Every month an industry leader wraps up MCV/DEVELOP with their unique insight. This month, we speak to Hilary Lok, co-founder at Dot Dot Fire.
For those who haven’t heard of Dot Dot Fire, what’s the USP?
At Dot Dot Fire, we develop games that teach life-changing and life-long skills for the classroom and for education. We think games are a perfect vehicle for learning life skills and providing an immersive experiential learning environment. As a studio, we take a lot of pride in retaining the essence of gaming whilst delivering the rigorous academic standards demanded by the classroom. The education sphere is not the most receptive one to gaming, but through our work with educators, we are destigmatising gaming for non-gamers and showing them that video games can also be educationally beneficial.
What inspired you to establish Dot Dot Fire?
I founded Dot Dot Fire with a small group of friends. We’re gamers ourselves, and the focus on education came from wanting to see gaming in more aspects of life. We looked back on our experiences with gaming at school, where we had ‘games’ in maths class that were about as interesting as porridge, and I can’t remember a single thing I learnt from them. Games are an amazing medium with so much potential to create experience and suspend disbelief – so why not use it to experience and learn? That was when the dots (of Dot Dot Fire) just clicked into place!
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face since?
Gaming and education aren’t exactly peanut butter and jelly, so getting people to understand and accept what Dot Dot Fire does is actually a challenge! Unfortunately, what also remains a massive challenge is being taken seriously as a young woman of colour. As someone who still gets ID’d every time I walk into a bar without fail, I have to work doubly hard to pull the weight I deserve.
What’s the next stage in the plan to use games for good?
We are currently partnered with 30 schools across London to integrate our games into their classrooms, and as we continue to scale up, I’m really looking forward to seeing gaming as a methodology become more widely accepted in the education sector. Our current flagship game, the Money Wise Game, teaches financial literacy, and it’s proof that gaming is the perfect medium for learning life skills. So the next stage in the roadmap would be to expand into other life lessons such as environmental awareness, health, and sex education.
Games For Good has become something of a cause in recent years. How do you ensure that creating games ethically for the betterment of players becomes something that more studios get behind?
It’s a massive ambition, but we’re trailblazing our way into a whole new sector and new form for the gaming industry. I also believe that the average player is becoming better educated and we’re moving towards a space where people want things that are good and to feel good. That’s not to say that every game needs to be educational! But as the gaming industry expands, there’ll be more games in all shapes and forms for everyone. At the end of the day, we’re all in game development because we love games. So as the appetite for ethical games increases, in an effort Dot Dot Fire is helping to spearhead, we’ll hopefully see more studios coming out with Games for Good to fill this new space.