A troubling box…

After receiving an ominous letter last month, and a mysterious package near Halloween, I thought that the worst was over.

But I was wrong.

A small wooden box arrived on my doorstep one windy, cold and dark night.

114 Fifth Ave., New York City, New York, F. Tennyson Neely Publishing…

What was this ancient, dusty wooden box? In a particularly odd frenzy, I fetched a crowbar and pried it open. I could not stand more mysteries. I had to know what was going on.

The rusty nails creaked maddeningly as I pried it open…

I gave the papers a quick glance, my eyes scanning the headlines and faces quickly. But every fibre of my being was drawn toward whatever laid hidden beneath the packing hay.

Like a tightly packed mummy…

My mouth went dry. What horrors were hidden beneath that wrapping paper? Would this mystery finally come to an end when I revealed its contents?

So heavy for its size. The figure was cloaked from head to toe in tattered robes. A crown that resembled a three pronged flame stood out above its head. I felt exhilaration and dread.

But it didn’t make any sense! I needed answers! Why did this blasted thing come to me?

I decided to scrutinize the papers and photographs. There was a lot to unpack. Two were newspaper clippings by the same individual as before, a Mr. Pevort. He was concerned with a play: how the exclusive audience members were driven to madness as they left the theatre. Also his exploration of the building itself… and his gruesome discoveries…

Also included were some photographs: one of the ribbon-cutting of a government-approved “Death Chamber”, the other of an Asylum. The very institution where the author of the news articles, Mr. Prevort, was committed.

Lastly, a letter written by one F. Tennyson Neely (of the same company that sent me this box) to Mr. Prevort. It was threatening and unpleasant.

All of this made me feel ill, but worst of all was the revelation of that blasted symbol. The one featured on the medallion (as described in my previous article).

It stood out from the paper as a mockingly cruel and evil sigil:

What is happening to me? Why was I chosen to safeguard these items? The statuette, in particular, haunts my dreams. I set it up in my bedroom and I swear that it infected my dreams like a feverish parasite.

I think that I am truly damned…

My cultural awakening

I have decided that I’m no longer trying to produce anything that borrows artistic, lingual and religious traits from other cultures (than my own). As a North American White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, I am pretty much the very worst kind of creature to do that.

This isn’t out of fear, but respect.

I was undertaking a project that was a fantasy world inspired by Pacific aboriginal cultures (Koru). I thought I was being original and creating greater cultural diversity in a hobby rife with Northern European settings. I was doing my research and everything (or I thought that I was, but it was barely competent and from books and blogs, not people). It’s gross how much I was patting myself on the back.

Such works should only be made either in collaboration with people who are from those ethnic cultures, or wholly by them alone. If there aren’t any game designers from those groups, them maybe these works shouldn’t be made in the first place.

So where to go from here? I’ll be wholly avoiding creating works with analogues of real world indigenous peoples. It sounds racist, but I’m sticking to my own heritage: making an effort to find wonder and pride in my ancestors.

There’s still room for explorations of German, Swedish and Scottish culture and history. The mainstream has created stereotyped caricatures of them, but there’s a lot left to unearth. I have no ethical qualms about this: these are my histories, my people. I will make an effort to learn and find pride in my great-grandparents. There’s a lot to learn that isn’t in pop culture.

I sincerely hope that some day a game will be made inspired by Pacific Aboriginals, but more importantly, made by people from those cultures. If I ever see one in progress, I’ll give them my support from the sidelines.

I have to admit that I am a bit selfishly sad: my passion for Koru was genuine and huge. But it was the wrong project for a person of my identity.



Tabletop UX and accessibility research

I did not take this picture: original credits unknown.

I’ve begun reaching out to gaming communities with an invitation to share stories about positive and negative user experiences in tabletop gaming.

I’ve also framed it from the angle of accessibility.

I’d love feedback from folks: please share your experiences!

Check out either of these forums for a full description and to reply: