Games

On GameJolt’s new policy: why stigmatizing “sex” in games is harmful to the medium and never works…

Yesterday GameJolt emailed a lot of people saying that their game was removed because the site’s new policy bans any game that “depicts, solicits, promotes, normalizes, or glorifies sexual acts, sexual solicitation, and sexual violence“. I got an email too for F2OGGY (Only one survives!). This seemed like an obvious error to me because this game has 0 depiction of anything sexual. The game Curtain also received this notice… Source: https://twitter.com/ldreamfeel/status/1478065400286007304 Curtain is a brilliant and critically acclaimed work of art that interrogates abuse. It’s far from a porn game. “CURTAIN is an interactive first-person narrative about Kaci & Ally,...

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Tiny indiegames and the joy of Very Small Things

~ This post is my epic roundup of recommendations for 202x! ~ When we talk about games, especially the indie game space, most of the games we suggest are ones with lots of critical acclaim, playtime, and that demand plenty of involvement. Playing a game these days feels like as much of a financial investment as it becomes a life investment. I find myself drawn more and more to spelunking itch.io for tiny hidden gems… getting lost while diving into all the developer pages filled with all these odd little works. Browsing itch or GameJolt has become almost as rewarding...

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Red Dead Redemption 2 as a commentary on The Game Industry (my love–hate relationship with it)

I’ve been wanting to do another post talking about indie games, analyzing game design, and showcasing good examples from the indie space but… I’m struggling a lot with being afraid of unintentionally platforming an abuser. I know saying that out loud sounds irrational, maybe. It’s been hard finding love for a space that I feel like happily decided people like me are a justifiable loss if it means making snarky Twitter Takes about what they’re going through… or just benefiting from indifference. I don’t know anymore… I don’t want to rant. I want to talk about game design. It’s hard...

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Make Tiny Weird Software, Please! (all about desktop pets, old computer eras, and virtual toys)

I recently gave a keynote talk at the ATLAS Institute at the University of Colorado’s Whaaat!? 2021 Festival. A festival focusing on small and quirky games and experimental interactions. They’re doing wonderful work. I’m honored to have been part of this, talking about something very near and dear to my heart. This post is that keynote turned into a blog post. I’m sharing a lot of links here! Mind the in-line text links too for good resources. I hope this will be useful to people that share this same interest. ~ ~ ~ As most of you know, my work...

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Talk Transcript: Your uniqueness is your strength (and why that matters to the indiegame space)

Following is the transcript of a talk I gave to the Interactive Media program at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. This talk goes over why uniqueness matters in a space like indie games. I discuss early internet and computer history, and why that history is something we can learn from to maintain the health and openness of the current “golden age” of the indie game space. Links in this slide: – alienmelon.com – unicornycopia.com – tetrageddon.com Hi everyone! My name is Nathalie and I go by alienmelon online and in my work. I’m mostly known for games like...

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My GDC 2021 Indie SoapBox Talk Transcript (five minutes about making desktop pets & virtual toys)

This last GDC I was invited to participate in the Indie Soapbox. It’s a wonderful set of talks that happens every GDC in which each speaker is given five minutes to talk about anything they want. I talked about desktop pets, desktop toys, and why that entire concept is such a valuable mode of expression. I actually plan on writing a much longer, and more in-depth post about this (it might end up being a longer talk too), as soon as I have time… It’s a topic that has really grown on me because I think it offers so much...

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A retrospective on the Electric Zine Maker, making tools, sharing the $ numbers, and more (after launching the really big update…)

Over this weekend I finally launched the really big Electric Zine Maker update that I have been working on for the last few months. This is a notable update featuring a UI overhaul (it’s less intense now!), new templates, and a lot of fixes. I spent a lot of time making the UI friendlier. I couldn’t help myself so pop-up windows are cute pixel art. There’s animation to many elements, but I think it’s much more refined now. The main menu UI was always very “placeholder”, and many decisions in it had been for the sake of compromising for the...

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Indiepocalypse x kuš! (The secret collaboration I was working on is out now!!)

Here’s a small but meaningful announcement! Download link >> https://pizzapranks.itch.io/indiepocalypse-x-kus Over the last few months I was secretly working on a collaboration project for the “Indiepocalypse x kuš” mashup. The project teamed up a group of random indie devs (provided by Indiepocalypse) with random comic artists (provided by kuš). The results are stellar! Even thecatamites worked on a game for it. I’m honored to be part of this! The person I was teamed up with is Gvidas Pakarklis, who is an amazing illustrator and artist. You can see more of his work on Instagram. His work is very symbolic and...

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The Machine That Eats People

I just finished having a really long conversation with another friend that works in games and it inspired me to write this post. It’s given me a lot to think about. I’m still processing my experiences… As I write this, the game space is under another metoo “moment”. More of these horrible, but all too normal stories, this time coming out of Blizzard. I won’t be linking to any of these because I don’t have the stomach for it. We’ve had these “moments” come and go now for the last few years. Each time reminding this space of the abuse...

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If Cosby’s trial were Game Industry Twitter Discourse™…

This post is a rant because, despite all the things my blog has become known for… it is still my personal blog where I talk about how I am doing. Today I’m angry and need to vent. Alternative title: Need to vent. Might delete later. Just days ago my Twitter timeline was blowing up with news of Near’s death. It’s a very difficult and heartbreaking story. I don’t really want to say much about this loss other than it is a tremendous loss. I’ll share the two tweets, but please look up this person’s contributions too. This post is not...

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My next game will be a horror game! (unpacking the horrors of social media, the violence of words, and the experiences it will be based on…)

I’m making a new game. This is my first, very early attempt at an artist statement, creative philosophy, and unpacking what it is about… This all is about something very near to my heart, very real to me, and I would like to take some power back by making art from these experiences. The Fiction… The game opens in a long straight hall. This space is like a temple. There’s this atmosphere or reverence, dread, forgottenness… It’s been well traveled, but nobody is here. It’s not a place that people like to go. Along the sides of this passage are...

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Bitsy is Beautiful! (exploring the Bitsy space and some of my favorite Bitsy games)

This post is all about Bitsy! I vividly remember the very first Bitsy game that I played. I don’t remember who it was by, or how to find it again… it’s lost in the sea of Bitsy games that came out since. I almost brushed it off because, judging by the first impression, Bitsy looks so easy to not think much of. In a space like itch.io that is inundated with thousands of really great indie games, all with some pretty great and complicated visual styles, why even try it? On the other hand Bitsy runs in the browser so...

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Thank You

As I’m sure you’re aware of, if you follow me on Twitter, or read this blog, I have been spending well over a year Tweeting everyday at Kotaku asking them to please DO SOMETHING (ANYTHING, PLEASE, JUST SOMETHING, AT LEAST DELETE THE ARTICLE, HELP!!?!?) about the harm that they caused for myself and the other sources that were abused for an article that Kotaku wrote about my rapist. It’s a long, drawn out story. I even opened a separate category on my blog because I wrote so much about this. If you’re not aware, you can read these things… An...

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Software is Art! (KhK Games class talk transcript)

This is the talk transcript of a talk I just gave as a guest speaker at the KhK Games class. Thank you for inviting me!
They also have a beautiful itch.io page here, where you can see equally as beautiful work.

This talk is about viewing software, the desktop, and all our virtual environments as art. Treating all these platforms as legitimate spaces that we can create stories in. The intersection between software, websites, and games is an inspiring area…

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5 beautiful altgames (tiny special things found on itch.io that are deeply meaningful)

I’ve been posting some pretty heavy stuff lately so, to get myself grounded back into what I love the most, I thought I should write about some altgames (artgames, small indie games, tiny experiences?) that had a meaningful effect on me lately. I have a million things to do, a super busy week, but I can’t hold back on these. They’re all beautiful and offer something unique, or special. I couldn’t recommend them enough! SkateRPG by danieldante Last night I finally played

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Surviving video game journalism (another post on journalism’s aversion to accountability, and addressing concerns about “the precedence” that humanizing sexual assault survivors sets)

Surviving video game journalism (another post on journalism’s aversion to accountability, how this abuse was NOT factually accurate, and addressing concerns about “the precedence” that humanizing sexual assault survivors sets):
Journalists have a responsibility to protect vulnerable people. The way you write about this can impact someone’s ability to have a life afterward. It should not cost us a suicide in this space for you to finally acknowledge that.

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New templates for the Electric Zine Maker and more on what’s planned for it!

Yesterday, The Guardian published this really beautiful story by Sarah Griffin on how her using the Electric Zine Maker recaptured her creativity during lockdown. The article is just beautiful. To myself, it’s tremendously encouraging that I made something that helped people… It’s also so much more than that. It’s kind of like a very touching account of zine culture, and captures why zine culture is so special. “Last year, I sent almost 2,000 envelopes full of zines to people who wanted to read them. Something else happened, too: people I didn’t know sent zines back to me. Their children made...

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“Relax, babe. It’s just business.” – Game Journalism

Contexts… i am still asking @kotaku, and game journalism, to please care about this.your treatment of sexual assault survivors (the vulnerable people you said you "believe" and "stand by") almost killed people.you have ignored it to no end.even when i gave you actionable things to do- https://t.co/OwuWrk8MSH pic.twitter.com/sagufCh2Nr — Nathalie Lawhead (@alienmelon) February 5, 2021 Gonna vomit. pic.twitter.com/oj7cCg1CBb — No Escape from Shitposting (@noescapevg) February 5, 2021 This post is a reaction to the news of Stephen Totilo’s leaving Kotaku, and why everything about how Kotaku, Totilo, and game journalism, has treated this situation is beyond… words. I write this...

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Exploring the beautiful world of indie horror games (why work from smaller devs, and indie devs, is so meaningful)

When we talk about “narrative” or “storytelling” in games, the conversations really fascinate me. I think the same for any aspect of working on a game. Writing for a game is SO RIDICULOUSLY fundamentally different from writing a traditional story, that it takes a whole different type of mindset. Every game is different. Every context of the writing is unique. You can’t just think linearly. You have to look at context, atmosphere, restrictions of the system, the randomness that comes with having something interactive… The same for music in games, art in games… Games are very haphazard, roughly strewn together...

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Killing us slowly – When your allyship stops short of doing the hard thing, when your solidarity turns against the people you once said you believe

For the last year I have been daily Tweeting at Kotaku, asking for accountability for how they treated me and other sexual assault survivors for their stories. I’ve gone over this so often. I’m on repeat. I’ve written blog post after blog post carefully explaining the situation. Showing proof of what was done in the form of screenshots. Sharing the account of others abused by this same journalist. Explaining that this nearly killed people. The harm that it caused to those vulnerable people exploited… Over and over and over again. I don’t know how else to say this. It placed...

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