George Floyd was murdered by the police, and I can’t tell you how hard it’s been to work, to write, or to live since then.
I’ve felt like I’ve lost my ability to write. For the entire day I thought, “I can’t do this.” All my attempts to write something significant devolved into “a not-brief history of racism and video game companies” or “games to play when you’re Black and sick of being murdered by cops.”
I didn’t want to write that. It felt like an attempt to mold this tragedy and all the violence that’s spun out from it into something on topic for clicks. But every post I tried to write that didn’t address this moment, especially when I’ve been afforded the privilege to reach wide swathes of people, felt like fiddling while Rome burns.
And I realize now that’s okay.
I choose to ignore the conditioning all Black writers suffer from—the impulse that tells them they must speak during moments like these—so I can play Animal Crossing, Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, and Battle Chef Brigade.
Because I’m Black and Tired. And, right now, that’s all I want to do—it’s all I can do.
I’m sad and afraid and fighting back a general feeling of hopelessness. My comforts right now are the people I work with and their overwhelming support, my community and their abundance of love, and the joyful, weird way Toad says “Ready for adventure!” before the start of every puzzle.
Non-Black people: Check in on your Black friends (and if you don’t have any, maybe examine why that is). Listen to them, make space for their feelings, and give them a place to grieve. Do not ask your Black friends “What can I do?” That’s what Google is for. And anyone else who may be thinking “what does this have to do with video games”—fuck you.
As I type this, the Animal Crossing theme jingles on my Switch, making me tear up. It’s a signal; it tells me that whenever I return, I will be safe there (wasps and scorpions notwithstanding).
Black people: Find your own safety, whether that be in protesting, gaming, or just getting through the day. Toni Morrison said, “The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being.”
I got caught up in the distraction of racism as I agonized over what to write. I chose instead to play. However you choose to process your pain—whether it’s through activism or picking weeds off your island—is valid. You matter. Your life matters. Ms. Morrison’s words are a demand to live as distraction-free as you can.
Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.