Chat with Andrea Hayes (Hubblegum)

Andrea is one half of South African developer duo and co-founder of “Hubblegum” based in Johannesburg. They are makers of the quirky ‘Helping Hand’ and are part of the growing alumni from Free Lives. They took some time to chat with GIA ahead of Playtopia MGA.

GIA: How did the decision to form Hubblegum come about?

AH: Myself and my business partner, Benjamin Crooks, decided to form Hubblegum so that we could release our first game, Helping Hand, on Steam. When we saw that Helping Hand was getting a lot of attention on the internet whilst it was a prototype and we knew that we wanted to continue working on it to release it to the world officially. We also created the company so that we could have a platform to release future games onto popular gaming libraries like Steam and the App Store.

GIA: Who makes up the team and what was the motivation behind its creation?

AH: Benjamin Crooks and myself make up the company right now and initially we created it get Helping Hand out into the world. Whist we’d love to expand the company, right now we are just working on ideas for prototypes and smaller experimental stuff.

Benjamin Crooks

GIA: Are there any studios in SA and across the continent you view as sources of inspiration?

AH: One of our biggest inspirations is Free Lives! Ben and I both interned there when we were still students at Wits University and we got to understand how to run a gaming studio and what it takes to keep it alive. We also really enjoy making silly / weird games which i think is kind of in the same vein as the games that Free Lives make. Another personal inspiration for myself would be Leti Arts in Ghana. During the Fak’ugesi Festival this year I was able to meet the founder, Eyram Tawia, who had amazing advise to give to smaller studios in Africa.

GIA: What challenges (if any) do you face running the studio (technical or financial constraints)?

AH: Because our company is super small, we kind of struggle with the velocity of projects and the time it takes to really make something that is super polished. We also struggle a bit with financial constraints when it comes to running the company 24/7 and because of this, Hubblegum has become more like a side project for myself and Ben because we need to have other full time jobs to pay the bills.

GIA: Have you got any tips for developers looking to studios across the continent looking to embark on a similar journey?

AH: Try to participate in games jams as often as you can! Not only will you get to see if an idea you have is good or bad, but the amount you will learn is phenomenal – from a personal and technical level. Get your ideas out there and if they catch on, they could go a bit viral for a while – that’s exactly what happened to us with Helping Hand. Helping Hand was a game jam game and it was the spark we needed to form out own company and release our first game.

GIA: What is next for Hubblegum?

AH: Ben and I are always talking about new game ideas – hopefully we’ll get some time in the near future to make a prototype or two. Watch this space!

Playtopia MGA will take place at the Castle in Cape Town between December 5 to December 7. For further details as well as how to get your ticket, visit the Playtopia website.