K: Hi George – could you tell me a bit about yourself and your background?
GB: I’m 26 and I grew up in a desolate town called Ashton-under-Lyne near Manchester in the UK but I’m currently based in Montreal, Canada. I’ve been making games for about five or six years now and, for the last four, I’ve been a developer at State of Play. I simultaneously fiddle around with my own sad animal experiments whenever I find the time.
K: What is your new game ‘Bird Alone‘? What is it about and what are the mechanics?
GB: Bird Alone is about becoming best friends with a lonely bird. It’s a mobile game that’s played slowly, for a few minutes a day, as the bird grows older and faces the thoughts and emotions that come with growing up.
Every day the bird will have something new to do with you. You can have conversations with the bird, draw pictures to answer questions, write poems together, play music in the waterfall, and plant flowers in the garden which slowly grows into a kind of interactive orchestra. All the while, the world and the bird are ageing and changing.
K: What was your inspiration for making the game?
GB: I was looking for a place to put my feelings after losing a close family member and also just around growing older in general. I was after something that was about growth, change and loss, but in a way that celebrates life and all the things that give it meaning.
Reading Irvin D Yalom, Jean-Paul Sartre, Miranda July & Victor Frankl’s books helped provide me with some of those answers I was looking for; ways that people find meaning and fulfilment in their lives. A lot of those ideas ended up in Bird Alone either as actual conversations with the bird or in the game’s design.
After drawing a tiny terrible sketch, I reached out to Allissa Chan who then created all the concept art for the game and defined the entire visual style, which shaped a lot of the mechanics after that.
KG: What would be the one thing you’d hope gamers would take away from Bird Alone?
With Eli Rainsberry, who created all the audio. Because of Eli’s ideas and input we turned Bird Alone into a full on musical playground. Sound has become such an integral part of Bird Alone’s identity.
With Allissa Chan, who created all the concept art which I tried to replicate as closely as possible in the 3D art, a lot of the game mechanics came from thinking of ways to make Allissa’s art interactive.
And with Daisy Fernandez, who wrote all the bird’s poetry and added this extra layer of heart to the bird that feels authentic.
So much of what everyone contributed shaped the design and direction of Bird Alone, so I’m grateful to have worked with them.