He could not find a job in the game industry for ten years, but made a game that impressed Nintendo


In order to get a position in the game industry, Neil Jones worked hard for ten years.

In the past ten years, countless studios told the Detroit developer that he was not good enough to do the studio’s development work. In April of this year, Jones’s “Aerial Knight’s Never Yield” (hereinafter tentatively translated as “Never Yield”) got a chance to appear in the Nintendo Indie World live event.

Similar to Jones’ experience, many African-American developers have difficulty gaining a foothold in the gaming industry. According to data released by the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), among all game practitioners, the African-American population accounts for only 2%.

Jones said that the indifference of the gaming industry made him feel frustrated, and the development of “Never Give Up” alone was his “last attempt.”

“This might have been my last game. Of course, I was just guessing, because the game industry is disappointing me too much… I’m fed up with the recruitment process of game companies, so I want to make it myself. This game, if someone likes it, it means I’m still a bit talented.”

Jones explained that even if no one likes “Never Give Up” after it comes out, he will be satisfied. If that happens, he plans to switch to a “more inclusive industry”, “fortunately, people like it.”

Jones felt that as a game made by black people, “Never Give Up” should reflect black culture. In order to achieve this goal, during the two and a half years of development of “Never Give Up”, Jones carefully selected the game’s art style and cultural reference objects. Unlike most other games, “Never Give Up” uses black people as the protagonist. “When you play this game, you will feel what I like and what style I hope to achieve.” He said.

“Never Give Up” received support from several platforms. Jones revealed that Microsoft Xbox was the first to get in touch with him on these platforms. “Xbox first contacted me. The Xbox team has a lot of black employees. They are also very active on Twitter, reaching out earlier than anyone else.”

At the independent game event Media Indie Exchange (MIX), Aerial Knight’s Never Yield showed a prototype of “Never Yield” and soon found a publisher, Headup Games. According to Jones, several publishers have expressed interest in “Never Give Up”, and he chose Headup Games because Headup’s long-term plan for “Never Give Up” is basically consistent with his ideas.

“I still have the ownership of the IP and everything about this game. This is the reason I decided to cooperate with them. They also helped me port the game to the console.” Jones explained.

It didn’t take long for Headup to get in touch with Nintendo. Nintendo wanted to show “Never Give Up” at the Indie World live event, which made Jones very excited. Jones recalled that when writing the introductory copy of “Never Give Up”, he wanted to be sincere. “If they reject the copy, I’m afraid I won’t participate.” In the game introduction, Jones shared his story with many Nintendo players; he just wanted to express his true self.

In the Nintendo Indie World live event in April, the “Never Give Up” demo time ranked second among all games, and on the YouTube website, the video of that live event has attracted nearly 10.4 million views. Jones admitted that he and Daniel Wilkins, the lead composer of “Never Give Up”, felt that the show gave the game unprecedented attention.

“Speaking of Nintendo, the data is so high that you can hardly understand it.” However, as players’ attention to “Never Yield” gradually diminished, Jones began to think about how to continue to promote his game. “No matter how many people pay attention to a game, if no one wants to buy it, it’s meaningless.”

When interviewed by the media, Jones always exercised restraint, only expressing his own ideas, and had no intention of speaking on behalf of African-American developers. But at the same time, Jones wants to let people know that he is not special, and there are many other African-American developers who are also making games-the only difference is that their work has not yet won widespread attention from players.

“There are too many other blacks who should stand in this position because they are far better at making games than me.” Jones said, “People think I am special, but this idea is inherently problematic. There is nothing special about me. Everyone needs to walk step by step and accumulate experience and lessons to become better and better.”

Jones believes that the gaming industry has room for improvement in terms of diversity and inclusion. He gave two examples. Once, a certain non-black anchor was broadcasting a Nintendo face-to-face meeting. Jones found that when his face appeared on the screen, the anchor’s audience made a lot of negative comments… Another time, in the media In the comment section of an interview article by Jones, some people questioned the authenticity of his failure to find a job in the gaming industry for ten years.

Jones did not work for any game company for ten years, but “Never Give Up” is not his first work-in fact, he has tinkered with at least 20 game development projects. “I remember I finished two games, but there are still 25 games that have not been finished.” Jones recalled, “In the past ten years, most of my projects have been hurriedly ended, but I have also accumulated a lot from them. experience.”

Interestingly, Jones added his screen name “Aerial Knight” to the name of the game.

“I think all developers need to claim their games. If you create a great work but no one knows who you are, it’s too bad.” This also gave Jones more motivation and prompted him “Make the game as perfect as possible.”

Jones always remembered what the high school coach told him: “If you want to change the status quo, you need to work hard to change them.”

“My inner motivation actually comes from a sense of frustration.” Jones said, “Even if I don’t get the chance to make a game, I want to prove that I am good enough. There are always people who say I am not qualified, and I want to prove that they are all wrong. Up.”

Jones further explained that he found himself in a circle: submitting resumes to some well-known game studios-job applications were rejected-and then or too far to continue to strengthen his game design skills. He advises other marginalized developers to do the same and reassess the possibilities in their careers.

“Think of making games as your own thing, and then go to work with teams or small communities, or try to do things other than game development. I have worked in some studios that develop non-game apps, and it’s considered a small success. You You can jump out of the never-ending cycle through a similar approach. Because in this case, you really have nothing to lose.”

Translation/Andrew & Wind Horse
Compile and organize the game grapes
Article source: https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2021-05-25-aerial-knights-never-yield-a-solo-developers-journey-of-self-actualization

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