If you told me that I would be able to launch my practice designing architecture for a videogame and then told me that it would take 5 years I wouldn’t have ever believed you. It still seems crazy to me that this past September marks the 5th year I have been working on The Witness. For those of you unfamiliar with the premise, it is a game that takes you to an unknown island where you learn a graphic language to solve puzzles and open secret doors to other spaces and realms. It is by far the longest I have worked on a single project, which really should not be a surprise given that it is an entire world.
That said is was still an exciting day for me when the development company Thekla issued the release trailer stating that it would finally be coming out January 26th 2016. In preparation for the big day I wrote an article that was recently published in Gamasutra Magazine. It was intended to hi-lite the role of architecture in this game and to help game developers understand how powerful architecture can be in helping them create environments that support gameplay. While I would not do a game that was violent or misogynistic, I whole-heartedly support the improved development of architecture in all games as my hope is that it will increase the visual literacy of our population and improve our real world environments.
In addition to writing about the game I have been trying to use my status as one of a very very very small group of black people( never mind women) working in the industry by doing a workshop with my colleagues and artists from The Witness, Orsi Spanyol and Luis Antonio. The workshop was with a great organization called Gameheads. They are focused on developing games with youth including prototype development, programming, art and production.
We spoke with them about our process but we also played their games and talked about how they could develop them further. The students were smart, creative, and sophisticated in so many ways. They were inspiring to me and wearing my new Gameheads t-shirt I left feeling really good about working in this industry. Who knows if I will continue doing this kind of work but the truth is I would really like to.