It’s time to meet another amazing African woman who has contributed to the world of games. We would like to introduce Neema Iyer, a civic technologist and visual artist based between Frankfurt and Kampala. Neema is known in the game space for her interactive fiction game, Choose Your Own Fake News. Neema is also part of the podcasting duo, Terms and Conditions, where she talks about emerging technology trends on the continent. Get to know Neema and her perspectives on games.
Who is Neema?
Neema is an artist and a technologist who splits her time between Germany and Uganda. She is the founder of Pollicy, a civic tech organizations working at the intersection of data, design, and technology.
What kind of games do you enjoy playing?
Growing up, we went through the Atari, Nintendo, Sega, and then PlayStation consoles. My favourite PC game was Curse of Monkey Island 3 and I have very fond memories of playing that and Broken Sword with my older brother (who actually has a career in video games now!). My other favourites were GTA, Need for Speed, and SSX. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve played video games but Mario Kart on the Wii has a special place in my heart. How can a game be so cute and INFURIATING at the same time?
Was ‘Choose Your Own Fake News’ your first experience with making games? What was your first experience working on a game like?
I’ve experimented with making games as far back as I can remember. I played a choose-your-own-adventure game once on an old DOS computer and that experience has stuck with me till today. I loved it and I was always tinkering, but never got anywhere with it. This is my first time sharing something with the world. It was a fun, though lonely process. I’d love to work on a game with a team and colleagues.
How did the idea of creating a game to fight misinformation come about?
At Pollicy, I’m always looking for creative ways to tackle important emerging themes and Mozilla was willing to go with this idea, so CYOFN was born.
What made you decide on using Twine for this game?
I told my brother about the project and he suggested I look at Twine, which was an absolute perfect fit.
Are you looking into using games more in the future as part of Pollicy’s work?
Definitely. I loved the creative process and I’d love to collaborate on more games.
Have you seen any other interesting examples of games for change that you think African developers should look more into?
I like the idea behind Say No! More – a game about saying NO in situations where we usually say yes! Though it’s not out yet.
Saying No is so powerful. I’ve recently been saying No and it’s really the epitome of self-care.
What would you like to see more of in the game development scene globally and in Africa?
Interesting, new themes. I love the puzzle aspect of Lucas Art games from the 90s. There are so many interesting stories from the African continent waiting to be told, past and future.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself? A fun fact?
I did all the illustrations for the game. You can see some of my work over at @neemascribbles, and I am currently working on a potential comic collabo.
You can play Neema’s game, Choose Your Own Fake News, here: https://chooseyourownfakenews.com/