Congratulations on winning Best Kids’ Game at DCP 2018! Was being located in Berlin in any way helpful for creating "Monkey Swag“?
Thank you! And yes, it was definitely helpful being located in Berlin for creating "Monkey Swag"! Berlin has a fantastic and welcoming games community. There are many events, like the Talk and Play for example. Developers and game enthusiasts can meet, talk about games and show their projects, no matter if hobby projects or professional ones. I showed the "Monkey Swag" prototype to the Talk and Play audience, and the feedback I received encouraged me to found the studio in the first place. The monthly "Berlin Mini Jam" is also an excellent opportunity to create games just for fun in a creative atmosphere.
On its website, you call Tiny Crocodile Studios "a small studio with big ambitions." Could you disclose a tiny bit of those big ambitions? What do your plans for 2018 and beyond look like?
We want to take part in shaping the German game scene. In 2017 we worked full-time on our first project. Now we lay the foundations for our long-term development. Our goal is to work on great projects (no cheap cash-grabs!) with qualified developers at fair conditions (no crunching to death!).
Your work often involves children – when you’re not playfully teaching them programming in workshops in Berlin and elsewhere, you design edutainment games with them as a target group in mind. Is there any particular reason for this focus?
I started to work as an honorary reading mentor in 2012 and helped kids who had problems with reading. I noticed that I could motivate them to learn when I offered them topics they were interested in. Also, taking out the pressure by matching the exercises to their skill helped to regrow their motivation. It is important to reconnect the kids to the fun in learning itself. I kept this approach when I started giving game development workshops later. With Monkey Swag, I took this idea to an interactive level. Geometry can be explored in an encouraging and playful environment. Now, in our current project, I combine both worlds. I helped a group of teenagers to develop their own game idea into a prototype during the Play Festival last year. Their project won a prize and is now developed professionally by us.
Women are said to encounter more obstacles in the IT and games industry than their male colleagues. Can you agree, did you experience it in any form personally? If yes, what could be possibly done about it?
I agree. Of course, no one ever said to me: "You are a woman, you can't do this." Discrimination happens very subtle and is often not acknowledged as such. Maybe the preference of consent over confrontation is misinterpreted as weak and thus inferior. I believe that role models can change that imbalance. I was lucky to have had several female role models as a child, my IT teacher in school for example. Even my grandma plays computer games. Female developers show yourselves! For the sake of your successors!
Thank you Johanna!