First of all, could you introduce yourself a little bit? (Where you come from, how you started making games, what's your background…)
My name is Sofi, I'm from Russia. I'm an illustrator and fine artist. I've been working as an illustrator for 6 years. I started making games a little less than a year ago, because I got bored with illustration and wanted to ry something new. I graduated as a botanist and am deeply interested in ecology.
Did you have any other experience in video games before creating Eco Man?
Yes, before Eco Man I made a game called Save The Princess, it's a pixel platformer where you need to save your cat.
I'm especially interested in your game, "Eco Man", on global warming and pollution. Do you think it is a committed video game? In the sense that it delivers a message?
Well, the message is a bit too romantic. There is a hero, who saves the planet from pollution without any further help. That's not realistic, for sure. But the main message here are the facts, information about how harmful waste is for our planet, so that game is more of a brochure without a conclusion.
The interesting thing is that ecology and global warming (two subjects that are in your game) are very important in our everyday life, in the media and in movies, books, series, etc… But, it is not really treated a lot in video games. Why, in your opinion?
Because most video games are made to escape from reality and troubles. Although in all post apocalyptic themed games there is a mention on ecological problems, but they are addressed differently than it is preferable nowadays. Now, there is a goal to prevent apocalypse while in those games there's a goal to survive in the environment which we cannot help anymore.
Did you decide to tackle this subject because you were concerned about it? Because it is a subject that particularly touches you?
Yes, I'm deeply concerned about the state of the planet. While I studied biology, I made lots of research about the topic, I live almost waste free and I was living on a vegan diet, because the most harm is from animal stock. Now, although Im not vegan anymore, I try to eat a limited amount of animal products.
Speaking more precisely of "Eco Man", you had to think about a synopsis, a story to introduce your character. Was it difficult to think of a "narrative context" to create the game? Did you invent things or did you rely on scientific facts to do it?
As I said before, the game is a bit dreamy. So, there's this Ecoman, a sort of Superman, who collects waste and returns the planet to its normal state let's say, the ecosystem which formed after the Cambrian Explosion.
While Ecoman is an invented character, there is a message that any person could act like Ecoman and prevent the planet from crisis.
Do you have other examples of "committed" games? Games that denounce other subjects?
Yes, I have a game about kindness:) [Doggoland]
Your game is built a little bit like a platform game (like Mario for example), where the player has to go from "point A" to "point B". Do you think the simplicity of Eco Man and its brevity are an asset to make this game playable by anyone?
Yes and no. While anyone can play the game, the game has to few interactions with the environment, for example, you can not lose in here, or you easily can decide not to collect trash. It would be also interesting to make a game about the impact on the planet based on your decisions. Which could have a bigger impact on the player than some facts.
Do you think your game is more a "committed" game or an "educational" game? Or both? Why?
I think it's both. First, I had an idea to create a simple game where you collect things and that's it.
As I added the facts it made the game educational instantly. While I was testing the game I felt like I'm in a museum on a excursion.
In your opinion, are video games an efficient way of denouncing and expressing political opinions?
Yes, for sure. I would say it's the most efficient way, where words, visuals and interactions fuse together.
Unlike literature, movies, series or music, video games remain the only media to be still very "soft" when it comes to denunciation or expressing point of views. Why in your opinion?
Video games are the newest media among all of the media mentioned in the question. We didn't reach a peak yet on freely expressing points of view. Return to that question in 20 years! You will be surprised :))