Breakway aims to end violence against women by utilizing episodic storytelling and merging decision-based narrative sequences with tactical football (soccer) gameplay. Created for boys around the globe, Breakaway was the product of a partnership between our team, the United Nations Population Fund and the Population Media Center. Players take on the role of a football player who’s trying out for his local team. Positive and negative characters embody the model behavior that influence players outside of the game, a proven social-change storytelling technique called the Sabido Methodology. I pitched the game concept to the UN in 2009 and helped expand the team to execute the largest project the Emergent Media Center has seen yet. With research trips to South Africa and Saint Lucia, this project enhanced my capabilities as a communicator, designer, and global citizen. To play the game, click here!
Role: Lead Game Designer
Team Size: Varying from 12-50+
Duration: 2+ years
Released: June 2010
Initially hired as a Junior Designer, I began this project shortly after finishing my freshman year of college. The first phases of the project included a month of research that initially brought the team to South Africa. For the next year I served as a co-designer with my teammate Lauren Nishikawa as we began creating iterative conceptual documentation and presentations to the Population Media Center partner and large scale pitch presentations to the United Nations. As roles shifted within the team, I was promoted to the Lead Designer and began designing all game mechanics and systems, including narrative implementation, level progression, mini-game mechanics and balancing. Creating paper prototypes and testing were a large part of my role, and communicating the design with other departments was crucial as well.
As new opportunities arose for me and I became less involved with development, I shifted into a spokesperson for the game, giving presentations at the VT Tech Jam 2.0, and representing the team in Saint Lucia for testing, and more.
My responsibilities included Conceptual Documentation, Pitch Presentation, Design Documentation, Game Systems Design, Narrative Implementation Design, Paper Prototype Creation and Testing, and Game Advocacy.
What I Learned
The global perspective gained on this project was immediate; a month of research was followed by a trip halfway across the world, and instantly I felt the worldly impact of this game. Presenting the game to the United Nations, professionals at the Montreal International Game Summit in 2008, and to the Champlain College Board of Trustees gave me multiple opportunities to build skills as a public speaker. Working with a non gamer client and partner taught me the rhetoric needed to convey the complexities of a game system in an easy-to-digest way, and working with a large number of colleagues over the years improved my cross departmental communication skills. At the Emergent Media Center, my team and I were self motivated and directed, and utilizing those skills permeated into all other projects I created from then on.