The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

    Brathwaite presents games as memorials for history

    Nick Gonzales/La Voz Weekly
    PASSIONATE – Game designer Brenda Braithwaite explains the details of her slavery-inspired game “Passage.”

    Brenda Brathwaite spoke at De Anza College on Feb. 16 about making games that reflect tragic events in history.  

    According to her website, Brathwaite is “a game designer, artist, writer and game developer who entered the video game industry at the age of 15. [She worked] alongside legends in the game industry …  moving up through the ranks from lowly acolyte to lead game designer to creative director.” Brathwaite has created more than 30 games both for commercial and non-commercial purposes.  

    After 30 years in the game design industry, she started to think about making games to give back to the community. 

    She follows the pattern of a photographer’s dilemma “to take or not take a photograph” of controversial scenes. In this situation, the photographer weighs the emotional connection to the impact of the photo. Games can create a similar effect to educate, Brathwaite said. 

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    “Every medium captures and expresses emotions, so why can’t games do the same?” she asked. 

    Her children inspired her to make her first game about slavery in America when one of her daughters asked how George Washington could have slaves while declaring the nation independent. From this came a game named “Passage” about the transfer of slaves from Africa to America. 

    Soon after, she created a game about the Holocaust, dubbed “Train,” about making tough choices. “You have a variety of choices,” Brathwaite said. “You can … choose to be a bystander, the train conductor who takes these people to a death camp, or a savior,” she said. 

    She makes games under the notion that every historical or contemporary human tragedy is systemic. “You cannot have a human-on-human tragedy without a system,” Brathwaite said. Her games are about exposing such systems.

    John Bruneau, professor at the Art Institute in San Francisco and San Jose State University’s Game Developer Club collaborator, invited Brathwaite to speak at De Anza. 

    “I think a game brings more feeling related to an event if it is experienced through multimedia, especially interactive media,” he said.

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