INTERVIEW: Rob Jagnow Makes Fun Games About Class Issues And Bullying
GaymerX is a gaming convention that takes place every year in San Jose, CA. GaymerX is a “queer space”; a convention where panels center on queer themes, but all are invited and welcomed. Unicorn Booty is a proud media partner of GaymerX; to that end, we’ll be interviewing the Bosses Of Honor for this year’s convention.
Dr. Rob Jagnow is the founder of Lazy 8 Studios, the creators of Cogs and Extrasolar. He’s also working at Google on their Cardboard project and the future of Virtual Reality and affordable VR headsets. Jagnow has also written A Game About * about class issues, the anti-bullying Karma High and the “interactive political cartoon” Words Have Weight.
Unicorn Booty: How did you first get into gaming?
Rob Jagnow: Like most folks my age, I grew up with some of the very first home game consoles — in my case, an Atari 2600. But I never really thought of myself as a gamer. So it was a bit of surprise when I was job hunting in Boston in 2006 and the hunt led me to a small game studio. I quickly fell in love with games as a medium for storytelling. For me, game development offers a perfect mix of both creative and technical challenges.
What are some of your favorite games and why?
I love Portal and Portal 2. They’re such a great mix of storytelling and pure puzzle solving. It was a huge honor to work with the Valve team on the launch of Portal 2 through an alternate-reality game.
There are people that argue that games are sex-neutral. What would you say to that and how does that relate to GaymerX?
Games are sex-neutral? What? I mean… sure, there are some categories of games out there that don’t revolve around story, but more often than not, games are a medium for storytelling — a mirror of our humanity. That’s why they can have such a powerful effect on us. And just as sex, sexuality, gender identity and gender expression have a huge variation in real-life, so too does this diversity deserve representation in games.
Are there any video game abilities, like the fire flower or the portal gun, for instance, that you wish you could have in the real world?
Oh man, do I want a portal gun. For one thing, it could really shorten my commute.
If games are art, what sort of power do they hold as cultural artifacts?
Games hold at least as much power as any other art form. Like books or movies, games tell a story that represents a slice of humanity at a moment in time. And since games are interactive, there’s so much more potential to feel like we’re a part of that story rather than just a passive observer.
GX3: Everyone Games marks the third year of the GaymerX convention, a meeting of LGBTQ tabletop and console gamers with panels, meet-ups, parties and more!
The convention takes place December 11 to 13 in San Jose, California. This year’s Bosses of Honor include RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Trixie Mattel, Mass Effect’s Jennifer Hale, and many, many more!
Tickets are available at GaymerX.com.