The future of Welsh video games
A year has passed since Dafydd Prys moved to Seattle in the United States to collaborate with native teams to develop a video game based on Welsh mythology. He has recently returned to Wales to start work on the second part of the process: to build the game and raise funds. He has a few things to say about his experience (see the Welsh-language version here).
I’m writing this 12 hours after stepping off the plane and mere minutes alighting the tortuous London to Aberystwyth train, therefore things are a little rough here. I will however jump straight in and note here the elements I have learned that will be of great benefit to Wales pertaining to the development of video games, especially concerning bilingual matters.
Resources: we need people
It’s about time we started teaching coding earlier in our pupils’ and students’ primary education. There is a tendency, especially in the bilingual sector, to underscore the more traditional academic pursuits. These are of course important, but it is doubtful whether the entire primary student body is needed to pursue them. Video game building is multi-faceted of course, utilising many creative skills, but coding is the foundation to it all.
Vision: accepting the industry
There are plenty of individuals in the US who are scornful of the video game industry, but the vast majority have accepted video games as part of their society. Over 80% of the population experience video games, across a wide age range, and for a multitude of reasons. In Wales, we need to wake up to the video game industry and point our huge creative talent toward this no-longer-nascent sector, even if the result would be a yearly Poet Simulator franchise.
Confidence: get on it
It is more than possible that I am viewed as the ‘bot [sic] that cried wolf’ as I plough on and on about the meaningful impact that video games could have on Wales’s global standing, and yet nothing has come of it (yet). I have full confidence in my project to utilise welsh mythology, and I am certain with hard work much will come of it. We need more of this confidence, if I do write so myself. There are many peoples across the world who would have a great interest in experiencing a video game based on the Mabinogi, we do not need to be ‘little old Wales’ in this regard. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Money: we need money to make money
Video game development is expensive, but guess what, selling them is lucrative. Regulated Capitalism is an acceptable process for minority cultures as long as the goal is sympathetic to the community, and the profit tooled toward the next project. There is good money to be made in video games, especially my own! So look out for our kickstarter.
Awareness: ‘Are you Scottish?’
For the love of cheese people, go out there and say your story. I didn’t actually count how many times I said ‘there’s one more country you haven’t mentioned’ as a response to some curious faces confronted with my accent (and they ask, a lot) but if I had it would be well, about 82. Nevertheless, don’t let people be ignorant: educate, converse, enjoy. I would suggest there’s a few thousand Americans more who now understand more about Wales and its place in the world because of this enthusiastic Welshman.
I had the best year of my life in Seattle, but it was a real eye opener working with teams and companies who develop video (and board) games. It is a thankless task, long hours staring at screens and a high level of uncertainty regarding work. However, it would be worth every single ounce of effort now that I understand the remarkable impact a video game based on our mythology and culture would have on our global standing. I am on it, but we need others too, so come join me.