When author Chelsa Lauderdale was about to make characters for “The Elementalists”, an interactive story in the game choices, she wanted someone special to have everything: great looks, enviable talent, a heart of gold.
In other words, everything you want in a potential love interest who also happens to be a wizard.
Lauderdale permeated him with real depth. As a student at a university for the magically gifted, Griffin Langley may be able to cast spells, but as a black man he struggles with expectations of race and gender.
This is all part of her writing process choices. “One of the first things we asked ourselves was: What communities do we teach?” Sier Lauderdale. “What can we do to make sure people see themselves in this?”
When she started at work, she was unsure how far she would push the stories, which present players with different storytelling options and let them choose how everything unfolds.
She had recently decided to cut her hair short and grow out what she calls her “baby Afro” after a conflict-filled relationship with straighteners and dyes. “I remember asking if it was OK to include a storyline about how a character learned to love her natural hair,” she says.
It used to be this idea that black men should not show weakness. It can be a huge weight.
The team embraced the idea. “Since then, I have tried to put in small pieces of my experience,” she says. For Chelsea, Griffin brings the real experiences of many people to virtual life – and offers an alternative to how black men are usually portrayed in games. “It used to be this idea that black men should be tough, they should not show weakness. It can have a huge impact on people’s mental health and on their relationships. “
Griffin is the first character to greet you when you arrive at the Magic University, and he takes you warmly under the wing. During your courtship, he gradually reveals his struggles, and together you tackle identity issues going forward.
“He is torn between his tough looks and sweet personality, his parents’ wishes and his own,” she says. “I think this is a common feeling in the black society.”
Stories can perpetuate stereotypes, or they can change narratives.
Chelsa writes more choices stories of identity – as well as youth fiction that explores female friendship and community.
“Stories can perpetuate stereotypes, or they can change narratives,” she says. “It’s really up to the people who write them.”
Originally published in the App Store.