Last week, I mentioned that I was making a game as a part of the Pixelles follow-along program. Pixelles is a Montreal-based non-profit organization dedicated to empowering more women (more specifically, non-dudes) to make and write about games. They host workshops, game jams, socials, and a yearly mentorship program called the Pixelles Incubator. Because only 10 women can get into the incubator each year, the organizers created the follow-along program for anyone not in the incubator to still have the chance to make a game with the help and support from Pixelles alumna, mentors, or others in the program.
After attending an information session on what Pixelles and the incubator was all about, I decided that I had to make a game this year, whether it was through participating in the incubator or the follow-along. The biggest thing that Pixelles has taught me is that yes, I can make a game all on my own, even though I’m a woman, which seems pretty straight-forward and is something I thought I knew until I actually felt it as an actual possibility for the first time. Even just the brief information session had Sandra and I floored by the possibilities of what we could do (that we had never realized we could do.)
Programming is not foreign to me and is actually something I have done a fair bit of. This was also not my first time working on a game. I wrote the dialogue for the demo of Sunflower, an unfinished game about a retirement home that Alec Holowka, Karen Teixeira and I were (and hope to continue) working on. I also made a game in Junior High (of which there is no evidence) using Visual Basic mainly because I was just so flipping bored in programming class.
The idea of working on games is not even that new to me. Both of my brothers (Alec and Ian Holowka) are game designers. Despite the fact that they had always encouraged me to try game-making (even to the point of teaching me algebra in grade 1) it is not until this year and Pixelles that I actually realized this was something I could do too.
Ignoring the Visual Basic stint and some short, experimental twine games I have made, the follow-along is my first time really making (and coding!) a game all on my own–and that experience has been endlessly empowering.
My game is called “City Witch.” It is based on a bigger project that Sandra and I hope to work on someday. You play as a witch in the big city, who can between skyscrapers and collect hats. These hats are the stories of other witches and you are their archive. The goal: find your place in the spaces between these whispers, between buildings, and between meaning.
Of course, I have not gotten this far without help. Pixelles connected me with a mentor, Allison Kyran Cole, an amazing Montreal game maker currently studying/working at NYU, who has helped me out of a lot of sticky situations and hilarious bugs. My brother, Alec Holowka, has also been a huge help in pointing me in the right direction and, without my fellow pod-member Cody, the game would not have anywhere near as cool music (I would also probably be a puddle of disenchanted goo.) Also, having my game play-tested by a room full of Pixelles alumna and mentors was extremely helpful in both encouraging my progress thus far and getting me excited about all the future possibilities not only for this little game, but also my own creative projects and abilities.
To play a (hopefully) finished version of this game, come to the Pixelles showcase on March 3, 2016. (I will also post a link here after that point.)
The moral of the story (and the game)? (Online) communities can have amazing power, especially when it comes to giving people (particularly non-dudes) a voice.