The Game Changers
Pigeon Hole Productions
Opens the Door To the Future of Gaming
Calling themselves Pigeon Hole Productions, partners Trisha Williams and Joe Unger are proving to be the new frontier in the world of gaming and interactive entertainment. Establishing their company as a unique collaboration of scientists, artists, designers and data experts the Pigeon Hole vision is to not only make the most innovate and engaging experiences possible, but to create entire worlds that keep audiences coming back for more.
Of course we were curious to meet the dynamic duo and we discovered that they are definitely a yin-yang force to be reckoned with and changing the gaming world for the better.
Tell us about Pigeon Hole Productions and what sets your company apart from others in the gaming industry?
Joe: We produce both games and interactive entertainment using the traditional film production model but expanding it to an art, design and production driven model. We've created Pigeon Hole Productions as a place for designers, artists and makers who share a passion for storytelling and games, but we also partner with scientists and data experts to make the most innovative and engaging experiences possible.
It's not often you see a male and female partnership in the gaming world. What led you two to start working together?
Trisha: We actually met 10 years ago when we were both working at Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment in Arizona, until the company basically laid everyone off, which is common in this industry. We both went our separate ways...I found work in Seattle, Joe found work in Los Angeles and it wasn't until years later that work brought me to LA as well. We first became a couple in 'real life' and then it wasn't until last year that we decided to start a company together.
Joe: It all started about 2 years ago, when we had both been working for different gaming studios and they both collapsed and laid everyone off within the same week. We both were suddenly out of work and we decided to cheer ourselves up with a vacation to Maui. We spent that time basically rethinking our entire approach to life and we realized that we had the perfect opportunity to pool our talents together and create a new kind of production company that would change the gaming industry for the better. We established Pigeon Hole Productions not only as a company that specializes in game design, but also as the hub of a network with many other specialty companies working together.
Trisha what are some of the challenges of being one of the few females to break into the gaming biz?
Trisha: I like to pretend that there aren't any differences, but the fact is that there are very few women in the industry and only 18% are game developers. Even though I've been doing it for years now, I still have trouble getting people to believe that I'm even a gamer, let alone making them. The good news is that there doesn't seem to be as much gender bias with the new generation of gamers.
Joe, assuming that most of your collaborations have been with males, how is it different for you working with a female?
Joe: Having worked with a lot of major studios, most of the women were in executive or marketing positions and in developing it was always a bunch of guys thinking G.I. Joe, guns and those types of games. Working with Trisha is like a breath of fresh air because she brings in a whole different perspective and she's fearless when it comes to new ideas. She can say what guys feel they can't say and we're both able leave all the gender bias behind and just bounce ideas of each other.
Trisha, you've been getting a huge following with "Gamer Girl Pinups." Tell us about that.
Trisha: I've always been really into comics, but never really knew what to do with that, so I decided to combine it with my passion for gaming and make a comic series about "Gamer Girl Pinups." You see, there are all these stereotypes in the gaming world...people assume pretty girls are only pretending to be into gaming to get the guys' attention, they're called the "fake geek girls". Its kind of like girls have to be unattractive to be taken seriously as gamers, so I decided to break those stereotypes by creating five
characters who are all smoking hot chicks and really good gamers. The series has totally taken off and right now "Gamer Girl Pinups" is in the top 20 on Tapastic.com, and half of the followers are guys!
Pigeon Hole Productions is about to come out with its next big game, "Piranhapocalypse." How is it different from other games currently on the market?
Trisha: "Piranhapocalypse" is the very first Kickstarter game that will allow backers to pick and choose how it's made. It's basically the tongue and cheek delusions of a bored fish who hates the world and always watches apocalyptic movies, fantasizing about destroying the world.
Joe: But it's more focused on fun rather than violence and combat. We also made it really easy with simple pinball rules so anyone can play. But it's also really deep and fun so people definitely won't get bored. We're going to be launching it on the web first and it will be free for anyone to play.
What do you see in the future of gaming and what would you ultimately like to achieve with Pigeon Hole Productions?
Trisha: We're getting tired of the same old games that don't really benefit the people playing them. We're trying to change that and working with scientists to develop games that help stimulate visual decision making, memory and things like that...games that benefit the community in some way, but always keeping the focus on fun.
Joe: Most games basically manipulate people into making certain maneuvers and we want to make more meaningful, research based games that seek to understand why people do certain things. We're also collaborating with other studios on "Piranhapocalypse" and it's the new model we're creating for game production and interactive entertainment in general.
Trisha: It's not enough just to make a game anymore, you need to create comics, toys...an entire universe for people to really get into the game. It's really hard to have a giant studio to do all of that, so we're creating a network of smaller studios that each specialize in one area. Rather than being competitors, we're a community of content creators, helping each other flourish because we're building these entire universes together.
Many people still assume that gamers are mostly teenage boys, how is that demographic changing?
Joe: The demographic has shifted a lot and it's not just gamers in the basement anymore. In fact, when I the lead designer at Zynga we had this really robust game and our top player was a 77 year old woman. The times are definitely changing and the games are also shifting to reflect the much wider demographic of players.
- Jana Ritter
To find out more about Pigeon Hole Productions and their new world of gaming, visit: www.PigeonHoleProductions.com
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