This article was originally published on infobref.com
A lot of people play video games. But these games are still far from reflecting the diversity of those who play them. Montreal-based start-up Lowbirth Games wants to challenge the stereotypes that still govern the design of most games. It does so by telling stories that feature unconventional heroes.
The problem the company is addressing is that game designers are a much more homogeneous group than the gamers they cater to. “Workers in the video game industry are still predominantly male,” observes Chloe Lussier, CEO, producer and co-founder of Lowbirth Games. They generally evaluate the quality of a game by its difficulty and the complexity of the game system.”
The result is that certain traditional genres, often action and combat-based, are significantly overrepresented in games designed by major studios. “Yet other genres are very popular, especially with women,” notes Chloé Lussier. This is particularly true of narrative games, which tell a story, and mystery games. But these genres are neglected by the major studios.”
Lowbirth Games’ solution is to build an independent game studio on a different foundation than existing studios.
“Our company is made up of mostly women, people from marginalized communities, and allies of those communities – but all of whom are experienced or trained in video games,” explains Chloe Lussier.
The studio specializes in narrative and mystery games. “These are extremely popular genres in books, movies, TV series and podcasts,” notes Chloé Lussier. There’s no doubt that they can achieve as much success in gaming.”
Lowbirth Games is not only distinguished by the game genres, but also by the characters the studio brings to life. “Our games feature characters of all kinds, in roles that aren’t necessarily heroic like knights, soldiers or superheroes,” says Chloe Lussier.
Currently, Lowbirth is finishing the production of its first game, This bed we made. The company has been working on it for three years. It now has about 15 employees full time, in addition to about 15 other collaborators who participate in the realization of the game.
“It’s a mystery game,” says Chloé Lussier. The player takes on the role of Sophie, who is a maid in a hotel where a crime has been committed. Unlike a police inspector, she doesn’t have the prestige or authority of her job. But the nature of her job gives her privileged access to the intimacy of the hotel’s guests. She uses this to find out secrets about them that even their relatives don’t know.”
Le modèle d’affaires de l’entreprise est traditionnel pour un producteur de jeu vidéo: Lowbirth vendra ses jeux, à un prix fixe, sous la forme de logiciels téléchargeables sur PC et consoles.
The company’s business model is traditional for a video game producer: Lowbirth will sell its games, at a fixed price, as downloadable software for PCs and consoles.
The selling price of a game produced by an independent studio is usually between $15 and $19. A unique feature of this model is the large initial investment required to create the game before receiving any revenue.
The company has secured capital up front, and benefits from various programs that subsidize a portion of salaries. It is one of 20 young startups selected this year in the Bourse+ program of Startup Montréal.
Next steps for Lowbirth Games:
Complete the beta phase of its first game and prepare for its commercial release, scheduled for next year; and move forward with the design of its second game, which some of the studio’s employees have already begun working toward.