Meet Sunny – a South African super geek who was inspired by both local and international games to study game design. Sunny has been bringing her own sunshine into the world from the day she was born and loves to make people laugh and feel good through games. Read about her experience with games and her thoughts on game development here.
Tell us a bit about yourself Sunny. What do you do?
My full name is Saneliso Chelsea Dube and I’ve been going by the name “Sunny” since the day I was born. My parents tell me because I brought sunshine into their lives and so it was an appropriate shortening of my name. I am a 20-year-old professional geek. I am from Johannesburg, but I currently live in Toronto where I study game design.
What has been your experience of the South African game development scene so far?
Most of my experiences in South African Game Development have so far been as a consumer. Games such as BroForce and Viscera Cleanup Detail are at the cornerstone of my personal style of game design and writing. I remember watching world-famous YouTube gamers, namely Markiplier and the Game Grumps, play Genital Jousting and when I found out that it was a game that was developed in South Africa I was over the moon! I believe that in the next few years the South African game development industry will be one of the best in the world.
What made you decide to study game design?
During a particularly difficult time during high school, a friend invited me over to their house for a sleepover. During that sleepover, I was introduced to the game ‘The Stanley Parable’ on Steam and the humour in that game put a lot of warmth in my heart. When I got home, I immediately downloaded steam onto my computer and downloaded a few games. Gaming became a way for me to express myself, experience new things and socialise. I decided to pursue a career in game design in order to bring joy and comfort to others in my games the same way it was brought to me.
I also remember how a friend introduced me to a website called Humble Bundle where you can buy game bundles at low prices and the revenue will be donated to a featured charity. The first bundle I bought was a Tomb Raider bundle which included Tomb Raider (2013). At the time I was struggling with my self-esteem and playing as Lara Croft gave me the experience of being a strong woman. The game boosted my confidence and helped me to feel more comfortable with myself. I want to bring that light and support to people who might be struggling through interactive storytelling and gaming. That is another reason I decided to pursue a career in game design and narrative.
What is your favorite thing about working on games?
My favourite thing about working on games is that there is always something new to be learned and explored. A good example of this is the Laundry Mania/Porch Pirate project. Both games have the same core mechanic, click and drag, but the secondary mechanics turn them into completely different experiences. Different secondary mechanics could be added to make even more games. Every game I work on teaches me something new and that experience is invaluable.
Your games Laundry Mania and Porch Pirate both have a fun comedic feel to them. Is that something you deliberately like to add to your games? Like a trademark of yours?
The world is a very serious place and as a global community we are constantly under a lot of stress. Comedy is a way for people to disconnect from the real world for a little bit and experience some joy. I like to add comedy and camp to my games in order to make people feel good during hard times. Not every game I make has these elements but making people laugh is something I enjoy doing.
What are some wishes you have for your career in game development?
I hope to work at a few major studios overseas in order to gain experience in game and narrative design. Once I am ready, I plan to start my own studio here in South Africa to give a voice to those who wouldn’t have been able to tell their stories over this medium.
What kind of games do you enjoy playing for fun? Do your game interests relate to your game development work?
In my free time, I play a lot of Rainbow Six Siege and Overwatch as well as smaller indie story-based games. What I enjoy about these games is that although they are first-person shooters, they have a lot of out of game lore. My interests in game development are to bring representation to those who do not have it and to give people a sense of joy and community. Both Rainbow Six and Overwatch do this beautifully. In Operation Steel Wave Rainbow Six added the operator Melusi, a South African woman. The addition of this character was especially exciting to me as it is what I want to do within the games industry, provide stories to people who would not usually be in the spotlight.
What would you like to see more of in the African game development scene and the global game development scene?
My hopes for the African gaming industry is that it starts to feature more prominently internationally and that African games are nominated and win for international game awards. I believe that the global game industry is expanding to include a more diverse set of gamers who deserve to be represented in games. I would like to see more inclusion and diversity in the characters being created and the stories being told internationally.
Do you have a fun fact about yourself you would like to share?
I really enjoy learning new languages. I’m currently learning to speak Russian. It’s been pretty easy so far except for how hard some of the words are to pronounce. I can read in French but I struggle to speak it sometimes.
You can check out Sunny’s work on her website here: https://www.tyrantina.ca/
You can also play some of her games online here: