Interview of the Week: Michelle Olson

A 2018 Pew poll found that 43% of U.S. adults say they often or sometimes play video games. With so many people–and young people specifically— spending time gaming, wouldn’t it be great if games taught values like respect for nature? That’s where Michelle Olson comes in, a video game designer of the new game Beasts of Maravilla Island that encourages conservation and exploration of the natural world as well as the digital one. Take a listen to what it means to be a “values-driven designer” and how nature inspired Michelle to build this stunning new world:

The biggest reason why I wanted to make this game is that I’m a huge lover of the natural world and also a lover of video games. But I’ve always been so disappointed at the lack of opportunity in video games to engage with magical creatures in non-violent ways. Even games that have a positive spin on magical creatures, like Pokémon, you’re battling them! That’s kind of how it is in a lot of video games and it breaks my heart.

I really wanted to make a game where you can experience the wonder, awe, and joy, of these magical creatures but celebrate them and appreciate them instead of engaging with them in violent ways.”

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