that I didn’t want a mandate where one player would »win at sex« – a kind of problematic idea if it’s the way to talk about or have sex – so I looked for alternatives. Something should happen, you should go from the beginning to the end of the game and things should change, but that doesn’t have to mean winning and losing. Hmmm… What about players who are all out for competitive sex? Despite the guiding philosophy of »sex shouldn’t be about winning,« some players who relish competition have asked whether it’d be possible to do a competitive version where one

player DOES win! I’m actually kind of interested in that direction – but only on top of a game that successfully encompasses sex without winning. After all, we can imagine a consensual, delightful sexual encounter where partners agree that someone’s going to win and someone’s going to lose, right? Well, hopefully, imaginative people can and everyone else can at least think about say... wrestling. How do playtesters respond? Do they deviate from the way they would approach real-life sexual interaction during the game? Do they think of sexual interaction differently after the game? I can’t say for sure whether anyone plays Consentacle in the way that they would approach sex, but I don’t think so? It’s extremely fun to watch when players get into innuendo and thinking about things like »Restrain or Bite?« together, whether out loud or silently – but it’s absolutely not a measure of the game’s success for me whether this resembles or influences the way they actually have sex. Consentacle is a game about consent, trust and communication, and of course I believe deeply in practices of consent and my game reflects that; however, none of that means the game has a single lesson or message to impart about it. In other words, Consentacle is not meant to be a sexeducation tool to try and convince people to have consensual sex; it’s an experience that two people can have together where they can enjoyably explore and mess around with these subjects, and I have to trust players to do so responsibly. (I mean, it’s right there in the title, as well as the rules.) I’d imagine that a highly regulated game system recreating the deeply amorphous experience of romance and attraction may be too much for players who just want to use the game as, you know, a sex game. For sex. I always knew that the experience of play – beyond and above the systems shuffling around it – was going to come from players, but I did have some worries that some players might get too bogged down in the numbers. Thankfully, the atmosphere of sex, and dirty moves, and the communication that’s necessary to play Consentacle overwhelmed that aspect of it. That might not be giving enough credit to the system, though – the fact that you clamber around on it together while playing does a lot to create a hard structure that you’re pushing against while flirting, being suggestive, getting excited together, and I think hard structures can have a really beneficial role in intimacy.

I was really lucky to be able to work with James, and he did such a fantastic job with the artwork (not to mention some helpful critique for my graphic design) that I feel like the illustrations are very much the star of the show in some ways – or at least the exciting opening act. When I work with illustrators I tend to overspecify a lot. I write fairly detailed descriptions of the characters and what they’d be doing on each card – and then I attach a lot of caveats like: »But no, seriously, these are just suggestions, if you have another idea I would totally love to see it and explore it!« I’m sure some of my collaborators have found that more annoying than others, but as someone with a lot of ideas in my head who can’t draw or program all that well, I tend to spurt them all into words. Thankfully, James was really good at doing both – he used my ideas and also expressed them in his own style, in a way that was even cooler that I could envision.

I love your suggestion (in a Kotaku interview) that unusual or alien body parts can act as a metaphor for queer sexuality or strange relationships that we have to our bodies. Can you tell me more about how Consentacle is resonating with queer and trans people? Most of what I hear from other queer and trans people about this is just that they love the idea, and they love the theme. I feel like I sense, in their enthusiasm, the same kinds of things that make those themes really important to me: all of the alienness, strange body parts, and dealing with embodied differences. I might be projecting a little bit, but that’s OK; part of the great thing about making a game and seeing other people play it is that in other people’s gut-level responses, you get to feel less alone with your own reactions to the world.

There seems to be some conf lation out there over Consentacle and Tentacle Bento, the very game that angered and inspired you to do it better. What do you think is behind all that confusion? The only people I’ve seen conflating this are the controversy-manufacturing agitators associated with a certain gaming-related hashtag that’s generated a lot of harassment. Because one game is not-so-subtly about playing a tentacle monster who’s out to grab sexy girls, and the other game is explicitly about consensual sex, there’s a serious lack of reading comprehension going on. Consentacle is a reaction to the problems in Tentacle Bento and also involves tentacles, but that’s about where the similarity ends, since the two games play completely differently. Still, I’ve seen accusations that Consentacle is somehow a clone of Tentacle Bento and other even wilder conspiracy theories. The intellectual dishonesty involved is really just a means to rile people up into a never-ending outrage against »social justice.« I’m not really all that worried by it, since even a cursory inspection of the two games and their history makes it pretty clear what the real story is.

I’ve seen some pictures out there of plastic tentacles that players can wear on their fingers. (I loves it. So. Much.) What are they for? Will that be in the final version? Those were actually little plastic finger-toys that I bought from a novelty store, and handed out to players at the No Quarter opening event where the game was first played. They’re not strictly speaking part of the game – they’re more like party favors – but I definitely saw a lot of players using them during the game to, let’s say, effectuate some non-verbal communication with their partner. I still have a bunch of them, so I’m likely to include them as some kind of backer reward if there’s a Kickstarter for the game. You don’t need them to play, but all sorts of homemade or personally-provided tentacles could come in handy as accessories to deepen your satisfaction. James Harvey’s illustrations for Consentacle are so perfect. They’re sensual in the way only the best manga can be and, amazingly, not at all icky! What was the art design process like? Did you have any specific directions for him or did he just go wild with the project?

Some commentators have suggested that Consentacle – despite it being a response to reclaim tenta-

cle sex for the good – is not triggerfree. Does that make sense to you? Is it possible to love goofy tentacle sex without going into icky territory? I definitely can’t claim that Consentacle is trigger-free – after all, there are any number of things that can be triggering for people, and the intersection of tentacles and sex evoke a lot of incredibly unpleasant associations. With Consentacle I wasn’t trying to simply evade those associations; the word I chose for the title of the game is a reversal of the »tentacle rape« associations and hopefully it’s an obvious statement that it’s possible to turn tentacles around. I don’t expect everyone to care as much about »reclaiming tentacles« as queer people, or people with various kinds of feelings about normative bodies, or people who are just into good, consensual tentacles, and I understand the reactions of people who are too squicked out by the idea or the imagery. If it was an easy idea to explore, there wouldn’t be as much need to reclaim it from an awful context! I’m hopeful that Consentacle plays a small part in that, even though it’s not as explicit as some other »consensual tentacle sex« search results out there... Never-mind the haters; Consentacle is getting a lot of love out there. Let’s talk about upcoming plans! How will the final version of Consentacle look and feel like? How can we get our hands on it? Plans are still in progress for bringing Consentacle to a wider audience. I’m in the process of redesigning a few things about the game based on the ways I’ve seen people play with it and some ideas that I didn’t have time to fully explore in the first limited showing of the game. I also know that I’d like to commission James Harvey to create some more amazing illustrations to round out the set, since the current edition reuses some artwork on the alien and human versions of the same card. I’m busy with a lot of projects and with teaching game design, so I don’t have a real solid timeline yet, but I’m hoping that I’ll be able to announce something in 2015! This might involve Kickstarter, or some other form of crowd-funding, and there might be a print-and-play option that would make it possible for the game to really get out there. Until then, all the consensual tentacle fans out there will have to be patient!

Or A Game About Sex? 13

A E V A H I »

With an introduction by Cara Ellison Edited by Franziska Zeiner


’d started this mission – a kind of weird crowdfunded trip into developers’ lives via living on their couches or following them around – and I guess I’d been hanging around Karla Zimonja from The Fullbright Company for a little too long.

We sat in a late-night diner down some backstreet in London on this awful, overcast, wind-chafing night. Obnoxious, clean-shaven Canary Wharfers and women with LBDs and us two scribbled Daniel Clowes characters. I’d asked about Steve, her writing partner, and I guess we hadn’t really talked about feminism or whatever, being »a woman,« because you know, when you are a woman you don’t have to talk about »being a woman« with other women. You just are a woman. You just are. You don’t have to justify any existence or thought about the world to anyone. You don’t have to argue about the fact that you are a woman and you think the way you do. When women get together we don’t have to justify anything. It gets wearing, talking about »women.« If there were an island full of women, if we all lived there like Amazonians, we wouldn’t say shit about our gender. But there we sat bent over tumblers of rose wine and it suddenly came fast out of Karla: »I have an agenda. I HAVE A FUCKING AGENDA.« As I look back on it, it’s something wonderful and often unsaid and just... correct. Karla wanted Gone Home to be part of her and part of other women and part of extending a hand to the other people who don’t get to tell a story in games.


Here are some other women who have agendas. For the longest time I thought games with guns and explosions were the only thing I liked, but recent years have seen so many possibilities open up due to new free game making tools. Communities of free game makers have sprung up; women, queer people and others who have been traditionally ignored or marginalised by the big budget arena are adding their voices to games in an exciting way. I do have an agenda: I seek to be electrified by others’ ideas. I want those ideas to come from as many people as want to offer them. And I want to tell others about those ideas.

So it went into my book, the Embed With Games book, which is due out this year. It’s still there; it’s the second chapter. Karla is immortalised next to other developers who firmly have an agenda, a way they look at the world. We all want to talk about our agenda. We just don’t in case the game police come along and tell us we are not allowed to take our cultural role seriously. But it also did something else to me: it made me think very seriously about my own role and what I want to get out of writing. I love expressing myself and my identity not only through writing but also games. I like it when I can see a sense of authorship in another’s work. I like the moment when you can marvel at a unique design decision that has had a real impact on your experience of a work. I like it when games tell me about my world and the people in it.

Phoenix Perry (@phoenixperry) I want to increase creative thinking and raise awareness of our collective interconnectivity. If we can increase empathy and inspire creative solutions, it’s my hope we will survive long enough to evolve off Earth. I have always been a fan of science. If you study ecology you will realize that evolution works through experimentation and adaptation. Diversity within a species in an ecological system improves that species’ chance of survival. Right now we are in middle of the single largest change to our ecological system that our planet has ever seen and we ourselves are guiding it. The rise of technology will radically reshape the human experience and our planet. To have a wide range of minds with as many backgrounds as possible within tech is not only critical, it’s the way we will advance in the most successful direction. This is why I encourage diversity with STEM. I passionately believe it will improve the long-term quality of life on earth. I focus on games and creative coding because they both encourage creative experimentation and cross-disciplinary thinking in a way that engages young people who might not have otherwise considered themselves possible scientists or engineers. My drawings, my games and my thinking serve to expand ecological awareness and interconnectivity. Having an agenda is like having a guiding light. I believe that the most creative solutions for our culture are going to come from these same people. Science fiction has a way of becoming science fact. Let’s empower the most imaginative among us with technical skills; who knows what futures they can dream up?

“Oh, no no no no NO! I don’t THINK anything. I just think it’s worth considering... To avoid unnecessary unpleasantness.” - “What unpleasantness?” (goto 16)



“Yes, of course you are. It’s just... Are you aware of the additional challenges you’ll be forced to endure?” - “For goodness sake, just check Y then.” (goto 2) - “What challenges exactly?” (goto 16)


Leigh Alexander (@leighalexander) during a Q&A at a Games Now lecture at Aalto University, Finland I’m very transparent about my agenda, my politics and my beliefs, and if you don’t share them, and you would like to hear reviews from someone else, the option is simply not to read my work and to read someone else’s instead. The idea that someone can be objective when they’re talking about an emotional creative medium is fallacious, and it is a heritage of a product culture where we believe that there’s one right way to see a game – you put a number on it, and you buy it or not. And I just don’t believe in seeing games that way. If you’re of the opinion that an agenda doesn’t belong in games, then you shouldn’t read my articles.

Carly Kocurek (@sparklebliss) I think everyone has an agenda. Being able to say that you don’t have an agenda is a certain privilege. For example, for a lot of gay, lesbian and transgender people in the United States, the fact they they exist and are visible is a political act. There is no option to opt out. Their survival is seen as an agenda. This is one kind of an agenda. I have an agenda of my own. Actually, I have a lot of agendas. Sometimes they vary with projects. As a teacher, I want my students to be able to think critically about the history and culture of games, and I want them to be able to design games that are meaningful. I would like to see the games industry as a place with a diversity of ideas and a diversity of participation. People need to feel safe in this industry. It’s a real failure if everything in the industry looks the same. There also needs to be a diversity of play and of experiences. There are a lot of interesting conversations happening right now: there are games that are different and that are driven by unusual things, by complex emotional experiences, by collaboration, by weird little stories. It’s exciting, and there is a lot of potential. Games are a powerful way to provide new experiences and tell new stories, but for that to truly happen we need to push the envelope to the very edge of what games can be.

Karla Zimonja (@zusty) I want to get more representation and accessibility into the games that we make. We have a tiny little bit of power and we have to use it well, because it’s pretty amazing how important games can be to people. One of the cool things about making games is that you’re creating a universe in which systems exist the way you want them to exist. You show your views, just by making anything at all.

Zuraida Buter (@zoewi & @playfulartsfest) I like to create a culture of play. A culture where people enjoy playing together and connecting with one another and where they can experience new forms of play, games and art. I love bringing together different people for the creation and exploration of playfulness and also of crossovers between games, art and technology. I like for a diversity of voices to be heard and become visible as they present amazing, new and different perspectives. I try to actively seek out different voices, connect them and give them a platform to shine. I bring games and play to new audiences and creators.

« A D N E G A 15

A MAZE. AWARDS Among the Sleep by Krillbite (NO) Among the Sleep is a first-person horror adventure in which you play a two-year-old child. After the lights go out at bedtime, mysterious things start to happen, forcing you to confront your darkest fears. http://www.amongthesleep.com


Code 7


by Game Oven (NL)

by Kevin Glaap, Zein Okko (DE)

by Powerhoof (AU)

Bounden combines ballet and games in this unique collaboration that guides two people to dance together using a single smartphone. Holding either end of a device, you swing your arms and twist your body following a path of rings on a virtual sphere. Bounden’s moves will have you enact playful Twister-like entanglements as well as graceful ballet-like choreographies done by the Dutch National Ballet. http://www.playbounden.com

Created in one week, Code 7 is a modern text adventure game that began as a university project at the Cologne Game Lab. It combines the age-old text adventure genre with a cinematic voiceover in the style of narrative storytelling. http://retragames.itch.io/code-7

Crawl is a local-multiplayer dungeon crawler where your friends control the monsters. Kill the hero to instantly swap places, making it your turn to crawl! In Crawl, you race to gain enough experience and loot to take on the dungeon’s boss, cooperatively controlled by the other players. http://www.powerhoof.com/crawl/

Cyborg Dating

Cunt Touch This by Team Cunt (DK) Like a work of art, each cunt is unique. Inspired by Tee A. Corinne’s 1975 Cunt Coloring Book, this sensual, meditative game lets you use fingers on a touchpad to color in detailed vulva illustrations that respond to your touch. Vigorously coloring each vulva’s sweet spot will result in a slow escalation of symphonic sounds and a final cunt explosion with the game thanking you: “It was a pleasure.” http://www.copenhagengamecollective. org/projects/cunttouchthis/

by Sander Veenhof, Rosa Frabsnap (NL)


Cyborg Dating is an outdoor virtual reality experience for two people. Participants walk around in public space as a couple. At specific GPSbased hotspots, interactions occur and the date progresses to more romantic levels. The final challenge: how to kiss a person wearing a clumsy Google Cardboard device? http://cyborgdating.com

by Dreamfeel (IE) Curtain is a first-person narrative game that deals with a complex and abusive relationship. You explore the game’s spaces and piece together the story from what you find: diaries, newspapers, text messages. While you try to pick up the pieces, an everpresent narrator watches and comments on every thought so that you are coercively subsumed into their world. http://dreamfeel.itch.io/curtain 16

Deep by Owen Harris (IE) , Niki Smit (NL) A meditative and psychoactive VR game that is controlled by breathing, DEEP lets you don the Oculus Rift and use the DEEP controller to explore a beautiful and mysterious undersea world filled with ancient gods and strange lifeforms. Allow the game to sweep you into its relaxing embrace as it teaches you yogic breathing techniques that can relieve stress, anxiety and mild depression. http://www.owenllharris.com/deep

Else { Heart.Break() } by Niklas Åkerblad, Erik Svedäng (SE) Sebastian has just landed his first job in the distant city of Dorisburg. He moves there to start his adult life and figure out who he really wants to be. Among a strange collection of people, hackers and activists he finds some true friends – perhaps even love. But can they stop the terrible deeds of the people ruling the city? And who will get their heart broken in the end? http://www.elseheartbreak.com


Gang Beasts

by Messhof (US)

by Boneloaf (UK)

Flywrench is a game that lets you pilot an abstract morphing bird-spaceship through a complex web of colored lines. Each maneuver that Flywrench performs, such as flapping like a bird or tumbling like a baton, changes its color. Match the ship’s color with a shape’s to pass through it or hit an obstacle as the wrong color and fail. Accompanied by an electronic music soundtrack curated by the world famous Daedelus, the game’s pace is unrelenting and in a blink the challenge resets without penalty. http://www.flywrench.com

Gang Beasts is a silly multiplayer party game with surly gelatinous characters, brutal mêlée fight sequences, and absurdly hazardous environments. Gang Beasts is influenced by classic mêlée fighting games such as Capcom’s Final Fight games, Sega’s Streets of Rage and Golden Axe series, Konami’s Crime Fighters, and Taito’s Double Dragon and Renegade games. http://gangbeasts.com

Kentucky Route Zero by Cardboard Computer (US) Kentucky Route Zero is a magical realist adventure game about a secret highway in the caves beneath Kentucky, and the mysterious folks who travel it. http://www.kentuckyroutezero.com/

Progress Pixel Ripped Line Wobbler by Robin Baumgarten (UK) Line Wobbler is a one-dimensional dungeon crawler game with a unique wobble controller made out of an upside-down shoe-tree and a 4-meter ultrabright LED strip display. The entire game runs on an arduino, including sound, particle effects and 60+fps. It has 10 levels, lava, enemies and a final boss. http://aipanic.com/h3h/dokuwiki/doku. php?id=projects:wobbler

Sentree by Glitchnap (DK) Have you ever wondered which of your friends could protect you with their eyes closed? Find out in Sentree – a cooperative, physical mobile game for two or more players about helping each other survive through the night in a dark, unfriendly forest. http://www.sentree-game.com

by Ana Ribeiro (BR)


Follow the life of computer gaming addict Nicola as she battles through the ages to play her favorite game Pixel Ripped. A game within a game, Pixel Ripped is original, fun and full of surprises that will keep you guessing along the way. You will venture from living rooms to classrooms, playing consoles, handhelds and even arcade machines as you fight the mundane distractions of life so that you can get down to what’s most important – gaming! From the black and white 2D sprites of the 70’s to the bright and colorful 3D graphics of the 90’s, Pixel Ripped is a madcap retro homage to gaming history. http://www.pixelriftgame.com

by Ilja Burzev, Philipp Carbotta, Onat Hekimoglu, Hannes Hummel, Nathalie Martin, Volker Zerbe (DE) Outcasted is an experiential firstperson simulation game that uses the Oculus Rift to slip you into the shoes of Paul, a former engineer who now lives on the streets. Sit on a sidewalk and watch as people pass by and forcibly ignore you. Based on a million true stories, this melancholic sepiacolored world is a lesson in consciousness towards the social exclusion of homeless people. http://www.outcastedgame.com

Trip the Light Fantastic

Tetrageddon by AlienMelon (US)

by Free Lives & raxterworks (ZA)

A satire of our digital life, Tetrageddon Games is the internet in the form of a game, as if your browser landed in the web’s version of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! The game aims to do with games what Monty Python did with humor in terms of ridiculousness and constant change of themes. Free and open source, you can download the source files, modify them or build your own game based on the assets you chose. http://www.tetrageddon.com

Trip the Light Fantastic is a meditative game about exploring a vast, ever-changing fractal universe. When played with an Oculus it requires no other controls and is a completely hands-free experience. Trip the Light Fantastic is a proof-of-concept prototype but the creators plan to work on it between now and the festival to make it even more immersive, varied and enjoyable. http://raxter.itch.io/trip-the-light-fantastic 17

by Ludosity (SE) Progress puts you through 100 silly, bouncy, playful puzzling moments in the life of your phone or tablet. Simple and elegant, this game works perfectly in a social setting or party. http://progressto100.com/

Vietnam Romance by Eddo Stern (US) If you hated the war but liked the movies you’ll love this. Vietnam Romance is a side-scrolling action adventure game that follows the journey of four war memorabilia collectors on a private collecting tour put on by the mysterious “Vietnam Romance” company. The gameplay involves driving, collecting, sightseeing, tunnel-running, sky-painting, smoking, gambling, karaoke, psychological operations, hunting, looting and other adventures. A peculiar American memory trip that recreates and interrogates the fictionalized history of the Vietnam War, this game is a nod to the cultural commodification of war. http://www.vietnam-romance.com

Photo by Florian Wenningkamp

Trafo Pop Trafo Pop is a LED-addicted group of professional creatives that share a love for cycling. Trafo Pop builds their own open-source computer-controlled light-up jackets and takes them out on their night rides. Since 2014, Trafo Pop has been organizing Wear It – the first festival for wearable electronics and body-related technologies in Berlin. At the moment the group is looking for people around the world who want to join the gang and open their own chapters. Check out their websites, they are pretty damn cool! www.trafopop.com www.wearit-berlin.com

On Our Own Terms R E P O R TAG E

Women are starting businesses twice as quickly as men. Now, these game-changers are beginning to meet their own needs.


n 2011, independent game developer Brianna Wu faced one of the most terrifying moments in her career that had nothing to do with harassment à la Gamergate. Her lead animator, Amanda Warner, had just told her that she was pregnant. Wu, the outspoken founder of indie-game development studio Giant Spacekat was then working on Revolution 60. It was to be the company’s very first game, slated to be released in 2013. Warner was her best employee – they had founded the company together – and this was crunch time. How would they make it? But when Warner had first sat Wu down to break the news to her, Wu had already braced herself for the worst: was she moving? Quitting? Found a new job? A pregnancy was going to be tough, Wu thought, but they could work with it. They had to. Wu decided to bet the future of the company on it.



Leading an all-female team was not part of Wu’s original plan, but that composition has become Giant Spacekat’s opportunity to stand out from a male-dominated market. »I never set out to make a majorityfemale company, but I found that the friendships I was making and the people I wanted to work with to make the kind of games I was passionate about – games that were heavy in narrative – were women. Women were honestly the most qualified people I could find to do these jobs.«

Women need work arrangements that cater to their needs and, increasingly, women are the ones who are meeting those needs. With Wu at the helm, the all-woman team at Giant Spacekat has become a poster child for feminism in the games industry, where 76 percent of all developers are men. There are tons of room for women-led game development, Wu told me. »Even as recently as five years ago, women were only 17 percent of the games market,« said Wu. »Today we are 49.6 percent of the games market. That’s a really big disconnect in the people who are making games and the people who are consuming games. With a majority-female team, there’s room for that kind of culture and life experience to inform the game, to make it something that appeals to women in a way that games made by men for women can’t.«

Research has shown that women do do things differently. Dawn Bonfield, a materials engineer and president of the UK-based Women’s Engineering Society, explained to me that most women see themselves through their personalities, rather than through what they do. »Women often want to see the broader context of what they are doing,« Bonfield added. »When asked to

“Ah, yes, I see where you’re going... Certainly they do, but... Well, there’s only so much to go around. XYs seem to prefer sharing amongst other XYs. I’m sure you understand.” - “I don’t want to be left out, that isn’t fair.” (goto 2) - “Maybe there needs to be a bit more balance.” (goto 12)


by Krystle Wong

wire up a circuit to get a light bulb to come on, girls are far more likely to be motivated to do it if they know that the light bulb is helping a deaf person realise that somebody is ringing the doorbell, rather than just for the sake of getting the bulb to come on.« Simple differences, but these can make all the difference. I asked Wu how her all-women team has been changing the game. »If you look at the characters in Revolution 60, they’re gorgeous,« she said. »But look at the way we animate the camera in that game. The camera never lingers on a character’s boobs or butt. It’s always pointed at their face. We’re very careful to portray them as women and people first.« Including women in at least 50 percent of the playtesters – a closer reflection of the game consumer demographic – also revealed important lessons that would ultimately impact the final design of Revolution 60. »When we got men to playtest the game’s combat engine, we would get comments like: »The combat is too slow!« or »I want to be able to attack quicker!« Men would sit down and hammer the iPad like that trying to destroy everything,« said Wu. »But when we brought women into the studio to playtest, we found that women appreciated the more rhythm-based, timing-based combat. They didn’t want to attack constantly. They wanted to attack at the right moment. What we kind of did was we split the difference there.« »I think if Giant Spacekat had not been a company led by women, we wouldn’t have been so careful and so respectful to go get so many female playtesters,« said Wu. »We didn’t just assume that the men were correct; we really listened to everyone.« Not enough women in tech and games? The solution is simple, she

says. »One of the problems in tech is that it’s so male-dominated that men tend to look for mirrors of themselves to fill these positions,« said Wu. »I think the way to solve the problems in tech is basically: Hire more women.« »Women are so historically discriminated against in the games industry that I do think there is space for a women-led company.« *** It’s not just in games. Giant Spacekat belongs to an increasingly expanding demographic of womenled companies that are doing things differently. Between 1997 and 2014, the number of women-owned businesses in the United States rose 68 percent, twice the growth rate for men. Male-dominated business environments have long overlooked the needs of female employees, but with the rise of women entrepreneurs across the board, many women in other sectors are now stepping in themselves to directly meet those needs. »This data holds true for other countries as well to some extent,« explained Felena Hanson, founder of HeraHub, a fast-expanding business that provides a coworking space focused on female entrepreneurs and professionals. »In the US, some are predicting that up to 60 percent of the knowledge-based workforce will be independent by 2020. People are working in a more independent way.« And increasingly, many of these independent workers will be women. »Women want more work-life balance,« said Hanson. »They want to be able to spend more time with family and have the flexibility to work from 10pm to midnight because they want to pick up their kid after school and take them to soccer practice.« Like Giant Spacekat, HeraHub was born out of a need. When Hanson, a tech startup employee for nine years, left the scene to run her own consulting business and started looking around for a suitable coworking space, she realized that most spaces were skewed towards a younger male demographic. She felt like an outsider. »At the time, I was in my late 30s and I wasn’t at the point of my life when I wanted to hang out with 20-year-old guys who were playing beer pong in the corner,« said Hanson. »It’s a great environment but it just wasn’t right for me.« She sensed an opportunity and set out to fill in the hole in the market. HeraHub, though not exclusive to women, is notable for its spa-inspired aesthetic, with running water, candles and live plants. The company invests a lot of time and effort in building up a supportive community of like-minded and aspirational women at its coworking space. »When women are in an environment where they feel safe and supported, they operate differently,« said Hanson. »They ask more questions. They ask for more help because they feel like nobody is

going to say: well, you should know that. Starting a business is difficult. You have to be relatively vulnerable and open to ask the tough questions.« As Giant Spacekat works to expand on the venture capital circuit, Wu is experiencing exactly the sort of challenge Hanson describes. »Networking is difficult,« she said. »I find myself being excluded from a lot of social circles. If you’re a dude on the VC circuit, it’s a relatively comfortable space for you. But for me there’re so many problems and challenges we have and there’s no one to kind of look to or talk to for advice. We’re forced to solve them ourselves. It is immensely challenging.«

cult to increase the number of British women engineers above the abysmal figure of 7 percent. The materials engineer still remembers how she herself went from being a high flyer in an engineering company to somebody languishing in a dead-end role simply because she didn’t go back full-time after having a child.

Today, Wu still remembers the initial despair she felt about her lead animator’s pregnancy with utter clarity. »When I first heard Amanda was pregnant, my first instinct and reaction was terror for my company,« she said. »I have a lot of stereotypes in my mind about mothers. I was very worried about that.«

»They were just not set up for part-time working and my career really suffered,« Bonfield recalled. »I put it down to poor management and an uninformed manager rather than a company policy, but the effect was the same. I left the sector, and have never returned. This is common for a lot of women who would otherwise now be in senior roles.«

But not one to be easily daunted, Wu set out to make it work. She talked to female friends who had had experience managing and working with pregnant employees. »What they told me constantly was: communication is key, setting expectations is key, giving her space is key,« she said. »So every single week I would go talk to Amanda and I would say: ‹What are your goals for this week? What are you feeling? What is reasonable to expect of you this week?›»

*** *** The majority-women environment at Giant Spacekat and HeraHub’s coworking spaces has opened up room for honest conversations about what it takes to be a working woman. “At our company, when somebody has period cramps for the day, we’re like: go take a nap. Do what you’ve got to do. There’s no shame in that,” said Wu. “There’s a really open culture.”

For Wu, integrating these concerns into her studio is a way of setting an example. »It’s really important to me that a woman can have a child and still work at my company,« said Wu. »I think a mother brings more perspective to the table and not less. I feel like I have a responsibility as CEO and frankly, as a very visible public figure, to kind of raise these issues in my professional life, in the way I run my company.«

But, she says, it is motherhood that is currently one of the most overlooked realities of a woman’s working life.

»I feel like we’re charting new waters, to say: look, guys, women are 50 percent of the consumers. We need to be closer to being 50 percent of the developers. And for us to become 50 percent of the developers, we need to change the culture of development a bit. And I think Giant Spacekat is a very bold experiment in creating an environment that is comfortable to women.«

»When we talk about the harassment of women in tech or sexism in tech, I think we talk about sexual harassment of 20-something women a lot,« said Wu, who had been forced to flee her home last year after receiving multiple rape and death threats at the height of Gamergate aggression. »But I see a complete absence of talking about how mothers are discriminated against in the games industry. The games industry is so dominated by crunch and overloaded work schedules that...I think it goes unnoticed by a lot of men here...that after women have kids, they generally leave game development. Because the environment is just not conducive to that. In a very male-dominated video game environment, these issues just don’t come up.«

Wu, who is now in her mid-30s, struggled mightily with the question of having children. »When you see a mother with kids, doesn’t a part of your heart just tug?« she asked me. »In a way that feels like it’s been hardwired into your brain? Do you feel that too? It is so emotional. Sometimes I hang out with Amanda and her daughter and it makes me feel like I’m missing an important adventure. So that’s what that’s about. It’s about that longing inside of me.«

At HeraHub, too, Hanson noticed that many women were leaving their corporate jobs once they had a child. As a result, the coworking space caters to many working mothers by providing lactation rooms so that those who are still breastfeeding can have a private space to pump their milk. »And because it’s a female-focused environment, they feel comfortable putting their breast milk in the refrigerator without bagging it up and making it secretive,« laughed Hanson. »I mean, can you imagine a woman breastfeeding in a gaming, technology environment with a bunch of guys? I just can’t even imagine what would happen.«

»I think that’s something a lot of women struggle with at my age. Those are the questions after your 20’s: What is my life about? What is important to me? Where am I going? The answer I have personally come to is that I want to be a kind of figurehead for women in tech. And kind of fighting some of these battles for the long-term good of women in this field. I feel that that’s a very respectable life mission for me.« At this point, I suggested to Wu that she is, in fact, a sort of mother figure for women in the tech industry. »To a degree, I think I am,« said Wu after a moment’s pause. »I guess I’ve never thought about that but it’s probably true.«

Overall, women are more likely to leave their full-time jobs in maledominated sectors following maternity leave. Bonfield believes this is one of the reasons why it is so diffi-



»It was that constant communication that led us to work out something that was fair to everyone involved,« said Wu. »I’m not gonna lie to you and tell you that her productivity didn’t suffer. It did. But in the long run, I’ve gotten a very loyal and particularly skilled employee who’s much happier with her life. She loves being a mom.« After her birth, Warner’s daughter Emma became a common sight at Giant Spacekat. »At first, having a meeting with a kid around felt strange – largely because it’s not really done in professional circles,« said Wu. »But I quickly got used to it and realized it’s not a big deal. I realized that respecting Amanda meant Amanda’s child. Work should never ask a parent to choose between their job and their child.« *** In 2014, Wu’s bet paid off. The four-woman studio released Revolution 60, which quickly became known for its all-female cast and cinematic narrative. »A rarity on mobile platforms,« noted The Guardian. And the Giant Spacekat family is growing. Natalie O’Brien, who recently joined the company as administrator, was six months pregnant when she was hired. “I wasn’t even going to send over my resume,” O’Brien told me over email. “But Bri and Amanda didn’t blink an eye. They interviewed and hired me knowing my situation, and have been extremely supportive over the first month of my employment.” »I think we’ve got to have more honest conversations like that,« said Wu. »Something that I prize very much at Giant Spacekat is that we really do have a very open culture. There’ve been days when Amanda’s been up all night with her child and I’ve been like: just take the day off.« »I think there’s this kind of competitiveness in American corporate culture where you kind of keep all this stuff hidden. It’s time to have honest conversations about it.«


Games in Common by Nina Freeman Lumberjack Lounge ice melting beside me, curled up in frayed tights. TV polygons arrange into Picard’s Star Trek face— “would you please turn up the volume?” I roll over, scrupulous on white sheets. Mega Man projected onto a screen whips his Metal Blade in eight directions and a (handmade Snorlax dress) girl the size of a stitch in the crowd is airborne and smiling. I see her through the lights in a second. Hotel “The Labyrinth” lit up by glow sticks full of Hypnotiq and electronic noise. You grab my hand at midnight, naturally occurring volcanic glass, a momentary rhyolite. Empty champagne glass left by two shirtless men falling down. A girl alone in the lobby leaves through automatic doors into an idle concierge.


“Oh my, where to start... Well, upkeep for one! There is quite a bit of additional maintenance required. This facility for instance. Even if you aren’t interested in hosting. We must change the bedding monthly, visitor or no.” - “Sounds like a pain. Fine, Y.” (goto 2) - “I’m not above a bit of responsibility.” (goto 17) - “I could run this place, busy or no.” (goto 21)


by David Calvo


“CERTAINLY not! But you’ll be expected to keep up appearances. People will look at you, and they don’t want to be put off.” - “You’ve made your point. Just tick Y.” (goto 2) - “Why should I care if I put them off?” (goto 18)

APRIL 21-26, 2015




In cooperation with


A Temple For All Our You’ve probably never heard of kick-ass game developer Katharine Neil. Time to change that. Cara Ellison writes from Paris. by Cara Ellison


he story begins in a place called Chartier. I sit opposite New Zealand-born game developer Katharine Neil. We’ve ordered champignons and the cheapest wine on the menu, and I am trying to defend US-born Deus Ex designer Harvey Smith. Both Katharine and Harvey live here in France. They are both on The List.

programmer: a triple threat if you will. She has worked on a string of AAA titles in Australia for places like Atari and Infogrames, and has switched in and out of various roles in development. Alongside her work in the commercial industry, she created game-based artwork and fostered game development within the Australian arts community. Katharine co-founded Free Play in 2004 with Marcus Westbury, Australia’s now annual independent game developers conference. She’s now in Paris completing her PhD in Tools For Game Design at the Conservatoire Nationale des Arts et Métiers and Flinders University in South Australia, and has worked with Lady Shotgun Games on Buddha Finger on top of producing her own projects.

»People should know who Harvey is,« Katharine says, horrified, surrounded in enclaves of brass and wood, the roof high and old. »There’s a temple for all of our gods, big and small, past and present,« I say, the cut of steak knives through bloody meat around us. »And pretty much everyone goes there for inspiration… But the statues were never inscribed in the first place, unless you’re Cliff Bleszinski, maybe Warren Spector. That’s just how it is.« There shouldn’t be a canon, but there always ends up being one, and it’s never enough. And the people who decide it are always the ones with the money.

Over the past year, journalist, critic and games developer Cara Ellison uprooted her life to meet the world’s most interesting game developers...and hang out. The project is called Embed With and is now being edited into a book. This is a reprint of a longer article on game designers Katharine Neil and Harvey Smith from Cara’s time in Paris. The full-length article can be found at www.embedwith.tumblr.com.

She’s also the most politically opinionated developer I’ve ever met. In 2003, Katharine, veteran current affairs journalist Kate Wild, veteran designer Ian Malcolm, and a team of extremely talented developers risked their jobs and future careers to make the political suckerpunch game Escape From Woomera. Katharine was the creative director. The Half-life mod prototype explored the real-life injustices of asylum seekers who were imprisoned in the Woomera Detention Centre in Australia in direct defiance of UN stipulations. It provides the player with a way to experience the difficult situations and understand the decisions of someone up against the bureaucracy and injustice of the state. The aim is to get out of the Detention Centre, something only a few asylum seekers had done at the time. Asylum seekers were asked to contribute their stories, which were interpreted into the game design as accurately as possible. You can play the prototype through several differ-

Katharine has been telling me she is unsurprised to hear that no one has heard of her, but she is appalled that anyone who makes games would ask who Dishonored’s Harvey Smith is. Yet Katharine Neil is the never-heard-of game developer that everyone should know about. I shift uncomfortably every time Katharine self-denigrates, which is often.

Hidden By The Square Jaw Of Kip Neil Katharine Neil has been developing games since 1998. A professional game designer, sound designer, and 24

ent asylum seekers, who each reveal different stories and ways to escape.

Politics Versus Games The Australian Council for the Arts awarded $25,000 to the team to have Escape From Woomera developed. This was not a popular decision with the Australian Minister of Immigration Phillip Ruddock, or the head of the Refugee Council of Australia, Margaret Piper. Ruddock thought the game would make Australia look bad (as opposed to the real policies the game portrayed in detail) and Piper thought that because it was a videogame it would ‘trivialize’ the issue – a popular opinion amongst the conservative left. The team was called on by Channel Nine, the Today Show, ABC Radio, The Age, and several other media outlets to justify themselves. The New York Times wrote a feature on games that it said depicted a new ‘grim reality.’ It was the largest ideological fistfight a game had ever instigated: bare knuckle with a government, using its own funding. It told the Australian government in no uncertain terms that if games aren’t art they certainly mean something. Years later Daniel Golding at ABC would write this excellent retrospective on the controversy. Woomera Detention Centre has now been shut down, but other detention centres have been consolidated in its wake. The game’s website has been placed in an Australian national internet archive called Pandora, a place I like to imagine is the online version of the warehouse from Raiders of the Lost Ark. »The Minister for Culture ordered an inquiry into how the project


J u s t

“Oh, very practical reasons I ASSURE you! You may need help, and especially the XYs DO love to help. It could be at school, or perhaps getting a job.” - “So I’d be more helpful if I tack on a Y? All right then.” (goto 2) - “It sounds like XYs get to be in charge.” (goto 1)

Gods [19]

could be funded,« Katharine says to me whilst she cooks in her tiny SaintDenis kitchen. »The Minister for Immigration said what we were doing was illegal, because we were encouraging refugees to break the law.« The media frenzy began when Katharine answered questions on the game anonymously for the Sydney Morning Herald. She was working for Atari at the time and she remained anonymous throughout Woomera’s development for fear of losing her job. She suspected she would be fired if she went public because a year earlier she’d written a political article entitled »Fight to the death: military versus the modder,« criticising the firstperson shooter America’s Army. Her boss had brought her into his office and warned her that she shouldn’t be writing political screeds. When Katharine co-founded Freeplay in 2004, she sat in the audience of her own talk on Escape From Woomera and answered questions on her laptop via text-to-speech to retain her anonymity, like something from a spy film. »I regret not having the balls to go: oh fuck it if I get the sack then… whatever,« Katharine says now. »I’d have had more of a profile,« citing that now perhaps her authority and credibility to change things would be greater. Few people in games have heard of Katharine. She was afraid that if people knew her name, she would lose her livelihood. Until recently Katharine was undercover on Twitter as hot Aussie bloke Kip Neil. Her disguise? A picture of the most square-jawed man she could find for an avatar. (She tells me this was part of an experiment to see if people really do listen more to men. When she first started to talk to me on Twitter under this guise I was delighted, so perhaps it works.) Escape From Woomera was only a prototype mod, but its legacy man-

“Wonderful. Which box shall I tick?” - “X please.” (goto 11) - “Y please.” (goto 2)

aged to create a conversation that forced people to consider games as a cultural force for deeper thought. »That was the conversation people were having in the comment threads,« Katharine says when I ask her if it changed people’s perception of games. »The idea that games might not just be commercial! That they might be culturally relevant. People went from ‘urgh, you’re a game developer’ to changing their minds,« says Katharine. »The idea that you could even fucking string a sentence together, that you could have serious ideas and don’t want to corrupt the children…«

J u l i e

The Australian public got behind the idea, even if the government didn’t. People started to ask each other if games were art, even if they didn’t quite believe it. A few key people in the establishment stood up for the project. But some people with funding in the cultural establishment tried, in the beginning, to prevent Katharine’s team from making Escape From Woomera. Katharine shakes her head. » ‘You can’t make entertainment out of serious issues,’ they said. Charlie Chaplin made The Great Dictator! The number of people who told me beforehand: ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do this, you can’t do this. Maybe you could do this ten years from now. Maybe you could do it if it’s not a game.’ “ »One woman said: ‘We don’t fund mass market projects.’« »I said: ‘Well, it’s an art project.’« »‘But it’s a game.’« »‘It’s political. It’s art. It’s got political content.’« »‘We’re a bi-partisan organisation.’« »I was thinking: you work for an arts organisation! Jesus fucking Christ,« she says. »The amount of people who said: ‘You can’t do it. You won’t be able to do it. You should just give up.’« But she did do it. She did it anyway. 25

by Julie Heyde


am Julie. That’s right. Just Julie. I also happen to be a girl in the games industry, but I never really understood the fuss about gender. I grew up with two older brothers, who taught me to play video games (they called it babysitting) and taught me how to play football (the European version) and I got to play with all their Lego, Action Man and Smurfs...which I mixed with My Little Pony and Barbie. I went to dancing classes from age three – together with my mother and brothers – who also did karate. Some of my classmates rode horses and I begged my parents to let me start on that. That took over all my spare time although my father really wanted me to do karate too. I still play games. And I still ride horses. My own horse’s name is Shayla and I’m part of organizing an event called Shayla Games in my hometown, Copenhagen, Denmark. My company, Bandello, is named after another horse I had. I’ve worked with investors and startup companies and game development studios since the second year of my bachelor’s degree in law and economics. For my master’s, I studied entrepreneurship and marketing at the Copenhagen Business School. So I was working on the business side of things from a very young age. Some five years ago I decided to work full time in the game development industry and continued what I am good at – connecting people – but with a sole game industry focus. Some two years ago I decided to make games myself and I am currently working on the VR game RAGNAROK together with a bunch of awesome friends. I still do consultancy work on the business side to make money for conference trips and expos. What I realized about the games industry throughout all these years – and especially the indie/ jamming scene which I’m part of – is that it’s a place where you can do whatever you want. You rarely find two people with the same background and story, and this is part of why the game scene is such an interesting field to be working in. It has turned into a lifestyle business for me where I can travel around the world, hang with my friends and meet new amazing people. And hey, I’m still just Julie.

Rogue Queen TYPE-IN GAME

by Sos (@Sosowski)

The Queen is the most powerful piece in the ancient game of chess. Some even dare say she is too powerful. She provides great offensive and defensive capabilities. Should a player lose his or her Queen, the game immediately tilts towards the other player. The Queen provides both protection to the relatively harmless King and ion cannon grade attack possibilities. The Queen is badass. The Queen can easily take on waves of enemies alone. This is a game about a rogue Queen, which has been stranded on a board surrounded by enemies. Your goal is to control the Queen to take on and capture incoming enemy pieces. The Enemy has no brain and it moves are random – unless you are in its line of sight, at which point the game is over. The Queen does not appear among enemy forces unless you allow a pawn to reach the end of the board, which might end badly. As simple as it sounds, the layer of strategy provided by using chess rules generates a need for tactical forward thinking even when the enemy is just a blind random AI controlled by the computer.

This function renders the board along with the Unicode chess pieces. It also highlights the target field according to move viability and provides the “Game Over” information.

Type-in games are a long-lost genre, and this is probably one of the last in its kind. In the early days of personal computing, most machines were operated by either programming it according to specification or by using existing software. With the introduction of graphical interfaces, computers have become more accessible and more widespread, losing the need for an engineering background to as much as to operate them. And with that, type-in applications became obsolete. Even if one wanted to bring them back, most contemporary computers lack a common programming language without a third party compiler or interpreter. What would be the point of typing in a program if one is required to download another program to run it anyways? But times have changed and the standardization of personal computing have brought upon a new standard programming language that is available to all computers right out of the box: JavaScript. Open a text editor of your choice, type this code in, execute as HTML, and you’ll get probably your last chance to experience a type-in game. As for the code itself, I must say it is quite a challenge to write a piece of software optimized for being typed in by hand. Thus, most of the solutions found in this game have been optimized neither for performance nor size, but for the ease of typing it in. Let us then begin the typing adventure by setting up an empty canvas!

This functions moves a piece to a location and if possible captures anything that stands in the way. The other function checks for a piece at a given position and the last one lazily looks for a free landing spot for any incoming pieces.

Now it’s time for global variables and chess piece database and a couple of helper functions

Now it’s time for global variables, a chess piece database and a couple of helper functions for generating random numbers and populating the piece array.


This is the enemy brain, which is extremely simple; it randomly picks a field on the board to move to. Things become complicated once the board fills up and it is easier to make a bad move. Without proper shuff ling, it is possible for a piece to not move at all, but it saves a whole lot of typing.

This function checks the viability of moving piece p to (x,y). The moves are defined by a target field list that can be both rotated four times by 90 degrees and extruded until the end of the field. Iterates through every possible move target field and compares with arguments to determine whether it is a valid move.


This callback transforms mouse coordinates to board ones.

When everything is ready, it’s time to enter the Queen and begin the game.

The game is operated entirely by a mouse. After each successful player move, the AI takes its turn.


That’s it. With merely two hundred lines, you can have a very simple but hopefully engaging chess-based rogue game in your browser. I hope that it was an enjoyable hike and that the game was worth this many keystrokes. If you are reading this, you are probably a GDC goer with experience in computer engineering. If you suppose this could be improved in any way, or if you’ve found a bug or would like to tell me how backwards awesome I am for making type-in games in 2015, please let me know via Twitter! I wish you all a busy conference and happy typing! Cheers!

“Of COURSE it is! But many people want very much to ensure you make the BEST possible decisions, to PROTECT you from... Well, yourself possibly!” - “I don’t want to mess it all up. Shall we just go with Y?” (goto 2) - “Nonsense! It’s my concern, not THEIRS.” (goto 23)

Sexist Conference Bingo by Phoenix Perry





























A by Tatiana Vilela

Adsono is a cooperative electronic game for two players. This gaming installation is made from multiple boxes that are strapped to each player’s body. Each box contains a button illuminated by a LED. The point is to press all the lit buttons simultaneously. At first, the game seems simple. Only two or three buttons light up at a time. But as the game progresses, more and more buttons are lit, forcing the players to entangle their arms and legs to reach all the buttons. Designed and built by French game designer Tatiana Vilela and developed by Guillaume Noisette, this quirky installation was first introduced to the public at the jam organized by indie festival Zoo Machines in the north of France. Month after month, they worked to provide a secure installation to present their game to players around the world. The game is playable at various events. Check out the website to find out where the next Adsono installations will take place: mechbird.fr/en/adsono


SO 28


“I’m quite SURE you could! Though I’m not who you’ll need to worry about. Many XXs, and even XYs, will be quite concerned with your use of this kind of space.” - “I don’t want to worry about bureaucracy with my own body. Just tick the Y.” (goto 2) - “Why wouldn’t it be MINE to worry about?” (goto 20)


“Then farewell. Be strong! Life has a way of taking it out of you, whoever you may be.” *** THE END ***

Illustration by Devine Lu Linvega


Illustration by Liselore Goedhart


“Oh it’s not that I disagree! You’re right, I’m sure, but people won’t just accept that and leave you alone. I fear all too often resistance only spurs them on.” - “You make it sound so utterly futile. I relent.” (goto 2) - “Then they will be spurred until black and blue!” (goto 12)


PUBLISHER A MAZE. GmbH Brunnenstr. 153 DE 10115 Berlin Germany

“Well, if you select a second X, your first chromosome is also X you see... Then you’ll develop female characteristics. Selecting Y will develop male characteristics. Might I make a recommendation?” - “No, thank you. I’m ready.” (goto 19) - “Why not. What do you think?” (goto 10)

DESIGN!/!LAYOUT FUK Graphic Design Studio www.fuklab.org

EDITOR IN CHIEF Thorsten S. Wiedemann @ST0RN0 EDITORS Franziska Zeiner @herecomesfran Dennis Kogel @AlexBronsky Krystle Wong @krysoberyl


COVER PHOTO Florian Wenningkamp www.florianwenningkamp.de SALE Johnny Säil PICTURE EDITING Laura Byld

A MAZE. Magazine © A MAZE. GmbH E-MAIL REDAKTION contact@a-maze.net www.a-maze.net Thanks to all the contributors, partners, friends and family. This magazine is for everyone who sees games not only as a product and believes in a playful future where technology is used for artistic expression.

Illustration by Delphine Fourneau


Friday, April 24, 2015, 7pm Neue Heimat, Revaler Str. 99, RAW area

Hosted by William Pugh and Kevin Patterson Music by Angie Reed

Profile for A MAZE.

A MAZE. Magazine No.1 - EU Edition: Women  

This issue is about women who are working in the games industry. It presents women at work, women fulfilling their dreams, women being part...

A MAZE. Magazine No.1 - EU Edition: Women  

This issue is about women who are working in the games industry. It presents women at work, women fulfilling their dreams, women being part...


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