Aysha U. Farah
- Role: Writer/Narrative Director
- Company: What Pumpkin Games
- Location: Chapel Hill, NC, USA
Wise words from Aysha U. Farah!
QRM: Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do in the games industry?
Aysha: I'm Aysha, an American game dev, originally from Washington DC. I live with my partner and a large cat. I always start the description of my job with "do you know what Homestuck is?" And then I watch people's stunned moment of fight or flight. If you don't know what Homestuck is, well. You should. It's a cult web comic begun in 2009, with a reputation for being incomprehensible. It's also one of the gayest things on the internet. I work for What Pumpkin Games, i.e. The Homestuck Studio. I am a staff writer for the prequel game Hiveswap, as well as the lead writer on both its spin-off games, Hiveswap Friendsim and Pesterquest. I've also recently started a co-run independent games company call Snake Solutions Studios.
QRM: What about the games industry excites and inspires you?
Aysha: When I was 6 years old, my dad brought home a huge computer for us to play point-and-click adventure games on. I used to sneak over to the neighbor's house to play on their N64. I made friends in high school over our under-the-cloak trade of PS2 games. My first brush with fandom was through Final Fantasy. Games have always been an enormously important part of my life. They have always felt like this huge, endless world to explore and build on. There is so much innovation in the industry, and the rate with which the content changes and improves is unbelievable. I'm not sure if it actually is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, but it definitely feels that way.
QRM: What about the games industry frustrates or disappoints you? What are the challenges you’re currently facing in the industry?
Aysha: Although the world of games does feel vast and limitless, the truth is that the 'big name studios' are still populated heavily by straight white dudes. I know this is changing, but not fast enough for my taste. Most triple A games are aimed at at demographics that by no means represent the broad landscape of gamers.
QRM: If you could make one roadblock magically disappear from the games industry, what would you choose and why?
Aysha: Money. There are so many people out there with great ideas, but since indie games don't tend to be very lucrative, a lot of people can't take the time or set aside the resources to make stuff.
QRM: What message would you give to allies—both individuals and companies—who want to know how to support marginalised people better?
Aysha: Hire queer people, but don't expect queer people to be the superheroes the turn your games into perfect bastions of inclusivity. We're human too, and we make mistakes. We have biases. We want to write about difficult topics. Let us screw up at the same rate as straight people do.
QRM: What message would you give to marginalised people who are working in games or would like to work in games?
Aysha: Make stuff. Do fan work for the games you are interested in. Don't act a fool on social media. Don't take shit, but choose carefully which bridges you burn. Make friends. Networking is so important. Being prompt and easy to work with is just as important as being good at what you do. I wanted to write for games for a long time, but it always felt like a pipedream. I kind of...fell into it. What I'm trying to say is, you can fall into it too. I literally got on my boss's radar because of fandom. People are going to take issue with what you make no matter how flawless it is, so you might as well make whatever you want.
QRM: If people want to find and support you and your work, how can they do that?