Black History Month Spotlight: Jasmine Persephone Jupiter

Jason Martinez

Jasmine Persephone Jupiter is a California-based narrative designer who is currently pursuing an MFA in Interactive Media & Game Design at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Her work – Koshka’s Kofe – has been showcased at the Asian American International Film Festival, IndieCade, and the USC Games Expo. Currently, Jasmine is working on a couple of exciting projects, including a collaboration with students from the Tokyo Geidai University in Japan. 

Here are some highlights from our talk with Jasmine, edited for brevity.

What’s the story behind Koshka’s Kofe

Koshka’s Kofe was created as the final project for one of the very first classes the first years MFA’s take in the Interactive Media program. We were placed onto a team of three – it was me, Michelle Ma, and Cloud Tian. We had to make a game during the last four weeks of class. We were really interested in creating something that had a strong narrative and that we could leverage all of our skills for. I am a writer,  so I wrote the narrative for the game. Michelle is an amazing animator who was able to do all of the wonderful art in that game. Cloud is a fantastic composer who created all the music for the game. It was just a really perfect storm of our talents. The game has a very personal story because it deals with common themes that a lot of people in their mid-20s face, as far as complicated relationships with family, and the ambivalent feelings about returning to your hometown.

Did you foresee the success of Koshka’s Kofe

No, not at all. We were just trying to do our best and get through the class. It just so happened that we created a perfect storm of all of our strong skills, and we were able to focus on our respective parts, which doesn’t happen very often. Sometimes you are forced into a partnership where you have to flex your muscles on a skill that you are not really the best at – but in Koshka’s Kofe, we were able to focus on our own lanes. By the end of it, when we were showing our final playtest of the game, people were like, “Wow you made this in this class? This was something that would have been good for the next level of the course.” We then realized that maybe we have something here; so I decided to try and shop us around at festivals, and it sort of exploded from there.

Can you share your experiences with Black Podcast Revolution & Trans Game Dev

Trans Game Dev was started by a woman in the UK, named Faye. She was very dissatisfied with the state of being a trans person in the industry – not really having community, potentially facing issues at work, discriminations, etc. She really wanted to create a space where trans people in the video game industry could get together and build power by sharing experiences and helping each other out. I was invited on Day One, as one of the first people to join the server. I was very active on Twitter, so as soon as she posted it I thought that would be something I’d be interested in. Because I was one of the first people involved, she asked me if I wanted to also moderate the community. It’s been really fun – part of my duties as a moderator is to screen all of the people because it’s a trans-only server. We want to maintain a safe space so that no one’s personal information is compromised or shared outside of the server. I’ve been able to interview so many amazing trans people who are either in the industry already or trying to get into the industry, from all across the world. Meeting all of these people and helping this community out is just a heartwarming and wonderful experience.

As far as Black Podcast Revolution – I’m a big fan of podcasts personally. I was heavily influenced by a podcast called Red Menace, which is a very educational podcast that explains and analyzes revolutionary theory and then applies its lessons to our contemporary conditions. I thought it would be really cool to have a podcast about Pan-African Theory and other issues of Black history. My friend and I are both Black trans girls and thought this would be cool to do. She proposed the idea of making a podcast about the Black Power Revolution that happened in Trinidad. At the beginning, I had no idea what she was talking about. After looking into it, I realized that this exists at the nexus of so many different strands of the global Black liberation and civil rights movement. This story needs to be told. 

We started out talking about the general history of the islands of Trinidad and Tobago because we were making it mostly for American audience. We are currently talking about Eric Williams, who’s the first prime minister of Trinidad. He had so much overlap between Kwame Nkrumah, who was the first president of independent Ghana, as well as other incredible thinkers from Trinidad, and CLR James, the author of The Black Jacobins. We are about to introduce Kwame Ture in a couple of episodes, who is the chairperson of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. He was originally from Trinidad and later moved to New York. He got involved with the American Civil Rights movement, marched with Martin Luther King, and was involved in many levels of Black liberation. He was the unofficial president of the Black Panther party. He later moved to Ghana to help out the government over there. It has lots of interesting intersections with the global story of Black liberation. 

Check out Jasmine’s latest game Operator. Also, get in touch with Jasmine on Twitter or through her website. View the whole interview on USC Games’ YouTube channel here.