We recently interviewed Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch, the CEO of Silicon Sisters, a Vancouver-based indie developer. This woman owned and operated studio will soon be offering their first game for adult women, Everlove. Everlove will be a narrative romance game released in August for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android in August, with PC and Mac versions to follow. Previously, the team worked on School26, a series for teen girls.
1.) What made you look to the book industry as inspiration for a video game?
It’s not really that we were looking at the book industry, per se, but that we wanted to tackle romance, and romance has been very successful in the book industry. Less so in the games industry, unless you look east at the Otomy games in Japan and some of the successful romantic liaisons that have recently been an option in the Bioware games. Romance as a genre just isn’t a big part of the games industry – but I think that is going to change, and we look to fiction and film as areas where that has already proven out.
2.) The idea of past life regression is pretty fun! What made you choose a setting in the past for Everlove?
Past life regression therapy is a real thing – I know people who have done it. Now of course, we have taken lots of artistic license with the concept, but it’s a wonderful starting place for this series, as it gives us the gift of time travel. We intend to set our games in multiple historic settings that would lend themselves well to a romance.
Rose is trying to understand her current romantic struggles in modern-day New York by exploring what her relationships were like in her past lives, leading us to her romantic, and sometimes dangerous, explorations in medieval times.
3.) Did you draw any inspiration from other game genres, such as Japanese dating simulators?
Yes, we studied Japanese games pretty extensively. They are very different from what we decided to go with, party because they are primarily targeted to a male audience. But it was interesting and informative to research them.
4.) Why do you think there aren’t more women in the game industry? Do you hope to fix that?
It’s already changing! Since I have been in the industry (2005), I’ve seen huge changes, and I think that’s great. The reality is, when the market changes, it creates room for more women to be on the creative side as well. We have a better shot at making products that women will engage with. Not to say that men can’t make games for women and women can’t make games for men – we are more talented than that – but we might be more driven to make games that we would love to play ourselves, and that has long been a driver for successful product in our industry.
5.) Many games marketed to men also appeal to women. Do you think games developed for women could also appeal to men?
For sure. It’s all about empathy and getting what it is that your audience wants. Anyone who truly wants to deliver a quality game to their audience can do that – with enough research, resources, and determination. Sex only comes into it when you invite it in – when we are not focused on our audience, or if we are our audience, then it becomes our natural bias, rather than a targeted build.
6.) What advice do you have for women interested in pursuing game development?
Go for it. Don’t be a producer. Get skills that are hard to find – game design or programming are hot, and you will be able to find work. Or do an MBA and focus on monetization. Try to push yourself beyond the traditional roles. Find a role model and see how she got where she is. Also, in my experience, men are generally super supportive, so don’t feel like this is an industry divided by sex – we talk about it like that sometimes, but that’s just because there are some very vocal guys pushing back on women’s presence in the industry getting so much attention of late. That’s not the majority. The majority of guys in this industry are terrific and would welcome anyone with some skills to lay down!
7.) Anything else you’d like to share?
Just that for a long time, the games industry has been pretty heterogeneous. I think that really needs to change, and that we need to expand our offerings as an industry. The more people we have in the industry who are not white men, the larger range of experience we will have to draw on in our games. I think that’s a good thing. This is an expanding industry – particularly in the indie scene and the casual games side – there is room for all of us.
Thanks, Brenda! Watch for a review of Everlove from Kelsey coming soon!