#ConsoleLogDiversity – Talking to Ari Green

In For The Art of Code we believe in talking about topics in tech that are not often discussed enough. Console.log (Diversity) is a movement that, following that belief, aims to give voice and a platform to all those wonderful initiatives looking for change in the industry just like we do. Today we talk to Ari Green, the fearless project leader of Couple Six INC. An atypically wonderful game company.

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Who are you? As broad as this question is, we want to get to know you; the truth is, we empathize the most with those we know and whose dreams we believe in. Tell us about you, your involvement in tech, what you want to achieve the most, how many pets you have, it doesn’t matter!

I’m a self-taught programmer that began coding about three years ago. I love working on new things and learning new things. I’d rather spend time learning about something new than watching tv. I love cats! But dogs are also pretty great. 😀 Why pick one or the other when you can have both? (Although I’d probably pick cats if I absolutely had to) I’m a bit of a recluse and love my solitude but I love my friends and I feel particularly lucky to be able to working with them on this amazing game.

Tell us about Couple Six, how did it start? Who forms your team? Where can we find more information about you guys!?

I have a background in fine arts and my best-friend Mark, has a background in writing. We had been talking for a while about collaborating on a project that used our respective disciplines and we got in in our heads to do a video-game. That video-game became Le Loupgarou in 2015 and that project became Couple Six. We had absolutely no experience making video games so we had to teach ourselves everything we know. I taught myself programming since we needed a programmer and our previous programmer unfortunately had to drop out of the project to focus on school. We added a few more people to the team over time and now here we are! Folks can find out more about us at our website and our Patreon.

Le Loupgarou, the game you are currently working on, where does it come from? Can you share a bit of its story?

When we decided to make a video-game, Mark and I wanted to do a story that was uniquely Caribbean. We looked to art and literature for inspiration, eventually striking upon a poem by Derek Walcott called Le Loupgarou. The imagery in it is beautiful and haunting. Fascinating and disturbing. In other words everything we’d want in a video-game. Originally we thought we might just do an interactive adaptation of the poem but then it quickly evolved into its own thing so the game is only now loosely based upon the story that catalyzed its inception.

As far as what it’s about, I’ll leave you with some text from our Patreon:

It’s a game about a plantation fire, a pact with a creature called a Baccou, and a civil rights activist masquerading as a maid. 

It’s a narrative-driven stealth adventure game set in a mythical version of 1930’s Barbados. You play as Le Brun, an old man whose frail body harbors the unhinged beast, the Immortelle, Le Loupgarou. 

You hunt souls through darkened streets in a world where there are monsters far more terrifying than you. You have to survive long enough to pick apart your own history and identity, and the history of those you’re hunting. 

It’s also a game that’s built around historical events. In 1937 Barbados erupted in riots. Workers had banded together to push for union rights. It was one of the watershed moments for adult suffrage and it gave birth to some of the most incredible people this island’s ever seen. 

Both Couple Six as a company and Le Loupgarou as a game itself are very strong on narrative and make sure at all times that they are insanely inclusive. They are formed by a wonderfully wide range of very interesting characters, making sure we can all find ourselves in your games. How hard was this to do? What do you think should be taken into consideration when developing inclusive games?

It takes constant effort to make sure that the game lives up to the high standard of representation we’ve set for it. Mark wrote an excellent post for our blog about this called Bettering Bertha where he talks about the pitfalls story-makers like ourselves can fall into, even when you are the demographic you are trying to represent. Couple Six is a team composed of entirely POC and most of us are queer. We’re five people and three of us are women so we tick a lot of minority boxes haha. Even so we have to constantly check to make sure the narrative we’re presenting is being received in the right way.

Couple Six is an insanely diverse Caribbean game company, which we all know is sadly not the norm. Can you talk to the readers a little about the importance of diversity in companies? How do you think strictly Caucasian heterosexual companies differ from diverse ones?

It feels like every other day there’s some fiasco on Twitter where some company releases some new product or ad or bit of marketing that is incredibly offensive to one or more minority groups. Having a more diverse team would have stopped that from happening. But it’s not enough to just hire minorities. You have to listen to them! Give them executive power. Inclusion is good for business. Plus you just get better ideas when your company isn’t composed of 90% white, cis, straight guys coming up with the same boring stuff.

What has been your favorite part about this process?

I think my favourite part of this process has been learning how to program. People always talk about it like it’s this scary, daunting thing but it’s definitely something I think a lot of people could pick up if they put their minds to it. And the possibilities that open up when you know how to program are endless! But also watching everyone else on the team grow in their crafts has been a treat. 

Where do you see Couple Six in 5 years? Do you have any other games in mind?

We’ve got some sequels planned for Le Loupgarou as well as quite a few other game ideas in the works. Hopefully if Le Loupgarou goes well we’ll be able to hire some more people and work on more games concurrently. Maybe in 5 years Couple Six will be a pretty well known name in the games industry. Who knows! We just placed second at Demand Solutions Miami in October so the future is bright. 😀

Please remember to support Le Loupgarou in any way you can. They are console logging Diversity into the system, it’s our turn to help them make that change! Ari tells you below how you can do that.

We’re pretty close to having a vertical slice that we can take to publishers and we’ll be heading to Kickstarter shortly after that. In the mean time though, if folks want to help out they can donate to our Patreon. We have awesome rewards and behind the scenes content and you can contribute as little as $1. Seriously! Don’t be shy to donate $1 if that’s all you can afford. We’re millennials, we know how tough things are right now. You can also tell your friends about us and follow us on our various social media channels like facebook and twitter. And when we launch our Kickstarter, back us! 

Ari was able, through her answers, to give us some insight of the game world as a minority and her experience with this in the Caribbean. She helps put into perspective very important points, and though her voice becomes an inspiration for me and, I am sure, many other minorities in tech!

We want to see you join the movement! Comment your thoughts below or jump on your social media of preference and use the hashtag #ConsoleLogDiversity to start a conversation!

 

 

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