Themes/ Gender: Female Game-Changers- no.2

So we’ve introduced you to our first set of women who’ve made their mark on the gaming industry. Next up, meet two more innovators who are re-defining the art of game-play.

Kellee Santiago and Robin Hunicke are having a real impact on what is often seen as a male-dominated industry. Take a moment to enjoy their work and hear direct from them about how to make games at home and what the future of games design could look like.


Kellee Santiago: Co-founder- thatgamecompany


In 2006 Kellee co-founded thatgamecompany with Jenova Chen. They are known for the trio of titles ‘Flow’ (2007), ‘Flower’ (2009) and ‘Journey’ (2012). The company has been at the centre of a new era of emotionally engaged gaming that is closer to art than traditional games experiences.


Credit: ‘Journey’ launch trailer, thatgamecompany, courtesy of Sony Interactive Entertainment UK. Kellee and Jenova wanted to make games that pushed the boundaries of video games as a communicative medium. They sought to do this by starting with games that explored emotions not typically done in commercial video games. Nowhere is this more apparent than in ‘Journey’ where your challenge is to find your own meaning in the path you take through the story.

Since founding thatgamecompany, Kellee has moved onto new projects, including partnering with the Indie Fund to help independent games developers survive and thrive.

Find out more about Kellee and her projects on her website
Explore more of thatgamecompany’s games

So Kellee, who are the young female developers we should look out for?

“We should be keeping an eye on Girls Make Games. It’s program that offers girls a sort of game making bootcamp, and has already produced a few commercially available games created by girls in middle school and high school. I think the young women coming out of these programs are all ones to watch!”

Can you make a game in your bedroom? Where should I start?

“Absolutely. A good place to start is to take a game you already know very well and try and put a new twist on it. For example, do a Google search for ‘alternate rules for Clue.’ You can find many people creating entirely new games that only require the pieces you probably already own for that board game. Then play the new game you have made with your friends. What happens? How did it change the flow of the experience? Was it more or less fun? Then pat yourself on the back because you’ve now done more than most people who say they want to make games – you had a concept, you implemented it, AND you play-tested it, and withstood criticism! For extra points, take the feedback you received and try something else!”


Robin Hunicke: Co-founder- Funomena


It will come as no surprise that Funomena co-founder Robin Hunicke was the producer of ‘Journey’, during her time at thatgamecompany. Funomena’s first publically released game, ‘Woorld’, has just won the @Googleplay award for best Augmented Reality (AR) experience. But they’re not sitting still!


Credit: ‘Luna’ E3 Gameplay Teaser, Youtube and screen still (featured image) courtesy of Funomena. Their next commercial title Luna is a PC and Virtual Reality (VR) puzzle game, coming to Steam, Vive, Oculus Touch and Microsoft Mixed Reality this fall. Like ‘Journey’, it’s another example of deep gaming, ‘where players ‘win’ by becoming more enlightened, empathetic people’ (*Fast Company). In Luna, players discover and then re-build the world of a lost little bird, learning how to get in tune with the animal characters they meet along the way.

Explore more of Funomena’s games
Read Fast Company’s article on Funomena

So Robin, what’s your prediction for the future of gaming?

“I think that as we develop our understanding of VR, AR and Mixed Reality technologies, we will discover new and compelling ways to ‘play’ with that tech. Games for the longest time have been constrained to keyboard, mouse and game controller input. With these new technologies, players can use their entire body to get into the game. This is a huge, new canvas for game designers – one I am so thrilled to be exploring with games like Luna.”

Looking for more inspiration?

Read about the new breed of games designers and developers nominated for 30 under 30

Interested in creating gaming environments and experiences?
BA (Hons) Games Design