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How Destiny's Lack of Inclusive Design Spawned "Can I Play That?" with Courtney Craven
Episode 710th November 2020 • Pixel Therapy Pod • Pixel Therapy Pod
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It's been a rough couple weeks. We hope you're all hanging in there and protecting your space. Recharge and hang with us! This week we're joined by Courtney Craven (they/them), a video games industry accessibility consultant, captioner for Epic Games, and the editor-in-chief of Can I Play That?, the online destination for gamers and developers to find reviews, news stories, and features spotlighting accessibility advocacy within the gaming industry.

Courtney shares the frustrating and disturbing personal story of how playing Destiny with their late partner inspired them to break into the video game accessibility industry, and Spencer freaks out a little bit over having the chance to vent about Tell Me Why with another trans person. (It gets a little spicy.) We LOVED having time with Courtney and we think you will too!

Follow Courtney on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CyclopediaBrain

Visit Can I Play That?: https://caniplaythat.com/

New episodes drop every other Tuesday. Learn more at pixeltherapypod.com or follow us on social media @pixeltherapypod. If you like what you hear, please take a moment to rate us, leave us a review on Apple Podcasts (or your listening app of choice) & subscribe! Thank you!

Transcripts

Courtney:

I can consider a game the most accessible thing I've

Courtney:

ever played. Someone else is going to be like, "I can't even

Courtney:

start it." So the fact that a lot of these massive, massive

Courtney:

outlets are only interested in one voice, or one sort of voice,

Courtney:

is problematic. [music break]

Jamie:

Welcome to Pixel Therapy, the video game podcast where we

Jamie:

look at the games we play through the lens of the player,

Jamie:

where what you play is just as important as how you play it,

Jamie:

and where emotional intelligence is a critical stat. Every other

Jamie:

week we bring on a guest who may or may not consider themselves a

Jamie:

gamer to discuss one of the games that made them and changed

Jamie:

them, and all the feelings they have about our favorite pastime.

Jamie:

I'm your co-host, Jamie, pronouns she/her.

Spencer:

and I'm your co-host Spencer, pronouns they/them.

Jamie:

We got a quick request for listeners this week. Hey,

Jamie:

you. Hi, are you a listener? Are you listening right now to this

Jamie:

podcast? Right now, right this second? We want to know who you

Jamie:

are. So take a screenshot of your podcast player with us

Jamie:

playing and post it or share it to your stories on Instagram,

Jamie:

and tag us so we can share it too and say hi, we'd love to say

Jamie:

hi to you. It'll be fun. It'll just take a second. And yeah,

Jamie:

we'd love it. If you could do that. If you can. You could even

Jamie:

do it right now if you want while I'm talking about it. But

Jamie:

you know, no pressure, though, because this is Pixel Therapy,

Jamie:

where we want you to just pull up an armchair. Feel free to lie

Jamie:

down on your couch. And yeah, we're going to talk about our

Jamie:

feelings. Spencer, what are you playing?

Spencer:

I am playing Hades on the Switch. I know I'm late to

Spencer:

the Hades train. But

Jamie:

I don't know you're not that late. It didn't come out

Jamie:

that long ago.

Spencer:

I mean, technically, it came out at the end of 2018. But

Spencer:

like, I feel like

Jamie:

But on PC.

Spencer:

Oh, right. It's like new to the Switch. Right?

Jamie:

And also, like, what came out was the early access. Like

Jamie:

it wasn't-the final version just came out in September.

Spencer:

Okay, then I'm not that late.

Jamie:

You're not that late.

Spencer:

Although I have to say like, I found that there's

Spencer:

something about it, I have to play it handheld. Like it feels

Spencer:

like a game to me that just really feels good to play in my

Spencer:

hands, I guess. Because like it. I feel that way about all of the

Spencer:

Supergiant Games in a way. They're just so intricately -

Spencer:

there's such a level of detail, and that sort of isometric art

Spencer:

style. I just want my face to be really close to the screen so I

Spencer:

can take it all in. And the kind of like very, I know, it's

Spencer:

described as a roguelike dungeon crawler, which normally isn't my

Spencer:

cup of tea, like I get kind of stressed out in those kind of

Spencer:

situations. But

Jamie:

Same.

Spencer:

I think that's probably reason why I, and so many other

Spencer:

people I'm sure, love this game is because it is that but it

Spencer:

also is set up in a way that encourages you to try again and

Spencer:

try again and rewards you for your perseverance. And I love

Spencer:

the way that it's set up. Like the more you play, the more you

Spencer:

realize, oh, there actually is a very rich story here. And I

Spencer:

personally have heard that there's some very queer romance

Spencer:

options that become available to us. So I'm very excited to meet

Spencer:

my future husband.

Jamie:

Yeah, you gotta, you gotta get and give that nectar

Spencer:

And just Oh, yeah, that nectar. And just for people who

Spencer:

have not heard of this game, I've realized I should sort of

Spencer:

preface it, but you are Zagreus, the son of Hades, very naughty

Spencer:

son of Hades, and are currently intent on fighting your way out

Spencer:

of the underworld. And Hades is pretty certain that that's not

Spencer:

going to happen for you, which he very haughtily likes to

Spencer:

remind you every time that you come back home. But essentially,

Spencer:

there's a window out of the Hades's castle that you use to

Spencer:

escape and you try to fight your way through the shifting

Spencer:

labyrinth of the underworld to make it to the surface and you

Spencer:

are a god so you can't really die. But every time that you are

Spencer:

slain in your attempt to escape you revive back home with old

Spencer:

dad. And there's a whole cast of characters that you begin to

Spencer:

learn about-this whole, you know, this whole family of Gods

Spencer:

within the arcana of the sort of Greek like God and Demi God,

Spencer:

family tree. And so at first Yeah, you think it's one thing

Spencer:

but then it very quickly asserts Itself to be this very cool

Spencer:

unfolding story and it's so stylized. Of course,

Spencer:

Supergiant-incredible music and voice acting is rich and

Spencer:

luscious. Have you ever had a crush on a voice?

Jamie:

I have multiple times, all of their games

Spencer:

You ever had a crush on a sword? I have.

Jamie:

Yeah, they're just-everything about their

Jamie:

games feels like-It is hand drawn art, but the entire game

Jamie:

just feels handcrafted in a really-It's like, yeah, such

Jamie:

like a bespoke, like tailored experience. Everything just

Jamie:

feels placed just so even in a roguelike where there's all of

Jamie:

this, you know, there's a lot that's randomly generated, it

Jamie:

still feels like all very carefully and lovingly placed

Jamie:

and so much attention to the detail of the characters and the

Jamie:

world and the art, and the music. And it all just comes

Jamie:

together in this experience that's like, that's wholly

Jamie:

Supergiant.

Spencer:

Yeah. And I, this, um, there was something that I was

Spencer:

thinking about, like, this whole existence of the God Mode in the

Spencer:

game. So there's this setting that you can turn on, where if

Spencer:

you get killed, it actually makes you a little bit stronger.

Spencer:

And so cumulatively, if you keep trying and keep dying, like it

Spencer:

only makes you stronger, and able to experience more of the

Spencer:

story. And I just feel like it is set up for a way, that even

Spencer:

if you're someone who's not into like, this type of action game,

Spencer:

you're still able to enjoy the music and the art and the story

Spencer:

and the relationships and the characters and the surprising,

Spencer:

emotional moments and beats that you might not have the patience

Spencer:

or the stamina to otherwise get through. Like, like, I like how

Spencer:

it says that, like, you don't have to be someone who's really

Spencer:

good at this type of game to be someone who can play this game.

Spencer:

Like it almost is kind of like breaking down that kind of

Spencer:

barrier for someone who may not be like a quote unquote gamer.

Spencer:

Like I'm being kind of romantic about it.

Jamie:

Hmm, yeah, yeah, absolutely. So are you playing

Jamie:

with God Mode turned on?

Spencer:

I did turn it on last night cuz I started getting sad.

Spencer:

I don't know, I take it very personally, when I die. Like the

Spencer:

game sort of tells you like, hey, you're a god, like dying's

Spencer:

not a big deal down here. Like you're in the underworld. Like,

Spencer:

it's all good. And I'm like, No, it's not good. Like, I failed

Spencer:

and I keep failing because I suck.

Jamie:

Well, and it's actively-Dying is like actively

Jamie:

how you progress the story with the characters, because every

Jamie:

time you die, you return to the house of Hades. And all of the

Jamie:

characters in the game are there. And they all have new

Jamie:

dialogue prompts now. So you can advance the story with them and

Jamie:

talk to them and learn something new about them. So it's

Jamie:

certainly meant to feel like a reward. But I can't get out of

Jamie:

my head about it. I still get pissed when I die, especially if

Jamie:

I had like a long run and got far and then it's just, ugh

Jamie:

fuck.

Spencer:

Right. Because you have to-I don't know if we explicitly

Spencer:

said this. But every time you die, you have to start over at

Spencer:

the very beginning. Like you're in your bedroom again. You jump

Spencer:

out the window and you're back at square one. And you're-It

Spencer:

doesn't matter if you've gotten through five or 50 chambers,

Spencer:

like you're back right there at the beginning. And normally,

Spencer:

that's a mechanic that would drive me away. Like, I'd be

Spencer:

like, Oh, no

Jamie:

Yeah.

Spencer:

That sounds like hell. I mean, you are in hell. It is

Spencer:

your personal hell. But how it sort of turns that into

Spencer:

something to pursue. Like, I just really love what this game

Spencer:

has done with that.

Jamie:

Mm hmm. Yeah, I agree with that. And I did-Earlier

Jamie:

this week, I did complete a run.

Spencer:

Mm hmm.

Jamie:

And I'm excited for you to get there so we can talk more

Jamie:

about it. I don't wanna spoil it. And I do think it would be a

Jamie:

spoiler to talk about what happens when you actually

Jamie:

complete a run and you reach the-it's the end of the game-I'm

Jamie:

doing quotes-but it's not, it's not the end of the game, because

Jamie:

the game wants you to continue running and continue doing it.

Jamie:

And so it is really interesting how they set that up. And I've

Jamie:

tried a lot of roguelikes. And this is the only one that has

Jamie:

gotten me to like actually stick with it and not just get

Jamie:

frustrated because I do hate feeling like I'm not making any

Jamie:

sort of real progress. And that is what roguelikes tend to do is

Jamie:

like, oh, you fucked up, guess it's back to square one for you.

Jamie:

But the game does, like-you're collecting resources that you

Jamie:

get to keep pretty much all of the resources. There's only one

Jamie:

resource that disappears when you die. It's coins, which you

Jamie:

can just use to buy items and upgrades while you're doing a

Jamie:

run. Those items and upgrades disappear. But you get to keep

Jamie:

this resource called darkness which you go spend that gives

Jamie:

you different stat increases. You get to keep gems that you

Jamie:

can use to add different rooms and chambers to the runs that

Jamie:

you're doing. So there's all-the nectar that you can use to

Jamie:

advance relationships with characters. And eventually

Jamie:

there's other things that you get to, but Yeah, it does still

Jamie:

allow you to keep building upon what you're doing. And so you

Jamie:

never feel like you're back to square one. Yes, you're going to

Jamie:

have to go fight through all of the chambers again. But you're

Jamie:

not starting from scratch every time you're getting a little bit

Jamie:

stronger, a little bit better. You're learning the enemy

Jamie:

patterns. And you just keep going. Just keep, you know,

Jamie:

beating your head against that wall. And it gets easier every

Jamie:

time.

Spencer:

And it's not even like you said, like, it's not even

Spencer:

the same fight every time like, each-the gods from Mount Olympus

Spencer:

will come down and grant you favors, grant you different

Spencer:

powers. So depending on who's available to help you that run

Spencer:

or what weapon you're using, like it can be a totally

Spencer:

different experience.

Jamie:

Oh, yeah. And like even the run that I completed, I

Jamie:

really feel like I only-I'm definitely getting better at the

Jamie:

game. But I don't think I would have completed it as quickly as

Jamie:

I did, if I hadn't just had this weird build where I had this

Jamie:

really powerful boon-is what they're called-from Demeter on

Jamie:

my cast, and it just sent out these like ice flows. And it was

Jamie:

combined with a power from Poseidon that like pushed

Jamie:

enemies back. And like I was able to just spam that and

Jamie:

control the entire battlefield. And without that, I don't think

Jamie:

I would have, I would have completed it. So there's a

Jamie:

little bit of like dice roll in there too, in terms of what

Jamie:

you're going to pick up and then how you can kind of tweak your

Jamie:

combat style to fit what you've managed to pick up.

Spencer:

So in addition to Hades, what else have you been

Spencer:

playing?

Jamie:

Yeah. So this week, I also picked up this game called

Jamie:

Raji, which is a really interesting little independent

Jamie:

game. It came out first on Switch, and it came out in

Jamie:

August of this year. And then just a couple weeks ago, on

Jamie:

October 15, it came out on everything else, you know, PS4,

Jamie:

Xbox, PC, all that good stuff. Uh, really interesting little

Jamie:

indie game. It's made by a team of 13 people, based in Pune,

Jamie:

India. And one of the-the art style of the game is really,

Jamie:

really interesting. It almost has like this oil painting-esque

Jamie:

feel to it. It's very detailed.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

And it's all set amidst medieval Indian architecture.

Jamie:

And the story features characters and designs pulled

Jamie:

from Hindu and Balinese mythology. And it's, it's

Jamie:

definitely not a perfect game by any stretch. There's a lot of

Jamie:

stuff that just kind of needs tweaking. The combat is a little

Jamie:

slow and muddled, and like the button presses don't always

Jamie:

register, like I'll be trying to shoot my bow and like, no arrow

Jamie:

will come out, and then I'll get dead. That aspect of it can be a

Jamie:

little frustrating. But I think a lot of that just has to do

Jamie:

with this being the first game from this development team and

Jamie:

then being such a small crew. But when I looked it up after

Jamie:

playing it for a little bit, I was frankly shocked that it was

Jamie:

made by only 13 people. It's an incredibly like rich, detailed

Jamie:

world that they've built. And one of the-I mean, the main

Jamie:

reason that I'm so intrigued by it is just like I feel like we

Jamie:

don't see Hindu mythology portrayed in pop culture very

Jamie:

often, or at least I haven't seen it, especially a game

Jamie:

that's like, certainly made to be consumed by a Western

Jamie:

audience as well. And in the game you play as this young girl

Jamie:

Raji, whose brother, younger brother is kidnapped by demons.

Jamie:

And so you, you're off to save him and you're being helped by

Jamie:

some of, some Hindu gods who are giving you powers. Not

Jamie:

dissimilar to Hades, except this one isn't a roguelike. This is

Jamie:

an action adventure kind of 3D, isometric. It's got fighting,

Jamie:

it's got puzzles, it's got platforming. It's just a really

Jamie:

cute, interesting little game. And I'm really interested to see

Jamie:

what comes next from these developers. Because as I was

Jamie:

reading more about them, I learned that India-there's a lot

Jamie:

of game development that happens in India, but a lot of it is

Jamie:

Western companies, outsourcing things to Indian companies, and

Jamie:

not a lot of grassroots Indian development that happens. So the

Jamie:

fact that the game even got made-Actually, I saw this quote

Jamie:

from one of the co-founders. This guy, I'm gonna probably

Jamie:

butcher his name a little bit, Avichal Singh. In a European

Jamie:

in-or, sorry-Eurogamer interview from December 2017. He said,

Jamie:

"This is not just a game for us. We wanted to set an example

Jamie:

because India is predominantly looked upon in the West as a

Jamie:

source of cheap outsourcing and call centers. Everyone on the

Jamie:

team wanted to make a difference and we've given everything

Jamie:

monetarily and emotionally. As an indie Indian studio, we have

Jamie:

gone through a year of struggle to make sure that this project

Jamie:

sees the light of day. We truly believe that Indian and Balinese

Jamie:

mythology has a richness of knowledge and storytelling which

Jamie:

is relatively untapped and unexplored. Since the games

Jamie:

industry is still very new in India, we've had no help from

Jamie:

the government, from banks or investors. Hence, to sustain

Jamie:

ourselves throughout these 12 months, we've had to pool our

Jamie:

savings, sell an apartment and take out personal loans from our

Jamie:

families. Literally blood, sweat, and tears have been

Jamie:

shed." So this small team, really, they put a lot into this

Jamie:

game. And I think it's definitely been getting praised.

Jamie:

The Metacritic is a little mixed. And I do think that's

Jamie:

because some of that-the like technical issues with the game

Jamie:

that I mentioned before, but I think it's worth people's time.

Jamie:

And I'd just love to see more games exploring different types

Jamie:

of mythology. I mean, I love mythology. But when I think

Jamie:

about it, like we've been so overexposed to Norse and Greek

Jamie:

mythology in pop culture. And there's a lot of other rich

Jamie:

mythologies out there that we don't get to see very often. So

Jamie:

it's just been cool to explore that and explore that world. And

Jamie:

to see it created by Indian developers and with Indian

Jamie:

characters. You know, I think of like, a lot of times, the only

Jamie:

way we've seen those kind of worlds portrayed is through

Jamie:

games like Tomb Raider and Uncharted, where it's a white

Jamie:

person going into those spaces. So it's just really cool to see

Jamie:

it come from those folks and represent their, you know,

Jamie:

they're representing their own culture, and the characters are

Jamie:

from that culture. And yeah, that's all really cool.

Spencer:

Yeah, like exactly what you said, like I think we've

Spencer:

been conditioned to when you think of a, quote, unquote,

Spencer:

fantasy game to immediately think of European mythology,

Spencer:

like all the big titles from the Witcher to God of War to even

Spencer:

like Hellbade. I mean, even like, Horizon Zero Dawn was

Spencer:

still like a White culture. It's kind of like this nomadic

Spencer:

European with strange Indigenous appropriations sprinkled in

Spencer:

among there. But still, like this idea that it has to be

Spencer:

translated through a White experience or White gaze like

Spencer:

it's like you said, it's awesome to see games like this authentic

Spencer:

to the culture that it that it comes from. And just to kind of

Spencer:

add on to the significance of this game. I actually just read

Spencer:

that it was the first Indian made game to be featured on the

Spencer:

Nintendo Direct stream, which is a pretty cool achievement.

Jamie:

Oh, awesome. Yeah, I know. And they kind of like-I

Jamie:

know, it was a surprise. It was It got announced for Switch at

Jamie:

he same-What the hell is it tha Nintendo does? They do these l

Spencer:

Nindies? Can we workshop that?

Spencer:

ttle like indie-Nindie D rects, I think it's called. N

Spencer:

ndies and I-

Jamie:

But Nindies-I-They've been doing this for like a year

Jamie:

now. This is what they're calling him. I think they've

Jamie:

already workshop it. They're happy with it. So yeah, they did

Jamie:

this little Nindies presentation where they release a video of

Jamie:

trailers of indie games. And that was where I saw

Jamie:

Spiritfarer. That was where they announced Hades was coming to

Jamie:

Switch. And Raji was one of the games in that mix. And people

Jamie:

were kind of like, Whoa, what's this? This looks so cool. And

Jamie:

yeah, now it's on PlayStation. That's where I've been playing

Jamie:

it. But um, yeah, just a really, really cool game. And it's

Jamie:

getting some attention. And I think it's well deserved.

Spencer:

Yeah. And you know, before we move on to our very

Spencer:

exciting guest, like one more thing that I really loved

Spencer:

reading about Raji is that even the English voiceovers for the

Spencer:

Goddess Durga are delivered, you know, in English with an Indian

Spencer:

accent. And there's no sort of apologizing for the fact that

Spencer:

English is not, nor should it be expected to be, you know,

Spencer:

anyone's first language and also just staying true to the Indian

Spencer:

roots of this, of these characters in this world. And

Spencer:

that was something that I thought was cool about Ghost of

Spencer:

Tsushima, too, is this unapologetic, you know, accented

Spencer:

voices, because this is the story that we're telling. And

Spencer:

that was just another thing that I thought was really neat.

Jamie:

Yeah, yeah, I agree. It's very cool. And you know what

Jamie:

else is very cool? Our interview with Courtney Craven that we're

Jamie:

bringing you today. Courtney is the founder and editor in chief

Jamie:

of Can I Play That? Can I Play That? is a game accessibility

Jamie:

resource for both players and developers. They write articles

Jamie:

and reviews about games. They also offer commentary, opinion

Jamie:

pieces from disabled gamers, helpful accessibility guides,

Jamie:

and a community soapbox feature where you can get to know

Jamie:

members of the community. The conversation Oh, go ahead

Spencer:

Yeah, just I just think Can I Play That? is so cool,

Spencer:

because they've really grown into this resource for game

Spencer:

developers to sort of like, you know, make sure that they are

Spencer:

designing inclusively. And I think it's just really awesome

Spencer:

to see the way that CIPT has has carved this really important

Spencer:

space for this conversation in the video gaming industry.

Jamie:

Yeah, I agree. 100 percent. And the conversation

Jamie:

that we had with Courtney was especially interesting to me,

Jamie:

because so much of it centered on the importance of having

Jamie:

multiple perspectives, even within different identities that

Jamie:

you're pursuing having a perspective from. We talked a

Jamie:

lot about how how mainstream media tends to look for one,

Jamie:

quote unquote, "other" perspective and thinks that

Jamie:

that's enough and closes the book, and, and doesn't recognize

Jamie:

the fact that no identity is a monolith. And that no, two

Jamie:

people regardless of what identities they may share, may

Jamie:

have the same perspective. And so it was a really rich

Jamie:

conversation about the importance of bringing in

Jamie:

diverse perspectives.

Spencer:

Yeah, like, it definitely gets a little spicy

Spencer:

near the end of the interview, but for me as a trans person,

Spencer:

and to be able to talk to another gender queer person

Spencer:

who's like in this space and can relate to how I experience

Spencer:

games, um, was just this really powerful moment of connection

Spencer:

that I'm just really grateful that we had this opportunity to

Spencer:

have. So enough of us talking very vaguely high level about

Spencer:

this interview, let's just get right to it. We are so excited

Spencer:

to bring you this conversation with Courtney. [music break]

Spencer:

Courtney, thank you so much for joining us in the virtual Pixel

Spencer:

Therapy studio. We're so happy to be sharing space with you

Spencer:

today.

Courtney:

I'm glad to be here.

Spencer:

For folks who may not know you, or may not be familiar

Spencer:

with your work, we'd love if you could first let us know your

Spencer:

pronouns. And then maybe say a little bit about how you've been

Spencer:

spending your time, and specifically the work you do

Spencer:

with Can I Play That?

Courtney:

Sure. Um, I don't really have pronouns to speak

Courtney:

of, I don't have a preference. But I usually default to

Courtney:

they/them just for ease of use. You know, you gotta have

Courtney:

something. So

Spencer:

Utility. Yeah.

Courtney:

Exactly. And I am the founder and editor in chief of

Courtney:

Can I Play That?, which is a media slash news outlet for all

Courtney:

things video game accessibility. We started as a hub for disabled

Courtney:

gamers to be able to learn about whether or not they're going to,

Courtney:

like the name says, be able to play a game, because so often

Courtney:

you will spend $60, or, you know, going into next gen $70 on

Courtney:

the game, without any accessibility info available.

Courtney:

And that's starting to change, but still not quite so much to

Courtney:

the point where we're irrelevant. So. And then from

Courtney:

there, we grew into a kind of a knowledge base for developers

Courtney:

too. We have a lot of developers that learn from both our guides

Courtney:

and our reviews.

Spencer:

Awesome, awesome. And yeah, how has the Can I Play

Spencer:

That? community sort of evolved since you started in 2018? Like,

Spencer:

it seems like you've really been just growing exponentially, and

Spencer:

you know, where do you kind of-Do you have plans for where

Spencer:

you hope to take it in the future?

Courtney:

We do. Yeah, we are in the process, early days of

Courtney:

trying to apply for grants so that we can become a full,

Courtney:

actual organization that pays people because right now we're,

Courtney:

we're all volunteer, because we're sustained by our Patreon.

Courtney:

And that's not always the most lucrative method. So yeah, we

Courtney:

are going through the stages of becoming first a company. We're

Courtney:

not sure of an LLC or a nonprofit, we haven't quite

Courtney:

decided yet. And then from there, we're going to be

Courtney:

applying for grants to hopefully become the IGN of game

Courtney:

accessibility.

Spencer:

Yes!

Courtney:

Yeah.

Spencer:

Hey, the IGN will be the non-accessible version of

Spencer:

Can I Play That?

Courtney:

Yeah. [both laugh]

Spencer:

I love it. So we'll definitely come back to talk

Spencer:

more about CIPT, but I'd love to talk about you for a bit. What's

Spencer:

your personal history with gaming? Have you always

Spencer:

identified as a gamer? Do you identify as a gamer?

Courtney:

I suppose I do. I mean, it's it's one of those

Courtney:

words that just has so much toxicity around it that it's

Courtney:

hard to want to claim it all the time, you know? But, um, I spend

Courtney:

the majority of my free time playing games. I'm very bad at

Courtney:

them. But I enjoy them. So yeah, I guess I would say that I am a

Courtney:

gamer and I actually, I played video games when I was kid back

Courtney:

in the 80s, early 90s. Took like a 20 year break from end of high

Courtney:

school till I got my partner a console, the Xbox One. Yeah, I

Courtney:

think it was the first Xbox One, no letters or whatever.

Spencer:

The Xbox, not to be confused with Xbox One.

Courtney:

Yeah, back in 2014, when that had just launched and

Courtney:

that, so I kind of picked it up again there.

Spencer:

Awesome.

Courtney:

After a 20 year break of mostly being into games like

Courtney:

the original Sims back in 2000

Spencer:

Where queer culture in gaming was born some might say.

Spencer:

[both laugh]

Courtney:

That was like a little hideout for me, right? Because I

Courtney:

grew up in a small town my family was not accepting, so you

Courtney:

can bet I had some gay Sims. Yeah.

Spencer:

Oh my god, it's so-Yeah, it's so validating to

Spencer:

just hear you say that just because, yeah, like I didn't

Spencer:

know, I didn't quite know what a whoohoo was-what was happening

Spencer:

in there, but it was validating in some way. And it made it-I do

Spencer:

believe the sins laid groundwork for me to later-without any

Spencer:

trans people or trans accepting people around me-to be like,

Spencer:

maybe this is a thing cuz the Sims are doing it. And they're

Spencer:

supposed to be people. You know, I do want to come back to

Spencer:

something you said a couple minutes ago, which is that you

Spencer:

are bad at games, but you love them. And I think that what you

Spencer:

were saying too, about the toxicity in that label of gamer

Spencer:

like this idea of really all that a game requires is that you

Spencer:

enjoy it, that you interact with it, and that you get something

Spencer:

out of that interaction. This idea of some people are good at

Spencer:

them. And some people are bad is such a shitty byproduct of this

Spencer:

gaming culture. And I just want to like, you're a great gamer,

Spencer:

because you are a gamer. And so is anyone listening to this

Spencer:

podcast.

Courtney:

Well, you know, that's, that's part of a large

Courtney:

part of accessibility work. I think both Cherry Thompson and

Courtney:

Steve Saylor, have talked about their realization that they

Courtney:

weren't failing at games; games were failing them because they

Courtney:

simply weren't giving them what they needed to be good at them.

Courtney:

And, and I think it's about 50/50. For me, there's some

Courtney:

things that I just suck at. And that's fine, but you know, so

Courtney:

yeah, I, yeah, the "get good" narrative needs to just die

Courtney:

already. It's just-it's the most unwelcoming thing ever.

Spencer:

Yeah, it's a barrier to such a rich world-worlds, I

Spencer:

mean, games-I mean, we'll get more into that. But I wanted to

Spencer:

touch on one more thing around the sort of stigma and

Spencer:

unwelcoming-ness, toxicity around gaming. I saw a tweet, I

Spencer:

think, from this morning, where you had mentioned, changing the

Spencer:

heart and mind of a parent who believes that like, all

Spencer:

games-games, turn kids brains to mush. Um, I'd love it if maybe

Spencer:

you could just share a little bit about that. And like, what

Spencer:

are some misconceptions about games that you want to shift in

Spencer:

people?

Courtney:

Sure, um, I see a lot in-I live in a neighborhood

Courtney:

that's very parent heavy. And there seems to be, at least with

Courtney:

the the middle class White parents this, Oh, get the kids

Courtney:

away from the screens. They're poison, they're bad. Put them

Courtney:

outside. Let them learn how to camp. And while that's all well,

Courtney:

and good, you know, great, yes, learn outdoor skills. Realize

Courtney:

how limiting that is, you know, there's so much that you can

Courtney:

learn from games that kids can learn from games, because there

Courtney:

is, especially in a lot of games that kids like, like Fortnight,

Courtney:

it requires cooperation and communication, teamwork. You

Courtney:

know, you have to build your forts in Fortnight, and you

Courtney:

might not always agree on how they should be built. I know

Courtney:

that's an issue for me. But yeah, I think that a lot of

Courtney:

parents that might not play games themselves, just, they

Courtney:

think of games as they were maybe back in the 90s when they

Courtney:

were, you know, the fighters or the simplistic and I don't want

Courtney:

to say simplistic, but there was less to them. You know, there

Courtney:

was less rich story, less cognitive requirement for like,

Courtney:

Mario. Than there is for today's games, right?

Spencer:

Yeah. Like when you say that I was thinking of when you

Spencer:

say there's more to them. I was reading a thread on Ask Reddit

Spencer:

the other day and it was about "What was the first game that to

Spencer:

you was a piece of art, not just something to do for fun?" And

Spencer:

someone brought up Papers, Please, from 2013.

Courtney:

Yeah.

Spencer:

And they said, up until that point, all I knew in games

Spencer:

was like point gun and shoot. All I knew was shoot until not

Spencer:

being shot anymore. This was the first game where I felt like,

Spencer:

the decisions I was making had a real effect on a real world. And

Spencer:

it, and it stuck with me like long after I put it down. And

Spencer:

that just, and again, Papers, Please, it's like an 8-bit like

Spencer:

mostly text based, like very simple quote unquote, game. But

Spencer:

what it's doing is so much more than that, working on so many

Spencer:

levels. I'm just like, totally hearing what you're saying about

Spencer:

how these games can operate on us. [music break]

Spencer:

I was reading your-back from July-the article that you'd

Spencer:

written about Red Dead Redemption 2. And I'd love to

Spencer:

read a short, just a couple sentences from it, just to

Spencer:

contextualize this next question. But I really love this

Spencer:

piece where you say, "I am very much an introvert and I adore my

Spencer:

solitude. So it caught me off guard when I realized how very

Spencer:

much I missed people and connecting with them." And just

Spencer:

for more context, this is a article that was written during

Spencer:

you know this pandemic lockdown situation that we've been in

Spencer:

here in the US. "So I've missed people and connecting with them.

Spencer:

One of the things that delights, me living in the area I do,

Spencer:

where my rainbow Mohawk is complimented instead of stared

Spencer:

at and I am accepted and welcomed, is the conversations

Spencer:

with perfect strangers I used to have every day while out walking

Spencer:

my dog. One might think the solution would be to play social

Spencer:

games with a voice chat, connect with people that way. But given

Spencer:

that I'm hard of hearing and a queer trans person, well, I'd

Spencer:

rather eat glass then have to resort to voice chat with

Spencer:

strangers over the internet." I just thought it was like so

Spencer:

refreshing to have someone perfectly put into words how

Spencer:

exhausting it can be to just be perceived when you're a trans

Spencer:

person online sometimes and just in the world in the real world,

Spencer:

too. Um, so thank you first of all, just because I think you're

Spencer:

the only-one of like, I can count on the fingers of one hand

Spencer:

like the trans games writers that are out there like putting

Spencer:

into words like things that I'm thinking but don't know how to

Spencer:

place because there's no one else to talk to about it with.

Courtney:

Thank you.

Spencer:

But I'd love to hear from you-There's a beautiful

Spencer:

article on Red Dead Redemption 2 that folks should definitely

Spencer:

look up on Can I Play That? And it's caniplaythat.com, right?

Courtney:

Right. Or caniplaythat.gay. We have that

Courtney:

too.

Spencer:

Oh my god.

Courtney:

Yes.

Spencer:

I'm bookmarking that one just on principle. But what

Spencer:

has your relationship with gaming been like during this

Spencer:

time of isolation, of lockdown? What's that been like for you?

Courtney:

Um, you know, it's, it's kind of been a little bit

Courtney:

of a saving grace because, you know, we are so cut off from

Courtney:

people and I'm not a majorly social person anyway. But as I

Courtney:

said, I did used to enjoy just stopping, being not within

Courtney:

shouting distance, you know, 6, 10 feet away having to yell at

Courtney:

each other and try to hear. But just talking about simple

Courtney:

conversational things, you know, and you lose that when you have

Courtney:

to stay a certain distance from people or when you never know

Courtney:

who's-Okay, is this person not wearing a mask because they just

Courtney:

don't care or? You know. So especially as someone that's

Courtney:

chronically ill with lung issues to begin with, there's-it's just

Courtney:

not a risk I can take. I can't stand and talk to somebody if

Courtney:

they're not taking the same precautions I am, you know?

Spencer:

Yes.

Courtney:

So it's, it's kind of been a way for me to interact

Courtney:

with worlds in place of the way I used to interact before-what

Courtney:

was it March? Feels like it's been forever. But this all

Courtney:

started in March.

Spencer:

Mm hmm.

Courtney:

Um, but yeah, it's a good escape and games like Read

Courtney:

Ded 2 or any open world exploration that you can just

Courtney:

kind of take it at your own pace, go, you know, pick the

Courtney:

flowers, max out your herbalism skills, I would never like you

Courtney:

would not catch me dead outside actually picking flowers from

Courtney:

the ground. [laughs] I don't want to get dirty. But, um, to

Courtney:

be able to do that stuff in games, it's kind of like a

Courtney:

meditation. You know, it just-it's a break from the

Courtney:

shooting or the crimes or, you know, stuff like that. And then

Courtney:

again in that game, Arthur's relationship with his horse

Courtney:

where you can just do the-what is it left stick click?-and you

Courtney:

pat your horse and his little lines. "That's my girl."

Spencer:

Yess.

Courtney:

And I just I love it so much. Because not only is it

Courtney:

just something that's heartwarming to see, it really,

Courtney:

without really saying anything, it challenges that horrible

Courtney:

notion of what a masculine cowboy is, you know?

Spencer:

Yes, yes. Yeah, I've really-Red Dead Redemption 2 and

Spencer:

Ghost of Tsushima both are standing out in recent memory,

Spencer:

in terms of sort of taking this masculine archetype, whether

Spencer:

it's the American cowboy or the, like Shogun warrior, samurai.

Spencer:

This idea that you can break free from that and be-You can

Spencer:

define masculinity for yourself and sort of men are allowed to

Spencer:

feel tenderness, men are allowed to have emotions, just because

Spencer:

someone is alone doesn't mean that they're an island unto

Spencer:

themselves. Like, there's emotional richness within these

Courtney:

And you know, I think if I had had access to something

Courtney:

people.

Courtney:

like that, when I was younger, I would have been so much happier

Courtney:

at such a younger age, because-I laugh about it now, but it's,

Courtney:

it's the truth. For the majority of my life, I did not believe

Courtney:

that I could be transgender because I've always leaned more

Courtney:

masculine, but I like fancy soaps and bath products. Those

Courtney:

are feminine things, right? So if I like those, obviously, I

Courtney:

can't be transgender, because that's a very feminine thing. So

Courtney:

yes, it's so black and white. So I think if we have more

Courtney:

representation of the spectrum of masculinity, you know, it

Courtney:

would make a lot more people feel comfortable with, Okay, I

Courtney:

can have this quote unquote, feminine quality and still feel

Courtney:

the way I feel I am, you know?

Spencer:

Thank you for saying that. Yes, I-Speaking of being

Spencer:

trans in quarantine, I-It's funny, just this is sort of

Spencer:

touching on some things that have been floating around in my

Spencer:

head lately. And one of those things has been, so I've been on

Spencer:

testosterone for about four years now. But I've never had a

Spencer:

desire to have top surgery or have bottom surgery. And even

Spencer:

what you were saying, even before I even was aware of a

Spencer:

desire to explore hormones, I grappled for years and was

Spencer:

constantly going back and forth between like Butch presentation

Spencer:

and like this sort of middle ground, chapstick, queer,

Spencer:

flannel situation and then going like hyper femme because the

Spencer:

only people that were attracted to me were cis men who felt like

Spencer:

they had some, you know, entitlement to my body. And I

Spencer:

also thought, because I didn't mind presenting femme, or

Spencer:

because it didn't hurt that bad when someone she-ed me or

Spencer:

because I wasn't like, I cry a lot. Um, and I, you know, I

Spencer:

don't associate with a lot of the tenants of cis masculinity.

Spencer:

I thought, well, then I must not be trans. I must be someone who

Spencer:

just constantly thinks about trans men and festishizes them.

Spencer:

I thought for so long that I was just like, a chaser. And it

Spencer:

wasn't until I was literally in the middle of hooking up with

Spencer:

another trans person. And I looked down, and I had-sorry,

Spencer:

TMI-I looked down and I had a strap-on on and I just totally

Spencer:

like, gender euphoria catapulted out of my body into the ceiling

Spencer:

that I was like, Oh, my God, there must, there might be

Spencer:

something here. And really, the people I turned to to understand

Spencer:

my masculinity, were other trans folks. And it didn't matter,

Spencer:

like, what gender they were, like masculinity is not tied to

Spencer:

any specific parts or any specific, like, gender. I don't

Spencer:

know. My concept of all of those things has opened up so much

Spencer:

when I've gotten outside of this idea of what our culture, our

Spencer:

mainstream media tells us. And like you said, I feel like I, I

Spencer:

would have been so much happier-I may not have even put

Spencer:

myself into so many boxes if I had just seen more examples of

Spencer:

that.

Courtney:

Right.

Spencer:

Sorry to just go off on a tangent. Yes, just all the

Spencer:

Yes. [music break]

Spencer:

Part of what we do on this podcast is we have folks come in

Spencer:

and talk about a game, a specific game, that had a big

Spencer:

impact on their life. And so the game you told us about was

Spencer:

Destiny. [all laugh]

Courtney:

In hindsight, I should have picked a different game.

Courtney:

But I have a good reason for Destiny.

Jamie:

I think it was really intriguing that you picked

Jamie:

Destiny, because I just-I mean, Spencer and I aren't really

Jamie:

shooter players in general. And then for Destiny, it's just it's

Jamie:

one of those games that I've heard is like, so addicting, but

Jamie:

there's not, there's not like-You go to these beautiful

Jamie:

places, and you just shoot things.

Courtney:

Yeah.

Jamie:

And so we're really interested to hear your take on

Jamie:

it, because I'm assuming you're getting more out of it than

Jamie:

that.

Courtney:

Oh I'm not getting anything. [all laugh]

Spencer:

Before we jump into the Destiny discussion,

Spencer:

for-Courtney, for folks who like, if you had to describe

Spencer:

this game in a couple sentences to someone who had never heard

Spencer:

of it, what would you say?

Courtney:

Um, you shoot things with guns that really bounce

Courtney:

around a lot. And you get to fly in a ship. But it's all kind of

Courtney:

automated for you-you don't control the ship, which is

Courtney:

probably good for me because I'm a bad flier. And you get armor.

Courtney:

And sometimes you can put cool colors on it. And that is about

Courtney:

all I know about Destiny. That's the extent of my knowledge.

Spencer:

Okay, tell us more about Destiny.

Courtney:

Well, the reason I chose the game as the one I

Courtney:

wanted to talk about was because it was the first barrier that

Courtney:

we-back in 2014, I think. When did destiny launch in 2013?

Spencer:

2014. Very close.

Courtney:

Okay, yeah, so we had gotten it in September 2014.

Courtney:

And, you know, $60 game, my partner was Deaf. Started it up,

Courtney:

and like 30 minutes into the main campaign-This was back

Courtney:

before it had like 50 different worlds you could visit, there

Courtney:

was the campaign and you did it, and that was the game. About 30

Courtney:

minutes in there was this part that relied on hearing. And my

Courtney:

partner was Deaf. I at that point was not really quite into

Courtney:

games yet myself, I was into them as, "Listen to this for me.

Courtney:

It's not captioned. What's happening right now?"

Spencer:

Hmm

Courtney:

That was my extent of interaction with games at that

Courtney:

point. And at that-It was that game, that section where you

Courtney:

have to listen, I think it was the Hive? You have to listen so

Courtney:

you know when to run from them or whatever. And that was where

Courtney:

the game ended for her. Because she kept dying over and over and

Courtney:

over because she couldn't hear. And there were no visual cues.

Spencer:

Wow.

Courtney:

So that was the game that started my career in games

Courtney:

and game accessibility, because we had that thought, Okay, well,

Courtney:

certainly we're not the only people that are Deaf or hard of

Courtney:

hearing in the world. So we certainly can't be the only

Courtney:

people that have this problem, right? So she took to Twitter. I

Courtney:

hated Twitter at that point.

Spencer:

Let me know how you how you got over that 'cause I'm

Spencer:

still in the hating Twitter phase.

Courtney:

Oh, that was, that was kind of by necessity, and then

Courtney:

it became like a lifeline, right? Because up until she

Courtney:

died, she was the face of the website. She was the go-to

Courtney:

person. I was behind the scenes doing the writing, producing of

Courtney:

all of our content and that sort of stuff like that. And that was

Courtney:

kind of how I wanted it. I didn't want to interact with

Courtney:

anybody.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Courtney:

Cuz it's such a shit show that, you know.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Courtney:

And then after she died, I found that the people on

Courtney:

it that had connected with her were the people that were there

Courtney:

to support me when the people in my real life had failed. Because

Courtney:

I was, I was too sad. Okay, you keep talking about death and how

Courtney:

sad you are. I don't want to be around it. So until you can get

Courtney:

that together, I think we're gonna put a pin in our

Courtney:

friendship, right?

Spencer:

Yeah.

Courtney:

So Twitter became the only place that I could really

Courtney:

talk about it. And it was amazing how many people like

Courtney:

understood, you know, or even if they couldn't understand they

Courtney:

actually genuinely cared. Clearly more than the people in

Courtney:

my face-to-face life, you know. So I, I've met a lot of very

Courtney:

good friends that way. And most of them I have not met

Courtney:

face-to-face. I hope to change that one day, but the people

Courtney:

that I know on Twitter have become some of my closest

Courtney:

friends.

Spencer:

Wow. That's incredible.

Courtney:

So now it's just, it kind of is my social life, you

Courtney:

know?

Spencer:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think what you said about how

Spencer:

for people, like people can try to empathize with what you're

Spencer:

going through, whether that is grief, whether that is, you

Spencer:

know, being a Black woman, whether that is being a disabled

Spencer:

person, whether that is you know, being trans and being out

Spencer:

and not apologetic about that. There are there's-It feels like

Spencer:

there can be this threshold, where folks who, quote unquote

Spencer:

mean well are just unable to take or think that they can't, I

Spencer:

just-It's, it's so true what you said, there's just this wall

Spencer:

of-I don't know, maybe people prefer, maybe it's, it might be

Spencer:

safer and more comfortable to-

Courtney:

I think it's, I think it's a comfort thing, like,

Courtney:

Okay, you you can exist up until this point that it makes me

Courtney:

start to question my own values, you know? You're calling

Courtney:

something ableist or transphobic, and what if I've

Courtney:

had those thoughts? I'm going to feel called out. So we're not

Courtney:

going to talk about that, right?

Spencer:

Yes.

Courtney:

So instead of having what I've learned is called the

Courtney:

growth mindset. If you've ever, if you ever want to read the

Courtney:

best book in the world, Dolly Chugh-I suck at pronouncing

Courtney:

things because I can't hear them. So even if a name has been

Courtney:

said to me, like 1000 times, I'm still going to get it wrong. So

Courtney:

yeah, but her book, The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People

Courtney:

Overcome [sic] Bias, I believe is the subtitle?

Spencer:

Cool.

Courtney:

Um, there's so much in there about how you see that

Courtney:

that's the kind of person you are, and then get past it by

Courtney:

accepting that, no, you're not perfect. You're, you're working

Courtney:

on it. And here's how you can get better. Instead of meeting

Courtney:

things that make you uncomfortable with defensiveness

Courtney:

and, "Well I'm one of the good ones." Learning to accept that,

Courtney:

yes, you are trying to be one of the good ones. No one is one of

Courtney:

the good ones 100% of the time. It's okay, as long as you keep

Courtney:

trying to do better, right?

Spencer:

And it's freeing honestly.

Courtney:

Right.

Spencer:

Take some of the load of responsibility off of your

Spencer:

shoulders like, no one is, is looking to you nor should they

Spencer:

to be the to be perfect all of the time. And if anything, it

Spencer:

allows you to learn more openly and to be more adaptable when

Spencer:

you just accept and make peace with the fact that you're never

Spencer:

gonna reach that. And the book-I just looked it up really

Spencer:

quickly-The Person You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias.

Spencer:

That's Dolly-as you said-Chugh. C-h-u-g-h. But I'm definitely

Spencer:

going to look that one up. Thank you, Courtney. [both laugh] Um,

Spencer:

so I'd love to hear more about-So you mentioned how in

Spencer:

this journey with your partner, Destiny was bringing up all

Spencer:

these roadblocks. You went to Twitter. And it kind of sounds

Spencer:

like that's how Can I Play That? was born. Um, what-Did anything

Spencer:

come out of those complaints? Like did you meet other people

Spencer:

who were having problems with Destiny like-

Courtney:

Oh yeah.

Spencer:

Let's hear more about that.

Courtney:

Not specifically with Destiny but one of the first

Spencer:

Yes.

Spencer:

people that Susan got to know and then I got to know through

Spencer:

that is Chris Robinson, DeafGamersTV. He was, he was one

Spencer:

of the first and biggest fans of our reviews that we were doing.

Spencer:

And from there, it just kind of snowballed, really. There's an

Spencer:

ambulance coming. I live next to a hospital, sorry. Um, but yeah,

Spencer:

from there, it just kind of snowballed and we started to

Courtney:

And it's, it's kind of this process that people go

Courtney:

realize just how big the community was. And as we've

Courtney:

become bigger and bigger and bigger, the most heartwarming

Courtney:

thing is seeing how many people want to identify with Can I Play

Courtney:

That? Because and, and-Part of the reason I was so excited to

Courtney:

start Can I Play That? was out of spite because I'm a writer. I

Courtney:

went to school for it. I have degrees in it. I want to write

Courtney:

about my experience. Much of my experience is about lack of

Courtney:

accessibility, right? I have pitched at least 100 pieces to

Courtney:

various publications about accessibility and barriers, and

Courtney:

have 100% of the time been told, Yeah, there's not enough of a

Courtney:

market for that. There's not enough interest. And now I just

Courtney:

like to be like, Oh, really? Look at the size of the

Courtney:

audience. You know, on a good day, we get 1000 visitors per

Courtney:

day that are looking to learn, either for their own knowledge

Courtney:

or there for, for their own use, about game accessibility. And it

Courtney:

extends into every industry, you know, I, I've had less luck

Courtney:

outside of games, just because that's kind of my brand at this

Courtney:

point. So it's hard to break into new areas, you know. But

Courtney:

yeah, it extends into academia into publishing literature

Courtney:

Every single industry has a ableism problem.

Courtney:

through once they realize that, they're like, Oh, well, it's not

Courtney:

my problem. Or they have the positive, Oh, I never even

Courtney:

realized, you know, and it's, that reaction is what has

Courtney:

brought about so much change in the industry. That's been the

Courtney:

positive interactions we've had with a lot of the, both indie

Courtney:

studios and AAA studios have been, just through reading,

Courtney:

like, We didn't even realize that this was a problem. Like,

Courtney:

we put the subtitles in the game, just because you're

Courtney:

supposed to have subtitles. We never thought that, shit, maybe

Courtney:

people should be able to read them, right?

Spencer:

Right. Why is the font so small? It's like don't put

Spencer:

the subtitles in if no one can read them, like 4 point font.

Spencer:

And they're like, yellow. I'm like, What the hell? Um, oh, my

Spencer:

gosh, you know, it's-So much of this conversation is super

Spencer:

validating. But, um, what you were saying about how when you

Spencer:

pitch to places to talk about game accessibility, and the

Spencer:

response you get is, Oh, no, there's just no audience for

Spencer:

that. And it's like, well, you have like, one article that

Spencer:

you've posted in the past six months that mentioned the two

Spencer:

words "game accessibility", so how do you even know that

Spencer:

there's no audience or that the audience just knows that you

Spencer:

don't generate that content? Like, um, I, I can definitely

Spencer:

relate. I'm a freelance writer, myself. And, you know,

Spencer:

recently-and this is not, not at all meant to be a direct

Spencer:

comparison-But recently, you know, the game series Tell Me

Spencer:

Why came out, featuring the first ever playable trans

Spencer:

character, transmasculine character. And, I mean, this

Spencer:

never happened before. So I would think that there should be

Spencer:

a lot of press about it and media. And I cannot tell you how

Spencer:

many places I pitched to-and actually, I want to shout out

Spencer:

Bullet Points, because they were the one person to write back to

Spencer:

me and be like, This needs to see the light, but we just

Spencer:

unfortunately, it's not part-like they have a very

Spencer:

specific kind of writing schedule-but I just wanna thank

Spencer:

them for that. But so many places wrote back to me just

Spencer:

being like, Yeah, we already have a review posted for Tell Me

Spencer:

Why. And there was like one trans person that wrote one

Spencer:

article about this six months, or like two months ago. So

Spencer:

there's like not really like, we think we're saturated in terms

Spencer:

of Tell Me Why coverage. And I'm just like, I, what?

Courtney:

And you know, that speaks to the overwhelming

Courtney:

belief that in the category of other, right? Anything that's

Courtney:

not cis, straight, abled, White-anything that is

Courtney:

other-there is one point of view. Like, how could there ever

Courtney:

possibly be different opinions on Tell Me Why? Like, trans

Courtney:

people are monolithic.

Spencer:

Yeah [laughing]

Courtney:

We all think the same thing. We all love the game.

Courtney:

They're are heroes now, and I hated the game.

Spencer:

Mm hmm.

Courtney:

I hated it.

Spencer:

I hate it for reasons as well.

Courtney:

So, like, I think that there would be some value in

Courtney:

exploring-Okay, why are there such conflicting opinions on

Courtney:

this game specifically within the trans community? And it's

Courtney:

the same thing for accessibility. We have, not

Courtney:

always healthy, but debate that arises from some of our pieces

Courtney:

because it's a spectrum, right? I can consider a game the most

Courtney:

accessible thing I every played. Someone else is going to be

Courtney:

like, I can't even start it.

Spencer:

Yes.

Courtney:

How in the hell are you saying this is accessible

Courtney:

because I can't do this. And it's, it's not my experience,

Courtney:

it's not any less important of an experience. So the fact that

Courtney:

a lot of these massive, massive outlets are only interested in

Courtney:

one voice, or one sort of voice is problematic.

Spencer:

Yes. And when they do want one of our voices, it's

Spencer:

only, like, in a positive context, like, they-I've also

Spencer:

gotten the feedback that, Oh, this, you know, it's just

Spencer:

not-there's a lot of negativity. And I'm like, trans people can

Spencer:

be mad too, you know? Like, we're not like, like-The

Spencer:

definition of inclusivity is not Oh, we made a game that has a

Spencer:

trans character now, so the [BLEEP] can stop complaining.

Courtney:

Right.

Spencer:

It's like-Sorry, I shouldn't say the T slur-So that

Spencer:

trans people will stop complaining. That's me being a

Spencer:

cis White man, producer-game producer. Um, but you know,

Spencer:

we're not here to beg for scraps at the table. We have always

Spencer:

been here. And trans people and People of Color have built the

Spencer:

games that White, cis men love to hold up as, like their, their

Spencer:

reasons for existing and like, you wouldn't have gamer culture

Spencer:

without us. So don't act like these crumbs are-that, we should

Spencer:

be thankful for them. I mean, I just, since I, I'm just so

Spencer:

excited to talk to someone who also has feelings about Tell Me

Spencer:

Why. I just want to mention that the reason that I have thoughts

Spencer:

is that, you know, there has not been specifically trans

Spencer:

masculine representation in media in any sort of way that is

Spencer:

respectful or celebratory of our identity, like, possibly ever in

Spencer:

any sort of mainstream format. I mean, there's movies that you

Spencer:

could say-I mean, portrayed by cis actors-like movies that have

Spencer:

come out in the past that are always about violence committed

Spencer:

against us. And there are trans actors portraying trans

Spencer:

masculine characters in TV and that's happening more and more

Spencer:

now. But, you know, I just thought that it was shocking and

Spencer:

appalling, in some ways that the two first games in 2020 to have

Spencer:

transmasculine representation, The Last of Us 2 and Tell Me

Spencer:

Why, both of those transmasculine

Spencer:

characters-whether the game was actually about it, or whether

Spencer:

that trauma was just used to promote and raise titillation

Spencer:

about the actual story of a game-the fact is that a trans

Spencer:

masculine character was used and specifically pitted against and

Spencer:

had to violent-and was portrayed to kill their mother. And I

Spencer:

think that when you talk about butch-phobia, when you talk

Spencer:

about, you know, the way that many people see trans masculine

Spencer:

and butch people, as, you know, women who had the audac