A heartfelt farewell from our co-founder, Courtney Craven
When we launched Can I Play That? (CIPT) in November 2018, Susan and I did so with a few lofty goals in mind: make accessibility journalism mainstream in the games industry, build the reputation of CIPT to being a trusted and respected source for game devs, and create jobs for disabled people. Susan’s sudden death in early 2019 came before any of these goals were realized and at that time, I felt so grief-stricken and out of my depth that I no longer felt any of those things were attainable. But within a few days, the very community Susan and I had spent so many years advocating for inspired me to keep the site going. I spent the next year recruiting an exceptional staff of volunteers and together, we built Can I Play That? into an award-winning, internationally known, and respected outlet. Active, Ben, Christy, Grant, Steve, and I worked together to not only meet but exceed every goal Susan and I had. Every goal except one; jobs for disabled people.
One of the more personal inspirations behind my efforts at CIPT was that I’d spent the previous years pitching articles about game accessibility to all the major gaming publications and was always met with rejection. Always told some form of “this is a great piece but accessibility just isn’t going to perform well. There’s not a big market for it.” This was very similar to every response we’d gotten upon applying for grants to fund the site. People loved our work, just not enough to invest in it. And so we remained a small team of continually burnt-out disabled volunteers. These days, thanks to indie publications like Can I Play That, accessibility journalism is quite common at all the major outlets. Both Grant and Ben have a whole laundry list of noteworthy publications and I’ve had the privilege of being asked to write for both IGN and Polygon about accessibility.
Along the way, our small team grew to become close friends and as our site exploded in popularity and growth, we grew as well. Some of us into being paid full-time freelance accessibility journalists and some of us grew away from accessibility journalism when we realized the hustle and toxicity just weren’t for us.
In early 2022, Ben took over my role as EIC when I realized the site would be much better served by having someone who wanted to be in that position filling it. One of my biggest daily struggles in remaining at CIPT in the years after Susan’s death was the daily confrontation with grief it caused me and it took a long time for me to accept that staying in a role out of obligation to Susan’s memory was not doing anyone or anything, especially Susan’s memory, and CIPT, any favors. I left the site completely in February 2022, trusting that it was in very capable hands with Ben and Active, when I accepted a full-time role outside of journalism. When I left, I felt that we had achieved enough of our goals to have honored Susan’s memory and our accomplishments are something I will always remain proud of and I can move on knowing we were successful, even with just one goal remaining unfulfilled.
Today, on GAAD 2022, I don’t quite have the words to express how proud I am that the final goal, actual jobs for the people running the site, has been realized thanks to Josh Straub and DAGERSystem, and the continued dedication of Ben and Active. The merging of DAGERSystem and CIPT not only fulfills that one remaining goal but it gives all of the goals Susan and I set out with a future. I can’t wait to see what kind of massive continued change this partnership will continue to drive in the games industry and I bid CIPT a fond farewell knowing that the future for games accessibility journalism is very bright.