My comic "Shadow Manifesto" pt. 1 (excerpted below) takes Toronto-based game maker merritt kopas's workshops (and in part 2, games) as one of several jumping off points to discuss aesthetics and perspectives (literal and figurative).
Pt. 2 will talk about merritt’s most recent game, Consensual Torture Simulator. merritt made CTS in Twine, which means it’s a choose-your-own adventure format text game. In CTS, you play a domme who meets up with your girl, who has asked you if you would be up to pushing her limits until she cries. You’ve agreed, she comes over, and you start the scene. What follows is an incredibly hot, nuanced, and empathetic portrayal of a gay kink relationship. I’ve done kink play for years as domme/top, and I really identified with a lot of aspects of the experience, in ways I’d never seen depicted in any kind of storytelling media before; it also made me reconsider my own limits and boundaries as a domme, something that both people in kink scenes, and the world at large, tend to be loathe to discuss or even acknowledge. Leigh Alexander conducted a thoughtful interview with merritt about CTS on Gamasutra. You can get the game for $3 US on gumroad, and I really think you should.
merritt runs a web shop with her sis Nic Bravo called Pup & Fawn, where they sell XTROGEN shirts (pictured w/ m.k. modeling), art by Nic (pictured), and soon, patches.
I saw Nic's glittery hand-lettered art in person for the first time recently, and it's no slight to say that the pictures do no justice to these pieces. I feel a space to rest in them. You can also email her to ask about commissions, which run from $40-65 Canadian, depending on the size.
I recommend merritt’s project forest ambassador, in which she curates one post about an interesting free “indie” / “art” game per week. It’s free to check out, and you can support this effort for $1 or more per month on Patreon.
merritt and Nic both have a lot of financial need right now. They’re both on public assistance, which is of course far under a living wage, and also penalizes you if you earn income from any other source. merritt and Nic are friends of mine, and I really fucking hate to see people I care about struggle and be sad because they’re suffering in this fucked up capitalist bullshit.
So both merritt and Nic identify as trans women (trans dykes specifically), and Nic deals with mental health issues (she self-identifies as crazy). Both things, I can tell you from my experience, make it very difficult and discouraging to try to get a day job — in the first place, any day job, and in the second place, a day job that won’t be traumatic and horrible (i.e. possibly dealing with transmisogynist workplace harassment from co-workers and/or customers, possible difficulty maintaining a work schedule/basic functioning w/ mental health problems, etc). I emphasize this because I get the sense that most people who don’t deal with these issues directly don’t understand the magnitude, complexity, or subtlety in which they affect a person’s ability to earn money in a “typical” “day job” context. (For the record, I would also say that I’m poor.)
If you have some expendable income, and you’re interested in some really beautiful work that helps support some people in need, I hope you consider buying some of this stuff; whether you do or not, it would be really cool if you reblogged / tweeted about / this post, or their work in general.
Thanks for yr time.