Caitlynn Belle is a designer that some people might be familiar with, as her game A Real Game won IGDN Game of the Year in 2016. She has a Patreon to fund her work, as well as a website dedicated to her public releases. Her products are innovative and unusual, and approach topics not everyone might be used to. Curious about what those might be? Read more below!
So, would you mind giving me a brief pitch for your Patreon? Tell me about some of your creations.
My Patreon is what I use to fund my endeavors and gather attention for the games I make: a lot of great people there give me incredible feedback and promote my games, and the financial support I get helps take some of the stress off my living requirements, so all in all Patreon is what's keeping my work going right now! I create small, short-ish games about sex, kink, communication, and connecting to others.
My game "A Real Game" won an award at GenCon! That and Our Radios are Dying are probably what people know of me best. It's a game about taking an actual printed copy of the game and interacting with the pages, sometimes transforming or modifying them, as the game itself becomes sentient and speaks to you, unsure of its right to exist. It's certainly gained the most attention, with a lot of different interpretations, which is always interesting to see!
Our Radios are Dying is a game about two space lesbians who got separated from their spaceship and are now drifting through space with only an hour left before they die. They have nothing else to do but talk about their relationship and their problems and who they are. You play it by sitting on rolling office chairs and actually spinning and floating around on them, as if moving through space, and I quite like it.
Kirigami Dominatrix Display Simulator is a game about domme-ing a sheet of paper. You take on the role of an alien dominatrix and do kinky things to the paper using common stationary tools, using this to immerse yourself in and symbolize BDSM play. I think it's my most clever game, and it's informed a lot of the rest of what I do.
|Screenshot from inside Kirigami Dominatrix Display Simulator.|
Tell me a little about your process for creating games. Do you brainstorm? Do you use any specific techniques? Is it pure Caitie goodness? How do you do it?
Typically I think of something I wish I saw in games or a particularly trope or idea I want to fiddle with, and I'll just keep that idea floating around in the back of my head. At the same time, I'll think of characters or situations or plots that I like and keep those floating around in the back of my head as well. At some point, there's a marriage, and then I make a game!
Sometimes two ideas click instantly, sometimes it takes forever. There's stuff on my computer that's been waiting years to get used, and maybe it never well. Eventually they work though, and I write out what I think is the best part of that system, slowly building up ideas while daydreaming at work. Then once I have it written out, I mercilessly edit and cut everything I can until it's distilled down into what I think is the simplest and most fun version of that idea possible.
|One of her better known games, bugfuck, is about bugs fucking. Like, for real. It's amazing.|
What is your background in games? How did you become a designer?
I grew up around people that were roleplaying and I never understood it, but I always wanted to figure it out and play. I did a little bit in middle school, but then sort of got into it proper in high school. I kept trying different games and different ways to play because I got bored after a while of just playing only one game, and so I got experienced with different mechanics and different playstyles. As I played with more people and as I started to dig into the indie publishing scene, I tried to make houserules that I wished were in the games I played - and then eventually after years of that, I had a more defined sense of how I liked to roleplay, but didn't find very many games that experimented with it, so I made my own!
What helps you decide the medium to use for your games, the mechanics, and so on?
Basically editing. I slap together a game that I think will accomplish what I want, and after exploring it some, I realize it doesn't do what I want at all, and then I search for what will. The first drafts of most of my games are very traditionally game-y: dice, character sheets, processes. It's by seeing how those ideas don't allow me to achieve the story I want that I open myself up to what does. It's just ruthlessly cutting everything away until I only have the barest idea left.
What do you do to draw in more players and customers?
Oh, I wish I knew. advertise monthly or bi-monthly on social media, I enter a lot of contests, I get hired to do Kickstarter stuff and so on, eventually hoping that people will recognize my name and like what I do and seek me out. I just design a lot and spread out a lot and try to be as visible as I can.
How would you define your "brand" as a designer?
I angle for weird, sad, beautiful, and sexy, pick maybe 2 or 3. It's just stuff I like to see in stories. Strange things and strange stories are fascinating to me and I love seeing games with quirky mechanics and ideas. I like and aim for stories that feature hot sex or heartbreak or life-affirming beauty or just invasive weirdness, so that's what I try to make!
Remember to check out her Patreon to support her work and her website for more games!
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