QRM got some inspiring advice from Zenuel!

QRM: Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do in the games industry?

Zenuel: I am Zenuel, I'm a gay, gender-weird 3D artist and game developer out of Seattle, I've been working in indie games for a number of years now with a few heavy-hitters under my belt like Starbound and Read-Only-Memories. I generally do everything myself however, from voice acting, writing, music, programming and even animating. I suppose in the industry proper I'm what you'd call a 3D generalist, able to tackle just about anything that needs done with a strong focus on 3D art. I love birds, angels, and cute boys.

QRM: What about the games industry excites and inspires you?

Zenuel: I'm kind of a nerd about 3D art, honestly, I'm thrilled to pieces by all the technical things we're able to achieve and contribute to art as a whole, I suppose storytelling though as a whole is what inspires me about the whole industry. We have a chance to tell incredible stories, and reach just about anyone in the world. Growing up I had precious little to relate to and when I did find something I grabbed onto it tightly. I've always wanted to give that to others, folks who might not feel seen or understood in any way that feels meaningful. The stories we have a chance to reach them with though, those excite me beyond words.

QRM: What about the games industry frustrates or disappoints you? What are the challenges you’re currently facing in the industry?

Zenuel: I mean, if I'm being brutally honest the thing that frustrates me in the industry is the antiquated capitalist approach to making games; games as a market and a product rather than for storytelling, exploration and culture sake; it's hurting the people making games by treating them as a machine, it's undervaluing the people playing games by treating them as a crop of numbers to be harvested, hurting communities by catering to toxic and entitled people looking to push others out.

Granted this whole mess stems from a lot of other well established practices and tangled roots not likely to be completely overhauled in our lifetimes- but we see a lot of folks on the fringe fighting against this already, bizarre games and niche stories, weird stuff pushing for it's chance to sing to a larger crowd and reach someone who might really need to see it, to feel like they belong; and the push for unions of course, bless unionizing.

QRM: If you could make one roadblock magically disappear from the games industry, what would you choose and why?

Zenuel: Engine and tool stigma- it's unfair that folks making games with RPG Maker don't get treated with the same eagerness and affection that a dev working in Unity or Unreal might see, and even then the divide Unity and Unreal see is equally ridiculous. Tools are tools and the only real thing that matters is what you bring through them, and who knows how many people have hesitated installing Unity or sharing their RPG Maker games or Twine games because they felt like those things weren't 'real' games.

QRM: What message would you give to allies—both individuals and companies—who want to know how to support marginalised people better?

Zenuel: When we say we need something, please take it seriously. When we say we're uncomfortable, take it seriously, when we say you're pushing in on our spaces take it seriously. The insult and damage you cause by assuming you know better than us is more than you could possibly grasp, and honestly more work than if you'd just taken our word for it. There isn't a word for how exhausting and fatiguing it is to have to repeat ourselves every day, often in small ways that you might not otherwise notice, so when we say something is wrong, we desperately need you to take that to heart and understand how much work it's taken for us to speak up about it in the first place. (And not just nod and smile and say you're listening and then continue to value known abusers over their victims)

QRM: What message would you give to marginalised people who are working in games or would like to work in games?

Zenuel: We need you, every tiny glowing ember that comes off of you, every little spark and flicker of who you are, we need you. If this is what you want, then we need you, we want to start a fire and even if you only flutter, we need you. You are essential to the whole of life, and though you may not feel it you are invaluable and so are your stories, your hopes, your dreams, and your needs. If you want to work in games, then we need you, desperately we need you. We want to start a fire, to burn like the sun, celebrate who we are and make this place home, and it would never be home without you and what you bring.

QRM: If people want to find and support you and your work, how can they do that?

Zenuel: You can find everything I do from my main site or just hit up my Twitter for some rad art and cool gifs