Our State in Middle-state

A Letter from the Editor-in-Chief

Betsy Brey is a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo studying game narrative and gameplay. She’s been with FPS since 2014, and someone entered her job description in Slack as “hollering about Dragon Age.” It sounds about right. She spends too much time playing Dungeons and Dragons, obsessing over Magic the Gathering, and questioning why Machinists even exist in Final Fantasy 12: Zodiac Age–seriously, that shikari/foebreaker combo is broken.



September 6th, 2017

We acknowledge that we are living and working on the traditional territory of the Attawandaron (also known as Neutral), Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee peoples. The University of Waterloo is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land promised to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.

To all our folxs and friends:

Hi, all! Another year, another new team here at First Person Scholar, and I’m honored to introduce myself as our next Editor-in-Chief. My name is Betsy Brey, and after two years as the Essay Section Head, I’m shifting gears to serve our team, readers, and publication in a new way. I don’t mean to distract from the awesome essay we have this week, but I also wanted to introduce myself and our team this year and update y’all on FPS behind the scenes.

Looking at Last Year: Where we Stand

It’s been a busy year here, and I want to thank outgoing Editor-in-Chief Alexandra Orlando for all her hard work in helping FPS put into practice one of our long-standing goals: paying our contributors and staff. As a student-run publication, we know all too well the pressures and expectations of writing and immaterial labor, and for years we struggled knowing FPS was participating in that cycle, benefiting from the unpaid laborers of the academic machine. We were determined to do our part to break from it.

And breaking through all that red-tape and the bureaucratic logistics in the way of getting our hard-working contributors and staff paid for their work was not easy. However, it represents a huge turning point for us not only as a publication, but as part of FPS’s ethical stance. We cannot thank Alex enough, as well as previous EiCs Emma Vossen and Steve Wilcox, for their hard work paving the way for FPS to begin our first full year of being able to pay our contributors. But there are challenges ahead in order to secure this ability (no funding lasts forever in academia). No matter what, I will keep fighting with everything I’ve got to ensure that FPS can continue to, as Emma wrote, publish with purpose.

This means paying our contributors and staff.

This means reaching out to unheard, ignored, and underrepresented voices.

This means editing with compassion and empathy.

This means creating content that is available for free, accessible in form and format.

This means caring about what we do and how we do it.

This means fighting like hell, everyday, to help each other be more informed and critical players, scholars, developers, writers, activists, enthusiasts, teachers, and designers.

This list? These are not goals. These are the passions and driving forces behind FPS, the tenets we do not falter on. These are the things we expect of ourselves as a publication, team, and community. But goals…yeah. We have lots of those. And sometimes we’re more successful at them and, well, sometimes we’re not. There are many, many ways FPS strives to improve, and we have failed some of those goals and met others.

Looking at Next Year: What We’re Going to Do

Something we have always sought is gender parity, both in our editorial team as well as among the voices of those we publish. We have made large strides in our publishing parity, and our team this year is dedicated to doing even more. However, internal recruitment for FPS was low; I am deeply thankful to have the talented editorial staff we have this year, but FPS needs to do better than reflect the deeply problematic large-scale gender and racial disparities seen in both academic and game industries. A goal of mine as EiC this year is to do a better job of supporting underrepresented folxs who are interested in working with FPS here at the University of Waterloo. Due to our current funding stipulations, we are limited to hiring students at Waterloo (a massive thank you to all those rad souls who have reached out–I wish we could hire every one of you!), and FPS needs to be a better ally to our graduate students throughout Waterloo, so we can then be better allies to the gaming community–players, scholars, developers, activists–at large.

FPS has done more to seek alternative scholarship over the past few years, but we are still predominately writing-based. Our contributors are often scholars, and writing is the currency that we spend in the ivory tower of academia. But FPS wants to bring in more voices–voices that may not have the time, energy, or comfort-level to write 2,000 words. If we want to bring in the voices of more artists, designers, activists, or even newly tenure-tracked professors whose futures depend on the ever-looming threat of “peer-review or perish,” we need to be more accommodating. We need a better currency, so to speak, than the written word.

Enter the role of interviews. A goal of FPS this year is to reach out and bring our readers more. Some will be only in print, but we hope to include audio and video, along with transcripts and translation where relevant. There are a lot of people involved with games and games research, and we want to help bring more of them into focus. I would also like to invite our readers to send us alternative forms of scholarship–video essays, livestreams, roundtables, actual games–which we would be happy to work with towards publishing on the site. (Psst–I second Emma’s desire to publish a Twine game.)

Looking Forward: The 2017-2018 FPS Team

Each year, we have some of our editors and staff graduate from the publication. We also are lucky to have new members of our team. This year is a massive shift for FPS, and one of the largest-scale editorial team changes we’ve ever seen. With this kind of large shift comes a lot of opportunity to expand and grow as a publication.

To begin, Rob Parker, our indomitable social media manager, will be moving to Managing Editor. Rob’s work shows in everything we do, and the whole publication benefits from having him on the team.

Commentaries this year will continue to be headed by Chris Lawrence, who has done a spectacular job bringing us a wide range of commentaries over the last year. Joining him is Becky Anderson as Associate Commentary Editor. If you have a commentary to send our way, contact Chris at c5lawren@uwaterloo.ca

Essays this year will led by Pierson Browne, who moved from associate last year to section head this year. Having worked with Pierson for the last year, I can confidently say I’m looking forward to seeing what we have ahead in essays. Joining him is Will Fast as Associate Essays Editor. If you have an essay submission for us, you can reach Pierson at pbrowne@uwaterloo.ca  

Book reviews will be headed by Justin Carpenter, previously associate editor for commentaries. Justin will be bringing us more quality book reviews, as well as heading up our push for more interviews. Associate Book Review Editor Nicholas Hobin is staying onboard for this new task. If you have a suggestion for a book review or interview, or you would like to write a book review for us, send Justin a message at j2carpen@uwaterloo.ca  

Podcasts this year will be produced by Jason Lajoie and feature our editorial staff and some special guests. Jason will be writing a small editorial for each podcast, so you can look forward to some extra content on our podcasts this year.

FPS is supremely lucky to have a great copy editing team staying on from last year–Evelyn Deshane, Emily West, and Eric Vero. We will also be hiring four additional copy editors this fall. We owe so much to our copy editors and I can’t thank them enough for all their work. They seriously save the day, every day.

We also have the continued support of our faculty supervisors, Neil Randall, Jen Whitson, and Gerald Voorhees, who help us navigate the winding halls of academia and the occasional complications that arise from being a student-run publication.

Last but not least, (way, way not least!), our Web Editor Rina Wehbe is staying with us to keep making sure our site is up to date, running safely and smoothly, and accessible to all. We’re hoping to hire another member to our web team this fall to help Rina with accessibility projects.

So that’s our team for this year, but we all know we wouldn’t be a team if not for you, our readers, contributors, and allies. Thank you for being a part of FPS–your support makes this all happen.

To continue what my predecessors have said, let’s playtest some weird research.

Cheers and all the best,


Editor-in-Chief, First Person Scholar