Chat with Chandana Ekanayake

Co-Founder and Studio Director at Outerloop Games, Chandana Ekanayake has over twenty years experience as a video game designer and art director. Outerloop’s first game Falcon Age is a sci-fi narrative action adventure about raising a baby falcon and reclaiming a cultural legacy from a force of automated colonizers. A theme that resonates with the nations of Africa. He chats with GIA with Playtopia on the horizon.

GIA: From the formation of Outerloop Studios, releasing Falcon Age to being a speaker at this event, does it feel like vindication for the decision to form a studio with underrepresented narratives at its core?

CE: We’re thrilled that Falcon Age was received well and shows that there’s a market and an audience for characters and stories that explore underrepresented cultures. Making and releasing a game is incredibly hard and we’re fortunate to be able to make another one and explore more narratives.

GIA: Despite the strides taken to highlight the merits of diversity in the industry, are there reasons beyond the bottom line most studios and publishers prioritise for their unwillingness to simply tell tales and experiences that reflect the diverse world today?

CE: Diverse stories and games come from diverse people. From my experience, people tend to make games about what they know and work with people like themselves. This is an issue where most publishers and funding sources are not very diverse and the type of projects that get greenlit tend to tell familiar stories or explore familiar themes. We’re seeing this change in film and other media with minority creatives in charge and it’s time for changes in games too.

GIA: Which are the studios locally (Africa) and internationally that you believe have a focus on shining the spotlight on approach a strong sense of diversity self you admire?

CE: Some of the studios I’m excited about are the recently established Brass Lion Entertainment focused on marginalized stories, Studio Zevere making she dreams elsewhere, and the work POC in Play are doing to amplify voice and helping with more representation in the games industry. I’m not familiar with African studios and a goal of mine coming to Playtopia is to learn more about the local scene and meet local developers.

GIA: What is next for Outerloop?

CE: We’re looking at three new game ideas we’d like to make and are in the process of prototyping them out to figure out which one to do first. They’re all different from each other visually and mechanically but still feel like something people would expect from us after Falcon Age. The team is excited about all three games so we’ll see how it pans out.

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.

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