ACMI: What sparked your love of videogames and what was the first game that got you hooked?
Georgia Symons: I’m fortunate enough to belong to a generation where videogames were given to us as an educational tool – so some of my earliest videogame memories are things like The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis, Carmen Sandiego and even Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing! I think my love of videogames was sparked all the way back then. I still think these games are unbeatable for the way that puzzles, narrative, graphics, interactivity and humour all come together to create an absorbing experience that stays with you after playing.
A: What videogames are you playing right now?
GS: I just finished Boyfriend Dungeon, which is not something I would usually play, but I adored it! It was so goofy and self-aware. I’m just now getting started on Manifold Garden and Night in the Woods. And, of course, I’ve just played Apartment, in preparation for the first Women & Non-Binary Gamers Club of 2023 (Wed 8 Feb), and it floored me with its understated emotional impact.
A: Why do you think this club important for women and non-binary gamers?
GS: I make and play videogames as part of my career. But even as someone ‘inside’ the industry, I have experienced barriers to engaging with videogames culture that will be familiar to many women and non-binary people – everything from having less access to videogames when I was younger, to toxic misogyny in the videogames industry. But we know that women and non-binary people love videogames, and we also know that women and non-binary people make fantastic videogames, too. Initiatives like this club create space for people who might not feel as comfortable in masculine-coded spaces to engage with their love of videogames.
A: Who are the women and non-binary people you admire in the gaming industry?
GS: So many! But I have to begin with the team with whom I made Wayward Strand. Among many other collaborators, many of our core team are women and non-binary people, including Goldie Bartlett, Susan Dang, Cherie Davidson, Aspen Forster, Elise Marchouba, Kalonica Quigley, Allison Walker and Maize Wallin. I have a particular admiration for Maize, as they are a tireless community organiser and advocate, and also one of the co-founders and co-convenors of Game Workers Australia, the union representing games workers. There are too many others to name locally, let alone internationally, but I’ve certainly admired and/or been supported by Lauren Clinnick, Leena Van Deventer, Lisy Kane, Jini Maxwell, Lise Leitner and probably a bunch of other amazing women and fantastic non-binary people whose names will pop into my head the moment this article is published.
A: What are your Top 5 games you would recommend?
GS: Oh nooooooo! That's such a hard question. But it’s okay, I can do this… In no particular order:
- Kentucky Route Zero – I think they really changed the game in terms of how to tell stories in videogames.
- Mutazione – such a seamless blending of different elements of play to create a world I never wanted to leave.
- The Gardens Between – again, a lush world harnessing one simple mechanic to tell a beautiful story.
- Frog Detective trilogy – I’m cheating as this is three games in one; but they’re all so funny. I’ve never played a funnier series of games in my life!
- Spiritfarer – I love the way that the inventory management and quest elements of this game actually construct the mood of the story.
About Georgia Symons
Georgia Symons is a maker of theatre, games, and interactive experiences, and she lives and works on the lands of the Wurundjeri and Bunurong peoples. She holds a Master Degree in Writing for Performance from the VCA (2014), and is a member of the Theatreworks She Writes collective. She is a part of the Ghost Pattern team, whose videogame Wayward Strand (2022) has been released on all platforms.
In all her work, Georgia wants to bring people together to conduct experiments, pranks and spooky rituals. She is currently working on a short story collection, and a play about a cannibalism startup. She is a great cyclist, a good cook, an average dancer and a terribly slow reader.