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Pioneer Project, 9 years later with a new focus

I’m very touched that a handful of people and some good friends reached out in the past year to say how much they missed Pioneer Project and if it’s something that I’d be interested in updating again.

It’s been nine years since I last wrote something here, and five since I parked writing about chronic illness, so it’s time for a bit of a life update.

This used to be a website about video game lore and analysis, and it still is… kind of. I’m going to be expanding my focus for this site to include user experience topics (that I sort of did before with games) and sustainability topics.

I think it’s really important that I try to explain how I can be kind to the planet, enjoy video games and be a digital designer, it’s all a bit of a contradiction, but something I hope to explore here.

So here’s what’s happened in my life since 2013 (in no particular order).

Studying Japanese as a second language

I’ve been studying Japanese daily for around six years now. With a focus on reading. I’m entering the beginner/intermediate stage. I keep a paper diary in Japanese and I’ve started playing games in Japanese too. Here’s a list of the Japanese resources I use.

I started Japanese after travelling to Japan twice. It’s been so rewarding to understand Japanese media in the original language used. I’ve enjoyed playing Final Fantasy VII, Shenmue and the original Legend of Zelda in Japanese and I hope to start branching out to games like 僕の夏休み for Japanese language practice. Something I hope to talk about more as it’s amazing how much of the personality of characters are lost during localisation, it’s nice to take games apart – back to their original contexts.

Diagnosis with fibromyalgia & pain management

A pavement bordered on each side by trees.

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia around my birthday in 2017. I’ve no doubt developed it since I’ve lived with endometriosis for so long and it’s started to put my body on red alert when it comes to pain. So since then life has meant living with whole body pain, and its knock on to gaming is that I now have a lot of hand pain.

This has meant I use the accessibility modes in games now and I rely on them in some cases as I have a motor impairment when it comes to holding buttons for a long time, or pressing the same button or trigger repeatedly or very quickly. I’ve actually had to give up some games for this reason so I might talk about that some more.

I manage my daily pain levels by using exercise and pain management. I still only use a bicycle as a method of transport and since 2020 I’ve started running, and I now run 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) a week for pain relief.

Career changes – from digital project management to user experience

A tabby cat and a black and white cat curled up next to each other on a sofa.
These two are awesome coworkers and always give me positive feedback.

I worked in digital project management for many years, and for around the last five or so I’ve pivoted to user experience. I now work as a UX/UI designer creating designs for websites and apps. As a key part of that I run user research and usability testing on digital products to understand the problems that people have with using them and use this data to make them easier to use.

I dipped into the user experience of games a little bit on the previous version of this site, so it’s something I hope to do a bit more now I do something similar for a living.

I also work from home on a permanent basis and because I am in a comfortable working location I have a great quality of life when it comes to working with pain, so that’s freed up a bit of time for writing again.

Climate activism following my family’s trauma

A map of Dominica behind the prisoner George Alagiah on BBC News.
This wasn’t a nice thing to see, our tiny home island as the top headline on BBC news.

In 2017 Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Dominica. As a mixed-race person this is where the majority of my family live, and we had a heart-wrenching two weeks of not knowing whether or not all our family were alive or not. Hours spent making lists of where we thought friends and family might be, listening to reports from ham radio. Sleepless nights and sickness from worry.

The most disturbing thing was the silence online. All infrastructure was broken, no mobile networks, no internet, no power, no water, no airports, no post, no working ports, no shops, no banks, no hospitals. Nothing online, nothing on social media, nothing on the news (past the first reports it happened).

With no wowing social media videos to share the worlds media quickly moved on, and Dominica was dark from space. It was awful. Even when we found out they were alive, there were long weeks for them without fresh water and food, the risk of disease, the stench of trapped dead bodies.

It’s taken years to get things back to where they were. Even now things aren’t normal, many are still rebuilding, and as I spent days on the phone trying to migrate my family to other, safer islands I thought about the risk of these sort of hurricanes becoming stronger and more furious. People in the Caribbean can normally do hurricanes in their sleep, but how much longer will it be until these island nations are made inhabitable?

I’ve always been climate-focused. However three years ago I started actively getting involved in climate activism and protests. Since then I’ve protested at COP26 in Glasgow, at G7 in Cornwall and up and down the UK. I’ve done literally everything I can to open people’s eyes to impact of our lives on those in the global south.

Personally as well to further improve. I’ve become zero waste (nothing sent to landfill) and I’m a lifetime member of the vegan society. Coincidentally both of these ideals are not too dissimilar to how my family originally lived in poverty in the Caribbean (only one or two generations ago).

Turns out I like horror movies, who knew

Seven knitted pumpkins in green and orange.

To conclude on a happier note. I’ve developed quite an interest in horror films. In fact in a way those films shielded me a little from the real-life horrors my family experienced first hand, they were a comfort and cathartic in a way.

Horror fans remain the nicest, and sweetest community of people that I’ve come to know. This is a fairly new hobby for me, but I’ve since attended Frightfest in London twice, and I regularly watch new and classic horror. My favourite sub genres are folk horror and ghost stories. You can read about what I am watching on Letterboxd if you’re interested.

Back to Pioneer Project

So that’s a nice summary of the last few years (not including things like Covid and lockdown). Hopefully you’ll still find the new direction of this site interesting, bear with me while I find my groove again. I’ll try not to leave it so long next time.