Storytelling and imagination are woven into the fabric of Calamity’s being. A good story was so important, that even her dolls had, by her own admission, intricate back stories and lore. It stands to reason that this skill for finding worlds in the seemingly mundane would be her calling.
As a game developer and Twitch streamer, Calamity is standing at the forefront of a changing landscape. In a space where people of color and women are at constant risk of attack, Calamity is forging ahead in the quest to inspire and connect others. Through the company she runs with a diverse group of fellow developers – Mundane Magic – they are working to provide safety in the gaming world through stories that reflect the multitudes of people that love a good game.
The story is hers and we love where she’s headed next.
TheSeelieCrow: What is your relationship with Fantasy?
Calamity: I grew up watching Star Wars, and I was really into Sci-Fi. Fantasy just kind of followed. I was a big reader when I was younger. I got in trouble for reading, actually, during class when I wasn’t supposed to. Fantasy tended to be what I gravitated towards. It’s just always been a nice escape. I remember reading all of The Chronicles of Narnia books, I read The Hobbit when I was younger. I’m all about big worlds with intense lore. My Barbies even had back stories and lore [laughs]. It was basically like Sailor Moon light, but still, yes, I’m here for it.
TheSeelieCrow: Even your Barbies had lore! Do you find yourself now gravitating towards stories in that vein and characters who are on these grand quests?
Calamity: Yeah, definitely. That’s still sort of where my interests lie. I’m also a game developer. So, even in the stories I’m trying to create, in the spaces I’m trying to create, it’s all fantastical in some way. There’s the studio that I’m running, actually, I’m really excited about it. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it! It’s called Mundane Magic, and the group that I work with, we were part of an apprenticeship with Code Coven. They brought a bunch of people on and made teams out of them.
We really like the thought of magic in even little, small things. That’s something I’ve always enjoyed. It’s kind of how I get through my day. I would love to see someone that looks like me in a high Fantasy setting. That is one of my goals, to create a Skyrim-Dragon Age – esque epic Fantasy with characters who look like me.
TheSeelieCrow: It sounds like you are well on your way to doing that. What was the process of getting into that apprenticeship with Code Coven?
Calamity: I was actually in their Introduction to Game Development course. I’d earned a scholarship to attend that, which was super dope. I was really nervous, because you did have to apply for the apprenticeship program. And I was like, I didn’t go to school for this. I’m super new. I’m just now transferring into this space. So, I didn’t know, but I went for it. A lot of people convinced me to go for it. And I did. And then I got in! I was like, what? [Laughs]
I was put with a team of three other people from literally all around the world. I’m the only one from the United States. They’re so, so cool. One’s from Italy, one’s from Pakistan, and the other’s from Brazil. And we just clicked so well. The entire process was amazing.
It was just eleven weeks and we ended up making a demo for a game called Mariposa Valley. It’s this small town that weird and mystical stuff starts happening in. It’s a word puzzle game, and words start to disappear, but it also has a big narrative aspect that you could explore.
TheSeelieCrow: I’d really love to explore, if you remember, your earliest exposure to video games. What struck your fancy?
Calamity: My parents were really big on learning from a young age. I would say the earliest was computer learning games. Then, eventually, it moved into Jumpstart and those little educational games. When it came to games to play for fun, I got a Game Boy Color back in the day, a little Game Boy Color. I was in love with that thing. I think the first game I had was Frogger and Aladdin. Then, I got Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. That was kind of my first introduction to more of a fully realized world. I think the game that got me officially hooked was Kingdom Hearts. My mind was completely blown. I just remember watching the opener and being shook. I was so attached. It became a special interest of mine for years and it still kind of is. I absolutely love that game.
TheSeelieCrow: The gaming space feels very homogenous, very straight, very white male. How do you navigate that arena? What has it been like as a Black woman in that landscape?
Calamity: It’s definitely very cis-male. Cis-male driven and focused. But, I have been so fortunate to find pockets and places where there are marginalized identities doing the work. I give a lot of credit to a group called Brown Girl Gamer Code. I joined them almost two years ago now, and that group is what really gave me the confidence to say what I wanted in this space, which is more representation for marginalized identities. It’s a group of Black and brown women and femmes, just supporting each other and encouraging each other, and gaming together. It’s about creating a safe space for ust to explore everything. So, I think that is where a lot of my confidence came in with navigating the outer space a little bit more.
So, people know, sure, you see lots of cis-het, white dudes, but we are out here, and we love games as much as them. There are people out here doing the work that are just not getting the proper attention, unfortunately. They’re doing amazing, incredible things. There’s another one called Black Girl Gamers that is doing so many incredible things in this space. They inspire me so much.
Be sure to check out Issue 3 for the rest of Calamity’s Interview!