Alexis Stahnke is a Game Development and Game Design student at Vega School in Cape Town and also runs a blog called MageScape Gaming where they write all about learning game development from games themselves and what we can learn from other sources linked to gaming. Read their most recent post about what you can uncover from the design of Hollow Knight!
Tell us a bit about yourself Alexis
My full name is Alexis Stahnke, I’m a 25-year-old Game Development & Design Student. I’m a transwoman who has only recently came out to family, but it has been a long time coming. I tend to be very active online in the game design world as well as in the local area here around Cape Town, South Africa. I generally spend most of my time either playing tabletop games or learning some new skills, like how music is made for games and such. I’m very active and very sociable and I love connecting with other developers, be them international or local.
What are your favorite kinds of games?
My favorite kinds of games are RPG games and tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons, Skyrim, Dark Souls and many more. I’ve recently also been stuck playing the farming game Stardew Valley and the exploration game Hollow Knight as both interested me in their gameplay style and their design process.
Do you have a game you have played that has had a profound impression on you?
Dragons Dogma: Dark Arisen. Dragons Dogma is a game with such an immersive story with many choices to make, all of which can change how you play the game and how the story of the world changes. From learning how things came to be at first, I was skeptical. But then I was led up to a certain choice that changed the way I view the game and its systems, and how I needed to think carefully. In the end, I made my choice and it dramatically changed the world and that is why this game has left one of the biggest impressions on me as a designer.
What types of games do you enjoy working on most and why?
I like working on any games, but recently I started getting into the horror scene of game design. I’ve been trying to develop a simple horror survival game that people can play for enjoyment and to bring my name out more to other developers. I love working on horror games and also on RPG style games with various elements because I can always work and weave a story into them, giving them a much greater impact and meaning all through the player’s actions. Seeing it like that for me shows me how the players of my games will write their own novels instead of just reading a novel I wrote.
What made you decide to study game development? And what has your experience been so far?
I was always interested in games as a young child, and when I first played quite a few games, I knew right away that I didn’t want to do anything else. I didn’t want to do anything that didn’t regard my newest hobby in my life. I immediately tried to teach myself how to get into developing games and I knew this is my love as a career choice. My experience has been great. I’ve made so many community friends with whom I share a bond and we all work on developing games together. I’ve met with people in the industry who share their stories that help me create my games and I’ve met people who are just kind enough to always lend a helping hand when needed. The industry has been the most kind to me so far, and I am yet to bring something out that I believe will impress others.
Has the South African indie game dev scene provided you with any unique or meaningful experiences?
The South African indie game dev scene has definitely been a great help to me in my journey. From Make Games SA meetings that get held where I can talk with other devs and designers, to playing games and doing game jams like the upcoming Global Game Jam, the South African scene has definitely helped give me a starting point to get myself off the ground and to always have the help of others if I ever need it.
What would you like to see more in the game development industry in South Africa and globally?
Right now, I’d love to see South Africa actually focus more on developing more immersive games and games that actually have a rich history of our own country and culture in it (like Boet Fighter). I also want to see how we can develop games for educational use and implement that with Virtual Reality technology to better improve our education system. As for the global industry, I just want the industry to listen more closely to their communities. The communities are there to help us expand, provide us with better ideas, help us fix our own mistakes or even help guide is on something that might be better than what we did. Our community will help us grow and if we don’t grow with our community, then we will only be holding our own ideals that we think are the best for them.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
If you are trying to get into the world of video game design & development, don’t hold back. One thing I learned is that you can even do this as a full-time career, or you can provide it with another job to supplement, but you will always have time somewhere to make a game, no matter how big or small, all you really need is the time and dedication. There are always so many helpful people & resources online unless you really take the time and effort to study, you will only be holding yourself back then. Go out and study as much as you can!!!
You can play Alexis’ game ‘Wack-O Craft-O’ and her other games here: https://lightprincess98.itch.io/