Hi. I’m Shaz. I make games. I like exploring what games can be.
Under the name of Honey Tribe Studios I work with different artists and developers to create game experiences which are a little bit… different.
If you’re in the habit of playing games you will already know how engaging a good game can be. If you don’t, just watch someone play their favourite title and see how engrossed they are.
Typically we think of games as escapism and entertainment and nothing more. A way to unwind and relax in the evening before heading back into the office or classroom the next day. Or maybe just an short escape from boredom while on the train.
Well, how about if the game is an extension of the classroom? What if games taught us a new way of organising our social structures? And at the same time gave us that thing that so many of us search for, that feeling of ‘fun’.
I think games could be created which actively help us to understand concepts that had previously been unknown and unthought by any given individual. In short, I think games can make us smarter. Of course, that depends on the game.
So… this is something I want to explore a lot more. My first release, Honey Tribe, is a mix of fact and fiction. It uses simple gameplay to tell a story which informs the player about real the world event of colony collapse disorder. This is something which is decimating honey bee populations every year. This, in turn, will effect human life.
The idea is that the player can explore the factual side of the game if they want to. They can read the story text, unlock the facts and click through to the videos with extra information. Or they can skip all that and just enjoy the hand drawn art and charming soundtrack. It’s completely up to them.
My latest release, McBank, is a satirical puzzle game. It blends puzzle gameplay with real world issues of greed and control. It’s very much a personal game. I’m expressing my views about the modern world with all it’s economic absurdities.
We trundle along, accepting how things are, not caring enough to change how we live. Instead, the majority of us continue to worry about money. Whether that be in the form of being able to pay the mortgage, being able to pay for education or being able to pay for food and energy. And meanwhile we continue to let a small number of greedy and ruthless individuals hoard all of the wealth and take control of our societies.
The best example that can illustrate this is in the US. You have probably heard of Walmart (who own Asda in the UK). They are run by the Walton family. The Walton family members control wealth equal to that of approximately 40% of the entire US population. Yes, you read that correctly. One rich family has as much money as the 40 million poorest families in America.
This is absurd. And it is real. Is that really the world you want to live in?
To circle back, I want to get really good at making games. Games that can hold a person’s interest for hours and days and weeks. And I want those games to provoke thought. To inspire different kinds of thinking across a range of subjects.
And I want to explore different kind of systems. To virtualise different economic and social models. To see how people behave differently in a world with different rule sets. Is it even possible to create a system where human greed cannot prosper? In any society will there always be rich and poor? I’d like to start with assumption of “no”.
I think the worst nightmare for any selfish billionaire who loves money and power so much that they seek to constantly amass more wealth is education and communication for the millions of people they feed off of. By education I don’t mean telling someone what to think, but teaching them how to think for themselves.
Maybe you know someone who never showed interest at school but will happily play video games for hours? Think of all the different concepts they could be introduced to them if there were more games that pushed the boundaries of what gaming can be.