Meagan Byrne is a game designer currently attending Sheridan College, and will be showing off her game Wanisinowin | Lost at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Festival next week. She was awesome enough to sit down and answer some questions about herself and her work. A big shout out to Carson Pinch for helping set this up as well.
TorontoGameDevs.com: Thanks for doing the interview Meagan! Can you tell me a bit about yourself? What experiences got you to this point?
Meagan Byrne: Tanisi! Thanks for having me!
Well, I'm a game designer entering my 3rd year of study at Sheridan College.
Mostly what got me to this point is my love of storytelling. Game Design and narrative design for games has been something that I just took to. It was like everything I had done up to this point just culminated into game design.
TorontoGameDevs.com: You're currently doing Game Design at Sheridan College, how is that program? What made you decide to go with Sheridan?
Meagan: Any tips or suggestions for people looking into it? I love the program, even though we're the guinea pig class. Lol. I picked it mostly due to distance and how well thought out their education plan was. I felt that this was a program that had really done its homework on what the industry needed.
To anyone thinking of applying the biggest thing you need to know is that It is challenging and it's definitely is not for everyone. It's not enough to enjoy playing games you have to want to create games and experiences for someone else. Also, learn the basics. Basics first. Cool MMO design second.
TorontoGameDevs.com: Wanisinowin | Lost is a platformer-puzzle game that tells the story of a young girl resolving her identity in the spirit world. What help inspired this game? What kind of challenges will the player encounter?
Meagan: A lot of what inspired this game was personal experience. I grew up in the city, away from Protocol and Language. It was hard to want to embrace my culture when I was young because of that. Then when I became a teenager I felt I didn't have the right to claim my culture. It was a space of feeling like this is where I should be, but I don't think I belong. But I always had the stories of Creation and the Creator or Wisakedjak growing up, but it wasn't until I was older that I stopped thinking of them as "just" stories I had heard or read.
So I figured what's the best way to deal with an issue? You tell a story about it.
I wanted to express the story mainly through mechanics, because that was the feeling I had when I heard some of these stories. As Wani you have very little in the way of control of your environment, but sometimes having a choice to not do something or to ignore that nagging doubt is a powerful one. You also get a little help on your way. It's almost impossible to do the work of finding your way without someone who can help. I wanted a game that reflected that.
TorontoGameDevs.com: What's it like being a game developer in Toronto? How's the support for the scene and your experience with it so far.
Meagan: I love it! I'm actually based out of Hamilton, but I'm pretty much doing stuff all across the GTA. Lol I'm pretty lucky being a student. I can sort of go where I want. But no matter where I go every game development community I've met so far is made up of great people.
Though I have to say that Dames Making Games and Bento Miso have been my biggest supports. They're just filled with wonderful, helpful people! I'm super glad to have found them.
TorontoGameDevs.com: What's it like for you to be part of the first Digital Media Art+Cade at imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts festival?
Meagan: So awesome and so intimidating! When I joined Indigicade I didn't even know that this was the presentation space they were talking about. I just wanted to make games with other indigenous women. I'm very glad I stumbled on to this chance.
TorontoGameDevs.com: Anything else you would like to share with our readers, and thanks again!
Meagan: I Hope everyone can make it out to Digital Media Art+Cade and play some awesome games!