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Dating Sims as Virtual Performance with Dillon Yruegas
Episode 222nd September 2020 • Pixel Therapy Pod • Pixel Therapy Pod
00:00:00 01:04:54

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Dillon Yruegas (he/him/él) is a queer, trans, Latinx and Coahuiltecan theatremaker. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dillon has participated firsthand in conversations about the future of theatre in a post-pandemic world-- and has a lot of feelings about all-digital art forms, which have actually been around for a LONG time. We also chat about dating sims--particularly Dream Daddy and Hatoful Boyfriend--and how he uses them to create experimental performances where queer and trans folks can be silly, have fun, and hang.

Other topics covered include: How does being a trans gamer change your relationship with video games?, interactive art, white cis het identity, hot takes on first-person shooters, toxic masculinity, getting into gaming as an adult, competition culture, dating birds, and unapologetic queerness.

About Dillon

Originally from the Austin area, Dillon now resides in Boston, where he works to produce and devise performances on a national scale. Through his artistry as an actor, director, and writer, Dillon strives to give a voice to those whose history has gone unnoticed, unseen, or has been eradicated by colonialism and white supremacy.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dillonyruegas/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/dillonyruegas

About Pixel Therapy

New episodes drop every three weeks on Tuesdays. Learn more at pixeltherapypod.com or follow us on social media @pixeltherapypod. If you like what you hear, please take a moment to rate & subscribe!

Transcripts

Dillon:

I've definitely joked in the past that like - oh like

Dillon:

cis, cishets like really want an identity so badly and they just

Dillon:

create these like random ones based on what they like to do.

Dillon:

And so like being a gamer is like very, very similar to that.

Dillon:

[music break]

Jamie:

Welcome to physical therapy video game podcast where

Jamie:

we 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 three

Jamie:

weeks we bring on a guest who may or may not consider

Jamie:

themselves a gamer to discuss one of the games that made them

Jamie:

and changed them and all the feelings that they have about

Jamie:

our favorite pastime. I'm your co host Jamie pronouns she/her

Spencer:

and I am your co host Spencer they/them.

Jamie:

And this is pixel therapy. So pull up that

Jamie:

armchair. You can lie down on your couch. We're going to talk

Jamie:

about some feelings

Spencer:

If you're having acute back pain like me you can lay on

Spencer:

the floor or the nearest foam roller.

Jamie:

Mm hmm. Yeah. Love a foam roller. How are you feeling

Jamie:

about video games today Spencer?

Spencer:

at the beginning of the pandemic I feel like I and like

Spencer:

a lot of other people was just sort of like on autopilot like I

Spencer:

feel like I I actually Persona 5 Royal had just come out so like

Spencer:

I honestly feel like the first like six weeks of the pandemic I

Spencer:

was just not present I was just like, Akira or Ren I guess,

Spencer:

depending on who you who you believe. But, um, I think lately

Spencer:

like this week, in particular, the whole lockdown and

Spencer:

everything has just been hitting me pretty hard. My - a friend of

Spencer:

mine sent me an article from the elemental blog on Medium and

Spencer:

there was the, it's about, it's about surge capacity. And

Spencer:

essentially, the idea is that human surge capacity, this is a

Spencer:

coin. So this is a term coined by a psychologist named Ann

Spencer:

Masten, Dr. Ann Masten. Surge capacity is a collection of

Spencer:

adaptive systems mental and physical that humans draw on for

Spencer:

short term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as

Spencer:

natural disasters, and the idea is that, you know, it keeps you

Spencer:

going, keeps you stable keeps you able to take care of your

Spencer:

shit handle your shit if you're going through like a really

Spencer:

acute disaster. And this pandemic certainly felt that way

Spencer:

in the beginning. But now it very much feels like it's

Spencer:

stretching on indefinitely. And I've found myself sinking into

Spencer:

this just sort of aimless depression and grief, I guess,

Spencer:

would be the easiest way to describe it. Um, I also had, I

Spencer:

had just finished up Ghost of Tsushima last, early last week,

Spencer:

and it definitely left me in an emotionally fragile place. Um,

Spencer:

you know, I just didn't really have much energy to do anything,

Spencer:

think about anything. Like sometimes when I'm really,

Spencer:

really depressed, I find that like, even playing a game, like

Spencer:

if I can't, if I'm not doing well, like it just like makes me

Spencer:

feel worse about myself. And it just kind of got me thinking,

Spencer:

like at work, we've been doing these, like really, really cool

Spencer:

and really important, like working groups, we call it a

Spencer:

book club. And essentially, it's a mix of folks, white, non

Spencer:

white, black folks, as well. And we're all coworkers. And we come

Spencer:

to these sessions to just like talk about ideas together and

Spencer:

talk about like, anti racist work. And when we were in this

Spencer:

working group, something that one of my colleagues brought up

Spencer:

is that as a white cis woman, you know, she would often

Spencer:

growing up hear this voice in her head telling her like, I'm

Spencer:

different from other girls, because I'm into sports. I'm

Spencer:

different from other girls because like those girls only

Spencer:

care about boys and makeup. And I think that there are different

Spencer:

ways that these voices work and operate in our own heads as

Spencer:

agents of white supremacy, of fat phobia of, you know, racism,

Spencer:

ableism, all these other things like, even when we are working

Spencer:

our hardest. to dismantle these structures in our personal lives

Spencer:

and our relationships. There's still this fight that we have to

Spencer:

have in our own minds. And you know, the way that we move past

Spencer:

that is by forming connections with others, like there's

Spencer:

something so powerful, just in turning to another person and

Spencer:

having them see you and validate you and And we started talking

Spencer:

about how, you know, like, like, for me as a, as a queer trans

Spencer:

person growing up, like, I didn't come out until I was in

Spencer:

my mid, early, mid 20s, just because I had never seen another

Spencer:

trans person, an other Asian queer person in my hometown,

Spencer:

that was not what surrounded me. And I didn't even have the words

Spencer:

to articulate, like what I was, and the first time that another,

Spencer:

you know, queer trans person of color looked at me and said, No,

Spencer:

you are real, because I can relate to what you're going

Spencer:

through. Like that made me feel like I could escape, you know,

Spencer:

what those voices are telling me the boxes they're putting me in.

Spencer:

And so, you know, I think that these systems of oppression are

Spencer:

designed to keep us separated to turn us against each other, so

Spencer:

that we don't have the capacity to form new ways of thinking by

Spencer:

finding other people who would agree with us. And so, you know,

Spencer:

really, community is the most powerful tool, we have to push

Spencer:

back on these on these systems of oppression, like, like, we

Spencer:

build that by opening ourselves to others. And so, to relate

Spencer:

this back to video games, um, basically, what it got me

Spencer:

thinking about was how, in games, it almost in a lot of

Spencer:

ways would have you believe the opposite, like in a lot of

Spencer:

games, you are this Chosen One, and the world just revolves

Spencer:

around you. And the actions that you take have ripple effects

Spencer:

that go all the way up to the top, like, like, really, you are

Spencer:

the master of the universe. And also, like, you are so powerful

Spencer:

that you like, sure you, you need NPCs in that, like, they

Spencer:

can help you get to another level or like an interaction

Spencer:

with them unlocks something, but it's very rare that like, you

Spencer:

utterly depend on another non playable character in the game

Spencer:

to complete that game. Like, I think that in some ways, games

Spencer:

can sort of reinforce this fallacy that like, you know,

Spencer:

individualism, exceptionalism is the norm. I'm just kinda

Spencer:

thinking about that. I don't think every game is like that.

Spencer:

Um, but it did just make me think about how there is this

Spencer:

emphasis on, like, being the chosen one. And often like, I

Spencer:

find that as I've gotten older, like, I think when I was a kid,

Spencer:

just trying to get, like when, when my goal was adulthood and

Spencer:

being free of, you know, abuse, trauma, whatever. Like I very

Spencer:

much felt like this tragic hero forging my own path alone. But

Spencer:

as I've gotten older, I've realized that it's the

Spencer:

friendships that I have, that are the most important thing to

Spencer:

me, like, I guess I thought, as a teen and stuff, like, I just

Spencer:

need my own house, my own life, my own space, I just want to be

Spencer:

alone. And now I think the pandemic has just really brought

Spencer:

into sharp focus, like how much how the most important things to

Spencer:

me in my life are the connections I have with other

Spencer:

people. And if I didn't have friends, like you, and others,

Spencer:

like, I would be nowhere. Like, what's the point of having

Spencer:

anything if you don't have anyone to share it with? Anyway,

Spencer:

I guess I've been having like an emotional week. I was pretty

Spencer:

depressed. I was trying to I was playing Spiritfarer, and it was

Spencer:

definitely soothing me in the spirit. It's been a nice tonic

Spencer:

following Ghost of Tsushima. But anyway, enough about me and the

Spencer:

things I should be talking to with my therapist instead. How

Spencer:

are you? What are what are you been playing?

Jamie:

This is pixel therapy. So that is what we're here to do.

Spencer:

Oh my god.

Jamie:

No, but uh, yeah, so I've been playing I've continued to

Jamie:

be playing Tell Me Why. Which is the episodic narrative game from

Jamie:

DONTNOD the same developer who did the first two seasons of

Jamie:

Life is Strange. And Tell Me Why is very much in the same vein as

Jamie:

the Life is Strange games. It doesn't have the Life is Strange

Jamie:

name on it, the branding on it, but I think it's very much a

Jamie:

continuation of what they were doing with the Life is Strange

Jamie:

series. And the third and final episode came out on Thursday,

Jamie:

and I actually finished it this morning. And I'm still I think

Jamie:

I'm still processing what I ultimately think and feel about

Jamie:

this game. I was looking at reviews, it's got a 79% on

Jamie:

Metacritic, which is pretty comparable to Life is Strange

Jamie:

season two, but I just kind of left the game, not feeling like

Jamie:

it had the same kind of emotional impact on me that

Jamie:

season two of Life is Strange did or even season one to some

Jamie:

extent. And I've been trying to figure out exactly why that is.

Jamie:

There's there's so much that I like about what the game is

Jamie:

trying to do. I just don't know if it succeeds at it. It takes a

Jamie:

really interesting angle on things that I think I like in

Jamie:

theory, but not in practice. So I can elaborate a little bit on

Jamie:

that. I mean, the game is telling this, I guess, if you

Jamie:

don't want to know anything about Tell Me Why, it is a

Jamie:

narrative game, the narrative is the most important part of it.

Jamie:

So if you don't want to know anything about the narrative of

Jamie:

this game, and you haven't played it, I would definitely

Jamie:

check out now for a little bit, because I'm not going to be

Jamie:

spoiling major details of the game. But I'm going to be kind

Jamie:

of talking about the overarching narrative. So anyway, we talked

Jamie:

about this a bit in our last episode, but the game does

Jamie:

center on two siblings, a brother and a sister, brother is

Jamie:

a trans man. When they were children, they experienced a

Jamie:

pretty severe trauma in which their mother attacked the

Jamie:

brother, and was subsequently killed. And the brother went to

Jamie:

a juvenile detention center for 10 years to serve time for the

Jamie:

the murder of the mother. The game is the two siblings

Jamie:

reconnecting now a decade after this incident. And they're

Jamie:

actually cleaning out the house that they grew up in with their

Jamie:

mother. And they're, you know, going through her things going

Jamie:

through old memories in the past, they realize in the

Jamie:

process, that they have the ability to share memories, they

Jamie:

can revisit memories and watch them again, from each other's

Jamie:

perspectives. They also as children had the ability to talk

Jamie:

to each other in their heads through this sort of magical,

Jamie:

spiritual voice connection. And that's able to rekindle as

Jamie:

they've reconnected now in their early to mid 20s. I think

Jamie:

they're supposed to be. So it's, it's got this like, really, I

Jamie:

don't know, it's like a, if nostalgia is quite quite the

Jamie:

right word. But like they're, you know, you're going through

Jamie:

your childhood home. And nothing's really been touched in

Jamie:

a decade, and you're kind of picking apart all these

Jamie:

memories, and you're looking back at your childhood through

Jamie:

this new lens. And you're trying to figure out why why did the

Jamie:

mom attack? Why did this trauma happened to us? Why are we in

Jamie:

the situation that we are now? Why do we have this ability to

Jamie:

talk to each other in our heads, and that that's how that all

Jamie:

kind of ties back into the narrative. And there's something

Jamie:

really, I think, grounded there, and something really interesting

Jamie:

to pick at about how as we get as we become adults, and we look

Jamie:

back at our childhood, how we reanalyze those memories and

Jamie:

recontextualize those memories, and how it changes our

Jamie:

perspective on the experiences that we had as a child. Because

Jamie:

when you're a child, there's just so much that you that you

Jamie:

can't understand. But a lot of it gets stuck in there, and you

Jamie:

remember it, and then you look back on it when you're older.

Jamie:

And it all you kinda have to like, piece it back together and

Jamie:

figure out how to make sense of it. And this, like, this

Jamie:

personal mystery, that they're unraveling over the three

Jamie:

episodes of the game, it all kind of I liked that it. So much

Jamie:

of it, even though you're, you're trying to, there's these

Jamie:

reveal moments, right? There's these aha moments. But the aha

Jamie:

moment never feels as much of what the like emotional tension

Jamie:

to the game is hinging on as it does of now: What are you going

Jamie:

to do with that aha moment? So you've learned a thing about

Jamie:

this character and what they did when you were a child, Now you

Jamie:

have to decide if you're going to forgive them, or if you're

Jamie:

going to condemn them for those actions. And that's what the

Jamie:

game is hinging on. Like your choice there. or at least

Spencer:

Are you literally condemning, like, what happens

Spencer:

if you condemn someone?

Jamie:

that's and this is where I think the game falls flat.

Jamie:

Because it both doesn't give you the time you learn the

Jamie:

information, and then are immediately asked to forgive or

Jamie:

condemn

Spencer:

Oh Geez.

Jamie:

And regardless of your decision, it doesn't seem to

Jamie:

have a real impact on the game. So you're not given time to

Jamie:

process you're not given time to sit with the information that

Jamie:

you've learned. And then you can make a decision, but it

Jamie:

ultimately feels a little hollow. Because I didn't have

Jamie:

any time to process it. I'm being asked to make this

Jamie:

decision before I've really had time to think about it. And I

Jamie:

kind of I ended up forgiving a lot of people. But it's because

Jamie:

like I saw that as being like the avenue that I would have

Jamie:

worked towards, right. Like, I would want to forgive this

Jamie:

person for what they did, because I can see ultimately why

Jamie:

they made the choices that they made. However, in this very

Jamie:

moment, I'm not ready to make that decision.

Spencer:

Right.

Jamie:

So when I tell the carrot when I click the button to have

Jamie:

the character say, I forgive you, and I want to get to a

Jamie:

better relationship with you. It feels empty, because it doesn't

Jamie:

feel like someone would actually be ready in that moment. To say

Jamie:

that to this person, about this thing that they just learned.

Spencer:

Yeah, my heart is like beat it. My heartbeat just

Spencer:

picked up because it reminds me of like, abusive relationships

Spencer:

I've had where someone's like, like it like It feels like in

Spencer:

the moment you have to say, I forgive you because there's no

Spencer:

like, the other option would be catastrophic. Like, that's not

Spencer:

really how healing works.

Jamie:

Yeah, And it's it's frustrating because I think it's

Jamie:

I think that giving time for processing and for just like

Jamie:

sitting in moments is something that the Life is Strange first

Jamie:

two seasons I think it's something that they do really

Jamie:

well. Right and actually I was reading this review from Julie

Jamie:

Muncy on Fanbyte the she w ites this article called "Tell

Jamie:

e Why can't find the time to njoy the quiet". And I think she

Jamie:

really gets to the heart of what my issue is with it. She writes,

Jamie:

"instead of punctuating bi moments, or living between them

Jamie:

these dashes of silence ofte spent looking at scenic frost

Jamie:

Alaska usually occur before th action, they feel more like

Jamie:

delaying tactic than a means o reflection. This is where th

Jamie:

games focus on siblings, both o whom you control at differen

Jamie:

points in the story work against it here. Even the quie

Jamie:

moments are filled with the tw of them sharing quips an

Jamie:

memories. And while this may b realistic, it also feel

Jamie:

overstuffed, there's never chance for you to simply exis

Jamie:

in the lovely space, Tell Me Wh attempts to bring to life yo

Jamie:

are always being told somethin new, or as to do something o

Spencer:

You know, that reminded me I think from that same piece

Spencer:

push toward the next dramati moment. As a result so much tha

Spencer:

would resonate just doesn't

Spencer:

I had observed that, you know, that DONTNOD was certainly

Spencer:

trying very hard to do a quote unquote good job with their

Jamie:

100%

Jamie:

first this first playable trans masculine character. And, you

Jamie:

know, part of me wonders if it was so much more like on a path

Jamie:

on the rails than previous life is like, like previous games

Jamie:

like Life is Strange games, because there was this fear on

Jamie:

behalf of the developer of, you know, handling something the

Jamie:

wrong way. It does seem like they were like, with that whole

Jamie:

FAQ, they released, there was a lot of sort of prefacing, and

Jamie:

disclaimering and content war ing. And, um, you know, I I thi

Jamie:

k it's, we need more trans med a period. Like, that's just yea

Spencer:

it's not the job. Like, of course, we wouldn't be having

Spencer:

, that's just

Spencer:

this conversation if we had many, many other pieces of media

Spencer:

to look at and find ourselves in. But, um, I don't know did

Spencer:

did you sort of sense that, like, Did you feel like the, the

Spencer:

quality of the game was affected by this sort of pursuit of, I

Spencer:

don't know what to call it perfectionism when it came to

Spencer:

like, ally ship and fairness. I don't know.

Jamie:

You know, I

Spencer:

I think I think in general, too, I just wanna - I

Spencer:

just. Like, in general, I think. Writers don't seem to have the

Spencer:

confidence to speak on on trans stories, because so few trans

Spencer:

people are ever allowed to be in that room. And I know that, like

Spencer:

Aiden, August Black, who plays Tyler, that he contributed to

Spencer:

the formation of his role and gave feedback. But also, there

Spencer:

should be entire teams of people consulting like that.

Jamie:

Yeah.

Spencer:

Anyway, what were you gonna say?

Jamie:

I was just gonna say that. I think that could

Jamie:

certainly be part of it. I've heard the game described as a

Jamie:

bit toothless. And I think I think that's true. And I don't,

Jamie:

but I don't think it's exclusive to the way they're handling the,

Jamie:

the trans aspects of the story. I don't think it's exclusive to

Jamie:

the way they're handling Tyler's character. Um, there's, like I

Jamie:

said, I'm not going to get into all of the details. But there's

Jamie:

some very heavy revelations that the twins have about their past.

Jamie:

And they're both struggling with it, in very real and different

Jamie:

ways, and for very different reasons. And it just doesn't

Jamie:

feel like we get to sit in that long enough to feel like it

Jamie:

matters. And then, like, again, I'm not going to spoil the

Jamie:

details of what happens. But the end of the game, you're given an

Jamie:

experience. It's meant to feel cathartic and just feels empty,

Jamie:

because I didn't get to, like, there's no room for catharsis.

Jamie:

There's, I didn't get to process anything that just happened. It

Jamie:

was bam, bam, bam,

Spencer:

yeah,

Jamie:

here's all these revelations. And now, we're

Jamie:

okay. And you can have this moment of catharsis at the end

Jamie:

of the game to reflect. And even in that moment of reflection,

Jamie:

they're still doing what Julie alluded to in her article, which

Jamie:

is that they'll give you Oh, here's a bench go sit and just

Jamie:

look at the Alaskan wildlife and you sit down and immediately,

Jamie:

Alison, the sister starts talking in Tyler's head through

Jamie:

the voice. It's like I can't even have a fucking moment of

Jamie:

peace and quiet. To think about everything that just happened.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

And so I don't I guess I couldn't put my finger exactly

Jamie:

why they told the story this way. Usually their seasons are

Jamie:

five episodes. This is three. Why did why did they keep it to

Jamie:

three? What were they afraid of doing if they had stretched that

Jamie:

out? If they had given more breath to it?

Spencer:

Mm hmm.

Jamie:

And then yeah, maybe that does tie back to a fear of being

Jamie:

able to tell a more complex narrative around these

Jamie:

characters and wanting to just keep it moving. And not letting

Jamie:

us sit in anything. I don't know. Maybe it has to do with

Jamie:

them getting bought by Microsoft and, and there was some

Jamie:

incentive for them to only do three episodes. I don't know

Jamie:

what it is, you know, and and they're the Life is Strange

Jamie:

games, the first two seasons, sometimes the stretch to the

Jamie:

five episodes felt bloated, too they'd end up adding a lot more

Jamie:

melodrama to the story to keep Episode Four interesting. So

Jamie:

these games have never been perfect. And this one certainly

Jamie:

isn't either. I do still think it's worth people's time,

Jamie:

especially with you being able to get it so cheaply through

Jamie:

game pass. I think it's worth playing.

Spencer:

Yeah.

Jamie:

And I, and I appreciate, you know, the the characters

Jamie:

that they're centering here, and and just that it exists in the

Jamie:

triple A space. But uh, yeah, it's just kind of left wondering

Jamie:

like, what are the ramifications of the story? What are the

Jamie:

ramifications of the decisions I made? What are the ramifications

Jamie:

on the characters, they ultimately don't seem too

Jamie:

impacted by everything that happened. And it's not that I

Jamie:

needed anything huge or dramatic to happen, but it just yeah. I

Jamie:

feel like I'm, I was left wanting to actually feel the

Jamie:

catharsis that they thought they were giving me. So yeah, so

Jamie:

moving on. From that we do have a really interesting interview

Jamie:

today.

Spencer:

And now for something completely different.

Jamie:

now for something completely different. Today's

Jamie:

interview is with Dillon Yruegas. Dillon is a theatre

Jamie:

maker, he works for HowlRound Theatre Commons. We were

Jamie:

especially interested to talk to Dillon because he does something

Jamie:

really interesting as a performer. He actually streams

Jamie:

games dating sims specifically and performs the characters in

Jamie:

in the dating sim. And so we got to have a really cool

Jamie:

conversation with him about, about how he feels about gaming

Jamie:

and gaming culture, whether or not he identifies as a gamer,

Jamie:

and and what he's what he's ultimately getting out of these

Jamie:

performance opportunities.

Spencer:

Yeah, I really loved talking to Dillon, just as

Spencer:

someone who devises theater and who's also working to sort of

Spencer:

imagine what the future of theater looks like in this post

Spencer:

pandemic world. Like, I thought that it was really cool to sort

Spencer:

of talk about how close at least in my opinion, like video gaming

Spencer:

and theater creation are just in terms of they're both these very

Spencer:

experiential, unique experiences that in many cases can't be

Spencer:

exactly recreated. And what does it mean to sort of interact with

Spencer:

that, and I love the way that we sort of that he talked about his

Spencer:

relationship with games. And I think, too, that, you know,

Spencer:

these digital art forms are just becoming more and more

Spencer:

commonplace. And I thought he had some great perspectives to

Spencer:

share. So yeah, I'm excited tokick off the conversation.

Jamie:

Yeah. So without further a Dil-

Spencer:

[laughs]

Jamie:

Without further ado, here's our interview with Dillon

Jamie:

Yruegas. [music break]

Spencer:

Welcome. Thank you so much for being in the virtual

Spencer:

studio with us.

Dillon:

Yes, this is fantastic. I'm loving this virtual studio

Dillon:

that we've created.

Spencer:

And before we start, you know, talking about games,

Spencer:

and what brought us here, I'd love if you might want to take a

Spencer:

few seconds to introduce yourself.

Dillon:

Yeah, totally. Um, so my name is Dillon Yruegas, my

Dillon:

pronouns are he him his or él, si hablas español. I am

Dillon:

originally from the Central Texas area. But I am currently

Dillon:

living it up in Roslindale, Boston yep. Yeah, and I am a

Dillon:

theatre maker by trade. I work for HowlRound Theatre Commons.

Dillon:

And I and I do a lot of like turn freelancing stuff like

Dillon:

acting, directing, kind of venturing into playwriting,

Dillon:

which is cool, you know, super fancy.

Spencer:

That makes sense, considering the games you've

Spencer:

chosen to talk about today

Dillon:

doesn't it though? like it all, it all runs together.

Dillon:

But yeah, I've been I've been living in the northeast for

Dillon:

about a year and a half now.

Spencer:

Awesome. Awesome. Yeah. And so you know, speaking of

Spencer:

performance, You are a theater maker and you do something

Spencer:

really cool with streaming. So I've checked out your twitch you

Spencer:

have a really cool channel called is it Boys With Brains?

Spencer:

Is that the way to say it?

Dillon:

Yes

Spencer:

Okay Boys With Brains and what you do is you sort of

Spencer:

take you're working with otome games like visual novel based

Spencer:

dating sim type games. Hatoful Boyfriend where you're a young

Spencer:

woman in a post apocalyptic world dating a bunch of birds

Dillon:

casual you know,

Spencer:

Casual, as one does

Jamie:

normal shit normal shit.

Spencer:

Can you tell us more about how you're sort of using

Spencer:

these games to create these experimental performances almost

Spencer:

with your channel?

Dillon:

Wow, you're making it sounds so much more cooler than

Dillon:

it actually is. With literally like, I could probably sum it

Dillon:

down into like one thing. It's like, I was bored and I did it.

Jamie:

Isn't that how all good things come to be though?

Dillon:

It's so true. It's so so true. Um, yeah, so I think the

Dillon:

Gosh, I guess I'll go back to like a little bit of like

Dillon:

history of like how it started and kind of get into what I'm

Dillon:

doing now. Yeah, so one of my good my good dudes. My friend,

Dillon:

Dr. Jesse O'Rear now. I have to plug that in. Because he just

Dillon:

got his approval. He's officially a doctor now. Yes,

Dillon:

congrats to him. Yeah, so he - oo, I want to say like three

Dillon:

years ago or so started playing Dream Daddy. And he decided to

Dillon:

start live streaming it. And it was it was one of the major

Dillon:

hurricanes that happened in Central Texas that year. So it

Dillon:

was like lots of flooding. like nobody was going anywhere. Very

Dillon:

similar to how the pandemic started.

Spencer:

Yeah, it's a dark and stormy night.

Dillon:

Dark and stormy nights. And yeah, so he was just like,

Dillon:

live streaming it. And he was like, essentially creating a

Dillon:

kind of like a, like, similar to like an audio drama, where he's

Dillon:

just like doing doing all the voices and stuff like that. And

Dillon:

I was like, this is really fun. Like, I actually like, enjoy

Dillon:

playing that. And so then fast forward and now to when pandemic

Dillon:

hit, I was like, Okay, I'm not doing any theater. I've

Dillon:

thankfully, I had my full time day job. So like, I could

Dillon:

actually, you know, support myself very thankful for that. I

Dillon:

was like, I need to be creative somehow. Oh, yeah. Wait, I've

Dillon:

done this before. Like, I've seen these things happen before

Dillon:

where like, you know, watching people play. It's even like on

Dillon:

Twitch and things like that, but having more fun with it. Because

Dillon:

you know, actor. It's acting. I have a degree and it's fine.

Dillon:

This is what it is that all of that thousands of dollars have

paid for:

Me performing on Twitch. [all laugh]

Spencer:

At a doctorate level, mind you, with your co-host

Dillon:

Yes, with my friend. Um, yeah, so I just kind of started

Dillon:

started doing this like very similar things where I just

Dillon:

hopped on Facebook Live and started Yeah, just playing Dream

Dillon:

Daddy, doing the silly voices going all the way through. And

Dillon:

like, there's like a, you know, the interactive part of it is

Dillon:

just makes it like another form of theater for me. Where it

Dillon:

just, you know, kind of creates that creates the interaction

Dillon:

between everybody and so the audience and like they can even

Dillon:

like with those those kind of games, like they help kind of

Dillon:

steward like the the directions are going okay, like, because

Dillon:

when you get to the, to the screens that you where, you have

Dillon:

choices, it's like, okay, like, I know what I want to choose,

Dillon:

what do you guys want to choose? So it's kind of, it helps in

Dillon:

that way to kind of create more of a performance out of it.

Spencer:

Like an improv, almost like you're almost sort of

Spencer:

depending on what kind of prompt the audience will give you.

Spencer:

That's really interesting. I think too, like something that's

Spencer:

really cool about these games is you know, they are entirely text

Spencer:

based and there are images there. But really, it's on the

Spencer:

imagination of the player to you know, create the voices of who

Spencer:

they're looking at as well as craft a narrative that feels

Spencer:

true to them. So I think that they're like you really can make

Spencer:

it something original with your own acting because no one else's

Spencer:

mind is going to recreate the game in the same way that you

Spencer:

did with your recording. What's the reception been like to folks

Spencer:

who have watched your your streams?

Dillon:

Um, pretty pretty fun and like it's it's a lot of

Dillon:

silly things. It's like mostly a bunch of my friends I want to

Dillon:

say like maybe the most I had on one stream was like 20 to 30

Dillon:

people like it wasn't. I know like whoo so many people

Dillon:

watching the streams, it's just been really good to, to see how

Dillon:

people interact. I think that's, that's my biggest thing that I

Dillon:

always think of. But I will say that it led to kind of a really

Dillon:

cool opportunity that my friend Jesse and I were able to do. So

Dillon:

we actually created Boys With Brains because we were asked to

Dillon:

participate in a thing called Downtown Variety. So Culture Hub

Dillon:

in New York City, in partnership with La Mama in New York, during

Dillon:

pandemic times when they started there, they were also kind of

Dillon:

going into the whole, like, what are we going to do for

Dillon:

performance? Like how will we get people to interact and

Dillon:

things like that? Do do live theater, but online? Like what

Dillon:

does that mean? And so they did their, a version of their

Dillon:

variety show called Downtown Variety, and just transfered it

Dillon:

online. And then so we were approached by them, like, Hey,

Dillon:

would you all like to be a part of one of our, our variety

Dillon:

shows, and thus, the Boys With Brains were born. Yeah, and

Dillon:

that, and with that is when we specifically played Hatoful

Dillon:

Boyfriend, and livestreamed it that way, which was also through

Dillon:

livestreamed through my work. So that was like, a really

Dillon:

interesting intersection. Yeah. [music break]

Spencer:

Like, so part of the reason this podcast exists is

Spencer:

cuz, like, I'm a trans person of mixed Filipinx, and Irish

Spencer:

descent. I'm non binary, I've played games my entire life. But

Spencer:

when I look in the media, I mean, I don't see myself

Spencer:

reflected, and like the people talking about games, or in the

Spencer:

games themselves. And so just like having conversations with

Spencer:

other trans people about games is so much different than having

Spencer:

a conversation with another cis person about a game. Because

Spencer:

when I'm playing a game, I'm bringing all of my experience to

Spencer:

that character. And I'm, like, I'm seeing I look, I look for

Spencer:

trans narratives in games, because they're not there for

Spencer:

me. And when I talk to other queer and trans people about

Spencer:

games, we have these incredibly imaginative conversations, these

Spencer:

conversations that take what little were given and create

Spencer:

even deeper worlds out of them. Now we're in a part at a point

Spencer:

where we're getting some trans representation in gaming, but I

Spencer:

think that there's something really really special I don't

Spencer:

you didn't explicitly say, if everyone on the stream was like,

Spencer:

trans, but I'm gonna assume that there were other folks there.

Spencer:

who, you know, shared queer identity and I think that in

Spencer:

itself, like, QTPOC joy, QTPOC, hanging out QTPOC just like

Spencer:

shooting the shit on a stream. Like that is kind of

Spencer:

revolutionary considering the fact that so much of the gaming

Spencer:

community is so hateful and exclusive to people like us,

Spencer:

like, I don't know what what do you think about the sort of

Spencer:

fandom surrounding video games?

Dillon:

Yeah, I think it's, it's one of those things where I've

Dillon:

definitely tried to separate myself from it. Like, I in no

Dillon:

ways consider myself a gamer. Like that. It's not an identity

Dillon:

that I dropped. And I kind of like, jokingly and it's it's a

Dillon:

little harsh, so sorry about that. But

Spencer:

No! Don't be sorry.

Dillon:

But like, there's like I've definitely joked in the

Dillon:

past that it is like, oh, like cis, cishets like really want an

Dillon:

identity so badly. And they just create these like random ones

Dillon:

based on what they like to do. And so like, being a gamer is

Dillon:

like very, very similar to that. Whereas like, if you actually do

Dillon:

have like, all these other marginalized identities, then

Dillon:

gaming is just something that you can do for fun as an outlet

Dillon:

away from the life that you're living. So like, like yeah, like

Dillon:

I so I never considered myself a gamer because I never was like,

Dillon:

intentionally in those spaces with like, cishet folks. And

Dillon:

actually, like, interesting enough, like, that reminds me so

Dillon:

I did a play reading. For specifically for zoom, it was

Dillon:

the, based on the Decameron series, which was back in I want

Dillon:

to say the Renaissance era. They did. It was it was a set of

Dillon:

plays around one of the times of the major pandemics then. and so

Dillon:

they updated it and they called it the COVID Decameron series.

Dillon:

But the one that I was a part of was a short play called

Dillon:

"Gamers". And it was making fun of that, like gaming, like

Dillon:

lifestyle, like the way that people talk back and forth to

Dillon:

each other. And so it was actually really hard, I don't

Dillon:

wanna say "really" hard but it was rather hard for me to like

Dillon:

get into that mindset was like wow, I'm playing like one of

Dillon:

those douchey cishet bro gamers and I don't - like can't relate,

Dillon:

can't at all, like not here for it at all

Spencer:

No that that is really fascinating. I love what you

Spencer:

said. It reminds me of a tweet that I saw a couple weeks ago

Spencer:

about how, like, it was talking about how, in the absence of

Spencer:

culture that you experience with whiteness, like, like, there is

Spencer:

no white culture, what you end up doing is adopting symbols of

Spencer:

consumerism and capitalism and making that your culture. And so

Spencer:

when looters are burning down a Chili's, it feels like your

Spencer:

family heirlooms are being destroyed.

Dillon:

Yo but for real though.

Spencer:

Yeah where's the lie? And I do feel like, you know,

Spencer:

applying that same framework to this idea of what does it mean

Spencer:

to be a capital G gamer? When that culture has been defined by

Spencer:

like, Who's the loudest who's the trolling-est? Who's the best

Spencer:

at shooting who's the best at like, putting other people down?

Spencer:

Like you can very easily adopt that as a sort of like machismo

Spencer:

or something like I can very easily see that, um, love that

Spencer:

take, Dillon

Dillon:

Hot take. [all laugh]

Spencer:

So yeah, what is your history with gaming? So you said

Spencer:

you didn't identify as a gamer and I'd love to hear you say

Spencer:

more about that if you have any more thoughts, but what's your

Spencer:

history with games? How did you as someone who doesn't identify

Spencer:

- who does not identify as a gamer, how did you get into

Dillon:

So I say that, that I'm not a gamer. And then when I

Dillon:

games?

Dillon:

actually like, look at my history, I was like, oh, I've

Dillon:

been playing games pretty much my entire life. Yeah, like the

Spencer:

It's a relic.

Spencer:

the first system that I can remember having, and like,

Spencer:

specifically asking for was the Gameboy system. And I had the

Spencer:

old like, big gray brick, like, Gameboy. That was my first

Spencer:

thing. I actually still have it to this day.

Dillon:

It really is. And it's like,

Jamie:

it might be worth something.

Dillon:

Yeah, I think if it wasn't, unfortunately, like the

Dillon:

screen is kind of janky

Jamie:

the emotional value is more than the than the

Jamie:

commercial value anyway.

Dillon:

Oh, yeah. That's that's so true. I could probably get

Dillon:

something for the games themselves, because they

Dillon:

definitely still work. I have like, Mortal Kombat, Mortal

Dillon:

Kombat 2, Tetris, Kirby Dreamland, Super Mario Brothers,

Dillon:

like all those like original original Nintendo games. Like,

Dillon:

that's what I had. Yeah. And I want to say I was like, seven or

Dillon:

so when I got that. Like, I was relatively young. Yeah. Yeah. So

Dillon:

it was, that was my first game. Game experience. Yeah. And then

Dillon:

I also had both PlayStation one and two. Those came out when I

Dillon:

was like, in around like middle school, high school

Spencer:

formative years,

Dillon:

so formative, and I'm also aging myself so much right

Dillon:

now. I know.

Jamie:

No one google when the PlayStation came out. [all

Jamie:

laugh]

Dillon:

Like I might have played the first Harry Potter. It's

Dillon:

fine.

Spencer:

Yes, I still remember those.

Dillon:

Yeah, with those horrible, horrible graphics. But

Dillon:

they were so cool.

Jamie:

We thought they were good at the time.

Dillon:

Oh, yeah, we sure did. And then when Guitar Hero came

Dillon:

out, I think I was in college at that point. So that was like the

Dillon:

big like, college party game that you did all together like

Dillon:

you. Like especially if you weren't gonna do like, flip cup

Dillon:

or beer pong or any of those like you played Guitar Hero.

Spencer:

You're time to shine.

Dillon:

Yes, exactly. [laughs] And even like the Guitar Hero

Dillon:

where it was just like, like just the one guitar like you

Dillon:

couldn't even have like the rest of the band yet. Like, yeah,

Dillon:

that was that was the thing. And yeah, I want to say I was in

Dillon:

college when Wii came out. So I had one of those, like, the

Dillon:

first iteration of a Wii which was fun, like, I definitely

Dillon:

played like the sports games and stuff like

Spencer:

yeah, Wii's like the casual pickup console, right? I

Spencer:

think.

Dillon:

Yeah, you know, I feel like playing a little tennis

Dillon:

today. But it's a little dreary outside. So I'll just pick up

Dillon:

the Wii

Jamie:

The Wii is the console that like my grandmother went

Jamie:

out and bought for herself.

Spencer:

Casual gamers console

Dillon:

Absolutely. Yeah. I think with, at least for me,

Dillon:

from what I remember, like with the Xbox came like the on the

Dillon:

advent of like online gaming. Especially with things like like

Dillon:

Call of Duty, and Red Dead Redemption, like all those

Dillon:

games. And I actually like, wasn't into them. I was like,

Dillon:

I'll play them like we have a bunch of friends like together

Dillon:

playing it, sure. But like that was not the games that like

Dillon:

interested me at all.

Spencer:

What about them where, was not interesting to you?

Dillon:

Um, Gosh, so many things. I think that it was like

Dillon:

the - I like immediately saw in them that like bro gamer culture

Dillon:

start to come out of there. And so like dealing with also like I

Dillon:

don't want to say like, I hated killing people but it was like,

Dillon:

a little too much for me I was just like, I don't this isn't

Dillon:

fun like

Spencer:

It's not why I'm playing the game.

Dillon:

Exactly, yeah. And also, like, I think a lot of the

Dillon:

times, like with what, at least what I saw with the people that

Dillon:

I was playing with who were playing those games, they were

Dillon:

very much like the you know, had a stockpile of guns. Were going

Dillon:

out to the shooting range all the time, and were trying to

Dillon:

live out their, their police and/or military fantasies, even

Dillon:

though they couldn't be a part of it. I grew up in Texas, like,

Dillon:

like that, like those are the kind of people who are playing

Dillon:

these games all the time. And so I was just like, like, it was

Dillon:

the, for me, it wasn't necessarily like the games

Dillon:

themselves. It was like the culture surrounding the games

Dillon:

and the people that I knew who were all playing them.

Spencer:

Right,

Jamie:

yeah.

Spencer:

And it's also like a very narrow definition in terms

Spencer:

of the heroes of these games like yes, one's in space, and

Spencer:

yes, one's in the Old West, and yes, one's in a zombie

Spencer:

apocalypse, but the protagonists still look, look and act very

Spencer:

much the same. And so if you don't kind of vibe with that

Spencer:

certain type of cis, white, male, individualistic, brute

Spencer:

force type of heroic archetype like, or even anti hero that

Spencer:

type of like, Oh, I'm a tragic genius. Like, what's what other

Spencer:

room is left for you to exist in that world? Like, Yeah, I can

Spencer:

see that.

Dillon:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So it wasn't necessarily like

Dillon:

really... Yeah, it's - I'd actually say within the past,

Dillon:

like, couple years, where I like, actually started getting

Dillon:

into gaming again. I think a lot of it was like, my own, like,

Dillon:

internal, like judgment of myself of like, well, if I get

Dillon:

in - if I played this game, than I'm like, this. like, I'm not

Dillon:

gonna play Sims, because like, my ex loves Sims. And so that

Dillon:

was like, a whole thing. Or, like, I'm not gonna play like,

Dillon:

on these platforms, because I'm like that. And I'm like, yeah,

Dillon:

it was in the past few years, especially like, as I've been,

Dillon:

I'm, like, now five years into my medical transition, I was

Dillon:

just like, Who gives a fuck? You know, it's for my own joy. So

Dillon:

like, why not play some games? It's fine.

Spencer:

Right? Right, you can define what a gamer is.

Dillon:

Exactly, exactly.

Spencer:

You know, it's funny when you say like, these, the

Spencer:

certain types of people you associate with games, like I,

Spencer:

like I think of gaming as a very solitary activity that I do for

Spencer:

enjoyment. And I, it reminded me of sort of how, like cooking is

Spencer:

another activity that can be very solitary, sort of calming,

Spencer:

relaxing, it's methodical, you're on your own, you're

Spencer:

building skills. Um, but when it's sort of taken from being a

Spencer:

hobby and elevated into like, a mainstream activity, and we

Spencer:

start applying these tenets of like, masculinity and white

Spencer:

supremacy to it in order to make it palatable to a wide audience.

Spencer:

Because cooking, as you know, is woman's work.

Dillon:

Unless you want to be professional, and then your

Dillon:

white dude.

Spencer:

And then suddently, it's, it's a sport, suddenly,

Spencer:

it's a battle suddenly, you know, we're in Cutthroat

Spencer:

Kitchen. And it becomes like, in order for it to be acceptable as

Spencer:

a hobby, we need to apply this competitive inherent

Spencer:

competitiveness to it, we need to apply this inherent, you

Spencer:

know, battle, sort of fighting for recognition, like, like,

Spencer:

there's all of this additional crap that we feel like we have

Spencer:

to surround it with. So it's interesting to hear you say that

Spencer:

about gaming because I can certainly see parallels there.

Spencer:

[music break]

Spencer:

So you told us that both Hatoful Boyfriend and Dream Daddy were

Spencer:

games that had a really big influence on your life? And so

Spencer:

I'd love for you to start which whichever one you'd like but

Spencer:

maybe tell us a bit about those games?

Dillon:

Yeah, I guess I'll start with Dream Daddy because I am

Dillon:

definitely a little bit more more well versed in that. It's

Dillon:

just so silly. It's so silly and so gay just so so gay. And like

Dillon:

if there are, that those are like the the only two

Dillon:

ingredients of a game you're gonna have me like hook line and

Dillon:

sinker. Make it silly make a gay done. But yeah, like I I

Dillon:

particularly love the Relatively, like streamline of

Dillon:

the storyline like it's very, very simple. It's not, it's, you

Dillon:

know, it's a click through game like it's nothing too too crazy,

Dillon:

but you can still have fun and the mini games surprised me

Dillon:

every time they come up even when I still play to this day.

Dillon:

I'm just like, Wait is the mini game coming now? Or is it? Okay

Dillon:

now that's happening great, cool, cool, cool. And then also

Dillon:

like figuring out how to play the video game. It's like I

Dillon:

click right like, that's so, so silly. Um, but yeah, like I

Dillon:

love. I'm definitely a sucker for creating characters and

Dillon:

avatars like, and that's like one thing that I really loved

Dillon:

about Dream Daddy is that you you have the option to have your

Dillon:

dad be be queer, and to be trans. And I had like, when I

Dillon:

saw that I was like, wait, what you can put a binder on this

Dillon:

kid, what? Mind blown.

Spencer:

Yeah, representation is so important.

Dillon:

Yeah, absolutely. And then like all the all the other

Dillon:

like fun customizable things you do with your character, like all

Dillon:

the different skin tones, all the different hair colors. The

Dillon:

clothes are pretty fabulous. Like I'm like, where can i where

Dillon:

can i cop some of these? I want this for my own wardrobe, Thank

Dillon:

you.

Spencer:

Mm hmm.

Dillon:

Yeah, so those are like the the biggest things that like

Dillon:

definitely drew me into it. And then and then yeah, just like

Dillon:

with the the play through of the game itself, having all these

Dillon:

very, like distinctive voices that you can play and like all

Dillon:

the different dads. And also it's just like the silliness of

Dillon:

like the "Dad Book". And the and the I actually really do enjoy

Dillon:

the the character voice acting that they have there are like

Dillon:

very, very simple, silly things that they say in the reactions,

Dillon:

but like, sometimes, I'll like even still quote them to to

Dillon:

friends or like to my partner like "Sweet Manchego!". He's

Dillon:

like, what?

Spencer:

yes,

Dillon:

You like don't remember, hot Dad? Come on. And he's like

Dillon:

oh, yeah, yeah, I got it now.

Spencer:

Oh, of course, hot Dad.

Dillon:

Hot Dad. Done [laughs]

Spencer:

I think too, there's something really sweet about how

Spencer:

the, like, LGBTQ characters or identities aren't treated as

Spencer:

like, a special storyline or like a niche thing. Like, it's

Spencer:

just this world is set up that way, like, folks are queer.

Spencer:

Like, you don't really often see queer storylines featured in

Spencer:

games without having to sort of be caveated by like, oh, but

Spencer:

this queer person is going through a ton of violence, or

Spencer:

like, oh, but this queer person is like, a villain. Like,

Spencer:

there's something nice about this world that's just made for

Spencer:

people like us.

Dillon:

Yeah, absolutely. And like, there are definitely times

Dillon:

where it kind of like strays a little bit into that area. You

Dillon:

know, obviously with like, your, your first dad, like, I mean,

Dillon:

you can choose to say if you like, what the gender of your

Dillon:

partner was beforehand, but like, obviously, they passed

Dillon:

away. So that's the whole like, beginning. Oh, this is like,

Dillon:

kind of sad. And then yeah, with with some of the other other

Dillon:

dads, where it's like, kind of a queer thing, maybe, but it's

Dillon:

also like, not touched upon. So it's like, both like, I would

Dillon:

say, like a very positive thing of like, sexuality isn't

Dillon:

necessarily defined with all the dads. But also like on the other

Dillon:

hand, it definitely impacts how you play and like where you go

Dillon:

through the playthrough and stuff. And then do you all know

Dillon:

about the the director's cut? Or

Spencer:

No

Jamie:

I know it's called the "Dadrector's" cut?

Dillon:

Oh, yeah, the Dadrector's Cut. Or maybe I'm

Dillon:

thinking? Oh, no, it's the "Unreleased" they, they they

Dillon:

released it for a short period of time, but then they like took

Dillon:

it off. But there was like this whole like, other side to the

Dillon:

Joseph character. And he's, he's the dad who's the youth pastor.

Dillon:

And where he's actually like, in a cult, and he's like, trying to

Dillon:

seduce all the other dads to I don't even remember exactly what

Dillon:

it is because like, I remember finding out about this. I think

Dillon:

it was like two or three years ago where it's like, wait, wait,

Dillon:

wait, they're doing what? And like it like when you do the

Dillon:

playthrough especially with Oh, what's his name? The single dad

Dillon:

who's like, Robert, the bad boy. How he likes to go like chasing

Dillon:

he's like there's a there's weird things happen in this

Dillon:

neighborhood and blah, blah. Um, and so like, there's a lot of

Dillon:

the elements still in the game that are like a weird unsettling

Dillon:

things that eventually did lead you to, like being trapped by

Dillon:

Joseph in his basement and his children are actually demons

Dillon:

like,

Spencer:

Oh my god, yeah, it's always some kind of twist.

Spencer:

Right.

Dillon:

But I know that they Yeah, they just decided not to

Dillon:

go with that. Like in the in the general release, and I want to

Dillon:

say it was like a Very, very limited release that they they

Dillon:

let you play that because like, it was also like kind of weird

Dillon:

kind of homophobic, like leaned into homophobia with the Joseph

Dillon:

character. Um, sort of like we don't really like this like we

Dillon:

want to keep it like a little bit more wholesome and like,

Dillon:

good for like the general audience that we want to have.

Spencer:

Yeah, yeah,

Dillon:

but there's still there's still evidence of it out

Dillon:

there.

Spencer:

Meanwhile, Hatoful Boyfriend has been described as

Spencer:

one reviewer called it "the most eccentric and incoherent dating

Spencer:

simulator of all time", and honestly, I hope to be

Spencer:

remembered the same way. Um, can you tell us about about this

Spencer:

riveting game?

Dillon:

They're birds. They're all birds. Everyone is birds.

Dillon:

And it's like, and we you live in a cave. Like, I think that's

Dillon:

like, the biggest thing that like is unanswered, in the

Dillon:

entire thing that I'm like, we're the only human and we live

Dillon:

in a cave. We eat like this weird, like, like, I think it's

Dillon:

like a nutritional stick or whatever it was. Instead of like

Dillon:

seeds. I'm like, why I and there's also like, very weird to

Dillon:

like, oh, how they how the birds will talk about the human and be

Dillon:

like, your, "your hunter gatherer instincts". Like, what?

Spencer:

Yeah, so like, for folks who may not know like, the

Spencer:

premise of the game is basically like, the strain of the H1N1

Spencer:

bird flu virus has swept the world. Humans have been wiped

Spencer:

out and in an attempt to save the human race, they tried to

Spencer:

transfer like human brains into bird bodies who would be

Spencer:

resilient to the virus. And so now we're in a world where

Spencer:

humans have been mostly wiped out, birds have taken over as

Spencer:

the dominant species and humans that are surviving have been

Spencer:

relegated to their sort of prehistoric vibing hang times

Spencer:

and sort of looking for food hanging out in caves and trying

Spencer:

not to get eaten and are our hero finds themself in the

Spencer:

prestigious bird school. And I'd love to hear more about like, we

Spencer:

talked about the the joy and fun that these games bring. What

Spencer:

makes them sort of stand out to you as being these really

Spencer:

meaningful games to you as well. Like, like, what has their

Spencer:

impact on you been?

Dillon:

It's been, it's just really been fun to perform them.

Dillon:

I think that like, the, the characters are just silly.

Dillon:

They're just fun, and you get to do voice acting and like,

Dillon:

everything is there for you. So you don't have to create

Dillon:

anything. Like I don't have to go out and write my own stuff.

Dillon:

I'm just like, here we go. Let's do it. Done. And also, like, I

Dillon:

know, several playwrights who also like their their day job is

Dillon:

writing games for for gameplay and stuff like that. So like, I

Dillon:

know, like, you can tell when you have like the good games

Dillon:

that have good writers behind them, because you can actually

Dillon:

go through these, as ridiculous as they can be, like all these

Dillon:

different story arcs, and have fun with that. So so it's just

Dillon:

Yeah, for me, it's really like another way to have my, my

Dillon:

creativity or performativity out there in just like such an easy

Dillon:

and like accessible way. [music break]

Spencer:

I think it's really interesting, like you are a

Spencer:

theatre maker, working on a national scale with HowlRound

Spencer:

and something that you have been talking about is, you know, what

Spencer:

does theater-making look like in a post pandemic world? in a in a

Spencer:

digital world? It seems like you've already been sort of

Spencer:

exploring that with with how you're playing these games.

Spencer:

Like, what is it like thinking about the future of theater?

Spencer:

Like Like, how are you thinking about that kind of digital

Spencer:

connection

Dillon:

for me, I think a lot of people get stuck on "oh well

Dillon:

pandemic theater is zoom theater and that's all that it is". And

Dillon:

I think yes, like that's the that was the thing that popped

Dillon:

up first and that was the easily most easily accessible form of

Dillon:

theater that came apart, came up but it's also been like around

Dillon:

for a while. There is a conference that happens in

Spencer:

Ah,

Spencer:

Kingston, Ontario called FOLDA fest, Festival of Live Digita

Spencer:

Art and, and so yeah, they lik their, their bread and butter i

Dillon:

and so yeah, and so what happens is that they find a

Dillon:

just like how we you know incorporate digital arts into

Dillon:

ive performance. Like one of my favorite ones was a Minecraft

Dillon:

one. Or it's these kids like little kids I'm talking a

Dillon:

out like 10,11, 12 year ol s, who are onstage, and they are

Dillon:

creating the world as, like as hey're sitting there. But you

Dillon:

still you have these like thr e actors who are also pla

Dillon:

ing on Minecraft. But there is ike a storyline that they're doi

Dillon:

g. And you can watch eve ything happening on the scr

Dillon:

en above their heads. So you re watching everybody, like cre

Dillon:

te the world, and going in thr ugh through their scripts. But

Dillon:

you're also like, the cha acters of like, who you're sup

Dillon:

osed to, like, watch is on, on he screen behind them. So tha

Dillon:

's like one way that that I'v seen it kind of integrated.

Dillon:

And then another one that I th t I saw, I don't remember the n

Dillon:

me. But it's it's essentially So it's the, the idea behind i

Dillon:

is that this woman wanted to cr ate a show that could be toure

Dillon:

, but that she did not have o tour herself. So she can have

Dillon:

a lower carbon foot.

Dillon:

local actor to do it, they give them a packet. And the script

Dillon:

that has like, has the script and it has a video. And they

Dillon:

only have it I want to say for like three days or something

Dillon:

like that, before they perform it live in front of an audience.

Dillon:

And so you have on one side, you have a screen, a projection of

Dillon:

whatever the storyline is that she wants to go through. And

Dillon:

then on