Making Mistakes…

(Featured photo by Bret Lehne of Velvet Noir I, workshops.) This was originally written as a private chat between game designers on my Patreon. However, after several requests, it felt important to put it public. This post is more personal than many on this blog, but no less true. Most of you who read this blog are game designers or creators of some sort. You all are in touch with this community we love so much. A community which can be incredibly volatile. I’ve had more than one young creator tell me they were scared to take the next steps because the community can be so unforgiving when you mess up. And they’re not wrong. But it’s still worth doing. Because, let me tell you…

You are going to fuck up.

We all do. None of us are perfect. No matter how many sensitivity editors we have, how much care we take, how many redesigns or edits we do, we’re going to mess it up. It’s part of being human. It’s part of being raised in the intensely problematic, racist, sexist society most of us were born into. Unlearning the habits bred into us is hard and it takes messing up to learn how to be better. It’s much like editing a manuscript — you are going to be quite blind to the mistakes you have made because it makes sense in your head. You need an outside perspective to help you see where you’ve messed up.

And, much like editing a manuscript, once you’ve found an error, you go back and fix it. For the bigger mistakes as designers, that means apologies. That means taking corrective actions to make yourself better in the future. That means teaching others and processing the history behind why what you did was wrong, just not fixing the surface error. Correcting your mistakes isn’t just fixing the redlines, but it’s taking active measures to not make them again. And no, sometimes, you won’t be forgiven. That is okay. That’s a part of growth also. But it doesn’t mean we stop trying.

Someone recently asked me on a podcast what the most valuable piece of advice I had was for young designers. And this was it. “You are going to mess up. Acknowledge that going in, prepare your heart, and get ready with a plan of how to fix it.” Entropic Endeavors mission, from day one, was to fail forward. We knew we were going to get things wrong. Every step of the process, we’ve messed up. Sometimes, they were little mistakes. Sometimes they were big.

The way we sold tickets to Velvet Noir III was one of the major mistakes of this year. We sold out in 10 days. I should have been over the moon. But, instead, I realized the pursuit of financial stability and success shot us in the foot for one of our primary goals: making a gaming community that includes a wide range of disenfranchised voices and uplifting the narratives of people for those cultures, FROM those cultures. By letting tickets be first come, first serve, we allowed those of financial privilege to buy up spaces before people from the very communities we were trying to serve. It was a huge error on my part which I realized just a few days into ticket sales. So, we made an error patch; we held back a batch of tickets specifically for the communities of voices we were supporting. Then we decided to do a complete redesign of how we sell tickets (coming after February’s event) to stop this from happening in the future.

But it was important to me that I acknowledge it happened. I don’t push our mistake under the rug and try to make us look perfect. I’m not the perfect designer. Our company doesn’t always get things right. But every difficult thing we try, whether we do it ‘right’ or not, has been worth it. Because we’re willing to learn and share those lessons.

This was a rambling way of saying that 2019 was one of the hardest and most worthwhile years of my life. Building Entropic Endeavors has been a labor of love and hard self examination. None of this could have happened without all of you. I hope going in to 2020 you take these words to heart. I hope you take a risk or two that you wouldn’t have before. I hope you learn from your mistakes.

The more often we admit that game runners are human, and the more often we admit AS game runners that we are willing to learn, the better our community will be. So, my friends, here’s to many more mistakes in the future and the humility to get it right the second time around.

Sincerely,

Ericka (She/Her)

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