Falling in love with my community
I have been an inclusivity advocate for most of my life. I went to an elementary school that was about as close to Evergreen State College as you can get. This is a famed liberal arts college in which there are no grades. Olympia, my hometown, is known for its gay vibes, clubs, and communities. I didn’t realize how queer I was until shortly after I left the town in 2011. The lessons I learned from growing up in a queer community stuck with me for the rest of my life.
These lessons were largely instilled in me by two teachers, Mr. Halverson, and Mr. Haws. These educators helped shape my future in ways they couldn’t have ever imagined. As part of my job, I attend on average 8 to 10 conventions that are also full of people I care about. Because of this, I’ve been working hard to help make conventions more safe for survivors of assault and harassment by convincing conventions to supply a help-line that’s text-enabled and having trained mediators that can help in case there is a crisis to be handled.
When Fog of Love was first released, I wasn’t particularly interested. While the theme seemed fine, the game itself was heteronormative and while a majority of the people I’ve dated in the past have been cisgendered men, I couldn’t get behind a game that seemingly only portrayed heteronormative love. It turns out, the game itself was always a game for all types of love. Their cover did not portray that but now, that’s all changing.
While the scope of the project was shifting the team behind Fog of Love also wanted to make sure that the game itself did the best job of representing LGBTQ relationships. Bringing an inside viewpoint became important so they hired Nikki Valens – designer of Eldritch Horror, Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition and Legacy of Dragonholt – as a consultant to check every card in the game. Her perspective as a member of the queer and transgender communities was invaluable to ensuring that scenes are more reflective of LGBTQ relationships.
The changes that she has made are subtle but important and will be included in all future copies of the game – no matter the cover!
Nikki is also working on an upcoming expansion for Fog of Love that will focus on telling stories about queer relationships. Nikki will be showing her prototype for this at SHUX and Essen.
We’re absolutely thrilled to see this kind of inclusivity permeate into our communities. It’s an absolute delight to see a talented game designer who is a part of our community making a real difference when it comes to representation in tabletop gaming.