Titanfall: I Can’t Listen to my Commanding Officers


I sit side by side with my family. We’re cramped, we’re stressed and we’re trying our best to focus. Lined up in the back of a small aircraft racing us toward our destination, we all stare aimlessly. None of us have any spare energy to expend.

An officer talks into my earpiece. They mutter something about who we’re about to fight, something about why we’re fighting them. They mutter something about the scale of what we are about to attempt, a speech designed to pump us up, to get us emotionally involved in the war that draws ever closer. We do not care. We cannot care.

None of us care about the narrative here. None of us are capable of caring any more. We’ve all taken part in countless wars with endless weapons functionally identical to each other. Every time the top brass try and make us care about those faceless civilians whose lives lie in our hands. Every time they try and make us care about the soldiers by our side we’ve known for a matter of moments. They try and make us care full stop. I can’t be made to care. I don’t have it in me.

I’m here for one reason, and one reason only. I’m here to be dropped into a war zone, I’m here to kill, and I’m here to stay alive. Beyond that, nothing really matters any more.

I watch as a Titan falls upon a nearby drop ship. The explosion is immense, as are the sound and heat that accompany it. The voice that won’t stop talking tells me that many lives were lost. I cannot care. I’m not here to care, I never was. I try and process the spectacle in front of me as a way to imbue myself with strength for the battle ahead. I let the adrenaline course through me. I try and bottle the power over life and death, the fragility I have just been privy to. I try and find a way to use this to stay alive.

It’s nothing more to me than a way to get myself in the right frame of mind for yet another grizzly scene of war. No matter how much that voice in my earpiece tries to make me care, this is all this will ever be for me.

I leap from the ship and take to the ground, the voices are still trying to make me care about what’s happening around me. I run along a wall, jump into a broken window and start to carefully maneuver a set of corridors that could hold my killer at any spot. I try my best to tune out the voices. As much as they may be trying to help, I cannot hear them properly over the gunfire. I cannot stop to focus on them or I’ve broken the only rule I have, the rule that I have to keep moving if I want to live. I couldn’t listen even if I wanted.

In a rare moment of quiet I capture part of the dialogue from those who command my actions. There words are so far from my reality that they seem almost comical, a bad pantomime of human speech. The cadence is wrong, as is the inflection. The words they say carry no weight and are entirely hollow. Their words seem like a badly written script, something written by a board room who had thought about war as an exciting adventure more than something to be feared. I’m glad I have ignored these people, their every word feels like another joke at my expense. I’m watching those around me die, I cannot stop to indulge their tripe.

Those overseeing the battle declare our war a victory. What they wanted has been achieved, but the fight rages on and our evac ship is still almost five minutes away. In spite of that voice in my ear saying that my job is done, I know it’s far from over. I continue to fight. A time comes where the battle actually has finished, I head to the evac ship when the mission is actually over, not earlier. Those telling me what to do cannot see the realities of the fight that is our everything.

I do not listen to the voice that guides me through this war, I’d just as well jump from one fight to the next without their intrusion. The voices try to make me care. The war itself is what I care about. It’s the only thing here I can care about.

I do not ask who my gun is aimed at, I simply end the lives of those who wear a different crest.

Capcom UK Actively Seeking Representation Feedback

Earlier this week I found myself talking to Neil Gorton, Community Manager for Capcom UK, over Twitter. Having read my thoughts on the game Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies, we got into some conversations back and forth about a couple of representation issues, things like my personal opinion on Poison as a character. To cut a long story short, Neil said he was interested in hearing my thoughts on things and, as we have been aware of each other for some time but not met, that I should head over to their offices when I was next in London for coffee and a chat.

So we set a time, I went over to the Capcom UK offices and we sat down for a chat about representation of Women and Trans people in Capcom games, in the form they are when they release in Europe and Western Territories. We had a good length chat about a variety of issues, with me providing my own thoughts on the issues raised, but I was eager to stress to him that my perspective on Womens and Trans issues doesn’t represent the views of every person out there who those decisions might effect. So, I’m going to open up the questions I was asked to the internet. I want to pass your answers to these questions on to Capcom, this is your chance to have your answers heard.

1) What’s your view on Poison as a character, both when the character was originally introduced and compared to the changes made since effecting the character’s representation and how they are refered to?

2) If Capcom UK had put out an image of Poison on Twitter during Pride in the UK with text celebrating the character as Trans, would you have seen this as a positive or negative move?

3)There are currently some pretty large issues in the Street Fighter competetive comunity when it comes to the treatment of women. The Street Fighter comunity is known for being a somewhat unwelcoming group compared to the groups surrounding other franchises. Would you welcome a Womens Only Street Fighter Tournament? Is there anything you think would be needed in order to prevent it being seen as forcing women further away from that competetive scene?

4) What was your take on the Gender Dysphoria style storyline in Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies?

5) Are there any good or bad Trans representations in any games that you would like to highlight as things to emulate or steer clear from?

6) Would you like to see Capcom UK take up any new policies when it comes to the handling of Transphobic comments on social media? Would you like to see moderators use a selection of pre written warnings that explain what has been done wrong before a ban is made? How would you like to see Capcom UK handle comments made when images of Poison Cosplays are posted?

If you want to answer these questions and send your responses over to LauraK@IndieHaven.com, I’ll pass over any and all feedback received to Neil at Capcom UK and let him know what others think on these issues. There seems to be a real push at the moment to improve a number of issues at the company and this is probably the best chance we’re going to get to see our answers read and taken note of. I’d love to send over a good number of responses, so get sending them my way.

Adressing Critisism From Today

So, it’s time to give more context to why I turned that specific article down, and explain some misconceptions people have had today.

The article I was being asked to write was about Character Creation Screens and how they could apply to people undergoing physical gender transition. They wanted this to specifically be a personal piece about what I would/ will/ have changed about myself physically during transition and to link that to games. The state of my physical transition, particularly things seen as gender defining characteristics, is nobodies business. I’m not selling the story of whether I have a penis or a vagina at this moment to get published on a gaming site, even if it’;s one of those dream sites I was aspiring to write for.

Yes I recently accepted donations from Twitter to help me deal with mounting personal debt. I am hugely thankful to those who donated to help and I’m working a 60 hour day job to make extra money and make up for this turned down opportunity, but I hope anyone who donated cares enough to understand why I wasn’t willing to sell the story of my physical body to make that money.

My Patreon is not raising money to write about Trans Issues, it’s raising money to talk about issues of Equality in Video Games. My first article was on Sexism, Women and Deep Silver. My next is on negative portrayals of Disability in games. It’s not about Trans issues exclusively.

I do write about Trans issues personally, but I do so on my own terms. I talk about other peoples portrayals, I talk about my emotional process, but I draw the line at being asked to write about my body. I also reserve the right to not be emotionally up to writing about deeply personal topics all the time. If I’ve recently written about Trans issues, it may be a week or so until I’m up to doing so again, sometimes more, that’s for me to know.

Right, hope that addresses things.


I Kind of Wish I Was Unsucessful

Today, I stupidly turned down a chance to write for a large scale gaming site. I got an email out of the blue from an editor who was interested in having me write a feature for them, I was ecstatic. I then saw they wanted an article about how it feels to be a Trans person in the games industry. I turned it down, I didn’t feel up to it. I’m not in the mood to write about this yet again. I fear soon I won’t have much of a choice.

I have pigeonholed myself as a writer. My biggest successes, the only things I write that get anywhere near the traction that I’ve been aiming for all these years, are my articles about things that require I out myself as Trans. Being Trans used to be a roadblock for me to getting published. It now seems it’s also the key to any progress ahead of me.

As a Trans writer in the games industry, my value lies squarely in my willingness to exploit my own unique situation. Nobody really wants my work unless I’m opening up about the parts of my life that are personal, that are hard to talk about, that further reinforce the view of me as “That Trans Game Critic”. Those kinds of articles are how I’ve managed to get published places like The guardian, but every high profile piece like that raises the expectation from my growing Twitter base that I’ll write an article every time something in Media effects Trans people. That I’ll always have an opinion on it to vocalise. That those are the articles I’m good at and the ones I need to write.

It means that for me to put somewhere like The Guardian on my CV I have no choice other than for my writing samples to give away rather quickly that I’m Trans to my maybe future employer.

It means that when I pitch one article on the games industry to an outlet, I instead get a reply asking if I’d be willing to further talk about the fact my gender designated at birth and my current gender do not line up and that some gamers don’t react well to that, or that games triggered the realisation in some way, or that they don’t represent me.

I to some degree wish I didn’t have the expectations of a growing follower base that want me to write about the issues effecting them. I wish I wasn’t becoming known squarely for my work covering Trans issues rather than the other aspects of Gaming I write about. I wish I wasn’t becoming pigeonholed into being that Trans writer.

The only solution I can see is to spend a period of time not covering Trans Issues at all and getting some space from the topic, but there are two main problems with that. Firstly I feel like I would be letting down those who my work has helped. Secondly, I fear that if I refuse to cover Trans issues in gaming I might suddenly find myself a nobody in this industry, I fear loosing all that I’ve achieved through that self exploitation.

I kind of wish I was unsucessful.

Wot I Did – Laura Kate’s Feb 2014 Links

Feb 1st: Recorded the Justice Points Podcast

Feb 1st: Emailed Brentalfloss RE: new battle theme for YATR

Feb 1st: Posted my Jan links piece https://laurakbuzz.wordpress.com/2014/02/01/what-have-i-been-working-on-january-2014/

Feb 1st: Took part in a Collab by Jonathan Mann http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnMQ2MNH6xo&feature=youtu.be

Feb 1st: Recorded my valentines day song for Tilley, written completely solo.

Feb 1st: Emailed Bossa my CV

Feb 2nd: Recorded The Indie Haven Podcast with Ashton Raze

Feb 2nd: Recorded The Geek Night In pilot

Feb 3rd: Published The Indie Haven Podcast – Episode 32 (Ashton Raze – starbound) http://indiehaven.com/the-indie-haven-podcast-episode-32-ashton-raze-starbound/

Feb 4th: Published The Geek Night In Pilot http://thegeeknightin.podbean.com/2014/02/04/the-geek-night-in-episode-0-pilot/

Feb 4th: Wrote and submitted Danganronpa Vita Review

Feb 4th: Emma Hallows Interview Submitted

Feb 4th: iOS Discrimination article started

Feb 4th: World of Warcraft Podcast Published http://justicepoints.com/2014/02/04/episode-30-elunes-dance-party-talking-to-laura-kate-dale/

Feb 5th: The Do’s and Don’ts of Trans Representation in Video Games https://laurakbuzz.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/the-dos-and-donts-of-trans-representation-in-video-games/

Feb 5th: Discovered a mention on Gamasutra http://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/199492/This_Week_in_Video_Game_Criticism_From_Hotline_Miami_to_soft_transgression.php

Feb 7th: Dev Blog – The Stigma of Development Tools http://indiehaven.com/dev-blog-the-stigma-of-development-tools/

Feb 7th: Jim Sterling sent VO takes for his role in YATR and agreed to do the role in the full game. Mentioned that he is doing the role in his Jazzpunk video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etnvVyiX7nQ

Feb 7th: Gemma Thomson wrote a really nice bio page about The Geek Night In http://www.raygun-gothic.net/category/the-geek-night-in/

Feb 7th: Posted Jim’s YATR voice on Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/indiehaven/jim-sterling-vo-take

Feb 8th: Jazzpunk Review http://indiehaven.com/review-jazzpunk/

Feb 9th: Advised on a developer’s script, agreed to help with content at a future date. Currently Unannounced.

Feb 9th: Organised another YATR VO

Feb 9th: Send Devi Ever some tileset briefs to create. Paid for art.

Feb 9th: Recorded The Indie Haven Podcast and The Geek Night In.

Feb 10th: Added Devi’s Grass, Rock and Water Tiles to YATR

Feb 10th: Approved Tim’s YATR VO

Feb 10th: The Indie Haven Podcast – Episode 33 (Games By Kids – Meteor Kids) http://indiehaven.com/the-indie-haven-podcast-episode-33-games-by-kids-meteor-kids/

Feb 10th: Got this edited to clarify rumours had been debunked http://www.geek.com/apple/iphone-5-with-flappy-bird-installed-selling-for-100000-on-ebay-1584497/

Feb 10th : Finished YATR Demo Script, confirmed additional VOs and sent out the script.

Feb 10th: Mentioned on Gamespot Podcast http://www.gamespot.com/videos/gamespot-gameplay-podcast-episode-61-fappy-bird/2300-6417117/

Feb 11th: Published The Geek Night In http://thegeeknightin.podbean.com/2014/02/11/the-geek-night-in-episode-1-the-proper-one/

Feb 14th: Published YATR update piece http://indiehaven.com/dev-blog-you-are-the-reason-progress-update/

Feb 14th: Recorded Not A Game Podcast

Feb 14th: WoW Jostiq covered my Guardian WoW article http://wow.joystiq.com/2014/01/23/world-of-warcraft-helps-player-come-out-as-transgender/?utm_medium=twitter

Feb 15th: Dismal Jesters Podcast Mention http://dismaljesters.libsyn.com/the-dismal-jesters-15-the-pornography-special

Feb 16th: Recorded The Indie Haven Podcast and The Geek Night In Podcast

Feb 17th: Edited and Published The Indie Haven Podcast Episode 34 – Jack Attridge – 22Cans http://indiehaven.com/the-indie-haven-podcast-episode-34-jack-attridge-22cans/

Feb 17th: My appearance on The Not A Game Podcast was published http://www.gamingdaily.co.uk/2014/not-a-game-podcast-episode-28-official-podcast-of-the-steam-tag/

Feb 18th: The Geek Agenda – Nintendo Girls Club http://thegeekagenda.co.uk/2014/02/18/nintendo-girls-club-feel/

Feb 18th: The Geek Night In – Episode 2 http://thegeeknightin.podbean.com/2014/02/18/the-geek-night-in-episode-2-who-hit-mute-today

Feb 18th: Dev Blog: Transparancy as a Video Game Critic and Developer http://indiehaven.com/dev-blog-transparancy-as-a-video-game-critic-and-developer/

Feb 20th: Review – Tengami: http://indiehaven.com/review-tengami/

Feb 20th: Dev Blog – The Pressures of Being a Nobody http://indiehaven.com/dev-blog-the-pressure-of-being-a-nobody/

Feb 21st: Emma Hallows Interview in MYM http://instagram.com/p/kr05Y5wR5m/

Feb 21st: Game By Kids mention as influential press http://www.gamebykids.com/?page_id=107

Feb 21st: Dismal Jesters Mention http://dismaljesters.libsyn.com/the-dismal-jesters-16-the-house-of-cards

Feb 23rd: Recorded The Indie Haven Podcast and The Geek Night In Podcast

Feb 24th: The Indie Haven Podcast – Episode 35 (TerraTech and Salvaged – Details Revealed) http://indiehaven.com/the-indie-haven-podcast-episode-35-terratech-and-salvaged-details-revealed/

Feb 24th: IndiExclusive: TerraTech Details Revealed – First Footage and Interview http://indiehaven.com/indiexclusive-terratech-details-revealed-first-footage-and-interview/

Feb 24th: IndiExclusive: Salvaged Details Revealed – Interview and First Footage http://indiehaven.com/indiexclusive-salvaged-details-revealed-interview-and-first-footage/

Feb 24th: Dev Blog: Steam Keys for Corporate Lifestyle Simulator http://indiehaven.com/dev-blog-steam-keys-for-corporate-lifestyle-simulator/

Feb 25th: The Geek Night In – Episode 3 (Meow, That’s What I Call Cats) http://thegeeknightin.podbean.com/2014/02/25/the-geek-night-in-episode-3-now-thats-what-i-call-cats/

Feb 26th: Awarded a games writing award, to be announced early March

Feb 27th: Review: Brentalfloss Flossophy http://thegeekagenda.co.uk/2014/02/27/brentalfloss-flossophy-album-review/

Feb 27th: Dev Blog: You Should be Working on Your Game http://indiehaven.com/dev-blog-you-should-be-working-on-your-game/