Areas of expertise
I am a genderqueer, bisexual trans man with lived experience working on grassroots issues in my community, as an activist and advocate as well as a researcher and journalist. I have made multiple games representing the systemic issues that my community faces, as well as our creativity and our vision of a better world. My analytical approach is informed by queer theory, while also adopting the appopriate historical and cross-cultural lenses to suit the subject matter. I have advised clients on representation of trans issues, and helped them to design fictional worlds in which LGBTQ+ people can see people like themselves thriving.
Games criticism and arts discourse
Many clients reach out for diversity consulting services because are worried about the critical reception other games (or works in other artforms that might be relevant to their project) have received when it comes to the representation of marginalised experiences. I aim to help clients to better understand the purpose of critical writing, better engage with it not as a threat but as a resource, and develop realistic expectations of possible outcomes when their work enters the public eye. Through discussions about possible reasons why their work might be criticised, I help clients to identify their intentions and values, and think practically about how to enact them in ways that materially benefit and empower relevant communities.
I aim to coach clients to move beyond simply asking for consent or trying to tick the right boxes, helping them to engage in a way that enriches and transforms the creative project as a whole, and that actually benefits the people being represented. I do not act as an expert on cultures to which I do not belong, instead signposting clients to relevant people and resources. My training in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge University helps me to identify cross-cultural frictions, and navigate ambiguities and differences, with an awareness of post-colonial narratives and complex intersections with other axes of marginalisation.
There is increasing awareness among developers that to support liberation and justice, we must think not just about representation, but also about systems and mechanics themselves. My training in History of Design and Material Culture Studies at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London has given me a unique lens on videogames as an expressive medium. One of my key areas of interest has been the portrayal of material objects in games; colonialism and inequality have significantly shaped the way we imagine our relationship to the world around us. Supporting clients to think critically about deeply-held assumptions about the material world allows them to create work that better reflects their values and stimulates the players' sense of joy and wonder.
With a decade of experience in the games sector and in cultural organisations such as museums, I have been hired as a consultant for organisations in arts and games at a number of different scales, from supporting individual artists with project development, to sitting on the advisory panel for a AAA game. This work often begins with a problem such as a fundraising need or a concern about PR risk, but in the course of the work deeper issues are addressed, such as the values and vision of a person or company, or the meaning and purpose of critical reception.
I bring to this work an approach informed by academic research into the games industry and its communities of practice, direct ongoing experience with artistic methods of generative peer critique, as well as a deep understanding of the history and structure of games criticism. The latter is informed in part by my role at Critical Distance, a specialist community archive of such writing that goes back to 2009. My experience working with business consultant Nicholas Lovell early in my career in games has also allowed me to understand the commercial pressures within which games companies operate, including those working outside of the AAA model. This allows me to understand clients' perspective and advise on realistic interventions that nevertheless have the power to transform the dynamics of a project.