Dez Deshaies is a writer and game designer from Chicago, IL. Recently, his work has been published in Menacing Hedge, exhibited at The Adler Planetarium, and circulated throughout the Chicago zine community. From 2017-2019, he published The Giving City, a journal of fiction and games. He is the series editor of Youth Voices, a compendium of writing by Chicago-area high school students, and has developed playsets for Fiasco. He is a nominee for the 2019 Chicago Writer’s Studio Prize, and the recipient of a Dean’s Fellowship at The University of Central Florida. He has lectured in writing, Twine, and game design for the Zooniverse team.
Much of Deshaies’ work focuses on the ideas of wrongness, un-learning, and reconciliation. Specifically, he is interested in pursuing the following questions.
What happens when those with intersectional identities learn behaviors that allow them to take advantage of others – especially their own people? How is this behavior learned, un-learned, and ameliorated?
How do games (and game-forms) develop access to self-actualization?
In which ways do queer people organize and navigate of their perceived, imposed, and actual identities?
(In the spirit of Ocean Vuong) How has (American) masculinity failed, and how might queerness serve as an antidote to the toxic elements of masculinity?
(If you’re interested in hearing him discuss any of these topics at length, for a[n] article/panel/interview/dinner party/etc., you can contact him here.)
Previously, Deshaies worked for the Adler Planetarium, as a Program Manager and Game Designer. Among other projects, he developed the museum’s first creative writing and game design programs for teenagers, and built The Hyperspeed Trail, a 1000-player, Oregon Trail-style alternate reality game. He and his students have exhibited their narrative games at Bit Bash, a national indie games festival in Chicago. Before that, he worked as a writer, editor, and artist for various indie games collectives in San Francisco. He has also been paid to teach high school math, edit textbooks, trudge through salt marshes with environmental protection groups, build sets for drag queens, pretend to be a pirate at a tourist trap, deliver pizzas, read Tarot, and counsel at-risk youth.
When he’s not writing or making games, Deshaies destroys his ankles playing soccer and his ears going to pop shows. If left unattended, he will talk forever about how Mother 3 is the best videogame of all time. Recently, he’s been playing Dicey Dungeons and The King Is Dead. His go-to karaoke song is “Helena” by My Chemical Romance.
He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Structural Engineering from Brown University, and is currently pursuing a MFA in Creative Writing at The University of Central Florida. He is on Instagram and Twitter as @dezdeshaies.