Google Play is committed to empowering new and existing voices in gaming. Earlier this year, we hosted the Indie Games Festival and sponsored the Girls Make Games summer camp. We also announced a collaboration between Infinite Deviation and Google Play.
Infinite Deviation is an initiative created by Google Computer Science (CS) in Media and Ideas United in order to tackle issues of representation in computer science. The collaboration between Google Play and Ideas United brought the Infinite Deviation program to gaming, called Infinite Deviation: Games. The program invited game designers from all backgrounds to pitch an original mobile game concept that resonates with underrepresented audiences.
Today we are excited to announce the three teams selected for the Infinite Deviation: Games development program.
A select panel of industry experts reviewed applications and chose the top three ideas. The judging panel included Colleen Macklin (Founder and Co-Director, PETLab), Jeremy Vanhoozer (Senior Creative Director, Plants vs Zombies), Molly Proffitt (CEO, Ker-Chunk Games), Shirin Laor-Raz Salemnia (Founder and CEO, PlayWerks), and Sarah Thomson (Global BD Lead, Indies, Google). These judges scored and delivered personal feedback for each submission, with the three highest scoring games moving into further development.
Here's a closer look at the three games we'll be funding and supporting development over the next six months:
Historic Gay Bar Tycoon
Mo Cohen & Maria Del Castillo Infantas - Queermo Games
Historic Gay Bar Tycoon (name pending) starts you off with a brand new queer bar in the 1920s. This game explores the role bars played in LGBT history. Will your bar survive revolutions, epidemics, and the rise of dating apps?
Queermo Games is pretty much what it sounds like: a scrappy and small indie game developing team just trying to make more LGBT games. Conveniently, they are also next door neighbors. Maria is a queer Latina who handles the art and the music, and Mo is a non-binary Jewish queer who tackles the programming and writing. Together, they also work on another longer-term project called Queer Quest with their buddy Hagen.
Harrison Barton & Morgan Rowe - Pride Interactive
Burn Ban is an interactive visual novel in which you assume the role of Twig, a mentally ill queer girl. After showing destructive tendencies to cope with the death of a close friend, she is sent to Camp Sisquoc, a summer retreat for misguided students. After attending the camp for a few days, her dead friend's online social media page mysteriously starts posting again, and Twig and friends are set with determining the mystery behind the posts.
Pride Interactive is currently made up of two developers, Harrison Barton and Morgan Rowe. Pride Interactive was started as a student game team, and is now continuing on to develop independent projects. Pride Interactive endeavors to further their mission of creating a more diverse environment in the industry through games that deal with serious themes, and diverse character driven narratives.
Ghost in the Graveyard
Adnan Agha, Vivian Allum, and Armand Silvani - Ghost Stories
Ghost in the Graveyard is a story-driven mobile mystery game where you snoop through your missing brother's old phone to try and find him. "Can you find a missing person when all you have is their phone?"
Ghost Stories is a three member team from NYC with a mission to create genuine and unique experiences that connect with players. The team consists of Vivian, the lead designer and programmer, Armand, the artist and writer, and Adnan, the programmer and resident ghost. They've previously published a school project to the Xbox One and are thrilled to be able to work with Infinite Deviation to publish to Google Play.
You can find more information about the program at InfiniteDeviation.com/Games. Congratulations to the three winners and thanks to all the people who have entered the competition for their continuous work to push the boundaries of gaming design and providing a unique voice to the industry.