When Gracie Clauson, Isadora Tiffe, Keira Munko, and Crystal Nelson decided to attend Seattle’s Girls Make Games day camp last summer, they expected to get the chance to make a game and just have fun. What they didn’t expect was that their game would be granted the top award in the national competition.
The girls called themselves Team Sarcastic Shark Clouds, which came from each team member saying the first word that came to mind. Their game is called Shredded Secrets. It’s a platforming game about dealing with a bully. The gameplay involves avoiding the bullies and their “insults” projectiles and picking up ice cream to gain health.
“Some of us were bullied when we were younger,” said Clauson. “But that wasn’t anything worse than being called ‘stupid.’ We couldn’t imagine what it might be like now.”
Besides the platforming elements, the player character has a story that’s told at checkpoints throughout the game. The demo version includes one character, but the full version of the game will feature multiple characters.
“We just really love stories and games with stories. That’s why including that element was important to us,” said Tiffe.
The ice cream element of the game came from the fact that the camp counselors provided ice cream to the girls every Friday. Because of this, the girls were inspired to make each of their characters have a different flavor of ice cream.
Shredded Secrets was one of five games that were selected from Girls Make Games camps across the country. Those finalists traveled to Silicon Valley to pitch the game to a panel of some big industry names like Xbox head Phil Spencer and Shawn Layden from PlayStation. You can imagine that experience was pretty scary to the girls, all of whom are in middle school.
It was definitely nerve-wracking,” said Tiffe. Clauson added that one of the judges was particularly scary because “she was so serious.”
All of the judges expressed being struck by the emotional elements in Shredded Secrets, something not traditionally seen in a platformer.
“Watching the demo, it was actually emotional,” said Phil Spencer during the judging. “You did a really good job with the words and dialogue.”
Devon Pritchard from Nintendo echoed Spencer’s statements. “I also felt very emotional watching this game and what I thought was really neat about it is that you have been bullied before. I thought it was really neat that you were able to take yourselves and put yourselves in those different roles.”
The judging involved scoring the games on five elements: fun, artistic, mechanics, originality and story. Shredded Secrets took the narrative award in addition to the best overall game.
“When they announced the winners for best game, it was kind of scary,” said Clauson. “There was another team whose name started with “S” so they dragged it out, like team sssssssSarcastic Shark Clouds.”
As the winner of the competition, the girls got the chance to make a Kickstarter for the opportunity to take the game into full production with the help of Girls Make Games and Learn District. Shredded Secrets surpassed its goal by more than $5,000, which actually included one of their stretch goals. Since the game has been funded Girls Make Games will work with the Shredded Secrets Team to develop the game. The girls will be involved as “Game Directors,” and will also contribute to the development by writing dialogue or other tasks that they’re capable of doing. The Kickstarter money is used to hire freelance artists and programmers to build the game out into a polished finished product.
After the success of Shredded Secrets, many of the girls plan to attend future Girls Make Games camps, and all of them have an interest in careers within the video game industry.
Girls Make Games was founded in 2014 with the goal of “creating educational access through video games and enrichment programs.” The next local Girls Make Games camps take place in Seattle and Redmond from July 8 to 26.