I am a designer but advocating feminism is my real job.
A designer’s job is first and foremost to solve problems. It’s to go inside a user’s mind and understand their pain-points, their frustrations and their motivations. While learning the ropes of my craft I discovered one of the major problems of this world we live in — Misogyny, sexism and patriarchy.
My social circle has always influenced my outlook when it came to these issues. A close friend of mine reminded me the other day that “even bad experiences can be a catalyst to positive change. In a way, it reaffirms yours personality, because it’s not a mold of someone else.” It took me a long time to realise that, I was a feminist. What made me realise were the events that happened over the course of my childhood which pretty much consisted of bullying, sexual harassment and assault.
At first, I thought I needed to be more masculine. More tough. Physically as well as emotionally. I have always been told that I am a softie, that I am in touch with my emotions way in too deep for my own good. Its habitual of me to come across people who voice how they are all in for gender equality but do not consider themselves feminists. It’s flabbergasts me…every single time.
To escape from the bullying and assault, I found solace in video games. I enrolled in a video game design school, I spent three years learning the secrets behind a successful game but I also got exposed to the dark, seedy world of video game that not a lot of people talk about.
I came across Rapelay. That’s right; not Replay but Rapelay. A Japanese RPG game where the objective is to have sexual intercourse with non-consenting women and underage girls. The gameplay was so well-thought out that it made me sick. Several gameplay mechanics of Rapelay involve extensive usage of suggestive mouse movements to simulate a sexual act.
I thought I would be safe if I would just be quiet, closed off and break contact with society but video games turned out to be a part of the problem as well. I wanted to change the industry’s mindset as well as the audience’s.
I discovered I could in fact harness my creativity and my love for video games design and create something meaningful. For my graduation, I worked tirelessly on a LGBT visual novel game. It was a manifestation of beliefs and values that were passed down and molded in me by my mother- a strong leader and a hardworking individual. She inspired me to work towards equality and LGBT Activism. Its because of her, that I had found my calling, that it became clear what my purpose was.
These experiences enable me to infuse empathy in my work and with people that I interact with. It’s about design thinking with equality.
Further reading: Design Innovation for Gender Equality