Community and #LoveJam2014

Tracy Fullerton, director of USC Games, recently published this open letter to the community reiterating on the importance of community here, denouncing the violence and harassment of the last few months.

This letter (also published at games.usc.edu) is a statement and a promise to the players, makers, and thinkers of the games community at USC and beyond. We felt it important in these contentious times to put forth a clear statement of our values as a community for all involved in making, playing and study of games. This is for those who currently make and play with us, those who would like to do so, and anyone concerned with the aesthetic form of games and playful interactive media more broadly.

Our goal at USC Games has always been to push games outward from their status quo, with a spirit of adventure inspiring our experiments in the design, development and production of all kinds of games with all kinds of interfaces. We believe that a necessary part of this outward development is to encourage games that encompass new contexts, new audiences, and new creators.

These enthusiastic explorations are only possible in a community that welcomes diversity and thrives on our differences – one that is built on a foundation of humility and profound respect for what our fellow players, our fellow creators, and our varied experiences in the world can teach us. We have such a community here, and it has yielded beautiful results of which we are extremely proud.

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However, we cannot ignore the long history of online and real-world harassment of women and minorities who develop, play and/or critique games. The recent intensification of this problem harshly reminds us that an environment of openness and trust is fragile – it requires careful and conscientious nurturing. Accordingly, our community does not accept speech or actions that are hateful, threatening or violent, in any form or forum.

We are adamant in upholding these values and we expect ourselves to have the moral courage to confront destructive behavior when and where it happens, and with an eye to addressing the source of the problem. We believe it is important to apply these principles not only to the academic study and commercial production of games, but to games as a part of our culture and media environment.

We encourage everyone who cares about games – players and makers, amateurs and professionals, aspiring and experienced, academic and informal, casual and hardcore, indie and triple-A – to stand alongside us in maintaining these principles in our words and in our work.

As the hosts of countless game jams, we have found that that these events, with their atmosphere of excitement, collaboration, and fearless experimentation, are a powerful expression of our values. Our student organization, MEGA, wants to offer such a joyful, supportive experience to everyone through its upcoming Love Jam, November 14-15, which will include both in-person and virtual opportunities for collaboration. Please join us in a thanksgiving and celebration of diversity and creativity in games.

Game on,

The Faculty of USC Games

The best part of USC Games is its community, filled with inspiring, big-hearted, courageous, and heroic people. I came here in 2012 in the wake of Journey, and things were so incredibly energetic, optimistic, and hopeful in this community. The flaring of underlying systemic issues in games culture this year has dampened that optimism, and its easy to feel exhausted and drained.

Coming from a world where not very many people wanted to engage with games in the way I did, joining the Interactive Media and Games Division was a homecoming for me. When we got our new building last year, I knew that I was in an amazing place. We had a home. A beautiful base of operations where we could spend time with each other, being creative, being kind, and doing the right work for the world. Here, good folks could meet each other. Diverse friends tied together by a common destiny. Anyone was invited to be one of those friends.

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We should be acutely aware of the nastiness, negativity, and evil that exists in our world. And we should constantly self-critique to make sure we don’t inflict nastiness, negativity, and evil upon the rest of the world. At the same time, we should not fill our lens of the world exclusively with sorrow and pain. The form that we are engaging with is about play, joyous and loving. What I want to see happen with the Love Jam is a reaffirmation of the importance of love, inclusivity, positivity, and hope. It’s easy to feel that the world is bleak and hopeless, and I hope the Love Jam will remind us that people are good, games can bring joy, and we can be kind.

You can still sign up for the Love Jam, and we welcome anyone from any part of the world to participate. Join us, and let’s make the world more awesome. 

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