Fresh Bit

November 23rd, 2014 by harold

A hip hop beat, first little instrumental I did when I moved in West Adams in June.

A 16bit funk fest, paying my respects to the Golden Era of funky console shit. The fourth generation and its sophisticated music.

Very, very different angles on music and production. Pretty happy with the results!

Talk and Dream

November 12th, 2014 by harold

Speaking up about things you’d rather hide is really not easy. Sometimes I feel like I have to explain that black folks would love not to have to explain what’s going on with race. We would love to just go by our lives.

I wonder if it’s giving me a bad image, if it’s costing me anything. I’m looking for work, I often see advices about how having a blog is something to show to potential employers but I’ve always been afraid to do that. I push myself, my ideas on here. Sometimes it’s dumb sometimes it’s bold. Ultimately I need it, it’s really good exercise and I don’t trust therapists. It might be because of the rapist part.

Fantasizing a lot about a car. I still do everything on my bike in LA and it’s fine but sometimes, you need a car.

Chevy El Camino. I can get a pretty cheap one around here. Then I would pick up my buddy:

My buddy

And we would hit the road, early in the morning. Watching the sun go up AND down, chasing squirrels and enjoying some sunny nap with chill music on the car stereo. I have pretty simple dreams.

2014 tech depth

November 10th, 2014 by harold

Emotions in games and Groupon (remember that stuff?) on your wrist. Fantastic.

This my life

November 10th, 2014 by harold

Erica Joy wrote this  very important blog post, the other side of diversity, here’s the intro:

“The prevailing narrative surrounding minorities in tech relates to how beneficial employing minorities can be for a company and/or how detrimental the lack of diverse perspectives can be. I’ve searched for, and have been disappointed to find that few studies have been done on the psychological effects of being a minority in a mostly homogeneous workplace for an extended period of time.”

This is how she feels about it and I can relate pretty much a 100% (14 years in game development):

  • I feel alone every day I come to work, despite being surrounded by people, which results in feelings of isolation.
  • I feel like I stick out like sore thumb every day.
  • I am constantly making micro-evaluations about whether or not my actions will be attributed to my being "different."
  • I feel like my presence makes others uncomfortable so I try to make them feel comfortable.
  • I feel like there isn’t anyone who can identify with my story, so I don’t tell it.
  • I feel like I have to walk a tightrope to avoid reinforcing stereotypes while still being heard.
  • I have to navigate the expectation of stereotypical behavior and disappointment when it doesn’t happen (e.g. my not being the "sassy black woman").
  • I frequently wonder how my race and gender are coloring perceptions of me.
  • I wonder if and when I’ve encountered racists (the numbers say it’s almost guaranteed that I have) and whether or not they’ve had an effect on my career.
  • I feel a constant low level of stress every day, just by virtue of existing in my environment.
  • I feel like I’ve lost my entire cultural identity in effort to be part of the culture I’ve spent the majority of the last decade in.

Adding twists for more fun: first I’m a black male, feminist basically the opposite of black male stereotypes. The thing with casual racism/sexism in a dudebro setting –in France, but tech culture is the same everywhere- is that you can take it forever, you understand where everything comes from (mostly ignorance), you’re at work, jokes, professionalism, etc. No problem. But then it wears you out. Part of  the pros of going freelance was that this problem was now solved. There is no shield or shelter nor hiding for black dudes, only taking it or running away. I still think I can take it despite the fact that it does wear me out. Oh, I can remember some painful moments but I tend not to. It’s a running thing.

Second I grew up with white people thus making me absolutely bad with race boundaries, especially at work. I don’t fit the box people put my black ass in, it’s funny for them for a while you’re different! but then they put me in the white box and I don’t fit there either. Aliens, hybrids freak people out. I do have perspective they don’t or even ever had thought of. Of course I’ve learned to shut up. Well I write, that’s true.

Lastly, game development is tech but also culture. On the tech side as a designer who knows his technical stuff, relationships with programmers always have been great thanks to being a bro too. With other designers, though… It’s been more complex. Remember we’re talking about a 2-2.5% black community. Black culture influence simply doesn’t exist in game development but is all over the place for the rest of our entertainment. I’ve always had to ponder if my aesthetic choices were too “urban” for games or design decision too black for white people. So much psychology and subtlety in the choice of sounds melodies, beats with race in mind, it’s pretty fascinating. But such a crazy overhead. Post-racial…Ha!

Back to the bullet points loop. Add the outside world like Ferguson and all the black men dead or shot by people supposed to protect us this summer and you can understand why I feel like a mix of:

and

sometimes. I just don’t know what to do or what people expect from me. There’s pressure from every corner and I try to cope with it. Like Erica I try to connect, reach out, meet up. It’s moving on, it’s slow. It feels like an escape plan and that doesn’t feel right.

I just try to do my best, all the time. Do what I’m good at. Be nice. Try out. There will be more Larry David moments. It’s OK.

I have been the only black person my entire life, token or not. I wrote a couple of days ago how working here in LA with black folks after 35 years on earth felt like… Really good? For the first time I understand what white people have been living all along and it hurts how much it would have changed me. At the same time it would have made me stay in France, probably. I now live by one of the most beautiful black neighborhood in the world. I’m an international OG 80s black nerd and more, I feel great I feel like I belong in everything I do. I hope to find more peace doing what I do with great people here in LA. Adventure time.

And now I found myself falling in love with modern architecture! That thing is so white even white people are like nope. But I’m just a designer who loves minimalist, efficient things and I can’t help but want to learn more regardless of who’s making up the majority in that field. When you think about it, wondering about race this way is some medieval line of thoughts.

Don’t give up. Don’t be afraid. And don’t forget to be You. You’ll cry. You’ll be mad. You’ll wonder. But nothing changes without you.

Thank you, Erica.

Specialigator

November 6th, 2014 by harold

Alligators are known to have some of the most powerful jaws on earth. So strong that evolution skipped the part where they would need some muscles to open up their mouths too. A simple crab can keep this giant mouth shut.

That’s how I see specialization. Extremely powerful and yet at the first challenge that doesn’t follow the scenario in which you are master of your domain, you are screwed to no end. Look at this alligator. I’m sure he’s trying to find a solution but he can’t do anything, it’s a blank page in his mind. “this is not supposed to happen ever, what now? Oh great that dude took a picture of my embarrassment Jesus”

Anyway. What’s interesting with humans and societies, is that we keep things tailored to specialists. Say the web for example. It’s made of scripts and through its evolution nothing has been made to make it easier, it got worse. HTML/CSS could be way, way simpler and accessible to the general public instead of being something that only nerds and programmers can touch. Add js and you need wizards and shit.

On the other hand we usually consider Greatest Of All Time people who did it all. Who were/are good in a lot of areas. MJ is GOAT because the dude has stats all across the board not because he could dunk.

We also do love multipurpose things. From the over a century old Swiss Army knife to our smartphones and computers doing everything from work to play, we adore generalists and get rid of specialists every time we can.

Except for work. If you look at that picture again and imagine that you are the alligator and your boss is the crab, it makes perfect sense: if you are a specialist you are under control and there’s no escape for you.

the D

November 1st, 2014 by harold

Divorce. I guess I should write about it instead of letting it overflow me with feelings and stuff.

In the beginning there’s popping the question. There’s something super insanely scary and exciting in asking a person to be your everything for real. I really wish everyone as an adult would experience going through this and ask someone to be the one, it is a very direct way to feel naked out there humbling the shit out of you. What if she says nah? *shivers*

It makes you feel alive and looking forward I think. It makes you grow a pair (of testicles or ovaries, same) like that time as a kid when you jump into the pool from the highest you’ve ever been, ever. And you’re like “I did it and it worked even though I hurt myself hitting the water and also I can’t hear you now?!!”

Look, I know marriage is pure social construct and that humans are not designed to thrive in monogamic settings. I also heard my grandpa, my dad, my cousin tell me “just uh, don’t get married son” and I did anyway because I’m human sometimes.

But also, I know the deep and beautiful relationships I’ve seen in couples in my life don’t happen in a heartbeat that shit takes a long time, regardless. Our lives shifted so massively from previous generations and there’s still no fucking pavement or nothing.

Patience is out. We brute force or quit and that doesn’t work so well for relationships.

I miss my confidant, I miss that cerebral connection that you share with someone where you know how they would feel about [random shit] and how you would laugh with that person or how you would talk for half a hour about [random shit]. I miss the team aspect so much. I’ve been spoiled I’ve seen great team work with all my parents and grandparents I know I can top them all I’m the shit. Kidding, I’m all right I guess.

Sorry. I’m going to make more coffee and go back to sound work.

Mutation

October 29th, 2014 by harold

My Indiecade creature

I made that creature at Indiecade. It’s already the end of the month. Things move fast when you bust your ass.

Basically, for the first time of my life I work with black folks. Bruh. It’s fucking weird how it doesn’t change anything and yet does change everything. I don’t make much but that “perk” is like some chill water on a hot day. Damn it feels good.

I keep thinking about a friend in France who was telling a story about how on his trip to India at some point, he was the only white dude around for like, 2 hours and how he felt stressed out.

Of course I giggled in front of him and of course I didn’t have to explain nothing. All my white friends around knew what I meant and giggled too. It reminded me that if I felt stressed out too sometimes being in an overwhelmingly different environment, it was OK. And also, I was pretty good at it.

I never feel the pressure while doing it, I never stress out about being the black dude in the house I embrace the challenge. It’s always an after thought when I review my performance and then I’m like “shit, that explains part of why I was tense as hell!”. Because there are so many ways to be judged and not get a second chance. Black folks rarely, very rarely get a second chance. So I try to get things right  immediately which tends to make me try too hard too. Balance, why are you so hard?

Future games I want to play

October 19th, 2014 by harold

A couple future games that look worth the time to dive in and explore.

Volo Airsport by Ramjet Anvil

Just a simulation of that thing where you fly in a wingsuit. To me that’s one of the great thing about computer games, simulating things you can do in real life but are out of reach for various reasons (cost, dangerousness). I can see myself flying from time to time listening to some music. Playing with physics, trying to hack those rules (can I fly closer to the ground?) is a thing I really like.

Miegakure by Marc ten Bosh

A 4D puzzle game made by one dude. I applause his brain, capable of dealing with insane problems for years just so that our brains go “ha ha!” for a couple hours. 4D is a scary concept but I can’t stop wanting to master that extra dimension. For fun.

The Witness by Jonathan Blow

A first person puzzle game. Last time I checked, I was kind of put off by the running and footsteps sounds but I’m really intrigued by the depth. Jon Blow can’t just ship a real time Myst copy, I don’t think it stops there and I want to see the big picture.

Elite: Dangerous by Frontier

Ultimate Space simulation game. I now have tried the Oculus DK2 and with this game I mean, it’s going to be a before/after moment in games. The potential to kill any social life has never been this big. I just wish the spaceship design would allow me to pilot this or that.

No man’s sky in the same category seems so amazing I’m going to wait a little bit before getting excited. Rebel Galaxy from the Torchlight dudes with its sea-like ship gameplay looks really fun and White Space from Curve Studios looks promising but far from finished.

Future Unfolding by Spaces of Play

Intriguing, that 2D Journey like game. Finally some fresh aesthetic and great push on doing something unique.

Key stuck

October 14th, 2014 by harold

It’s a pain when your ctrl keys are acting up. One day I have to type them five times to get something done, the next day they work perfectly fine. For two hours. Then they don’t work at all, then come back. I’ve been trying to fix them but for now, no luck and less everything.

Two roommates out, two in. Transformed my desk to a modern, minimalist standup desk. A little wobbly for now but I feel great using it. My TV gig is going on. Spent the weekend with my favorite dog. Dogs unconditional love is something very profound and we take that for granted. I already miss him, his morning excitement and all. Next time, buddy. Next time, we’ll go out.

CicLAvia Heart of LA

Last week. 40 kms on my green saddle, a little sunburn on my forehead and tons of smiles.

October for the past five years always has been rough as hell. But as temperature falls a little bit while the breeze gets colder, it’s still summer. It’s still so sunny and I remember that first experience and how I loved it. Damn, son.

ThrowbackNow

October 4th, 2014 by harold

Throwback 94

Summer 94, twenty years ago. Little sister, my black ass, grandpa’s hand. Mom behind the camera.

What’s weird with this picture is that it’s a pretty accurate description of my life this year.