- Role: Musician/Sound Designer
- Company: PLUSH
- Location: Estevan, Saskatchewan
QRM had a chat with Lizzie Dubowski, also known as PLUSH.
QRM: Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do in the games industry?
Lizzie: I'm an asexual transgender girl who hasn't decided to present in public because treatment access in my province, but everyone who knows me knows I'm queer as fuck. I create music as PLUSH, but I've also called myself Breathe Leoda and Thetawaves in the past. My main passion has been making music for the past 7 years, but I'm also a bit of a car enthusiast - no one would be able to make me stop talking about cars if someone got me started. I also organized my city's first LGBTQIA+ pride flag raising a few years ago!
QRM: How long have you been involved in the game industry, and what projects have you worked on? What are you working on currently?
Lizzie: I only worked on one project, which was a JRPG-styled My Little Pony fan game called Super Lesbian Horse RPG. It's currently being remade into its own game with its own characters, titled 'Super Lesbian Animal RPG,' which has a small demo currently available. Some of my work is being grandfathered into the new game and I haven't felt the need to update what's being used so I can't really say I'm currently working on it, though. That said, I'm working on writing a dancepunk EP. It sounds kinda like Death From Above 1979 but for even basic-er bitches lol.
QRM: What inspired you to get started in the games industry?
Lizzie: Bobby Schroeder, the developer of SL[A/H]RPG, posted a general call for music submissions to her social media accounts. I answered the call with some songs I had been sitting on and also offered to make sounds. She accepted and that was that.
QRM: In what ways do you feel your experiences as a queer person manifest in the games you work on, and influence the work you do?
Lizzie: There isn't a whole lot of opportunity to slap queerness onto instrumental songs and sounds, but my personal work gives me a huge opportunity to express myself fully without mincing words. I don't even have a record label to speak to, so I can literally say any damn thing on my mind!
QRM: Do you have a favourite queer character—in games or media more generally? If so, what is it about them that makes them your favourite?
Question asked by @kamienw.
Lizzie: This is really hard to pick since I tend to consume media through the form of racing games more than literally every other type of entertainment combined, but the one queer character I love the most is technically a twofer: Garnet! Ruby and Sapphire are two characters from the cartoon show Steven Universe who can combine and become one person with shared experiences and personality. Ruby and Sapphire recently got married in the show which was incredibly adorable AND explicitly states their love isn't just platonic. It takes those 'just two gals having a giggle' statements made famous by ignorant cishet people and throws them in the trash where they belong!
QRM: Have you ever encountered roadblocks in trying to include queer characters in games? What do you think is preventing greater diversity within games?
Question asked by @dustinalex91.
Lizzie: I think the main thing preventing diversity within video games is queer representation in game development studios. People write best and most accurately when they write from experience, so that's what devs tend to stick to. Without diversity in the development team the chance of seeing a queer character at all, well-written or otherwise, drops severely by this logic. I've yet to see anyone refute my assumption in a concrete way but I'm pretty confident I'm not wrong.
QRM: Why do you think it is important that queer audiences are able to see themselves represented in the games they play, and in the developers who make the games they see? What can we do to improve the industry for queer audiences and devs?
Lizzie: Normalizing queer people by giving them representation in media is one of many ways to reduce the amount of hostility towards queer people. It won't properly and completely solve hate crime towards us (because like, look at the fuckin' state of White America towards literally anybody who isn't white) but it goes a long way towards important progress.
QRM: Have you ever mentored somebody in your role in games, or been mentored? If so, what made these experiences worthwhile for you?
Question asked by @pepelanova.
Lizzie: Nope, I just kinda happened across my opportunity so I dove in head first without much advice. Bobby provided some fantastic input throughout my time working with her though, so I never felt the need to find a mentor in the first place.
QRM: In what ways can non-queer folk increase and support queer diversity present within games, as well as in the industry more broadly? How can we all work to support intersectional approaches to diversity, and why is this important?
Lizzie: It's not an original solution but it's only because it's straightforward and makes sense as soon as you think about it: diversity in the workplace. Even in video games which DON'T contain any queer characters LGBTQIA+ people like me can add creative input drawing from experiences others might not have had. It's also important because I need a better fucking job lol please hire me for sound work, dev studios
QRM: Is there a message that you would like to share with the queer game players, game studies researchers, and other interested folks who comprise the Queerly Represent Me community?
Lizzie: If you have a passion for games or sound or anything at all, just start doing it. I started making music when Dubstep was a thing because I thought it'd be easy to make and I wanted to get rich and famous off of it. I embarrassed myself on stage at a high school talent show with a crappy song I'd pulled together using drum samples I pulled from the internet, an audio clip from the Disney movie Oliver & Company and a sine wave going up and down in volume. It sucked, but I've been making some genuinely decent stuff that I can be proud of since then. Even though my morals at the beginning were corrupt, I began to enjoy the artistic process. I still want to be big and popular (because who doesn't?), but I'm still making music because it's just genuinely fun to me. Also, try and persevere tastes evolve - if you wanna make the music you like you will face new challenges you didn't need to face before, but your abilities will grow and your versatility will increase. Versatility is extremely important to an employer, after all!