Summer of serious games

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It is time for a summer update, before I take a small Midsummer break from work (and I mean small, just a few days; I don’t have time or need for a longer vacation this year – my passion for my work and business burning a hole in my belly).

From March to the beginning of June I worked mostly with a group of special education children in an afternoon club. This was a new experience for me, and I learned very much about myself and about what children like this need. And of course, getting to know these wonderful kids was a huge privilege. I will miss them. A lot of the observations I made will be very useful when I continue working with serious games.

So, serious games, that is my focus from June and onwards. I have started working on a Literature game with a team of teachers and educators. I also got some experience in recruiting, as I was able to find and lure in the perfect candidate for the technical implementation of the game. The plan is to go with pixel art on this one, and I am looking forwards to creating the graphics and visual feel of this fun project. It will continue on in the Autumn, and the goal is to present a demo in January.

I am also focusing on my own art game, that I received a grant for in March. The image in this post is one of the first background images for this game. The game starts with a stormy ocean… a very symbolic image for me personally. It also represents my emotional life this year. This is something I aim to truly live up to: my art and work living in symbiosis with experiences and emotions in my private life and in the way I experience world events. The working title for the art game is “My Little Light”, and it is about survival on a symbolic level. But the background for the story lies in the harsh reality of the political situation in Europe today – the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding, and that is so disastrously and shamefully dealt with in my part of the world. I will present the project more in depth in August, when I plan to have a demo ready. But I am hoping I will be able to publish the game in many languages, when it is time – English, Swedish, Finnish and Arabic. I am quite nervous about developing this game, because of the political undertones, but I will just have to trust myself and go ahead and do the best I can.

Speaking of a demo: I will be developing the game myself in html/css/javascript, while I attend Boost Turku’s Summer of Programming. I was very happy to be accepted to the study program that is being run by volunteers (I salute you, I am so amazed at people who will give their free time to teach others), and I have already been working my way through the CodeSchool assignments for three weeks. I can really recommend CodeSchool, it is very rewarding to go through the exercises, and you learn new things with ease. So 23rd August we have a demo day, and I will be presenting my game project there. I feel extremely motivated at the moment, and happy to finally learn more about programming. It is definitely something that I will want to develop further in the future in connection to my focus on serious games.

I am also writing on my Master’s thesis in Leadership and Service Design, now with a focus on the three serious game projects I am working on, touching on the areas of art, learning and health. My hope is also to say something about the future of the industry, and of course, securing a place in the industry for myself.

I am also still doing graphic design for books, one project is very soon finished. I am now doing the last rounds of corrections in the script. Hopefully I will get more book design projects in the future also, as it is very rewarding work.

As always: If you have some interesting collaboration ideas for me, or freelance gigs, please get in touch! For example by sending me an e-mail: jennykwiik [at] gmail.com

Currently I am also interested in hearing about social entrepreneurship projects and specifically things that have to do with refugees, asylum seekers or climate and green values…

New Studio – New Beginning – New Life

It’s with great joy but also trepidation that I can write that I have a studio! I am now a free artist, a freelance illustrator and designer. Full time. I hope I can make it last longer that this Fall. I hope this is the beginning of the rest of my life, so to speak.

I’ve completely dropped my Academic career now, I haven’t been working at the university since December 2013. But it has taken me some time to say good bye to that identity, that part of myself that I have tried to cultivate since 2004. I haven’t completely given up working with science and research though, but it will not be within the field of Art History. And my focus is now completely on my artistic career.

However, I’m still that person who floats around between categories: illustrator, designer, artist, literary writer, game designer, game artist… And on Friday I start studying for a second Master’s degree called Leadership and Service Design. My personal goal is to be a leader within the art and design community with a foot deeply planted in games, digital technology and web development.

I am a storyteller. I am a visualist. I want to make people feel strongly and think clearly when they experience and interact with my art.

My next personal project is fairy tale illustration, for a book with easy to read re-tellings of fairy tales. I’ll be starting that tomorrow! I’ll also keep editing my second novel, hoping to get it sent to the publisher as soon as possible.

I’m involved in two game design projects: as graphic artist for Underworld Kitchen (an early stage startup), and as story writer and graphic artist for a project that can be defined as an interactive book and is a collaboration between artists, game designers and the university. More on that later.

I’m also still doing instructional illustration for A-lehdet and the beauty and health magazine Kauneus & Terveys (I can hardly believe I’ve been doing that for over one and a half years!).

Also, last week I was chosen as Executive Manager for an association called FIBUL rf, that supports writers and illustrators of children’s and young adult literature written in Swedish in Finland. Currently it is pro bono work on my part, but we are looking for financing for next year, and then hopefully I will be employed part time by the organization.

Hopefully I will also start touring schools later this Fall, as a “pelitaito-kouluttaja”, a sort of game educator. The aim of this state financed project is to spread awareness of gaming culture among kids and parents. It is not about preaching the “dangers of gaming”, on the contrary it is about educating people of the benefits and positive aspects of gaming as a hobby. 97 % of kids in Finland play digital games of some sort, in varying amounts. At the same time the prejudices against gaming are flourishing among grown ups, which might actually lead to more problems and unnecessary conflicts.

All these things might sound completely different, and you might wonder how I can work for both literature, arts and gaming? Well, for me there is no conflict. Reading, looking at picture books or animations, or playing games are equally valuable and interesting in their own ways. I do all of these things myself, and there is no way I can choose to just work with one of them. Actually I believe that these forms of expression can work along side each other and create value in society. Games could become more like literature, literature can spread into the digital realms. Stories can be told transmedially.

I wish to be that person who enables communication and new forms of expression, who builds bridges instead of building walls.

Thank you if you read this far πŸ˜€

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions! I’m also open for smaller illustration commissions or consultations now, or larger projects from November onwards. I’d love to hear from you. Mail me: jennykwiik@gmail.com