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    December 16

  • 07:05 AM

Game changers

SHERIA BRATHWAITE,

Added 06 November 2017

mark-ramsay-and-ariana-green-110517

Mark Ramsay (left) and Ariana Green are the co-founders of Couple Six. (GP)

Couple Six is on a journey to change the world of gaming.

They created a video game concept that centres on Caribbean slavery and are diligently working to get the game launched in 2019.

“Slavery shaped the identity of Caribbean people indelibly,” said one of the co-founders of Couple Six Inc., Mark Ramsay. “It gave birth to immense suffering and immense resilience and it is the starting point for all of our shared stories.”

“Our game is set in 1930s Barbados and it has flashbacks and allusions to earlier periods. We wanted to include both the colonial aesthetic and the historical reality of the workers’ riots that were taking place during that period.”

If you wanted to find out what this game was going to be about in a two-sentence blurb  – “Le Loupgarou is a game about a plantation fire, a pact with a creature called a baccou, and a civil rights activist masquerading as a maid.”

It is a narrative-driven stealth adventure game set in a mythical version of 1930s Barbados designed for both Windows and Macintosh computers. You play as Le Brun, an old man whose frail body harbours the werewolf spirit, Le Loupgarou. You hunt souls through dark streets in a world where there are monsters far more terrifying than you. You have to survive long enough to pick apart your own history and identity and the history of those you’re hunting.

Le Loupgarou is also a game built around historical events in 1937, when Barbados erupted in riots. Workers had banded together to push for union rights; it was one of the watershed moments for adult suffrage.

Mark told EASY magazine the 1930s was an interesting set piece for the game because there were a lot of narratives that could be pulled together from that period.

At the heart of Couple Six Inc.’s design mission is representing diverse people in video games.

“We are interested in creating a cast of characters which are people of colour. It is a radically different idea in gaming and it’s one of the easiest ways for us to create something that feels authentically Caribbean.”

One such character is that of Bertha.

“She was born in St Lucia and raised in Barbados. Bertha, a single mother who cleans houses and washes clothes, is a mystical obeah woman and a political agitator who dresses in men’s clothing and takes on an entirely different identity to fight for what she believes to be right.”

She represents the indomitable Caribbean spirit.

On October 19, the Couple Six Inc. team represented Barbados in the Demand Solutions Start-ups competition hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Miami Dade College. Couple Six Inc. placed second among 12 other competitors from Latin America and South Florida. They were the only competitors from the Caribbean to make the finals.

Mark said that was the right exposure the business needed. He said there were no other video game production businesses in Barbados, and this made people misunderstand what game production required.

“We hope that we can pave the way of understanding for other young entrepreneurs hoping to step into this field because one of our biggest foes is ignorance. We have been supported by the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme in the past and we liaised with different governmental and non-governmental entities and though they are earnest about supporting our venture they sometimes lack an understanding of what goes into game development.”

The members of Couple Six shared their ideas with the audience at Animekon 2015 and 2016 and Anime Caribe in Trinidad in 2016. Mark said the group was formed two years ago and had grown tremendously in a short space of time.

Who are the other members of Couple Six?

Ariana Green is the other co-founder of the business. She is a self-taught programmer and the project’s lead developer. Joshua Clarke is the concept artist. He creates ideas for key story moments and locations, designs the characters as they will appear in the game and sets the visual tone. Krystal Leslie is a musician who is trained in classical music but she has mastered several Caribbean instruments. She is responsible for composing original pieces for the video game and is working on a full soundtrack.

Mark, Ariana, Joshua, and Krystal attended Harrison’s College. Last year, they added another member to the group, Trinidadian-born animator Danielle Blaize. She is responsible for creating 3D representations of Joshua’s art. She brings emotional fidelity to the world – she brings it to life. (SB)

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