Mattie Ramirez and Michael Godinez
- Role: Company Founders, programmers, and artists
- Company: Latinx Pro
- Location: South Texas, USA
Mattie and Michael from Latinx Pro studio chatted with Queerly Represent Me about their work.
QRM: Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do in the games industry?
Mattie & Michael: We're a small start-up game developer, founded in 2011. It's almost been about seven years since the day we founded! Since seven is our lucky number, we think this is our year to really break out and shine!
QRM: How long have you been involved in the game industry, and what projects have you worked on? What are you working on currently?
Mattie & Michael: Seven years in total, but we've recently started to take things seriously. We've worked on several projects already listed on our website, such as Fort Zombie, Cherry Bomb Blast, and the recently made Digital Lovin'; which made its way into the QRM games database, something we were really excited about!
We're currently working on Halcyon Days, a Gameboy-esque styled horror game and dungeon crawler about memories and the loss of innocence. We're also working on SSS (Star Scrub Squad), a simultaneous 8-player party platformer with team based mechanics. We're looking to get these games out there and noticed by people, and preparing for a hopeful launch on the Nintendo Switch!
QRM: What inspired you to get started in the games industry?
Mattie & Michael: Super Smash Brothers, the ever popular Nintendo fighting game, played a prominent role in our growing interest in game development. The third game, Brawl, came out at a time where our interest in video games was starting to realize, and we knew we had to make our characters come to life.
Telling stories has always been one of our passions, and games such as that helped inspire us to write better stories, complex adventures, and things that leave you with that special feeling for days afterwards.
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?
Mattie: I feel like my experiences as a queer person pushes me to... focus more on adding well-written and complex queer characters that others will love. I feel like a major issues with games, and media in general, is the lack of confirmed queer characters.
I know the feeling of pure joy when one of your favorite characters is confirmed to be queer, and every time I write a new character I always try to keep in mind the goal of making that special moment happen for someone else out there hoping for the same confirmation that we all do.
Though, not just that of course. The hardships of being queer (especially being a trans person that was forcibly outed) have really affected the way I write and express myself, and in a way... creating games can sometimes be an outlet for some of my repressed emotions. Sometimes I'll make small games, just for myself... to express myself. And sometimes... good ideas can come out of it. In a way, that's how Halcyon Days was born.
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.
Mattie & Michael: Harley Quinn is definitely one of our favorites, though besides that... we're actually struggling to remember some of our favorite characters that are actually canonically confirmed as queer... if that isn't telling, I don't know what is.
Despite that, some of our other favorites are D.Va from Overwatch and Samus from the Metroid series, both highly speculated to be trans characters by a lot of people... including us! Honestly if either of them were confirmed as trans women, that would honestly just make our day!
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.
Mattie & Michael: So far, we haven't encountered many issues with representation in our games. The most we've ever received is a few hate comments about how the main character in Fort Zombie is explicitly stated to be gender-fluid but beyond that... there haven't been many issues! Granted, we're just starting out, so seeing minimal roadblocks would most likely be nothing too uncommon.
Though, it is great to see Digital Lovin', our game about a trans girl hacker using her skills to find love amongst other queer hackers, is one of our most popular games! The amount of views it receives daily far surpasses any of our other games. It warms our hearts.
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?
Mattie & Michael: Honestly, we believe media as a whole is lacking in representation for queer characters, and it's truly a dismal thing to see. It's an entire demographic of people who are completely ignored by mainstream content creators, and it really... sucks.
Queer people deserve to be able to feel like they can relate to the characters they see and the media they interact with on a daily basis, just like all the white, non-queer people get to. They deserve to feel the happiness of finding a character that's just like them, or the feeling in their heart when they see happy, queer relationships in the media. We deserve to feel that same happiness, just like everyone else gets to... y'know?
I think we need to start focusing on including queer characters in our stories and in our games, and really start getting out there. Spreading our content, making games and art so good that they CAN'T be ignored. I truly believe that it's our time to make our own queer content for all to see, and our time to shine.
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.
Mattie: When I was just starting out, I would always look up to some of the bigger and greater programmers in the HTML5 circle. I was young, and eager to become as great of a game developer as they were. Some entertained the idea and taught me things about programming that I still use 'til this day. Some, however, blew me off and decided that teaching a young person like me wasn't really worth their time. One of these people, I remember, was actually the creator of Airscape, which he was working on at the time. It always seemed like he was annoyed with me... heh.
I've been a mentor myself, but primarily only to friends or people close to me who've shown interest in my work and an interest in helping me develop my games. Beyond that, I haven't done much more than the occasional help around the forums. I'm... not that great a speaker.
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?
Mattie & Michael: I think alongside buying and having vocal support for queer games that they may play and enjoy, non-queer folk can also take the time to listen to what queer people have to say about the subject of representation, and support them when a certain piece of media is outed as queerbaiting or as downright offensive... instead of starting an argument in an attempt to deny it.
Being more conscious and aware of what's good and bad representation for queer people, as well as helping support the content that they like, is really one of the best things that they can do. It's important to help set in motion a positive wave of good representation and support for said representation.
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?
Mattie & Michael: No matter how dumb you think your idea is, or how ambitious you feel your goals are... press on and continue towards them anyways. The game industry, and the world, need new ideas... and only people like us who take risks and are willing to help make the world a better place can do something like that.