There is one thing, above all others, that I try to achieve whenever I create something, and it is something that I have tried to instill in the rest of the team as well. It all comes down to a quote from Maya Angelou, which informs the way that I approach any creative endeavor that I undertake.
It is because of this quote, this philosophy, that whenever I create something, my number one goal is that the people who play my games, read my stories, or view my art – whatever the case may be – will feel something significant.
Not all of my works have happy endings. In fact, I would say that most of them do not. I don’t necessarily want people to feel good things about my work. I want them to feel significant things. If someone feels legitimately sad over the death of one of my characters, I’ve done my job. If someone feels angry at injustices in the fictional worlds that I have created, I’ve done my job.
In fact, I feel that it’s part of my responsibility as a content creator to take people out of their comfort zones. To teach people things. To make people question things in their lives that they have previously taken for granted. This is especially important to me as a member of the LGBT community, because it gives me the unique opportunity to normalize the existence of people like me. Many of the characters in the stories and games that I create are LGBT, but that’s almost never a plot point. It’s never treated as a defining trait, and it sometimes is never directly addressed at all. Especially when it comes to ARGs, I am creating a world, an Alternate Reality, as it were, where it simply isn’t notable that someone is gay or trans, where it isn’t notable that someone is POC, where it isn’t notable that a soldier is a woman or a hairdresser is a man. The players notice these things, of course, but to the other characters in our stories, these traits are no more significant that having blue eyes or brown hair. And it is this contrast between the player’s expectations and the reality of our crafted worlds that calls into question the validity of the player’s preconceived notions of how things should work.
It ties back into that quote, as well. If I call these things into question, and I force the player to live, for a time, in a world where their expectations are challenged, then perhaps the player will bring their altered worldview back into their real life. That’s the idea, at least. To use ARGs and othersuch transmedia projects to help enact positive change in the world, one person at a time.
What is it that you’re trying to accomplish with your own art?