Huge thanks to Jonathan for the opportunity to speak to such a huge audience about my work. I started out making obscure-ass adventure games and now it’s showing up as news on one of the major gaming websites. That is bananas. It’s more than bananas. It’s papayas.
Last week at E3 was amazing. I got a chance to demo the game to a ton of people, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Like, overwhelming enough that I had to calm myself down with coffee. The whole thing was pure developer soul food (the positivity, not the coffee. Well, maybe the coffee too).
One of the people I talked to was Evan Narcisse of Kotaku, who was kind enough to feature the game on-camera. So head on over to Kotaku to see the first-ever video footage of Gravity Ghost to grace the internet:
Another exciting thing I forgot to post here is that I’m now updating the Gravity Ghost devlog pretty regularly. So hang out if you want to hear me wax poetic about things like animation, inspiration, and probably coffee again.
A few days ago the announcement went out that the NEA is now offering art grants to video game developers. Fast Company asked me a few questions about what this might mean to independent game developers like myself. I answered honestly, although I’m sure other game devs have some differing opinions (also: “a bit of a hit” means “enough to keep me fed and working on new games” ).
Some of the folks I know who make artistic/independent games didn’t feel that the announcement made their work any more or less legitimate, which is why I described their reaction as “eye-rolly.” They weren’t waiting for an official notice from on high to tell them it was all right to do what they loved. They just went out and did it. If anything, this is a sign that the rest of the world is catching up, and not that games haven’t mattered this whole time.
It’s worth noting that governments have long recognized the power of games, and have been funding them for years. The difference is that those games were almost exclusively of the ‘educational’ or ‘training’ variety (the earliest I know of was in 1992). Some countries have been offering art grants for games for several years. I’m most familiar with Canada’s Telefilm, which has funded a few of my friends. The NEA endowment could be a godsend for devs in the US who are otherwise at a loss for how to fund their work.
Shortly after the Fast Company article went live, the NEA got in touch with me and asked if I would clarify their position:
We were thrilled that “one of the Most influential Women in Tech” had seen our announcement and I’m hoping that you can help us correct a misperception. Projects resulting from NEA funding CAN, in fact, be sold. Just like filmmaking organizations can charge for their DVDs or museums can charge for admission, games can be sold. The nonprofit organization producing the game must use the revenues to sustain the organization as well as make good on whatever arrangements they’ve made with creative/production personnel. But they are in no way restricted from sales. Can you help us spread the word?
And I’m happy to spread the word as much as I can. As with any publisher deal, it’s important for developers to know what they’re getting into. But I see this a step in the right direction, namely because it will help new game ideas get explored in a big way. What are your thoughts on the endowment? Would you go for it, knowing your game had to be ‘art’?
A few months ago I started consulting for the Morgridge Institute for Research in Madison, Wisconsin. They knew I meant business when I showed up to my job interview during something later referred to as “Snowpocalypse.” I can’t say much about the project yet, but I’m helping to design an educational game. And the subject matter is slightly more difficult than your average apocalyptic snowstorm.
Shortly after I got the gig in Wisconsin, the entrepreneur magazine Fast Company named me as one of the most influential women in technology. And good lord, they even made a stylish black and white portrait for the occasion. I must have stared at the article for 5 minutes without reading it. All I could hear was a little voice in my head going “srs biznes.”
One of technology’s most influential necks
On the same day of the Fast Company thing, my high school sweetheart messaged me to say that there he was, reading the Onion AV Club, when suddenly he saw this article about me and the Indie Game Sprint. And that’s when I decided to go for a little walk and think about the incredible connectedness of everything in our modern lives (just kidding, I bought a fro-yo).
I’m also putting my nights and weekends into something I’m quite excited about. I can’t say much about it right now, except that it involves this fox.
His name is Voy, if that helps (it doesn’t)
Don’t forget to follow me on the Twitter (@Livelyivy) for updates that happen daily instead of, um, semi-annually.
Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to NYC to relax, go to the Puzzle Bots release party, and hang out with some of my favourite games people.
And also Anthony, from Bytejacker.
Believe it or not, this hug took three takes.
I only kid, Anthony is a wonderful person. But he figured out a long time ago that it sure is a lot funnier if he pretends to be an idiot on camera. And so, I practically subpoena you to check out this week’s Bytejacker. I talk a bit about the game, but mostly put up with with Anthony’s hijinx. See if you can spot the parts where I’m not acting.
The episode will hook you up with a wicked-sweet coupon code that knocks the price of the game down by $5. There’s never been a better time to buy the game. Just sayin’!
G4TV’s Electric Playground was kind enough to interview me for a segment about Puzzle Bots. We shot it last July, and it just aired this week. Check it on out! (You might have to wait a few days, if you’re in Canada).
You’re looking at some anime-grade hair shellac, on my part.
Meeting Donna and Leland (the tireless camera guy), was a wonderful experience. They managed to quell my anxieties a bit, even though I hadn’t been on camera since TVO Kids had an open house (hi Ontario).
They even took me out for cake after the shoot, which was like a birthday, but better. It was like a birthday where you get a year younger instead, and then 7 million people watch you talk about pixelated robots because it’s your job.
This is Slide 7 from my presentation about the fantasy vs. reality of indie game development:
Slide 9 is about asking your parents for money.
As you may have guessed, I frequently get asked questions about women, women who play video games, women who make video games, and the depictions of women in video games by predominantly male game developers. My immediate reaction is usually something like, “Buhhhh…”
Because, as I see it, anyone who knows how to attract more women to video games (and game development), has already done so and is making a killing at it. I certainly don’t know “what women want” in a video game. In fact, the subject of “what women want” is so fraught with peril that there is an Arthurian legend about it.
However, this is my recent attempt to make sense of that very question, in an interview by Igor Hardy. It sums up what I’ve come to believe about women and games, and I hope it makes sense to my readers at home.
IH: Game design jobs are still pretty much dominated by men. Do you feel that it shows in the games themselves? Are there any concepts that you think would be great to turn into games, but are either completely missed or misunderstood by the male game designers?
ER: I think everyone wants to know why females are underrepresented in both the gamer and game developer communities. But it’s important to remember that even though women make up a smaller percentage, there are still millions and millions of them buying games. So rather than listing specific examples of what I think games are “missing”, I’m going to explain why I think the types of games we play, and the face of game development, is going to change. Warning: anecdote ahead.
When I first told my parents that I wanted to make games for a living, they were very supportive of my decision. My dad saw it as a great opportunity, and he gave me some advice that I’ve taken to heart. He told me that historically, as women became more influential in the decisions involved in buying a house, or buying a car, it led to more women choosing jobs in real estate and car sales. Women could better predict which features of a house or car would appeal to a woman. And I do believe the same thing will happen in game development as more women begin to love games. There are also a good deal of female game developers (particularly in the indie scene) if you know where to look.
Barbara “Babsi” Lippe: Developer and visual artist for Papermint, one of the cutest virtual worlds known to science.
Brenda Brathwaite: Published author and industry veteran, who has worked on more titles than I can list here. I include her on my list of indie devs because of her controversial game Train, among other things.
Emily Short: Renowned interactive fiction author, with more than 15 titles to her name (Including the award-winning Galatea). She also wrote the story for the devilishly addictive word game Clockwords, in which I’m already at level 38.
FionaSarah: Freelance web developer by trade, she created the exploration-based Ludum Dare game Scavenger. It was written in Python and it’s about space, so you might feel a nerd-swoon coming on.
I’ve just managed to track down the Indiecade clip from GTTV. They were nice enough to surround it with an in-depth feature about Modern Warfare 2. You can watch the segment here; the Indiecade segment starts at 6:40, and the me stuff is at 7:33. I talk about PC/Mac compatability issues…in relationships.
Yes yes, but what do I win if I answer all the questions right?