Inspired to create a video game that would engage young people while fostering ecological responsibility, Geneva Heyward from Corona, New York, developed Green Hero. “The idea came to me when I was researching different ways to stop climate change and better the environment,” explains the 17-year-old. “To make it more appealing for children, I decided the main character should be doing tasks that ‘normal’ people could also do—that’s how the Green Hero was born.” In addition to taking home the High School Unity title in the 2017 National STEM Video Game Challenge, Green Hero was also recognized in the 2017 Games for Change Student Challenge, winning the NYC Climate Change category and receiving further acclaim as Grand Prize Winner Runner-Up.
Geneva’s interest in game design developed in middle school when she saw others presenting their work online, but it wasn’t until she attended NYU’s Future Game Designer’s program that her passion truly took off. “I’ve been obsessed with becoming a game designer ever since,” she confesses. Excited to keep honing her skills, Geneva recently attended the Savannah College of Art and Design’s summer seminar to study character and game design. She’s also enrolled in the School of Interactive Arts (SIA) pre-college program, through which she created Green Hero. After graduating, she plans to continue working with SIA as a teaching assistant.
In her free time, Geneva enjoys drawing, making stories, playing games, reading webcomics, and playing guitar. She plans to study game design in college, and hopes to become an indie game developer after graduating. Her advice for aspiring designers? If what you’re working on doesn’t make you happy, try something different until it feels right. “And don’t overwork yourself,” cautions the designer. “If you don’t feel well, you won’t work well, and if you can’t work well, neither will your game.”