Welcome to 5 Questions, a column where we ask games developers, writers, and others involved in the industry questions that have nothing to do with games. In this edition, we spoke to Xalavier Nelson Jr., creator of Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator and An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs. You can follow Xalavier on Twitter at @WritNelson.
What’s your morning routine?
I wake up roughly a minute and 45 seconds before my first meeting, so I can feel alive.
I’ve been up late the previous night writing, or doing studio admin, or finding a moment to decompress, so the extra bit of sleep is also a concession to balance. Everything costs something, so taking slightly eccentric steps to ensure my sanity and physical health long-term is a constant consideration. And if there’s no morning meeting? I sleep in! Everyone dies. Fuck it.
Breakfast is cereal, or something heartier. I do a lot of pre-cooking. Every day is different, but at some point I also take a bit of time to read the Bible and try to connect with what God has for me that day. It’s the easiest thing to assume I can get away with dropping when things are especially busy, but it’s also the first thing I regret when dropped. My faith keeps me centered, and I can feel when I’m off-balance.
Also on a flexible timeline is when my cat will enter the room and decide to cause an unholy havoc. I don’t know when it will happen, but it always does, and every moment spent before their arrival is a held breath for a waiting scream.
What are some things you use everyday that you’d enthusiastically recommend?
A good bed might be the best purchase I’ve ever made. Collapsing into it, retreating into it for a moment of meditation or thought — my bed has become a safe place, literally and metaphorically. Whether it’s a bed or a quiet nook or even just a corner of a room, I think both the building and the using of that special space matters.
In a similar vein is a mousepad. I always used my mouse on the bare desk, or a repurposed book. I never would’ve thought to get a mousepad proper if I hadn’t ended up with one for free. But the difference it makes across a day of work is incredible. It’s just smooth, ya know?
god, don’t you wish just, one thing was smooth
that could be you with your mousepad
Read any good books lately? Listen to any good records?
I was that type of irritating homeschooled kid who was like, oh, I don’t read books with pictures, I only consume works that are abridged.
Once I recognized comics as a legitimate art form and dived in, it utterly changed the way I see storytelling. A recent favorite is Life Lessons with Uramichi Onisan, a manga about existentially distressed, slightly unhinged performers for an educational children’s show, whose charges are constantly driving them further into crisis as they consider the chain of decisions that led to their now wearing giant bunny costumes.
I’m listening to a lot of Kate Bush right now.
What’s an item of clothing you’re really into right now?
Calf-length socks are magical, I wear them all the way up, I pair them with sandals, and I refuse to apologize for it.
What’s one thing you’d like to do more of?
I’d like to collaborate in other mediums more often. I’ve worked on over 60 games in the past six years, and while I’ve got a lot more in me yet (Lord willing), I can’t stop thinking about the perspective I could bring to the table in other art forms — and what I could bring back from those art forms to video games.
I believe we become more creative, full human beings the more we see, empathize, and experience. So yeah, for as much time as I get on this earth, I want to explore new territory, and share everything I learn in the process.
Look forward to my comedy pop punk album.