Sophie Artemigi tells us what it’s like being a video game design master that works outside of the big companies to make weird and entertaining art that connects with people.
How did you break into games?
I did a masters in games design and launched my thesis game, Hook Up, on the iOS App Store and Google Play. Since then I’ve been doing a mixture of studio for hire work and taking games business courses to try and fund my own projects.
What has been your proudest achievement so far?
Hook Up being #1 on the UK’s paid App Store charts. It was crazy seeing my silly little game about dating apps doing so well. The popularity of the game was a huge ego boost but it also made me a better developer because I finally had an audience and was able to understand what they wanted from the games they played.
What has been your biggest challenge to date?
My chronic illness has been a huge challenge for me. I have Evans Syndrome which causes my blood to stop working at random intervals. This year alone I’ve had to undergo chemo, was bedridden for two months, and ended up being hospitalised abroad while attending GDC. This level of disruption means that a “normal” games career isn’t very accessible to me. Larger studios struggle to work with chronically ill devs. We often get discriminated against and are unable to access more senior roles. I’m in the incredibly privileged position of being able to work for myself and it’s still maddeningly difficult.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I enjoy the range of creative expression in games. You can take yourself as seriously as you want and for me that is really freeing. I love that I can make a living by working on a project that’s primary purpose is to be weird and entertaining. I love that games range from sincere to absurd and I hope to work on projects from all ends of this spectrum throughout my career.
What’s your biggest ambition in games?
I really want to get funding to make a larger game about a group of people living in a hospital. I’ve spent months of my life hospitalised and video games are one of the few consistent sources of entertainment in the wards. I want to make a game that other chronically ill people can play that will make them feel seen and understood. As much as I loved playing Mario Kart on repeat in the rec room I would have liked something I could play that validated my experience and made me feel less alone and scared.
What advice would you give to an aspiring developer?
I don’t have advice for any aspiring developers, I don’t think the onus should be on them to make space for themselves in the industry. My advice for senior developers is to learn how to work with and project manage disabled and chronically ill devs. Diversify games spaces! Viva la revolution!