An Evening with Kellee Santiago

Yesterday, Quebec’s chapter of the IGDA (International Game Developer Association) organized a conference with Kellee Santiago, co-founder and president of  ThatGameCompany who brought us flOwer of the PlayStation 3. As I expected, it was a really inspiring conference and I’m glad Miss Santiago found time to present it to us, French people up north.

From the very beginning of her speech, Santiago’s words resonated with my vision of games. Maybe it’s a girl thing. 😉
ThatGameCompany has a very strong and refreshing mission: to design accessible games that are emotionally rich. “Emotion” is the key in the process.
What as always been a passion for me is the way different medium convey emotions to an audience. That’s why I started acting, writing, dancing, playing music and whatnot. That’s why I landed in games.
Games have a very narrow emotional spectrum; it’s all about action, thrill, horror, hate and the likes. Santiago and her team strive to work at the opposite end of that spectrum, as their game Flower shows; it conveys feelings of harmony and peacefulness. It’s good to know that someone somewhere makes a living of one of my dream jobs (yes, I do have several).

Something really struck me in Santiago’s speech, something that I wanted to talk about here even though this is a writing blog and not a game blog. To paraphrase her, she talked about the game being out there and the developers’ job being to discover it by following their passion. From my point of view, this is quite exactly what writers do; we find a hint and follow it down the rabbit hole.
Writers poke around and explore. They write scene and throw them out. They develop characters and subplots and edit them in or out. They probe following a character, a theme, a something, until it leads them to the best story possible. Sometimes, that story isn’t what the writer thought it would be at all. Kellee Santiago suggests a similar process to develop games and managed to do just that in her studio.

After the conference, I had the pleasure to chat with her for a bit. We talked a little bit more about what she calls “hard fun”. As she says, though frustrating at times, there is something rewarding and fun in mastering a skill, like say soccer. “And sometimes, it’s fun to just kick the ball.” I replied. She smiled and said she might use that in the future. 😀

All in all, it was a very nice conference given by a great woman. I had an amazing time talking with her and learning how her ground-breaking project was born. And she used to have pink her. *laughs*

Yay for women in games! 😉


About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

3 responses to “An Evening with Kellee Santiago

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