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Andrea Ayres

@missafayres

Hey!

hello sir i am just getting out of the house with charlie, we are going to walk to a coffee shop and then i will be freeeee

damn you guys are living the dream

hahahahah

and we are here

How did you get into making games?

You know I had been writing for this company for a while about game development and I follow a ton of game dev peeps on Twitter and social media and I had an acute form of FOMO and I had been talking with my therapist about how to live a more authentic life and we did this entire session where she asked me what I wanted to do. And I said (after about 45 minutes of GOLLY I just don't know) I want to make a game. haha

so in a nutshell, that's how I ended up writing a game, because I was lonely and spending too much time on Twitter feeling sorry for myself and wanted to repurpose that into action

What kind of writing were you doing and for which company?

I was writing for this company IEP, which is for interactive entertainment professionals and it was awesome because I was learning so much about the industry and all its quirks and complexities and I thought, well let's try to put this knowledge into action.

I was writing news articles, curriculum, and voice over scripts for educational materials

That's awesome

I'm a platonic game dev myself

I think it's such a powerful medium

I am endlessly fascinated by what people create with code.

I just love seeing people repurpose the language of code into endlessly different experiences.

I heard you've been learning how to code too

Yah I've been learning on and off for a few years, slowly building my knowledge base. Everything I want to create involves coding to some degree and I want to be able to create these things myself because I feel like it gives me the most freedom and creative license.

Are there any themes you're interested in exploring?

I mean there are so many, I have lots of ideas and little time haha

But in a dream world

I'd really like to explore aging, and loss, and body image and all those great big life issues that we all grabble with

and on the other side of that, I'm also interested in seeing how data can be used for interactive experiences.

that's awesome

Most people don't think of video games when they think of aging, loss, and body image

But you do?

I don't always think games are the perfect avenue to explore all issues, or that they are even the most desirable avenue to explore these kinds of topics. It's not one of those be all end all approaches you know? but I like the idea of creating some sort of experience that can invoke feelings about those topics. I also like to challenge myself as a storyteller and as someone who is particularly verbose, creating experiences that utilize words less (or when they do use words they must be incredibly carefully chosen) I think that's a worthwhile exploration

Why aging?

I think it's a topic that scares the living shit out of me, so naturally I want to explore it. ha

There are a lot of games about being young and the bodies used in video games are so often young, able, athletic, and I just like the idea of exploring what games might look like if they weren't.

I've been aging quite a bit in the past few years.

But I figured out the trick to being ok with it

I just don't have many mirrors in my place

It works out great

But every now and then I see myself in a reflection and get genuinely surprised, like "whoa, *that's* what I look like"

hahahaha I am very aware of my aging and some days I panic about it and some days I'm okay with it. I can't do shit about it anyway but that doesn't stop me from worrying about it hahaha

I've always wanted wisdom, which usually comes with age

So, I've always had older friends

But I guess I missed the part about backaches and hair loss

For me it's like a control issue, you lose control over the body (or at least more control) and it changes on you, and doesn't respond in the ways it used to and that scares me, as someone who very concerned with these things haha.

And there's the other part about society valuing the young and youthful and blah blah blah it's hard I just see how older people are so often ignored here and I have ignored my fair share of older people because age scares me, and now I'm coming to terms with that thought that I will be old like that one day, ignored like that one day. and those aren't easy or comforting thoughts but that's also very pessimistic haha

Yeah, it's terrifying

I definitely feel the fear of being ignored. Especially as I see a younger generation caring deeply about things that I don't

So the values I stand for become less relevant as their voices gets louder

I enjoy that part of it, it's one of the parts I do enjoy ha. I like to see the world change and adapt to youth as they tend to be more progressive than older generations. It's more the care, physical, mental etc of older people that I find disconcerting

I was sitting in a coffee shop this one day

and this older woman Dorris came in

and we got to chatting and she's 92 and hates her life because she's alone all day

in a nursing home

and she's not allowed to cook or do any of the things she loved

and hearing her talk about that filled me with sadness because who looks out for her? She gets a visit here and there from her family

but otherwise her only social activity is walking to peets

and getting a half cup of coffee

because she only gets so much money every month

and so rations out her coffee

I just tend to think there's got to be a better way to live than that, we should be doing better than that for older populations

like what?

is it our responsibility to make Dorris' life better?

I think it's everyone's responsibility to ensure a basic measure of human care, compassion, kindness, friendship?

I know these things seem like idealistic fantasies but you know it just doesn't take much to make someone's day a little better. People just want and need a little kindness a little understanding, to feel valued.

That's what it comes down to for me I guess. How can I make people feel valued, that their life and time here is worth something and that they are cared for, and those things just mean a lot to me. And in whatever way I can encourage or facilitate a greater understanding of one another, that's what is important to me.

Trump would disagree.

hahahahaha well Trump and I diverge on a variety of topics

I was just talking today about how Trump is the personification of meme culture like, if Impact font

had a person associated with it

it would be Trump

because that's how he talks

he talks like that font

Lolololol

Back to Dorris — it seems rather bleak that she has lost the ability to be self sufficient and is largely ignored by the people around her.

Do you think there is a way to grow old and being ok with the extent of your abilities?

I think so, I think it's about having a close connection with people and maintaining relationships. Loneliness and solitude are really bad for the human psyche, there's a bunch of studies out there about what happens to us when we are isolated for long stretches of time and how important friends are. Older people who have friends just tend to live more fulfilling lives, but that's true of all of us. I guess I worry about connections in general, connections to things other than technology. Working alone from home, it's difficult to find those connections and I find myself yearning for those moments, like I had with Dorris. She really looked at me, and I looked at her and what we shared was brief but it was needed for both of us because that need to bond with others, to connect with them in a tangible way one-on-one looking at someone is really vital. So wow, uhhh I guess to answer your question, it's maintaining ties to the community.

I find it so hard to make those connections sometimes

I'm very bad at small talk

So I get easily bored unless I talk about something of substance

and it's sometimes very hard to break that ice

YES, I am really bad at small talk too. I just feel like "OH GOSH WHY DID I SAY X OR Z"

and I just spend a lot of the time yelling at myself in my own head

and then I don't pay attention to the other person

and i'm like "oh shit what did they just say

i have no idea what they just said

i'll just nod"

hahaha

I think we all feel that at some level

yah like, it takes me a good 3-4 meetings with people to like not feel horrifically awkward around them

I'm recounting how many meetings we've had in my head

hahahahah

NAW we outta that awkward zone

phew good cuz i don't like the awk zone

no one does. I had this phone interview once

and I was like "OH WOW THAT WAS awkward" and the dude was like "well now it was"

and then I was like "oh no, now it's like awkward to the power of 2 because I enhanced it by calling it out"

and since then I try to not name it

because I just hear that person in my head

hahahahahaha

You're totally right though. Making those connections is so crucial.

I find it kinda sad that we spend so much of our lives not having those connections and talking about stupid shit that doesn't matter

I have really been thinking about my relationship with the internet lately and how much it controls my moods and emotional state and I've been trying hard to have a different relationship with it. I don't want my entire life to have been spent online aha

why not?

because first of all, I think it's bad for my back haha but second I just don't want to forget to live. This sounds like a bunch of white girl bullshit, I know this. haha like you can imagine it in a pretty font placed over a field or something and then put on Tumblr. But I spend A LOTTA time online and not nearly enough time doing actual things.

Haha, I must admit I did not know white girls owned the "pretty font over a field" meme

But living means being online now

Just like it meant "reading" years ago, and so on

TRUE. I guess what I'm trying to say in the most roundabout way possible I want to be less passive in how I choose to spend my time, make more things do more, and all of that jazz

Amen!

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Andrea Ayres

@missafayres

Andrea is a writer and game developer living in Palo Alto, CA. She writes about the intersection of politics and video games and enjoys making short interactive experiences about life.

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