Look At Me Talk About Things

Look At Me Talk About Things

Hey all!

I’ve been a little (a lot) absent from my site (and other places) for the past month and a half for a couple specific reasons: travel, health, and organizing podcast things. I went to Canada, USA, Wellington, Australia, and then came home to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It’s been an intense few weeks! But more on that stuff later.

For now, here are the recordings of the talks and panels I did while travelling and some little write-ups about the events I was lucky enough to experience. Travelling for a month and being accepted to speak at multiple events was a huge privilege, and though I’m paying for it now with my health, I wouldn’t have had April any other way.

Play By Play

First up is my talk from the lovely Play By Play festival in Wellington, in which I spoke about the different types of choices players are given in games and what they mean for the themes and narrative structures of the games. Basically, it shows a little of how I personally think about narrative, player agency and choice. It also shows that I’m always ready to fight people about the endings of choice-based games.

Side note: never try to make a powerpoint on a tablet, just don’t do it.

Play By Play itself is one of the highlights of my year since it first began last year. It’s cozy, friendly, and organized by some impressive folks. I’m heartbroken I missed the exhibition this year especially since there was a game there I really wanted to check out.

The conference was filled with all kinds of niche and inspiring talks from many different parts of game development. Because there’s only one talk stream, you end up listening to people speak about things you never would’ve gone out of your way for otherwise, which I think is a great thing. I would highly suggest going through the whole playlist, there’s a lot to learn in there no matter your expertise.

GX Australia

I was on five panels at GX Australia, a small and super-inclusive convention in Sydney, in which I spoke about robots, sexuality, mental health, and writing. To think I almost didn’t go! I had such a blast in Sydney and at GX, it had the friendliest vibe of any convention I have ever been to and gave me the chance to speak with people I adore and idolize.

Besides that, I could see how positively the convention and the talks affected the people who went. From seeing tweets about feeling included, discussions with other fans, to the emotional closing ceremony, it’s pretty clear that spaces like GX are sorely needed for many of us. What a beautiful sight, to see people able to be open and happy without fear.

And now, of course, I kind of want to start a podcast jumping off that springboard. Again, more on that another time.

Why Do Queers Love Robots So Dang Much?!

In what is possibly the most Saf thing I could have possibly done, I wound up on a panel about why queer folk seem to love robots, AI, and synthetics in their fiction so much. It wasn’t something I’d ever thought too much about before this panel, but turns out I have a lot of thoughts about this subject.

Representations Of Mental Health In Games

Mental health representation and awareness is obviously something I’m a huge advocate for, and this panel discussed a range of mental health issues that are sorely under-represented or mis-represented in games. I went on a bit of a rant about a huge issue I have with Life is Strange, so warning about spoilers there.

The A Is Not For Ally

Probably my favourite panel of the weekend—which is saying a lot, because I loved every panel I was on—because Snow is an amazing moderator and all the panelists are hilarious and sincere people. For being the least sexy panel at GX, we sure managed to find a lot of innuendo in our material. Obviously, asexuality is a topic close to my heart, being ace and all, and this panel seemed to resonate with a lot of people. It felt important.

Queerly Represent Me And The Underrepresented

Queerly Represent Me is something I’ve written about before, and is a resource I’m a huge fan of. Being asked to be on this panel by Alayna Cole was a huge honour, and it was interesting to learn more about the statistics side of things and hear the POVs of my other panelists. I know I look like I was on my phone a lot instead of participating, but I was just in the panel’s hashtag talking to the audience, I swear!

Modern Visual Novels

A panel in which we talked about how visual novels have become a place for queer creators and gamers, and in which I realised I was totally out of my depth because I mostly write visual novels, rather than playing them. I learned a lot about visual novels and had a blast talking with Lauren, Snow, and Tina, who are all totally amazing people.

Star Wars Celebration Orlando

I also, uh, went to Celebration in Orlando, which now feels like a million years ago. I was on three panels and spoke at the Carrie Fisher Memorial Gala. As far as I know, only one panel was recorded. The convention itself wasn’t very well-organized, and I was a little too exhausted to fully engage socially a lot of the time so I feel like I missed more than I wanted. The panels I saw were all really good though, and it was a lovely time finally catching up with my Star Wars and podcasting pals.

Bless Steele for recording How To Podcast Like A Jedi Master, a panel on the podcasting stage including me and other well-known Star Wars podcasters talking about how to get into podcasting. Two years ago I never would’ve dreamed I’d be invited onto a panel with these folks to talk about podcasting, yet here we are!

UPDATE: We have a recording of LGBTQ+ In A Galaxy Far, Far Away!

Meg and I arrived late because our Uber dropped us off on the WRONG SIDE OF THE GIANT BUILDING but gosh, this was such a fun panel with a full room and heaps of audience interaction. I get a little salty about some things, but in all honesty, this is up there as one of my favourite panels to have been included on. I just need to learn to not say “don’t ask me about this” because people will absolutely ask me about it.

Stay tuned for more info about the launch of my upcoming podcast network, the new Tourist chapter, a few photography galleries, and even a blog post or two! Getting back into the swing of things now that my flare-up has flared down.

Also, my site hit its third birthday in April! I can’t believe it’s been three years already, I’ve come so far.

I am very expressive. Pic by James Everett.

Header image taken by Tomas Daniel.


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Open Call for Podcast Pitches

Anyone who’s been following me for a while probably knows I’ve been working my way slowly towards starting my own podcasting network, one that supports diverse voices and gives a platform to those who might struggle to get one otherwise.

Well, it’s finally happening, and I’m now accepting pitches. Aspiring podcaster? Total newbie with a cool idea? Someone with a lot to say, but nowhere to say it? I’m looking for you!

Why are you doing this?

Look, I love podcasting. It’s probably my favourite thing, and I wouldn’t be where I am now without people taking chances on me and giving me space to grow. I want to do that for others, especially for people from diverse backgrounds who may struggle to find opportunities like the ones I was given.

Is this a Star Wars thing?

No, I don’t plan on this being a Star Wars network. I’m already part of three awesome networks in the Star Wars community and I don’t want to make my own. I want to create a space for podcasts about topics that their hosts are passionate about. If some of them end up being about Star Wars, then that’s totally fine.

Is this going to be part of Not Saf for Work?

Yes, it’s going to fall under the umbrella of my personal site. Whether or not the name will reflect that is TBC.

Is there a deadline?

I don’t particularly intend on closing up submissions for the near future, but ideally I would want submissions by the end of February so I can start aiming for a launch date.

How do I pitch?

Email me at safdavidson[at]gmail with the subject like “Podcast pitch” (or something similar, if you’re feeling creative).

What I want:

  • Who you and any co-hosts are
  • A short run-down of your podcast idea
  • How often you’d want to release (weekly, fortnightly, monthly, etc.)
  • How comfortable you are to edit your own podcast
  • Any previous podcasting/speaking experience you may have
  • Optional: a short clip with you and your potential co-hosts discussing something. I basically want to hear your chemistry as a team

Your pitch doesn’t need to be super formal in any way. Don’t worry about writing the perfect email, I want to hear your voice and your ideas.

Can I ask more questions?

Yes! Feel free to email me at the above address, or hit me up in my Twitter (@wanderlustin) DMs to ask any questions, or to simply bounce ideas off of me.

2016: A Year in Photos

2016: A Year in Photos

2016 was a massive year of travel, writing, getting into game development professionally, and taking my health seriously. There were a lot of ups and downs, almost more than any other year of my young life, and I have way too much to say about way too many things.

So, instead of words, I’m going to let photos do the talking. From both my phone and my DSLR, here’s a year of photos that sums up a lot of my 2017.

Photos below!

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Where are the Women?: A Star Wars Story

Where are the Women?: A Star Wars Story

Warning for Rogue One spoilers.

For how much we commended Lucasfilm on its great strides towards gender diversity since The Force Awakens, I think a lot of us forgot to look more closely at Rogue One until it was already out. Not everyone—god knows I been pointing out the severe lack of women since last year alongside some friends—but enough. After Phasma, Rey, Maz and Leia, and the diverse background characters in The Force Awakens, perhaps it was too easy to become complacent. Too easy to believe that once we’d taken that step forward, it was impossible to fall behind again.

Well, apparently fuckin’ not, because Rogue One barely even tries, if I’m completely honest. The tough-white-brunette-as-lead doesn’t really make up for a distinctive lack of other women anymore—not that it ever should have. As much as Rogue One seemed to want to cling to some Star Wars traditions, the sole-white-female-heroine-among-men is one that should have been thrown right out with the opening crawl (though I remain forever broken-hearted at the lack of the crawl).

Especially when the ancillary material is working more than it ever has to create a diverse galaxy, introducing women like Admiral Rae Sloane, Doctor Aphra, Cienna Ree, Shara Bey, Brand, Sabine Wren, and even more amazing women who veer away from the typical Star Wars films’ leading lady. I would give anything to see any of these women, or women like them, on the big screen, and it’s disappointing to watch Rogue One fail when so many other stories within the universe succeed. Especially because I know Star Wars can do better. Especially because I love Rogue One as much as I do.

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Short fiction commissions

Short fiction commissions

Do you like words? Do you like words written for you? If so, you’re in luck, because I’m opening up short fiction commissions for the first time! It’s like art, but with words.

What does this mean? Well, it means that you can pay me to write something for you. Examples of my writing include my two serials, my fanfiction (don’t judge my subject matter!), and a short story I wrote last year.

What I will write: A lot of stuff. I’m most proficient with science fiction and first person present, but I can adapt to any style/POV/tense with relative ease, and am comfortable in a range of genres. What do you want? Let’s talk, I’m up for experimenting!

What I won’t write:

  • Explicit sex scenes/explicit physical intimacy
  • Super-explicit violence
  • Hateful content
  • Fandoms I have 0 knowledge in
  • Extended fight scenes (if you want an all-action story, I’m the wrong gal!)
  • A script
  • Ongoing stories (AKA multi-chapter)

But how much????

  • 1000 words: $30 USD
  • Under 5000 words: $35 USD
  • Under 10,000 words: $50 USD
  • Under 15,000 words: $65 USD
  • Anything over 15,000 words will be charged my hourly writing rate.
  • do write for games, but game writing will generally be charged my hourly rate. This can be up to negotiation depending on what you’re wanting.

If you’re interested, hit me up at [email protected] with your ideas, or your questions! Patrons on Patreon will get preference for commission slots.

Forget it All

Forget it All

Brief warning: this is a very deeply personal post.

There’s a certain sense of betrayal that comes of learning your brain and your body aren’t working as they should. You go on for a long time assuming that your issues aren’t any kind of disorder, they’re just you not trying hard enough. Why would you think otherwise? Why would anyone think otherwise, when there’s nothing visible to show that’s not the truth?

I spent my entire childhood and early adulthood floundering, struggling against an invisible mental block that held me back while my peers leapt ahead. I’ve always been ditzy, forgetful, and easily distracted, finding myself unable to handle what should be easy tasks. For a long time I fought against my own body, trying to reach a potential everyone told me I had, but I couldn’t actually see.

And then, early this year, I was given an answer in the form of a diagnosis. A clear, definable name for a disorder that has plagued me for over twenty years:

Turns out I have ADHD.

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Experience, Empathy, and Robin

Experience, Empathy, and Robin

The first time I saw Robin as a work in progress, I was struck almost speechless. A cute little indie game is right up my alley, and a cute little indie game about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is basically everything I’ve ever wanted. Even better: it’s made by a group of kiwi students who are the sweetest.

Robin’s main mechanic is based off of the Spoon Theory, a common way for chronically ill people to explain their limited energy reserves: as you make Robin perform actions, her energy bar empties until the only option is sleep. It’s simple but effective, and evocative of daily life for someone with Chronic Fatigue. A rapidly depleting energy bar is a part of life for us, not just a game mechanic.

However, though chronically ill people may find their lives reflected in some form in Robin, I suppose we must ask the question: can a game ever actually help able people empathize with those who are chronically ill? Can a game really make someone understand in a way that positively changes their thought patterns?

Yeah, probably.

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Guest Post: Lost Stars and the Hopeless Romantics

Guest Post: Lost Stars and the Hopeless Romantics

I align myself as being aromantic. Most definitions describe aromanticism as “an individual that experiences very little to no romantic attraction.” So why do I rank Lost Stars as my favorite new novel in the Star Wars canon? A young adult novel that tells the story of two “star-crossed lovers” on opposite sides of the Galactic Civil War? What about the countless numbers of romance webtoons I subscribe to on Tapastic and Line Webtoons? In what world does this make sense?

Something about these stories appeals to me. In Lost Stars the two main characters, Thane Kyrell and Ciena Ree, are so very well written. While reading it you feel for them. You understand their actions and reactions. Their acceptance. Their experiences are things that could happen to us in our lives, you know – besides the whole spaceships and superweapons thing obviously. For me, using their story to live out what it would feel like to be completely devoted, to truly love another, makes sense and doesn’t make sense at the same time. There are many factors in our world that enable us to connect with others on a romantic level. For some it comes naturally, others it takes more time to develop, and for others like me, that “thing” just isn’t there.

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Being Something: Asexuality in BoJack Horseman

Being Something: Asexuality in BoJack Horseman

BoJack Horseman is a weird show. It treads a fine line between dark humour, satire, depression, and, though not ever-present, hope. It’s ridiculous, and, at the same time, totally and inexplicably human. That a show starring an anthropomorphic horse-man could so deftly capture human struggles could say a lot of things, but perhaps the distancing from the real world is what helps the show swerve so quickly from inane to heartfelt.

So it shouldn’t have been any surprise that BoJack would be one of the first shows to introduce one of its lead characters as asexual—though still unlabelled, and perhaps not ace, but something very close. In hindsight, it’s no surprise that BoJack would do it; at the time, however, it was jaw-dropping. Not just because of the fact it happened, but because of how it was treated.

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Leia Organa, and the Women Left Behind

Leia Organa, and the Women Left Behind

Spoiler warnings for Version ControlUnwind, and The Fold.

Let’s talk about ladies. More specifically, let’s talk about god damn General Leia Organa, biological daughter of the biggest mistake of the galaxy and the bravest queen to ever grace Naboo’s picturesque vistas, adopted daughter of verified owner of the Galaxy’s Best Dad mug. At the tender age of nineteen, she stands up to Vader himself; decades later, she’s leading the only resistance the New Republic has against the First Order.

She is vitally important, not just in the GFFA, but in science fiction in general. Why? Because she still has her voice. She falls in love, becomes a slave (ugh), gets married, has a kid — and years later, she still has a voice.

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