By Elizabeth Boylan.
I’m an artist and a gamepreneur. Gaming has become very close to my heart because it allows me to express my voice and vision in a way, I could have only dreamed of as a child. I think it’s really important for women to participate in creating games as much as they participate in music, writing or the arts.
When I became a mom, I looked back on my 30 years of life and realized the most important lesson I wanted to impart on my daughter is the freedom to choose. Crappy things will happen in life and that’s life, but free will combined with one’s imagination is the ultimate human super power, so use it, because anything is possible. This is where gaming really sets no boundaries.
There are so few barriers for entry into game development. With tools like Photoshop, Maya 3D or it’s open sourced counterpart Blender and game engines like Unity 3D or Unreal Engine, so many of us have been afforded a wonderful freedom of expression that anything you imagine, you can create and share. We’re in such an exciting time because I really think gaming is just about to burst open new dimensions with how we do things in education, health, science and obviously entertainment.
I was never a ‘console’ gamer just like I don’t have to hold the remote control if I watch tv, but when I saw the iPhone and the iPod touch, I realized the time I could really get excited about designing games had finally arrived. Up until that point I was fascinated by the potentials of game art but not by the most dominant titles which focused on violent carnage. In 2009, I started my own game studio with my husband who was a programmer and we began with app development and a simple counting game for our daughter, named Sara’s Ladybugs.
The first step was messing around with sample code and reverse engineering how things worked. Watching video tutorials whenever I got stuck. Then watching them again. With enough persistence you get somewhere. With so many resources on-line, I don’t think going to school and paying an expensive tuition is necessary to learn about game development. It helps, it’s good for meeting people and teaming up with other like minded types. I also recommend finding a user group, a mentor and experiment with a project your passionate about. When it comes to any creative endeavour, just starting is the most important thing. I’ve also found Game Salad another interesting tool to play with for 2D game prototyping.
Mobile development really open the flood gates for indie development and actually it was an important turning point for me as I am sure many others. Distribution on the App Store and Google Play removed the barrier between the creator and the consumer of video games. I was seduced by the freedom to create my own content for the iPhone as much as the possibility of making tonnes of money on the App Store. I’ve been addicted ever since.
As a founder of an Indie Studio, what I’ve discovered is that publishing a game title is not very different from being a painter, singer or writer. It’s as competitive, so my best advice is to choose to create something you love. In my own case I’ve been working on Big Top Ballet. What began as a concept game title on iOS just a year ago, we’ve since released to six different platforms, including Facebook games. We’re now working on scaling the title as a brand with more content and game play. Really exciting development we’ve also been invited to publish to Chillingo/ Electronic Arts’ partnership with Samsung called 100%indie.com.
Like anything worth doing, it takes persistence and work.
Elizabeth Boylan, is a gamepreneur and the Chief Creative Officer of Big Top Ballet Inc based out of Whistler, BC.
From an early age art has always been an important part of her life. She draws from a varied background that includes a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at St. Francis Xavier University, business studies at IESEG in Lille, France, writing and performing stand-up comedy in Montreal and Vancouver while also attending Emily Carr University of Art and Design. She’s a mum and married to her business partner, and best friend John Borchert.
Outside of art and game development, her favourite pass times are snowboarding, swimming, playing tennis and violin. For news on her latest work follow @ElizabethBoylan @BigTopBallet on Twitter or like Big Top Ballet the game on Facebook.