From Zero to One: Chosen as a Game Designer for Davidson College Tech Impact Fellow

by Sena Koga

On November 5th, 2019, I am chosen as a Davidson College Tech Impact Fellow as a game designer. These series will be my project journal about

  1. Inquiring and Analyzing
  2. Developing Ideas
  3. Creating the solutions
  4. Evaluating

which, the goals of this fellowship, Learning, Mentoring and Impacting, are incorporated. 

So, where my idea came from? 

So the game I am developing is a mobile game that players level up a frog by overcoming real life emotional difficulties.

As players experiences negative emotion in real life, they open this app and they will identify issue with character in the game. Eventually a protagonist, the frog, will navigate players to an activity for them to feel better. Once player’s negative emotion is gone, they record how they overcame difficulties. This will level up the frog, earn a badge, and unlock new story that teach emotional first aid!

This game aims to inspire college students that any emotional difficulties are capable of solving. 

This idea come from one of my favorite concept on the entire universe: “Emotional First Aid”. Psychologist, Guy Winch, invented this word. Since this concept educated me to care for the psychological health just like I care for physical wound, I builded resilience towards failure, loneliness, loss, trauma, rejection, guilt, rumination and low-self esteem. 

How to make one step? What I learnt from research?

One of my favorite game designer, Angela He wrote this article for people who have never created a game before. 

From Zero to Game Designer: how to start building video games even if you don’t have any experience
by Angela He From Zero to Game Designer: how to start building video games even if you don’t have any experience 2 years ago I was just 17 year old high school...

In fact, the title of this article came from this article. 

So on the schedule I submitted to Fellowship committee, finishing artwork comes before coding. However, Angela advice beginner game designer to code first before making artwork, saying “If you don’t know how to code, I suggest doing stage 3, Code, before Art. You don’t want to create art that you’ll trash later because you can’t code it in.” So I should consider to Code First, Art Later.  

Lest of her work and inspirational information is in

Angela He – Medium
Read writing from Angela He on Medium. cs@stanford // makes art and games Every day, Angela He and thousands of other voices read, write, and share important s...

and I will do more reading on that, to see if there is any useful information. 

What I discussed in the first meeting

So today, November 8th of 2019, I had meeting with Dr. Heyer, talking about mainly two stuff:

  1. How I should find mentor
  2. How I should meet the benchmark to get funding

For the mentor, I need Psychology professor and Computer Science professor. So I will send followup email to one Dr. Barton and Dr. Peck. For the benchmark, there are criteria I need to meet to get funding, and I will send followup email to Dr. Heyer with a copy of my reviewed a schedule, asking to send me the rule with this fellowship. I will do these this weekend. 

What’s next?

I will:

  • Plan storyline, with a hook, mechanics, story, and mood. 
  • Start collecting information about coding!

there's this girl – Making Of/Timelapse


There is several example code that Angela uploaded on GitHub. This is one of them, called Wholesome-Cats.

mobile/fb instant game of wholesome, cute cats. Contribute to zephyo/Wholesome-Cats development by creating an account on GitHub.