Like a lot of people, I’m an amalgamation of the various places I’ve lived. My parents are from Taiwan, and I grew up in the Midwest. I went to school for creative writing on the East Coast and sojourned in Seoul and Brooklyn, before landing in my latest hometown of Los Angeles. Where I live with my partner and hopelessly hostile cat.
I think my background is part of the reason why I’m so excited to see different cultures combine and shape art in unexpected ways, like in the Chinese science fiction anthology Invisible Planets or all the awesome interdisciplinary stuff coming out of indie games, like Inkle’s space archaeology game Heaven’s Vault.
I have a huge love for reading, and my favorites include Italo Calvino, Ted Chiang, and Kelly Link — but really, I love anything that makes me think about the world in a different way. My deepest and most naive wish is that one day we’ll live in a future that at least somewhat vaguely resembles Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Yes! My dad’s a computer science professor so we’ve always had computers in the house. I grew up playing mostly PC games, a lot of text-based games and wonderfully nonsensical DOS games with magical neon colors like Jazz Jackrabbit and Jill of the Jungle. I also really loved Warcraft 2 and StarCraft. And Myst, of course, which is a classic.
At some point, I discovered ZSNES, which was the only way I could play console games back then. I didn’t get my first console until college — it was a PS2 and it really blew my mind. Another thing that blew my mind: This whole time, I always thought of games as just a really fun hobby, but when I played my first Tale of Tales game, it completely changed the way I looked at the medium. I realized that it could also be art and theater.
I was previously on the IMGA Global jury, where I saw a handful of games from the MENA region. However, I don’t know much about what to expect. Games are kind of a global thing. So I’m fascinated to see how local cultures and perspectives may have informed the developers’ approach to game design, art, and music.
I’m entirely obsessed with Ben Esposito’s Donut County. It’s a colorful little game where you play a hole in the ground, and it just has so much personality. I love that behind the cute racoons and charming environments there’s a deeper story that touches on the effects of gentrification. The music and sound effects are also terrific, and you should definitely play it with headphones on.
What do you think of the % of females in the gaming industry? How do we encourage women to join this male-dominated industry you think?
I think the games industry still has some work to do when it comes to inclusivity. Not just in terms of welcoming more women but also more people of color. Folks who are LGBTQIA+, and those who are differently abled.
One of the things we can do is celebrate the women who are already in the industry, so there are more visible role models. I also think mentorship is a key factor. Not just bringing more women into the industry but helping them thrive there. As a personal anecdote, I had some concerns about getting into games journalism because I’d heard horror stories about gatekeeping, doxxing, and all sorts of terrifying tales of toxicity. Fortunately, I knew some women who were already in the industry, including a mentor of mine who’s a CEO at a game studio. She was a great source of encouragement. And allayed some of my fears so that I could take that first step.
While I was at GamesBeat, I was also lucky enough to have supportive colleagues and mentors. I could always turn to them for gut checks, which is crucial. I think that having a support network can really help inform your judgment. About, whether or not something is reasonable behavior. Or what kind of boundaries you need to set to make yourself feel safe. That’s especially true if you feel out of place in your chosen industry.
The change has been really interesting. When I was a reporter at GamesBeat, I got to talk to a lot of developers. Now I mainly deal with folks who are playing the games that those developers made.
At the same time, content creators and developers aren’t as different as you might think. Both groups of people are extremely creative. They deal with the issues of being in a creative field. Especially one that’s a crowded space. That’s true whether you’re producing a video every day or you’re working on a game every day.