(Dr) Constance Fleuriot
Can you describe what you do?
Writer/Artist/Gamemaker @Pretty Digital & Co-founder of Grrrlgames
What’s your favourite game?
Online: Spider Solitaire Four Suits. Non-computer: Pig-Pong
Can you remember the first game you played on a computer/console?
Pong. Yes, when it first came out. I am THAT old.
What are you working on now?
Kissy Kissy! which is a fun couch co-op game for pc/mac, playable by all ages from 4 years upwards. KissyKissy! was inspired by my grandchildren, who are my no1 playtesters and always full of ideas to develop the game and spin-offs. Phase One of Kissy Kissy! was supported by UK Games Fund and now I am self-funding to create an online two player version for pc/mac/switch.
Designing and testing Kissy Kissy! inspired me to start exploring and building intergenerational play opportunities – games for children and their grandparents to play together on a safe platform – Wonzie World. Other family members are allowed to join in too!
Who is your favourite game character to play?
Has to be Tiger – one of the little protagonists in KissyKissy! I love the artwork by Harry Sussams. I described my grandchildren’s favourite outfits and he created such cute little characters.
What inspires and drives you?
The thought that children (and adults) will have fun playing my games, which are just slightly subversive, in a Beano-esque sort of way. For example, Kissy Kissy! is all about running away from unwanted kisses, Sprout Apocalypse (coming soon) is about eating greens vs eating sweets…
I really enjoy making up storyworlds that put a child’s point of view centre-stage, to remind us adults what childhood can feel like, and also creating games that encourage co-operation and collaboration. I want to make games that are a bit different, that don’t rely on superheros and quests and saviours, but are coming together and making a difference to the world.
What excites you about the future of games and/or game technology?
I hope that technology keeps evolving to make games accessible to everyone, regardless of their physical ability – not just for games but all tech. With regard to designing my own games, I love watching children enjoy themselves, listening to their feedback, and encouraging them to think about what they can create too. I look forward to playing my games with my grandchildren regardless of where we all live and despite lockdown – games that show another more co-operative world is possible, and life is not about winners and losers.
How did you get into the games industry?
I was working in creative and mobile technologies research from 1994 onwards, at HPlabs, Bristol Uni, and UWE, and as a freelance consultant running creative tech workshops for all sorts of communities. I first used computers in the early 1990s during my Fine Art degree when I snuck into the Graphics rooms, that led me to studying an MScIT and then a human-factors-related PhD. I made my first interactive game in 1993 with a bunch of artists (using Photoshop 1!) and it was pretty basic but got me thinking about how to create (and disguise) branching narratives and interactive artwork.
In 2012 I nervously went to the XX game jam, the first ever women-only jam anywhere, made a game, had a blast, and got the gamejam bug. In 2014 I went on a Writing For Games course at Arvon then was part of Queen Of Code, an initiative to help women to crowdfund game ideas. I had the cash but no experience as a game dev, so that was a bit of a crash and burn course in how not to run a project, and mostly taught me that I should have stuck to my own vision for my game – I wanted to make a gentle, slightly spooky walk through a fairytale 3D landscape, which at the time just got me a lot of confused looks from game devs. I ended up with a very unfinished game which still rankles slightly. One day I Will get it into VR…
During this time I was working from Bristol Games Hub, and at one event someone commented on a lack of women in the room. So my friend and colleague Jess Linington and I set up Grrrlgames to encourage more women into the gameshub and feel comfortable as part of the local indie game dev ecosystem. Grrrlgames has evolved over the last five or six years from those early meetings fuelled by coffee and biscuits. I really like the peer support that the women at Grrrlgames give each other, and it has been great watching people’s careers develop over the years. It’s also been a great place to get feedback on my own ideas.
My personal ambition is to build my own sustainable, ethical studio creating fun and thoughtful games, with a happy core team of creative people. I feel as though I am on the right path.
nb my LinkedIn Bio. I use Dr as my title instead of Ms because it makes Some People take me more seriously. Plus it’s gender-neutral.