Ritual of the Moon Post-Mortem: Queer Narratives, Mental Health, and Time

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Abstract:

This talk will be a post-mortem concerning the creation process, marketing and reception of Ritual of the Moon, a durational multi-narrative videogame about loneliness, healing, and destruction. It follows a witch who had been exiled to the moon during a neo-Salem witch trial and discovers she has the power to destroy or protect the earth. Each day a little bit of the witch’s narrative is unfolded, discovering more about her life and her lover, Malinda. This talk will demonstrate the ways in which Queerness has influenced the narrative as well as the design. The story also takes up imagining the future, especially what the future looks like for Queer women. Time becomes cyclical, the fear of women with power bleeding from the past into the future, and creating a future which exists between a utopia and dystopia. This talk will also explore the process of creating Ritual of the Moon. The majority of the team are non-binary people and women (6 non-men to 1 man) and about half identify as queer. The visuals are created from handmade objects that we then scanned, digitized, and manipulated, reflecting the story’s blend of past and future, mystical and technological. All the text in the game was hand-embroidered or wood-burned, providing a sort of proof-reading and meditations on time and the affect embodied in the words themselves. Our working style took the form of “crafternoons” and weekly skype dates. The history of technology is interwoven with that of women’s work and traditional crafts, and we aimed to sew together dichotomous ideas of handmade and digital, the past and the future, magic and science fiction. This talk will also detail our negotiations with representations of race and connecting to an audience over mental health. The game becomes a way to track the player’s own feelings and mood shifts day to day. The audience at QGcon will hopefully come out with some insight to affective play – play that is based off the communication of emotion and feelings – and alternative approaches to game design.

 

Bio:

Kara Stone is an artist and scholar interested in the affective, somatic, anKaraStoned gendered experiences of mental illness, wellness, and healing as it relates to art production, videogames, and traditional crafting. Her artwork has been featured in The Atlantic, Wired, and Vice. She holds an MA from York University in Communication and Culture and is currently a PhD student in Film and Digital Media with a designated emphasis in Feminist Studies at University of California at Santa Cruz.

Games on iOS app store, Google Play, and http://karastone.itch.io/

@karaastone