Meet Bertha Fiona Chipangila, known as Fiona by many. She is a programmer and video game writer who has taken part in Global Game Jam (GGJ) multiple times. This year, Fiona helped to create a video game for GGJ called Life In Need Of Repair. In her free time, Fiona loves to write on her blog The Faceless Unicorn. Fiona also practices calligraphy and got her start by working for Anja Savic, owner of The Letterist, in 2016.
When asked more about her interest in calligraphy and working with Anja, Fiona said:
“Her work was so captivating I decided I wanted to work with and learn from her. As a result, I shot my shot and sent her an email saying “Hey, I admire your work and I would like to work with you”. Best decision I ever made.
I mostly did paper cutting and a bit of graphic design but I also practised calligraphy and I am still trying to sharpen my skills. Calligraphy taught me that handwriting can be a beautiful art in which I can portray my true personality. I am yet to build a portfolio that I can show to the public.
In relation to gaming, I got the game Okami because of the calligraphic (shodo) aspect of it. It was gifted to me by my SO and I absolutely adore it.”
Get to know Fiona and what her hopes are for the future of the African and Global Gaming scene.
Tell us about yourself, Fiona
My name is Fiona Bertha Chipangila. I am a candy-loving panda in a human body. I am a librarian/customer support representative by day and a reader/noob programmer by night.
What games are you currently playing?
I am currently playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Ace Attorney: Phoenix Wright.
You have been a participant in GGJ for a few years now. How did you come to learn about the event and what made you decide to participate the first time?
I came to learn about GGJ through a friend. I decided to finally participate in 2020 because my significant other and I wanted to try something new together.
What are some of the most memorable experiences you’ve had from Global Game Jam Lusaka?
One of the most memorable experiences was being able to create a game with friends and my significant other. I had never created a game before but because I was participating with people I was comfortable being around, it was exciting to delve into new territory.
Tell us about the game you helped create, Life in need of repair. What was the inspiration behind it?
The theme of the 2020 Global Game Jam was “Repair”.
At the suggestion of our story lead, Tendai, we decided to create a game that many people could relate to. We have so many people experiencing tragic events that usually make them want to give up on life. So we created a game that gave the protagonist a choice to “repair” his life or not. The point we wanted to make is that even at the worst of moments, we can still choose to give life another chance instead of giving up. And for the first time, I wrote code in RenPy. I had never written code in RenPy before that.
How long was the writing process for Life in need of repair? What did you learn about writing through this process?
As per the GGJ rules, you have 48 hours to complete a game Jam. The writing process took slightly less than 48 hours because the first few were spent deciding what we were going to create.
What advice would you like to give other writers who might be interested in getting involved in creating games?
The advice I would give is just to get started. If you want to write a game, do it. There is no better time than the present. I was accepted into the Pixelles Portfolio writing program earlier this year and it was huge! Unfortunately, I could not continue because I started a new job and there was just a bit too much on my plate to handle. However, that does not mean when you fail, you need to give up. It just means, try again until you create something you love.
What would you like to see more of in the African gaming scene and the gaming scene globally?
I would like to see more women of colour in games, women of any age. I say so because I believe the world’s greatest minds are women’s minds. For so long, women have been stifled and made to bury their brilliance, but it’s our time to shine.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us? A fun fact?
A fun fact..? Hmm, I have a beauty spot in my left nostril. Haha!
Play ‘A Life In Need Of Repair’ here: https://globalgamejam.org/2020/games/life-need-repair-0
Check out interviews from other Global Game Jam African women here: https://prosearium.net/category/global-game-jam/