- Role: Game designer, writer and artist
- Company: Independent
- Location: New York, USA
We checked in with @SharangBiswas!.
QRM: Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do in the games industry?
Sharang: I'm an independent game designer, writer, and artist. My foci are interactive art and theatre, and analogue games, especially roleplaying games (both tabletop RPG and Live Action Role Playing games). I also write, teach, and speak a lot about games and interactive media.
More recently, I've started doing more of two things: 1) designing commissioned games works for corporate and non-profit clients 2) teaching at the university level.
It's been going great!
And for context, I'm a gay, cis-male, South Asian immigrant.
QRM: How have things changed for you since you participated in our Season 1 interview?
Sharang: Since season 1, I left my day job as Experience Designer for The Medici Group, in order to devote more time to making art!
I've also worked on a number of new projects (including a few game projects for corporate and non-profit clients), spoken at a few more conferences, won a couple of new awards (which is always fun!), was featured in a few gallery shows, started writing a column for a magazine, got more involved in streaming roleplaying games...and greatly expanded my cooking skills! I'm also currently technically on the Faculty of Bard College which is kinda wild?
Currently, I'm particularly excited about an anthology of Erotic Art Games I'm working on with co-editor Lucian Kahn, made possible by a grant from the Effing Foundation, and to be published by Pelgrane Press. I'm really pumped about this project, and the amazing group of artists and game designers we're working with!
All in all, my art career seems to be blossoming and I'm super grateful to everyone who's supported me so far!
QRM: What about the games industry excites and inspires you?
Sharang: I really enjoy the fact that through the gaming community, I've been fortunate to encounter a hugely diverse set of friends, colleagues, critics, and sources of inspiration. Because of games, I hang out regularly with people from all walks of life, of all ages, genders and ethnic backgrounds, and each with their own unique stories. It's pretty inspiring!
QRM: What about the games industry frustrates or disappoints you? What are the challenges you’re currently facing in the industry?
Sharang: Games, especially analogue games, are not always taken seriously as an art form and expressive medium. It's often difficult to get established institutions-- museums, galleries, universities, grant-giving organizations, and the like--to see the power and potential of games. I'm trying to push a more artistic view of games, and it can be pretty challenging.
QRM: If you could make one roadblock magically disappear from the games industry, what would you choose and why?
Sharang: This may be a bit radical, but having a (universal basic) source of income that also leaves time and energy for game design would be pretty great. So much energy just goes into basic survival, especially since analogue games don't make a tonne of money, that many opportunities to make bold, innovative, unusual work is lost.
QRM: What message would you give to allies—both individuals and companies—who want to know how to support marginalised people better?
Sharang: It's a little cynical, but monetary support is actually pretty important. Buy games and other work created by marginalized creators and artists! Hire them for your projects (a diverse team will make your projects better, trust me!) Invite them to give talks at your conferences (and pay for their time and expenses!)
QRM: What message would you give to marginalised people who are working in games or would like to work in games?
Sharang: Our identities are a wonderful source of inspiration. We can endlessly draw on them for ideas!
That said, none of us should feel that our identities box our artistic output. We should feel free to break away from content related to identities when we make art!
QRM: If people want to find and support you and your work, how can they do that?