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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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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Mountain Sound | Postmortem

Mountain Sound | Postmortem

When it comes to my own personal work, I view deadlines as more of a guideline than hard law. I’m not bad at time or project management, I just have 0 accountability when I know I only have myself relying on me to finish. Mountain Sound was one part testing my ability to start and finish an on-going project, one part forcing myself to share creative writing, and one part actually making myself consistently write my own story.

My initial goals were to post chapters on time and to write a story I could be proud of. Whether or not it gained an audience wasn’t part of my plans, so when people did read and enjoy Mountain Sound, that was just a super cool bonus!

What worked:

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Three Ways Social Fandom Can Inspire Us

Three Ways Social Fandom Can Inspire Us

I’m a nerd. I’ve been one since Pokemon first aired in little ol’ Aotearoa and I tried to make Pikachus out of modelling clay with my mum. The attempted Pikachus melted, I still loved them.

Much of my childhood was dominated by Pokemon, to the point that I would actually say my childhood was defined by it, as well as Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. These franchises helped me form strong friendships, find a love for the creative, and explore an interest in books and film. Most of all, these things helped me encounter joy in hard times. Being a nerd is as much a part of me as my love for food.

Recently, cynicism has been everywhere. Or, has it always been? It seems that whenever enough people love something, a vocally negative group pops up to disagree. So let’s talk positive:

There have been three defining moments for me recently that sparked something inside me. As if, for just a second, the clouds had parted and sunlight had shone down upon me. Weird, right? Who even remembers what happiness feels like these days? Not me, apparently.

Wait, didn’t I say I was going to talk positive?

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State of the Blog (and Where It’s Headed)

State of the Blog (and Where It’s Headed)

April was the second birthday of this blog (April also happens to be the birthday month for both me and my Twitter, too) and at the time, I didn’t have much to say on the fact. Plus, last month ended up being impossibly busy—the coolest thing being volunteering at Play by Play (NZ’s first international games festival), running a Twine workshop and doing event photography.

So, where is Not Saf for Work headed now that it’s in its terrible twos? Well, for what feels like the first time since I first posted here, I’ve actually got a somewhat solid plan.

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Letting Your Character Grow

Letting Your Character Grow

You have a character, and she’s your new baby. She has a picture-perfect face, and a name researched for days that exactly sum up her personality and her role within the narrative. Three chapters into the story, and she’s already pulling at the leash, wanting to turn left when the plan dictates turning right.

Sometimes, a character grows beyond their creator, forming opinions and traits that alter their trajectory. If you’re unprepared, an especially rebellious character can entirely throw a story’s path into turmoil.

Not every writer experiences their characters suddenly gaining a will of their own, and others will very seriously state that these characters must be kept very firmly on their destined track—you are in control!

No two people write exactly alike, nor will they experience the writing process the same way. I’m going to talk about how I—as someone who throws the reins free the instant I begin a story—approach character creation and growth.

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Female Protagonists, Who Cares?

Female Protagonists, Who Cares?

While at PAX Australia earlier this month I tagged along to a panel called, Who Cares About Female Protagonists? with a friend because, well, I care about female protagonists a hell of a lot.

There’s a reason the majority of my favourite games are headed by women and girls, or at least give the player the option to pick their gender (props to you, BioWare.) These games make me feel like I can be a hero in a way male-led games do not. They make me feel like I can be something more than I am.

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MHAW: Silence and Stigma

MHAW: Silence and Stigma

This week has been one of mental health awareness, and in typical Saf fashion I left this post to be written at the last day. In NZ it’s been Mental Health Awareness Week, while elsewhere it’s been Mental Illness Awareness Week. Exactly a year ago I wrote a post about why awareness is important, and a year later it’s still just as vital.

It was maybe a month or two ago that a friend on Twitter opened up about their own struggles with mental illness, which prompted an open discussion among our little community. A lot more of my friends were struggling with mental health than I realized, and I’m sure others felt the same about me.

Despite my personal vows to be open and honest with regards to mental health, I suddenly realized that I am essentially a freezer of feelings—I carefully tuck the bad ones away in a back shelf and leave them to freeze for a few months, until the power breaks down and they begin to thaw. I fully contribute to the lack of awareness, in part because I don’t like to show weakness, and that is a failure of mine.

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SWCA: Saf Errant

SWCA: Saf Errant

It was a month ago that I finally stepped foot onto the plane that would bring me, for the first time in over 15 years, to America. I meant to sleep the flight away–I really did–but instead I absentmindedly drank a glass of wine offered to me before remembering my sleeping pills had a “no alcohol” rule. So for around 30 hours, I did not sleep. Oops!

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At least there was free food.

Why was I going to America? Well, for Star Wars Celebration, the massive convention for Star Wars fans all over the globe to converge and nerd out together. As if anyone needed more proof of how much I love the franchise, this was it. From the 15th to the 19th of April, I was to be surrounded by Star Wars.

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PAX to the Future

PAX to the Future

I started this year with the goal that I will write, and I will write what I’ve planned—even if it takes me far too long to get to it. I said I would write about PAX Aus, and so:

PAX. A huge con that spanned the weekend of October 31 to November 1 last year at the Melbourne Convention Centre.

So many trees in that city! SO MUCH GREEN
So many trees in that city! SO MUCH GREEN

I’d been dreaming of visiting Melbourne for years, ever since being told it’s a “cooler Wellington”. Being invited along to PAX—Penny Arcade Expo—by my friends was the perfect opportunity to see the city and finally taste its world-class coffee.

(In hindsight, I’m not sure I even drank coffee there.)

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