“…We’re making it, we’re getting there, and I’m seeing a lot more. Thank you so much to all of the marginalized people, too, because I’m seeing a lot more people now coming out and they’re breaking out of the shell. And that is a side effect of actual organized organizations, industries and everything else trying to be a lot more diverse.”PleasantlyTwstd
We’re closing in on the end of our series here, with Day 14 having snuck up on us without so much as a text to let you know they would be arriving soon. That’s not going to stop us from continuing to highlight some more than deserving Black content creators in gaming, however, and next up on our docket is the fantastic Vanessa, also known as PleasantlyTwstd!
Ever since she was seven years old, Vanessa has been gaming, getting her start when someone put her in front of a Sega Genesis and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. From there she began playing as many games she could get her hands on, trying speedruns, and even writing her own guides for video games when she was 14. She enjoys a variety of games, including JRPGs such as Final Fantasy, indie and retro games, and will often revisit games that she didn’t have access to when younger. Some of her favorites of all time are titles such as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, and Ratchet & Clank.
In addition to being an active gamer, PleasantlyTwstd has been live streaming on the platform Twitch for around three years and creates her own reviews for games. Some recent titles that she has done review for include Watch Dogs: Legion, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Immortals Fenyx Rising. Vanessa shared that she values honesty above else in game reviews, which is why she will be very particular about which projects she decides to take on and gives preference to games that she knows she will either enjoy or is in a genre that she likes. While it can be tempting to take on big titles or other highly anticipated releases, it’s difficult to be truthful about her experience playing the game when she knows ahead of time it may be something she wouldn’t like or play to begin with. She will often stick to indies and chooses games that she knows her community will enjoy as well.
Vanessa holds the title of Lead Artist for Into the Mother Lands, a sci-fi odyssey RPG created by cypheroftyr and run by a talented team of all POC RPG designers. After having some bad experiences working as a freelance artist in the past, she describes working with this team as refreshing and has full faith that the project will continue to grow and reach new heights.
“I absolutely have faith that this is going to continue on and be something that’s going to become much larger. And hopefully that can be seen not just as, ‘Oh, here’s a tabletop RPG that’s a bunch of not white people,’ but be seen as, ‘Hey, this is the evidence that any theory you have prior that maybe it won’t be successful can go completely in the garbage.’ So now what is your excuse for running large scale shows and everything and saying, ‘Oh, well, we can’t find any brown people?’”PleasantlyTwstd
Tabletop RPGs have a history of being notorious for it’s primarily white stories and shows, and Vanessa hopes that the space will continue to be challenged to be better. Not only for those who want to get more into RPGs, but also for those who create them, work behind the scenes, and get more involved with the community as well. With more exposure and support for a game that features characters of color and made by POC, there can be more of a chance for other games with similar themes that have a chance to grow too.
Some of PleasantlyTwstd’s goals for this year include going after more partnerships. Her current partnerships include companies like Blue, Astro Gaming, and Dryad Teas; she’s the first partnered streamer to work with the tea company. Vanessa shared that she would love to work with Logitech at some point in the future, citing that being able to share their products with her communities and others around her would be an amazing opportunity for everyone involved. Other professional goals include getting more into hosting, and she had plans to start a podcast where she would sit down and talk with industry streamers and professionals before COVID hit, though this is something that she’d like to get back into.
When it comes to Black History Month and the current state of the gaming scene for Black content creators, Vanessa feels much more positive about recent efforts to support and highlight people this year than before. She is excited to see that more companies and organizations are beginning to put their time and energy into supporting creators during Black History Month. However there is still work that needs to be done, especially with how many of these spaces will treat Black creators. Her main critique is that many places will approach these creators with barely any time for them to prepare or even think about these offers that they might receive, and a lot of the time those offers don’t come with much or any compensation.
“It is getting better, I’m not going to deny that from people. But it still needs a lot of work and especially in terms of things like not just approaching us, but respecting our time. You can’t be surprised when you come at us two days before, and we have attitudes. It’s evident. It’s obvious. Also, respecting our expertise. Yes, it’s for Black History Month, but it’s not unreasonable for us to ask for compensation. Especially when you think about the part where there are plenty of (non-Black) people that a lot of these gaming companies have brought on board, that they have no problem throwing an inordinate amount of dollars at.”PleasantlyTwstd
For future efforts, Vanessa hopes that these organizations will offer Black creators appropriate compensation for their time and abilities, and that Black creators will feel more confident in advocating for themselves to be paid for opportunities that come their way. It can be hard not to feel pressured to just accept things for what they are, but with creators like PleasantlyTwstd doing what they can to support and uplift other Black creators to be confident in their skills and abilities there can be more of a push for getting these streamers and other creatives not only their flowers but their check as well.
We appreciate Vanessa taking the time to talk with us, and hope that we’ve been able to give her a bit of a spotlight this month for all the work that she does. May we all follow her example for advocating for Black and POC content creators both in front of and behind the scenes to make gaming a safer and more inclusive platform for everyone.
On behalf of the Off Colour team, we thank her for taking the time to chat with us and share more about her path as a creator!
Thank you so much for reading, and we hope you enjoy the rest of our series!