Where it is implied I’m racist.

July 31, 2017 § 1 Comment

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Emily Short, an interactive fiction writer and a columnist for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, best known for her work Galatea, was kind enough to share a link to The Spy and the Labyrinth on her blog.  But I was not prepared for the accompanying copy:

Meanwhile in the Hosted Games category, Lewis Manalo has released The Spy and the Labyrinth, a story told entirely through documents and journal entries (an unusual format for Choice of Games pieces). The premise involves an archaeologist from Miskatonic University lost in the Amazon. Given Lovecraft’s well-known racism and poor handling of indigenous cultures — and the way that sometimes comes through in other writing in the Lovecraftian tradition — I’m cautious about that premise. On the other hand, CoG as a brand works intentionally to avoid sending racist messages in the works they create or host, and I feel like the editors there would flag a work if it were displaying those tendencies. So I’m not entirely sure what to expect here, and haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

I sent her an email, and she was very kind to invite me to leave a comment on her blog, which I copy here:

After an exchange of emails, Emily has invited me to comment here on her mention of my game The Spy and the Labyrinth.  Basically, as a person of color, I was surprised that someone who had admittedly not read my interactive novel would speculate that my work might be racist.

Ironically, my allusions to Lovecraft and Joseph Conrad are part of my attempt at subverting some of the expectations of the exotic that are rooted in colonial literature.  I spent several years producing documentaries shot in South America.  We spent time with indigenous Ticuna families, and we visited areas affected by the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam.  When I first began developing The Spy and the Labyrinth a year ago, my goal was to use sci-fi IF to addresses the contemporary and historical issues affecting the region.

I would be happy if readers simply enjoy the adventure in The Spy and the Labyrinth, but I have attempted to write a mature and literary IF game.  I understand that Lovecraft’s racism has been mentioned on the blog before, but I would appreciate it if you gave The Spy and the Labyrinth an honest read rather than judging it by the dead author mentioned in the blurb.

So, yeah.  It’s always weird when people you don’t know imply that you’re racist.  I kind of feel like I could have been more of an asshole in my response, but I like Emily’s blog.  It was actually really helpful when I was developing this game.

Which you should read, for FREE, and then you can properly accuse me of sexism.

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