The Big Indie Pitch is a regular event run by the makers of PCGamesInsider.biz. It sees indie developers engage in a speed-dating-style pitching competition for fame and those sweet, sweet promotional packages.
The event gives indies five minutes to pitch their games to a panel of press, publishers, and industry pundits. The judges then pick three winners and everybody gets valuable feedback.
The indie view
The Big Indie Pitch is getting bigger and bigger as we bring it to events all across the world. To give you an idea of what the event is like, who attends the events and the games on show, we've sat down with a number of past BIP contestants to offer their views.
Today, we're speaking to Bryant Young from Fishean Studio who submitted Our America to The Big Indie Pitch (PC+Console Edition) at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #3 Helsinki and walked away as the champion.
PCGamesInsider.biz: Tell us a little about yourself and your indie studio. Who is in the team and what are their inspirations?
Bryant Young: I grew up in Maryland. When I was younger I always knew I wanted to be a game designer. I’d play around with rules of games or make games and then try to change the rules when I was losing luckily It didn’t stop my younger brother from beating me. This is the main reason I wanted to go to USC. I actually didn’t get In the first time I applied, but transferred in as a sophomore and then went back for my masters to hopefully be a better candidate to get a job in the game industry.
I didn’t expect to be a founder of a studio though. Leon, Lukas, and I founded Fishean Studio this past summer during the bridge program after we had worked on the project for about a year or so. The plan is to use the studio in the future to release the series of projects that’ll be known as “A Walk In My Shoes.” Macy joined a bit later through a mutual friend because she doesn’t have a game design major at her school. We’re all game makers and I think that’s what brought us together, but I think the driving force behind this project is our desire to make a positive impact.
Tell us about Our America that you pitched at the competition.
Our America is the beginning of a series of projects designed to give experiences that marginalized groups go through throughout their lives. We started with the Black experience because this is an experience I live every day. Before I had a team it was just me and I felt that to tell someone else's stories without their input would do it an injustice. All the things that happen in the project, being called racial slurs, microaggressions, people thinking it's alright to say the n-word, police brutality, were things that have all happened to me and still happen to me today.
The goal of this project though is to put you in my shoes for a moment so you can begin to understand what I go through on a daily basis because we can never truly know each other's experience, but hopefully, this will give people a taste.
What do you think are the most unique and interesting aspects of Our America that gamers may never have seen before?
The biggest thing that makes Our America stand out is that it gives you an experience, not just a game. It allows you to live through moments in my life that I will never forget, but it allows you to try to go through them as you want to. At every point of the story, the environment responds differently based on what you do. This mixed with the VR platform allows you to now live these experiences and not play them. There is, of course, an overarching story, but really is that you will be pulled over that's the only guarantee what happens leading up to that and after are all really up to the audience to experience for themselves.
Our America explores many topics that are at the forefront of society right now, especially Black Lives Matter and the movement for equality for all people in society. Not only that, but it does so by putting people inside a terrifying experience that many Black people have experienced. What made you want to tell this story in this way through VR and your autobiographical experiences, and do you think this brings more power to the experience and the message within?
I was honestly tired of seeing people killed and beaten. It's traumatizing and mentally exhausting to constantly see not only people that look like me brutalized in cold blood, but then to have other people justify the brutalization without ever experiencing anything close to it. I thought maybe if I could make them go through what I go through every day, went through my whole life, maybe one person will change their perspective. Maybe someone will go through this and think "Wow I didn't know." I think that's the power of VR. You can bring these stories to life if done correctly. It's really easy to deny a story when watching it on the screen it's a lot harder if you actually experience it or see it first hand.
Looking at the studio a little more now. How hard is it to survive as an Indie developer?
It is extremely hard. Being self-funded means we are all volunteers. None of us are paid. We all have our 9-5 or school we do during the day. It is extremely hard to get funding for a project that is the first project a studio is creating. Money is the lifeblood of all companies and finding someone to invest money into your company before you've completed another project is hard so it puts you in a chicken and egg scenario. I need money to create our projects, but I need a project to get money.
Are there any tips and advice you would give to independent developers out there who are just starting out?
Be patient. Do what you're passionate about in your free time while you work your 9-5 and then as things start to pick up and you are able to live off your passion do it. We get one life, live it how you want to.
How did you find your experience pitching as a part of the Big Indie Pitch?
It was awesome. I loved it. I was so nervous the night before I woke up at 2 in the morning, and couldn't go back to sleep but it was still amazing being able to pitch to people about something I'm passionate about.
What do you feel you have gained from the experience, and what do you still hope to gain?
The ability to pitch is an ever-evolving skill. I think I managed to get people hooked on the pitch within the time limit. Being able to get someone interested in only 5 min is a great skill to have, but doing it multiple times in a day really makes you crisp and develop your skills. I know I have a long way to go before I ask someone to write me a 3 million dollar check for the company, but hopefully, I'll get there one day.
What are your hopes for this game in the future, and do you have any plans for any future projects?
We are running a Kickstarter on Oct 20th for this project. We plan to release in Q1. Hoping for a February launch for steam and oculus. We want to port to mobile, PC, and PlayStation VR later that year. The next project we are not sure about yet, but another big issue America has is ICE and how they treat people that come to this country to work and have a better life.
For those wishing to learn more about Our America and the work of Bryant and the team at Fishean Studio, then you learn more across their range of social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Discord and YouTube.
Want to show off your exciting new game? We host Big Indie Pitch events throughout the year, so be sure to keep an eye on our events page for an event near you.
Upcoming Big Indie Pitch Event Pages & Registration
October 14 - The Big Indie Pitch Digital #4 (Mobile Edition)
November 10 - The Big Indie Pitch (PC+Console Edition) at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #4
November 11 - The Big Indie Pitch (Mobile Edition) at Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #4