The folks who make the games we love, are also gamers. Bigheartedgamers.com wants to recognize developers that support their communities, local or at large.
I first came across Serenity Forge while working the Extra Life Denver Guild table at Denver Comic Con. There are very few Game Developers in Colorado, so I was immediately drawn to their booth. After a spin at their forthcoming title, The King’s Bird, I knew they were something special.
I sat down with Serenity Forge’s Founder and CEO, Zhenghua Yang (who goes by Z) recently. I wasn’t too surprised that he spends time mentoring Colorado youth through Goodwill Industries of Denver. If you have ever met Z, you would understand. He radiates an irresistible charisma and an enthusiasm that infects you for days, perhaps weeks.
Serenity Forge strives makes games with meaningful experiences. Though it would also seem that philosophy exists beyond just making games. “We work with Goodwill Industries quite a bit. People think they just sell second hand clothing, but they do a lot of different things to help the community. I volunteer by going to schools and talking to students, giving speeches (about careers in gaming) and hosting workshops. A lot of these students have difficult backgrounds.”
“I work a lot with Northglenn High School (Northglenn, Colorado) because they have a very robust video game development club. I go there to speak, give them games and and show them ropes about how to get into the game industry. We do mock interviews, and real ones too when they come and interview for internships with Serenity Forge. I also work with the Denver School of Art and Design to speak to some of the budding entrepreneurs over there. “
“A lot of these kids struggle with school and they don’t have parents who care about their education. Often (after not attending school consistently) they spend years playing games online and when they go back to school, they are not sure how to communicate with others. All they know are games. From the video game developer perspective, they are genuinely interested in video games and then it is easy to get them interested in school. We have had some experience with this from making our educational game, Luna’s Wandering Stars.”
Luna’s Wandering Stars was supposed to be an educational game that features 100% real physics. The game is being used in high schools and middle schools around the world to teach physics and science. “We talked to engineers at NASA and Space X about how games like this would engage students differently.” When we first launched Luna’s Wandering Stars, we donated a portion of the sales to the Space Foundation.” The Space Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to space awareness and education to classrooms and major industry events.
Another game developed by Serenity Forge being used in schools is the non-fictional, interactive novel, Loving Life. It covers the events surrounding Z’s near-fatal illness when he was 18 years old. The game is used to discuss depression in an open, honest fashion. The digital novel affected a fan to seek help while they were contemplating suicide. An experience that stayed with Z, and motivated him to further develop meaningful games.
“Video games are already intrinsically interesting, so why not add value to that? Zach Barth of Zachtronics mentioned that every video game is inherently education, it just depends on what are you teaching? How do accomplish your objectives? That inspired me to add the value of education in our games.”
Thank you Z and Serenity Forge for inspiring others with your games and actions. You can find their most release, Pixel Galaxy on Steam.
Big Hearted games from a Big Hearted Gamer.