Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Interview with Patricia Hernandez of Kotaku about video game urinals

I talked to Patricia Hernandez at Kotaku for a bit about my upcoming urinal game, tentatively called "The Tearoom", so please check it out if you're interested. In the post, I talk about a lot of my process and thinking, and the politics I want to explore in the game.

(Sorry for the sparse updates lately; I've been busy with traveling and work.)

Monday, October 3, 2016

No Quarter 2016, October 28th in New York City

I currently curate No Quarter, an annual games exhibition sponsored by NYU Game Center. We basically pay 4 game designers to make whatever they want (and they keep ownership over whatever they make) and then fly them to New York City for a big fun party.

This year the party is in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the current street art capital of the city, and we've commissioned Brendon Chung, Holly Gramazio, Catt Small, and Stephen Clark to make awesome games for us.

It's going to be a fun night, I hope you can join us. Entry is free and open to the public, but RSVP is required.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The golden age of urinals

This is work in progress on a new project branching off an existing project... it's probably a game about cruising. I wanted the bathroom to feel old, so I did some research on old vintage public bathrooms -- and the Hinsdale urinals are widely acknowledged to be the supreme "Cadillac of drop urinals" so here they are. The bathroom itself is inspired by the bathroom in Old Town Bar in Manhattan.

Monday, September 12, 2016

No Stars, Only Constellations as slow magic (updated)

NOTE: This post details my process and intent with the game No Stars Only Constellations, and basically spoils the game. It is recommended that you play it first.

UPDATED, 18 September 2016: discusses the new ending.

No, it's not really a sex game. (Sorry.)

Astute players may notice that No Stars, Only Constellations is a semi-remake of a previous game bundled in Radiator 1, called Polaris. Much of the initial premise remains the same: the player character is reluctantly on some sort of date with some dude, who implicitly demands that you pay attention to his stargazing story. At the end, he basically leaves you.

The games also make similar points about stargazing: yes it's kinda romantic sometimes, but also, it's kinda bullshit. There's a certain fantasy of stargazing (and space) that, I think, almost never withstands any scrutiny. Maybe it's a metaphor for certain relationships?...

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Forever BUTT

The cover of BUTT Magazine #18
This doesn't really have anything to do with games, directly, but: I want to talk briefly about a gay mens' magazine called BUTT.

I never realized before how BUTT was such an important influence to me, until a photographer asked me to pick out things from my apartment that informed my work -- so I picked out "Forever BUTT", a best-of compilation book. At first I thought about how funny it would be if the word "BUTT" was literally printed in the photo, but then I realized there was some truth to what BUTT meant to me.

Growing up, my early understanding of gay men consisted mostly of hiding random gay crypto-porn, talking with my mom's fitness instructor, and wondering about Tigger from Winnie The Pooh. I knew abstractly about AIDS, hate crimes, gay bars, musical theater, and mid-century modern art, but I didn't really connect any of those things to my life. All I knew was that I wish Zangief played more like Chun-Li.

And then one fateful day, while walking into an American Apparel store without any intent to ever buy anything, I saw the cover of BUTT issue #18 on the shelf -- a casual portrait of a smirking burly bearded dude printed on milky fuchsia-pink paper. He wasn't a glossy supermodel with perfect cheekbones, he was just some random cute guy somewhere, and so he deserved to be on the cover. It all seemed clearly gay, yet also didn't really fit my young idea of gayness at all.

What... was this... ?

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Radiator World* Tour, Fall 2016 Schedule

This upcoming year I'm trying to attend more events and to go places where I haven't before. I'll sadly be missing IndieCade West and also probably GDC 2017! But in exchange, I'm mixing up my usual routine a bit.

Here's my current schedule for this season:
  • Living Room Light Exchange, September 13 in Brooklyn, NY. I'll be speaking at this contemporary pop-up salon series, which totally takes place in actual real living rooms around the city. It's been long popular in the Bay Area, but this will be its first time in New York City, and I'm honored to help launch it. (Free, RSVP required)
  • Weird Reality: Head-Mounted Art && Code, October 6-9 in Pittsburgh, PA. Me and a bunch of other people are cautiously optimistic about virtual reality -- well, as long as capitalism doesn't fuck it all up -- and I'll be presenting some of my work at this CMU conference as well as mingling with fellow weirdos. (Not free, tickets required. Some travel scholarships and subsidized tickets available, ask me about them if you're interested.)
  • Steam Dev Days, October 12-13 in Seattle, WA. I don't really know why I'm going to this, to be honest, considering how uncommercial my games are?... but I hear good things about the signal-to-noise ratio here (no press are allowed and all convos are understood to be off-record) and I'm curious to know what Valve's VR plans are. (Not free, developers only.)
  • No Quarter 2016, October __ in Brooklyn, NY. I curate NYU Game Center's long-running annual tradition where we commission original new "public games" from rising and veteran developers, and then throw them a big fun party. We haven't actually announced the date yet, but stay tuned for more specifics soon. (Free, RSVP required)
  • Noted Scholars Lecture Series, November 2 in Vancouver, BC. The Social Justice Institute at the University of British Columbia kindly invited me to speak as part of their lecture series. I'm a bit intimidated because I don't consider myself a hardcore theorist academic. I'm probably less well-read than most of their undergraduate students! But anyway, my talk is tentatively titled "You Can Have Gay Sex in Video Games and Eat It Too", and I'll try to be more sex theory oriented vs game design oriented. (Free, RSVP required)
If you'll be at one or more of these events, feel free to say hey to me.

* this season, "World Tour" means "North America Tour" I guess? but hey at least I leave the USA at some point, doesn't that count for something

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Finishing Moses

Me and Eddie now have 12 days (less than 2 weeks!) to complete this Robert Moses city game, so we're now transitioning into a late stage production mode: we're cutting systems and content we won't be able to complete, and trying to finalize the stuff we already have. We're cutting the park-building system to focus on the highway-building system, and we're trying to do a lot of mission design.

The finished prototype we're aiming to deliver will be kind of a "vertical slice" of an Act 2 of a larger game, and will represent Robert Moses' career from around 1934-1936 -- from when he is appointed as the first city-wide parks commissioner, to when he completes the West Side Highway and Henry Hudson Bridge. We're putting a lot of work into interpreting the "spirit" of Robert Caro's book The Power Broker as a very specific and detailed-oriented historical work; the in-game city must reflect the New York City of 1934, with historical streets and district names, and the mechanics must also reflect Robert Moses' real-life historical tendencies.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Why I am one of the most banned game developers from Twitch, and 3 steps they can take to fix their broken policy

EDIT, 14 July 2016: this original post has been cross-posted (with a few additional excerpts, for context) to Polygon.

A few days ago, Twitch banned my newest release Radiator 2 from all broadcast by anyone throughout their entire site. This is the third release of mine that they've banned. I am now the 3rd most banned game developer from Twitch (or perhaps the 2nd most banned, if you count each part of Radiator 2 separately).

I'm no stranger to Twitch game bans, but this is new even for me: the games bundled in Radiator 2 are actually kinda old! For the past year and a half of press coverage, interviews, game festivals, art exhibitions, and viral videos, these games were OK to broadcast on Twitch. I had thought I found a safe ground of "acceptable sexuality" (an extremely dangerous concept in of itself) but with this move, they've now banned basically everything I've made. Now, nowhere is safe for me as a creator.

What's too gay for them, what's too sexual for them? Why did they change their mind when I re-mastered my games and put them on Steam?

I have no idea, and that's the biggest problem: Twitch never says anything. No e-mail, no notification, no rationale, no reason, no pity tweet. Am I just supposed to keep refreshing the ban list page to see if they banned me, for every single game I make, forever?

This is humiliating and dehumanizing treatment, and I wish Twitch would stop it.