Kerstin Hall interviews Jean Leggett for sub-Q.
Jean Leggett is co-founder and director of One More Story Games. She is situated in Canada and makes a lot of jokes about dumplings.
This interview took place over Skype.
Kerstin Hall: Let’s start with the basics. When was One More Story Games founded?
Jean Leggett: OMSG was founded in July 2013, incorporated in Dec 2013.
Kerstin: How have things been going so far?
Jean: Good. We’ve been bootstrapping the development of our engine this whole time – and we’re now in beta. The engine is only available for PC at the moment, but published games play in browsers, on Facebook, and on Android.
Kerstin: According to your website, at OMSG, story comes first. How do you make this a reality in practical terms?
Jean: Because we’re less focused on the graphics in the game, the focus naturally falls on the story. We’re not about building a platformer or puzzle game like Candy Crush. When you play one of our stories, you’ll see that narrative is central. We work with writers and game devs from all over the world to create story-driven games.
Kerstin: All over the world? Which countries have come up thus far?
Jean: France, USA, Germany, India, Thailand. They’re in various stages of development.
Kerstin: That must add such interesting dimensions to the work you publish.
Jean: We’re exceptionally passionate about diversity in games—we want people from many different cultures to share their stories on our platform. For example, I’m hard of hearing and my whole family is deaf. There’s never been a game with deaf characters as the central figures. We’re working to develop a game that is delivered entirely in ASL—American Sign Language. That’s a perspective in games that has never been available to date, but our engine makes it possible.
Kerstin: With the previous answer somewhat pre-empting this, what do you think is lacking in gaming currently, both in the mainstream and more generally?
Jean: Games are the most pervasive they’ve ever been—half of Canadians have played a game in the last four weeks, according to reports—and what’s missing is the diversity and focus on storytelling.
I think that waiting on big studios to deliver diverse stories is a mistake. Look at Hollywood. They’ve been around forever and it’s still very white, very male. Diversity is an issue.
Kerstin: As evidenced by the Oscars. I think there’s more pushback against normative frameworks in general. A productive environment?
Jean: Indeed. And games are an art form. People still think games are exclusively for 17-year-old boys, but the largest segment of consumers are women over 18. Plus, women over 30 are fast becoming the largest consumer base. So we think, based on reports and our own feedback, that women love stories and deserve better than Candy Crush (I’m on level 1494 or something).
I think that when we make tools available to storytellers with diverse backgrounds, we’ll start to see more diverse stories. I watched this great TEDtalk by a woman from the Nigeria. She talked about how, growing up, she read children’s books that were imported from the USA. She never saw Nigerian storybooks and thus never saw her culture represented in books. How tragic is that?
Kerstin: Was that “The Danger of a Single Story?” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie?