Funding boost brings video game a step closer to reality

Video game project Shadow Work, developed by School of Design Innovation staff, has received funding from the New Zealand Film Commission Interactive Development Fund.

Shadow Work game concept

Shadow Work is a narrative-focused, third-person action-adventure game. A young woman and her father are confronted by her doppelgänger. When her father embraces the copy and banishes her, the daughter must battle supernatural forces and ultimately confront herself.

“Everyone has a dark side, even if they don’t want to admit it,” says Areito Echevarria, game director and senior lecturer in Design Visual Effects.

“Our main character is a psychic psychology student, traumatized by a loveless father. She is going through life hiding from her shadows. But when these shadows become manifest in the real world, she is forced to confront them. How will the player choose to help her?”

The team behind Shadow Work previously created Minimum Mass, a virtual reality interactive film.

”With our previous film Minimum Mass we leveraged our skills as film makers and moved into the immersive Extended Reality (XR) space,” says senior lecturer in Design Raqi Syed, who co-wrote and produced the game.

“With Shadow Work we want to go further into indie games and create a commercial video game. The themes Shadow Work explores are the fear of abandonment and imposter syndrome. It examines the relationship of parent and child through the speculative lens of sci-fi and the uncanny.”

Whakawhanake Te Ao Niko—Interactive Development Fund supports concept development of original, narrative-focused, and interactive games content, and awards up to $50,000 per project.

The funding received will allow the Shadow Work team to develop their concept into a playable prototype, a huge step that will enable them to seek further financing.

Shadow Work is a collaborative product, with an interdisciplinary team of staff from across the School of Design Innovation working on it.

Areito Echevarria is an Academy Award winning artist and researcher with over 21 years of visual effects experience. His passion is for storytelling and world building approached through the lens of computational design.

Raqi Syed is a writer, artist, and the programme director of the Master of Design Technology at the School of Design Innovation. She began her career in animation as a lighting artist for Disney Feature Animation on films such as Meet the Robinsons and Tangled. She then went on to work as a senior technical director with Weta Digital on films like Avatar, the Planet of the Apes films, and The Hobbit Trilogy.

Character designer Heli Salomaa is a lecturer in Fashion Design Technology and a theatre and performance costume designer who specialises in digital costume design. She has dressed physical and digital bodies for 35 productions since 2010. Heli was the lead costume designer at Remedy Entertainment on the award-winning video game Control.

Motion capture technical director John Aberdein is the resident motion capture guru at Miramar Creative Centre with extensive world-class experience working in both games and feature film. John has worked at Andy Serkis’s Imaginarium in London on AAA game projects such as Star Citizen, Battlefield, and Final Fantasy XV. His film credits include Star Wars: The Force AwakensDawn of the Planet of the ApesThe HobbitIron ManThe Adventures of Tin Tin, and many more.

If you’d like to know more about Shadow Work, you can sign up for project updates.