One of the more controversial topics in recent months has been immigration and America’s stance on border control. Like other artists, New York Film Academy Game Design School alumnus Genaro Vallejo and his teammates, John DiGiacamo and Gonzalo Alvarez, created a unique gaming experience to express their point of view on the subject.
The game was recently discussed in The Huffington Post, and the New York Film Academy spoke with alumnus Genaro Vallejo to find out more about creating “Borders.”
Where are you from, and what brought you to NYFA?
I was born in Acapulco, a beach town in the south of Mexico, I spent most of my life there until I moved to college to Mexico City. After completing my bachelor’s degree, I decided to pursue my lifetime dream of becoming a game designer. I looked up schools in New York, and I found NYFA was the best option for my needs at the time.
Did you create “Borders” while at NYFA?
“Borders” was created shortly after I graduated from the One Year Game Design Program. This project was created for a “Game Jam” event in which a game has to be developed during a weekend. Although the task seemed almost impossible at first, the skills learned at NYFA — alongside the help of my teammates John DiGiacomo and Gonzalo Alvarez — enabled us to create a polished experience in a span of three days.
Was there a retro game that inspired “Borders”?
Gonzalo, the main artist, took inspiration from the harsh experiences from Mexican immigrants trying to find a better life. The art-style and moral issues were inspired by games like “Papers, Please” and “Passage” (By Jason Rohrer).
What do you hope people will get out of this game? Are you making a political statement?
Personally, I think empathy is the key thing that I want people to take with them when they play “Borders.” If you try to understand and feel the struggle and problems of others, you will be more open and thoughtful of others’ actions and motivations.
Can you tell us how your job at GameCo came about, and what your role is with the gaming company?
At first, I was hired at GameCo to write Game Design documents for upcoming games for their platform. Eventually, I began to get involved with QA, Hardware/Software installation and troubleshooting, and Translations. The skills learned at NYFA were without a doubt valuable assets that helped me to get a job at GameCo and expand my versatility in the company.
I think one of the most important skills learned at NYFA was the whole process of creating the game. From prototyping, documenting your game idea, working in the game editor, to play-testing and fixing bugs. All of the steps you take are important, and you always have to keep focused on moving forward.
Are you currently working on another game or project that you’d like to share?
I’m currently working on Mama Hawk, a mobile game about a Mother Hawk trying to feed her babies. Hopefully you can give it a look!
We certainly will! If you’re interested, please CLICK HERE to learn more about Mama Hawk!