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OtherI am Jo-Anne McArthur, animal rights photojournalist and founder of the We Animals project. AMA

Apr 4th 2017 by joannemcarthur • 16 Questions • 2068 Points

I’m Rusel DeMaria. I’m a writer, game designer, and narrative lead for Starfighter Inc. Come join me and I’ll tell you why narrative is so important in games and why our approach is like nothing you’ve ever seen in a team-based combat game. I’ll tell you how we’re going to get you involved in our world. We’ll surprise you. We’ll let you in on the secrets of The System. Ask me anything.

PROOF: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154534265299211&set=a.10150987060309211.428120.595984210&type=3&theater

CURRENT PROJECT: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/impellerstudios/starfighter-inc-0/comments

http://starfighterinc.gamepedia.com/Starfighter_Inc_Wiki

https://impellerstudios.com/

Q:

Jo-Anne, do you view lab-produced meat (via culture tissue sample, cloning, etc) as a viable ethical alternative to slaughtered animal meat? As a vegetarian who gravitates around bio-ethics issues, the advances here have given me some hope that factory farming could someday become obsolete. I really hope so, anyway.

Edit: a name. Fuck.

A:

I remember in "Tie Fighter" some optional goals that helped develop some sort of "Sith special agent story" happening in game. Will we have this kind of stuff ? In a more general way, will there be briefing sessions separated from flight sessions ? Will there be some roleplaying elements (like interactive dialogs), and dramatic background with developed characters (I thought that people like Paladin, Maniac, Angel was what made the Wing Commander series really shine to me) ?


Q:

I'm all about supporting lab-grown meats. Memphis meats and the Good Food Institute and others have my full support!

A:

We fully plan on creating secondary goals and splinter off side stories. In our stretch goals, we have the ability even to spin off single-player bonus missions, but that's pretty far away right now. As for cut-scene types of action, that's again something that requires more funding, it's not currently in the play, but we do plan on including at least one graphic novel and lots of fiction related the game as it goes forward through our website. Some players who do really well, might find themselves as part of those stories. Character development is trickier in a game like ours, but through our ancillary fiction, we hope to fully flesh out the fiction.


Q:

I've worked in animal rights and vegan outreach in the past and I've gotten this question a lot. My answer is that I personally wouldn't partake because I've been vegetarian so long that meat just isn't food to me anymore. That said, I 100% support it as an option for others and I have no moral qualms about it. It's just objectively a better choice than our current system.

A:

Here's a super-nerdy one: the world of Starfighter Inc (off of the Earth's surface in particular) is controlled by corporations. What do they use as currency, and what is it backed by? Is there a 'two tier' system, with day-to-day currency being fractured into regional utility and large transactions in some common intermediary (clearinghouse style)?

Fiat currency might not work to well for inter-corporation trading (being essentially Company Scrip). Backing by precious metals is less effective when heavy metal asteroid finds could 'crash the market' by eliminating rarity (why the "trillion dollar asteroid" headlines make little sense in practice). Backing based on useful commodities (e.g. purified water, useful buffer/propellant gasses, light metals) has volatility issues and transport issues, on top of all the normal issues of backing with commodities being very close to a barter economy. If hydrocarbons for plastics and composites are still valuable that might work as an interesting replacement for precious metals (you can either mine them on the Earth and truck them out of the gravity well, or synthesise them elsewhere at an energy expense) but still have the issue of them being a functional commodity rather than valuable in and of themselves.


Q:

Also, about "what keeps me going". Being able to contribute to the change. However tiny my contributions, it's better than doing nothing. I'm extremely motivated to contributing in any way I can to end animal suffering

A:

redmercuryvendor: That has been debated by the team, but there isn’t a set answer yet, due to many of the issues you’ve discussed. Between all the worlds of the solar system, few materials are all that rare, or could not potentially be mined extensively if a great enough demand existed. In the inner solar system, you can find fissionables and abundant metals; in the asteroid belt, you can find more abundant heavy metals; in the outer solar system, you have almost ubiquitous ices and hydrocarbons. Improved manufacturing technology only makes this more difficult because it allows creation of substances that could possibly be rare otherwise - in a world where bulk diamond is usable as a structural material (and current technology is only closing the gap between the industrial stones and the jewels), how useful would it be as a precious gem?

One of the main options our team most agrees with is using a form of digital currency, like bit-coin. That data can be beamed out facilitates use for an interplanetary economy, and though there is still lightspeed lag to deal with during distant transactions, it’s much easier than transporting the material between locations. Also, it probably comes as close as anything artificial gets to being limited by its design; this might actually pose a problem in a rapidly expanding economy (as the narrative suggests) when it must be divided into smaller and smaller units. This doesn’t mean it isn’t without major issues that have held us back from adopting it - for one, it’s still potentially hackable (if with enormous difficulty), and makes you dependent to some extent on whoever owns the network of servers keeping track of it. Granted, given that our story presumes corporations control everything, having stuff in the hands of one or two banks might not be undesirable.


Q:

Beautiful!! Excuse me for contributing...On the topic of bears, what do you think of the legalization of hunting bears in hibernation ?

A:

Are you the Willie Wonka of Star Wars gaming?


Q:

I can't believe that's even a thing. I just can't with that one.

A:

I was a temporary Wonka when I was commissioned to write a novella of each of the first two Star Wars games and continued those fictions in the strategy guides. I invented the characters Keyan Farlander and Maarek Stele. I guess that's the extent of my wonkishness with Stat Wars though. :0


A:

"Come with me and we'll see a world of true imagination..."


Q:

Running and exercise also really helps me.

A:

You have no idea what my imagination already sees.


Q:

What do you think about the work of Temple Grandin as it pertains to the humane treatment of slaughter animals?

A:

Hi ! I really enjoyed the differences between mission briefings and what really happened in flight, and the hard decisions to make. Will we have something like this in StarFighter Inc. ? Will there be something like mission plan maps updates happening in flight, like some sort of emergency change of plan (I'd really love to see something like this) ?


Q:

Well, she's put a lot of effort into making slaughter a little less completely and utterly terrible. But I do wish that, seeing as she professes to understand animals (and I believe her), that she would focus on asking us to end slaughter. But that's not her mandate. She eats animals. She makes a lot of money at what she does.

A:

Hi Gehroll. Yes, there will be mission briefings in the form of the contracts you sign as a mercenary. These will give you the basic mission parameters and the amount the mission pays. There may be changes in the mission primary or secondary missions during the battle. You'll be in communication through your DSS, which is your support system during flight. Currently, your after-mission summary will basically consist of how much money (credits) you gained and possible charges for repairs. And we want the hangar experience between missions to be very immersive and dynamic.


Q:

Thank you for your reply.

As a meat eater myself, I really do look forward to a day when lab-grown meat becomes a viable option.

A:

Hi Rusel! Excited to hear more about Starfighter Inc. How exactly will you be telling the story to the player in an open world combat game? Will it be linear or will it play out different for each player? Cutscenes? Or lots of terminal reading??


Q:

Yay!

In the mean time, there a lots of tasty plant-based foods out there! Dig in :)

A:

Lollsmalls: I answered some of your question in the previous reply. As for the story being linear, my goal, and this also will depend on stretch goals at this time, is to have several simultaneous areas of conflict at once. These areas of conflict would involve different organizations fighting over different issues. So it will be a multi-threaded narrative, and sometimes the different threats might converge. I think of this as I would if I were writing a novel or series for TV. But not in episodes. It is a 24/7/365 game, and stories will evolve at different rates. Given our gameplay format, we aren't going to have exploration or an open world setting. At its core, this is a combat game, and as a mercenary, your first concern is survival, followed by credits earned, which in turn allow you to purchase new ships, upgrade existing ones, and many more options for how to use your credits. As for terminal reading, there will be some, but some of it is optional and for added entertainment value and further immersion in the storylines and events in the game. The primary reason to read the terminal will be to seek out good contracts for your next battle.


Q:

Absolutely!

A:

How do you plan to allow the players personal experience to affect the narrative when dealing with a online multiplayer game?


Q:

They are people like Jan van Ijken (Holland), Tamara Keneally (Australia), Patrick Brown (Thailand), Shannon Johnstone (USA), Timo Stammberger (Germany)

A:

MrGraddo: The whole concept of narrative in a multiplayer game like SFI is one that we've approached in a variety of ways. First, of course, is the fact that for some major events the outcome of the story is determined by which side in the conflict wins (in a statistical sense over many battles). But there's a lot more. First, we have a very rich world in the background of the game, full of corporations, anti-corporate organizations, criminals, fanatics, and shadowing figures with influence in high places. It's a rich story evolving on its own, and it evolves through the game and through the players' actions. But it also has the ability to engage players directly through loyalties to one side or another, or becoming part of larger campaigns. The idea for the narrative is that it will evolve, that it will become more and more clear over time, and that it will contain many surprises. So there's a story, and as a mercenary you are not one of the movers and shakers, but you are someone with the autonomy to choose your sides and to become engaged and identifies with the emotions of winning and losing on top of the obvious perks of loot, reputation, and the ability to upgrade your ships, weapons, and systems. Reputation also functions as a way to gain extra perks from organizations that you fight for, so there is added incentive to choose a side, although you might like one side better than another for personal reasons. Like some of them are a-holes.


Q:

Hey Jo,

Thanks for what you do. It makes a difference. Work like yours led me to veganism.

What do you think we can do to combat the "out of sight, out of mind" type people who refuse to face the violent videos and photos? You know the type, the type who says "Oh I can't look at those, they make me so sad." and then proceed to have a nice meat dinner as if there is no major cognitive breakdown occurring.

Also, what if you were like, trapped on a desert island, and it was just you and your dog, and you had to either eat the dog or die, would you still be vegan?!

A:

The Ultima: The Avatar Adventures was an incredible novelization / playthrough, and still stands as one of the best game guide ever. It made me and my brother completely invested in the story, and looked forward to having our own adventures in Britannia. It was a great crafted story!

Is there any plans to do more of that type of guide / walkthrough? Any more plans to work with Caroline?


Q:

Hahahaha! The desert island question. Amazing :) Yeah, I would never eat my dog, but then again I never really have to confront this question or my ethics around b/c this scenario will never happen! And it won't happen to any other vegans either :)

As for the cognitive dissonance we see everywhere, every day. I don't blame people for not wanting to "face" the images, my images, and all the videos out there. It's horrifying and confronting. To face animal cruelty is to face our complicity in it, therefore face our inconsistencies ("I love animals" / "I'd never hurt an animal"), and generally we don't want to do that. As for how many of us bury our heads in the sand b/c "meat tastes good"...it's sad, and frustrating, but I don't focus too much on convincing those who don't want to be convinced or who are not ready to talk about it. If they've seen the images, at least a seed has been planted. Maybe that person digging in to their steak will make some changes down the road, especially as this conversation about AR (and health and environment) becomes more prevalent.

A:

Avaclon: I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed The Avatar Adventures. It was really a fun project, and Caroline was truly a hoot. She credits me with helping her launch her writing career since, and she's doing lots of new things. We haven't had any projects to work on together since then.

As for guides and walkthroughs, I'm not sure that we will need that for SFI, but if we do, I'll be the one to do it. But for fiction, I plan on writing a lot of background fiction that follows our ongoing story. I'm pretty prolific and a fast writer, so I think I can keep up with our storyline as the game progresses, and I also have Zach and possibly David Wessman who could offer some fiction, too. It's going to be fun and I hope you'll enjoy it as much as you enjoyed the Ultima book.


Q:

Also, do you eat veggie burgers? WHY DON'T YOU JUST EAT A REAL BURGER I DON'T GET IT WHY WOULD YOU MAKE A FAKE BURGER.

/s

I'm not bitter about the amount of silly questions I get about being vegan.

A:

I'm trying to break into game development by designing my own games in Unity, but writing comes extremely easy to me. I'd love to write for video games, I just don't really know where to start; video game writing seems to be the one area where there are no college courses or youtube tutorial series to latch onto.

Any advice for an aspiring games writer?


Q:

:) :)

Seriously, though: where do you get your protein?

:P

A:

Clockw0rk: I can't say there's any easy way to break into writing for video games, but the truth is, if you're a good writer already and you know games well, you don't need a college course, you need to start writing about games or writing your own games. You can certainly apply to be writer for game companies. Do some searches. Companies like BioWare often hire new writers, but their writing test is tough. Writers are not the most respected members of the game development community, and often people think anyone can write so why pay someone? You have to prove to them that you will make their game better through your writing ability. You can also start writing reviews and other material about games in a blog of your own, perhaps also showing your personal thoughts about narrative in games and how it could be better than it is. Basically, there's no single path, but many possibilities, which is true for any aspiring writer.


Q:

Triggered.

Lol, appreciate the humor. You need to come hang out in /r/vegan if you don't already. I have more questions, but I'll ask in a new thread.

A:

I have a very, very simple question, to which I'd like you to answer as honestly as possible.

Why do you like your job?


Q:

Wow, 2 1/4 hours of questions. This flew by. I'll wrap up in a few moments....

A:

"As honestly as possible." That kind of makes me laugh. I can't imagine why I would not he honest in answering that question. So...

I love being both a writer and a game designer primarily because it is a license to be curious. It is permission to keep learning and being interested in just about everything. Two of the people I learned from, both directly and indirectly, were Will Wright and Sid Meier. They were to people of boundless curiosity, especially Will. As a writer, I was mentored by Theodore Sturgeon, whose motto was "Ask the next question." For me, this is the main reason I love what I do. I have written fiction, history, and earth science. For David Perry on Game Design, a book for which I was the principal researcher and writer, I looked into a staggering number of subjects as part of the development of this 1000 page tome.

The other reason I love what I do is that, despite the uncertainty of the next paycheck, I am not beholden to anyone else. I make my own time and schedule, and I pick my projects. I also have the time to practice and teach tai chi and travel without having to ask permission. It's not always easy, and this kind of freedom can come with a cost. Without self-discipline it's easy to fail. But because I love the work I do, I never really get tired of it or want to sit around doing nothing. I get up and figure out every day what to work on. And still have time for other activities.


Q:

Hi Jo! I just wanted to give you an internet hug and say thank you! You are doing amazing, difficult work that not many could do. Do you feel like society is becoming more aware of animal welfare?

A:

When it comes to story telling in games who is the best of the best in your opinion?


Q:

Yes, it's become more aware. There's more humane education in schools. More media coverage of animal issues. There's a growing acceptance that these issues are important. The field of ethology has taken a strong foothold and those scientists are making great contributions. We now have animal rights lawyers, vegan chefs, all sorts of people using their skills and knowledge to make the world a better place for animals. We need to employ more of our resources to keep things headed in this direction.

A:

bamboooozer: I haven't played every game ever made, and the answer to that question depends on how you define story telling. Off the top of my head... There are games that are very narrative driven, and BioWare is one of the best. Telltale Games is also quite interesting, although I haven't played their most recent games. But then I look at a game like the original NES version of Legend of Zelda. Simple story. But the game play was superb and told it's own story. One of my favorite games of all time because of the tight design that let you use the same map twice, and have a whole new experience. What are some of your favorites?


Q:

Hi Jo! I just wanted to give you an internet hug and say thank you! You are doing amazing, difficult work that not many could do. Do you feel like society is becoming more aware of animal welfare?

A:

Hi Rusel What is your opinion the best storyline when it comes to blockbuster games (2010-)?


Q:

You can see thousands of my images at www.weanimalsarchive.org They were shot in around 50 countries. You'll get an idea of the investigative work I've done!

A:

I can't answer that question adequately because I've not been keeping up with all the games out there. It would be unfair of me to just point out ones that I have played. I've been so busy with this game and working on two other books that took a lot of time, High Score Expanded and an upcoming book based on Microsoft for which I interviewed 89 people. I just didn't have time to devote to a lot of the games that have come out. But I will say that I really enjoyed the Mass Effect series. I made time for those. And I've played a few action RPGs, like Path of Exile, Pillars of Eternity, and Grim Dawn, but not for the stories. Just because that kind of game is relaxing and not all that challenging when I'm in the middle of other big projects.


Q:

Dogs or cats? Pick wisely.

A:

does storytelling matter if you cant understand what they are saying? (Im playing Dragon Quest X online currently).


Q:

Why are they my only options? I <3 bears.

Ok I'll play along: dogs.

A:

I guess it depends on how much the storytelling depends on dialogue and how well you can interpret the events based on actions. I've played Japanese games without understanding a word, but I still get the gist of the story, if not the details. Probably that is because the stories usually tended to be pretty simplistic to begin with. So it matters in that the events are stories. The quests are stories. The winning and losing is part of the ongoing story.


Q:

A pretty obvious biased question incoming! How would someone with no college degree get into working for animal welfare full-time?

Being incredibly inspired by people like David Attenborough I've just decided to complete my high school education in the age of 21 because I've finally realized what I wanna do. Being a part of actively protecting animals. But in the shocking amounts of educational paths to walk it's hard to know where to start!

Being a photographer I'm sure you've meet a lot of people who got into this from all kinds of straits of life, what would you recommend? Thanks for doing this AMA, can't wait to read your book (and I hope you'll show up to talk about your project on next years Nordic Light in Kristiansund, Norway)!

A:

Have you any thoughts about real-time cutscenes vs pre-rendered cutscenes in games? What do you prefer?

BR Bero4


Q:

Hey! All of my training was very hands on. I interned for anyone I could. Learned the trade of photography by watching and helping. I volunteered for everything. Just immersed myself in photography and the "how to's". I also volunteered with animal groups doing interesting work. It took a long time for this animal work to be visible or sustaining. We always have to work really hard to get a footing. I'm so happy to see that more and more people are taking up the camera, or using their skills, whatever they may be, to make the world a better place for animals. That what I often tell people: figure out what you love to do, and find a way a way to do that out in the world. If there is a will there is a way! You don't necessarily need to go to school to do it, either. Such was the case for me. I did get degrees in English Lit and Human Geography, but not photography.

A:

I prefer Real-time if you're going to use cutscenes. The less you take the player out of the game world, the better. The less you interrupt the player's agency in the game, the better. But judicial use of cutscenes can also be good for information and entertainment value and character development.


Q:

A pretty obvious biased question incoming! How would someone with no college degree get into working for animal welfare full-time?

Being incredibly inspired by people like David Attenborough I've just decided to complete my high school education in the age of 21 because I've finally realized what I wanna do. Being a part of actively protecting animals. But in the shocking amounts of educational paths to walk it's hard to know where to start!

Being a photographer I'm sure you've meet a lot of people who got into this from all kinds of straits of life, what would you recommend? Thanks for doing this AMA, can't wait to read your book (and I hope you'll show up to talk about your project on next years Nordic Light in Kristiansund, Norway)!

A:

What part of game design do you specialize in? And how would one get themselves into the field of game design?


Q:

Thanks for the chats everyone. I'm signing off now. My best to you all!

A:

I would say that I have been a game designer in two main areas. One is in conceptual, high-concept design work. Writing detailed game design documents, either original or as a contract for someone else. I've also been a design consultant at times for companies like Maxis, Oddworld, Sega, David Perry, and Acclaim. As a consultant I might be doing game design, but often I'm doing analysis and suggestions for when there are issues that haven't been resolved or also to some degree in planning stages.

Getting into the game design field is not all that easy, and the best advice I can offer is to learn to make your own games using whatever tools you can manage. If you aren't technical but have a concept you really want to create, find people with the technical and/or art skills to help you make at least a working prototype or vertical slice (which is a segment of completed game that demonstrates the game play and style of the game fully enough so that someone seeing it would understand what the game is about and how it will look, feel, and play). You can also try to get a job in a Q&A department of a game company, which can be a stepping stone toward design and you learn a lot. There are some more obscure ways to get him, such as being a popular moderator on MMOs where the devs get to know you, but that's not easy to do and no guarantee that you'll be taken seriously as a designer. You can also go to school for game design. These days there are lots of good schools, and graduates from these schools will be looked at more seriously than a guy off the street.

I got into game design because I started playing video games in 1967 and played them consistently from Pong onward. I was a writer early on and got to know a lot of people in the industry over the years. Times were different then. When I left Prima Publishing, where I was creative director for the strategy guide division (and writing strat guides was also a way I learned a lot about game design and got to talk to lots of devs), I started doing independent design work with mixed results. I'm not known best as a designer in the industry - more a writer - but I have been a lead designer on my own projects and have been paid as a designer and consultant over the years.


Q:

What sort of livestock farms have you been to and what were your experiences? Also where were the farms at?

A:

How did you begin writing for games?


Q:

I've been to farms on five continents over the last decade. A lot of those photos and the archive are available for you to see. www.weanimalsarchive.org

A:

I began around 1981. I had been playing video games all through the '70s (my first one was Spacewar! at Stanford University in 1967). I had wanted an Apple II for quite some time, and the IBM PC was new as well. I got my Apple II and devoured every game I could get my hands on. I started working with the first PC clone company, Leading Edge. I first sold their computers, then I became a software analyst for them. For a year and a half they paid me to do comparative research on various types of business software. Along the way, I bought a book called, if I remember correctly, "The Book of IBM Software" or something. They also had one for the Apple II. The "book" was a series of software reviews, and at the end of the book they had a phone number for people interested in writing for them. I called them and they said that the way it worked is you called them and they would tell you what the had that needed a review. If you wanted to do it, they sent it to you and that was your payment. At the time it never occurred to me that I could get paid to write about software and get free products, so I said yes. The first product I was given was a funeral director's package written in dBase. I had a ball writing a review of that one, and after that I wrote about 50 reviews over the next year... until my wife came in and showed me a newspaper article that said you could get paid for what I was doing. I contacted magazines that did reviews and pretty soon I was busy writing for a lot of magazines, but not all of it was games at first. I wrote for PC Week and Byte Magazine, for instance, but also for A+. I wrote about two reviews for A+ every month for $100 a pop. Anyway, that's how I got started. I kept at it and by 1989 I was able to transition into writing exclusively in the game field. In 1990 I became senior editor of PC Games and a contributing editor for GamePro. That same year I started Prima Publishing's strategy guide division, which I led as creative director for six years. I was the seventh employee of the company. By the time I left, there were 150 people, all working on the division I had started for them.


Q:

Hey Jo,

Thanks for the work that you do. I'm wondering, what are your thoughts on our obligation to animals like insects, crustaceans, and other "simpler" life forms? Obviously unnecessary cruelty to any life form is wrong, but do we need to treat lobsters (for example) with the same respect and care as bears or elephants?

I don't have my own answer to this, by the way - just curious to hear your point of view.

A:

Oh, lobsters! They are lovely, complex creatures, they definitely deserve our consideration as well. They often mate for life. It's been documented that they "hold hands" with one another. Er, claws. I'd recommend the book "What a Fish Knows" by Jonathan Balcombe. As for killing the "less intellectually involved" animals, well, they still have a reason for being here, they are part of the ecosystem, they serve a purpose, not only to the biosphere for to themselves. They too want to be alive. Few animals commit suicide (ok maybe moths?); life wants life. I say, just live and let live. We don't know what that insect is thinking, what it wants to do, what its plans are. Best to just let animals do their thing.


Q:

Hi Jo! As an aspiring animals rights and conservation photographer...I was just wondering, How did you get started into your career? By that I mean what kind of steps did you take towards your success and what tips and tricks would you recommend for anyone inspired by you and this career?

A:

Hey there. I answered this to an extent in the question from "slowbroadable", but if I can add: just jump in to as much work as you can. Take a lot of photos. You can only improve if you're shooting a lot, and studying what other good photographers have done. You also don't need to go far to photograph animal issues. There are stories to photograph everywhere, in every country.


Q:

All animal labs I've been in are super animal welfare oriented, but detest animal rights advocates because of their emotional and vandal-based approach. If you look at the website provided in the chain, you'll see all sorts of nonsense. This in particular stands out:

In an attempt to overcome the limitations of animal models, researchers are genetically engineering animals, by removing or adding genes they believe relate to specific human diseases. The underlying assumption here is that these new genetically constructed animals will be more human-like. This technology is commonly used in mice and rats and the number of genetically altered (transgenic) animals being produced for research has grown exponentially over the past ten years. Scientists also breed these animals to produce offspring whom they hope will express the desired traits or will be more susceptible to the disease or disorder they are studying.

The fact that existing animal models need to be genetically “improved” is further evidence of their original lack of biological and/or clinical relevance.

This is so inane I had to go back and read it again to be sure they were actually serious.

First of all, "they believe" is loaded vocabulary. It takes a shit ton of money to do these things. They aren't just willy nilly making knockout mice because they have a belief. They follow the facts and an evidence based approach.

Then comes the stuff in bold. It's like saying that improving the reliability and emissions standards on cars is further evidence of their lack of transportation relevance.

Science builds on itself, we're now able to answer more questions with fewer animals. Suffering is reduced and scientists are accountable to review boards dedicated to animal care and use. Scientists erect monuments to their animals, for crying out loud. They are not monsters.

A:

I've been in a few labs, yes.

There are scientific advancements that mean we don't need to use animals. I think that, if they can't grant us permission (and I doubt they ever would), that that gives us the right to use them. www.neavs.org offers a lot of interesting solutions.


Q:

I'd argue that we can only replace part of it. I also don't know US rules (but I think it is similar) but in my country it is forbidden to use animals if an alternative is available, so it's impossible to do research on animals where an alternative would bring the same results. As far as I know this is true for whole Europe.

What kind of labs where you in? Any stories that come to mind?

A:

Sorry, I meant that if they can't give us permission, then we should not do it.


Q:

Hi Jo-Anne-Thank you for all the work you do!You are going where others fear to tread or in my case, I couldn't cope with all the horrific scenes without having a breakdown. So what do you do to prevent burnout from stress? How do you maintain a positive outlook?

A:

I take things one day at a time. I put one foot in front of the other. I have to be happy with the changes I can effect. I just have to be happy with that. I'm happy to be able to contribute to this movement. I encourage others to do whatever they can, in any way they can, to contribute. Whatever works for you is what you can do.


Q:

Hi Jo-Anne-Thank you for all the work you do!You are going where others fear to tread or in my case, I couldn't cope with all the horrific scenes without having a breakdown. So what do you do to prevent burnout from stress? How do you maintain a positive outlook?

A:

Also, I've been lucky to be able to have therapy on occasion, which has given me coping tools.


Q:

What criteria do you use to select the projects you work on? You must be swamped with requests and suggestions pertaining to animal rights. So how do you filter out all the information and find your passion projects?

A:

I used to just say yes to everything, which is why I've amassed so much material (you can see it at www.weanimalsarchive.org). Now, as you suspect, I have to choose. I try to work with organization who have a great impact, who are media savvy, and who hopefully can pay my air fare and offer a per diem! I do all of this work for free and that's not sustainable, so it's great when orgs can offer support. Yeah, the passion projects are often bear-related, but I can't just photograph bears and sanctuaries :) I'm glad more and more people are shooting at and exposing factory farms. It's horrible, exhausting work.


Q:

What is the worst thing you have seen?

A:

I don't think there is a worst. I've met hundreds of thousands of suffering individuals. I look in their eyes and I take their photos and have to leave them behind. It's horrible. Whether they are a fox at a fur farm or a hen crammed in to a cage, or an elephant chained up and swaying back and forth, living alone with a travelling circus.. it just hurts to see what we're inflicting on animals. Ugh. I've seen a lot of terrible things. Sorry I can't name one just now. They suffer such loneliness and deprivation. I feel for them all.


Q:

Hi Jo! As someone who takes animal rights and welfare very seriously and close to heart, I realised that with such I couldn't not be vegan! And I have loved every second of such and wouldn't go back. Are you a vegan yourself? And if so how has this affected your work? Thank you!

A:

Good work! I love being vegan as well. I became vegan April 1st 2003. That was my first day as an intern at Farm Sanctuary. You have to, while interning, out of respect for the rescued animals there and for the staff and volunteers. It seemed a bit extreme to me but I found that being vegan fulfilled me spiritually, intellectually and physically. I no longer had to deal with inner conflict regarding animals or animal products I might have consumed. As a vegan, I was causing no harm. So it’s been 14 years now. For me, veganism is not a deprivation but a joy!


Q:

I reciprocate everything you are saying here! It is an absolute joy! I had a similar experience on a sanctuary near to me, it was such a relief afterwards. Only two years for myself! But looking forward to the years to come!

A:

There are investigative teams you can join up with. Look at which orgs are doing investigations in which countries and contact them to have a meeting and see if they need people.


Q:

Great! Thank you, I will need to continue to build up my portfolio first i'm sure, but i will definitely look into some organizations... im sure they won't hire someone who doesn't have some sort of experience under their belt. The dream location in the midst of many, would be to eventually go to Africa for the Elephant and Rhino Poaching.

A:

Showing work is so important. It should be 50% of the work. Not just the shooting but the showing, getting it out there, getting it published. Sadly a lot of photographers are bad at marketing their work. I'm not great at it either. We should NEVER do a great story and then just put it in a gallery on fb or let it sit on our hard drives.


Q:

So in that case how would you recommend marketing your work? Taking it to magazines or newspapers or other companies that would display your work? Sadly, I've heard a lot of the "Big Time" places don't take in a lot of freelance work and stamp their name all over it instead of yours. Though, im not sure if its true or not.

A:

No, more "big time" newspapers and magazines are legit, and give credit where it's due. It's more the on line world of social media where your work will get poached time and time again, or not credited. I do things a little differently, I give my work away for free to anyone helping animals. Here is that searchable database: www.weanimalsarchive.org But yes, pound the proverbial pavement with the blogs, magazines, newspapers, etc. It's thankless grunt work that none of us want to do! But it needs tobe done. Or hire PR, if that's an option for you. Or take some basic training in PR; there are pitch guidelines out there for us to use and learn from.


Q:

I am trying to start a blog of my own, I'm in the process of building my website at the moment. But once i get more working flowing and building my portfolio I may consider reaching out. Again, just worried someone may steal my work or not give credit where it is due

A:

In the world we're in, this is inevitable, sometimes. But, on the bright side, your work is getting out there and being seen. That's important.


Q:

Questioner, please note that a lot of that misinformation is propaganda by one industry shill, a guy named Rick Berman. He's not doing it for the animals. http://bermanexposed.org/

A:

Sheep definitely need to be shorn and it can be done gently, indeed. For sure, some farms are worse than others, to animals. And I've seen a lot of farmers who are really proud of their animals, and they have a decent life until they go to their deaths. I think we don't need to put animals what we put them through. Whether it's for food, fur, wool, medical testing. There are other ways of eating, keeping ourselves warm. As you know, most animals on farms have no autonomy. And all go to their deaths prematurely. I love the mission statement from Edgar's Mission sanctuary: If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn't we?