In honor of Black History Month, we are highlighting some of the top games created by Black developers in the indie game industry. These creators bring diversity and a fresh new perspective to games on both console and PC. Here at AppOnboard/Buildbox, our EAT (Equity Advancement Team) strongly believes in celebrating and supporting inclusion in all areas, especially in the gaming and tech space. So, we encourage everyone to focus on not only the history but the current achievements of Black creators as we continue to celebrate Black History Month. Playing these indie games is a great way to show your support. You might even discover your next favorite game!
Here’s our roundup of some of the top Black indie developers, studios, and their video games:
NuChallenger – Shawn Alexander Allen
Founded in 2012 by Shawn Alexander Allen, NuChallenger is an independent game and culture studio, working with frequent collaborator Hurakan Works, a studio founded by Manuel Nico Marcano. NuChallenger isn’t your typical static studio, but one that grows and works with new collaborators from project to project.
Before going independent, Shawn headed up the game capture team for Rockstar Games, working on industry-defining games, and trailers with millions of views. Shawn’s 11+ years in games include producer, designer, artist, animator, writer, trailer editor, and music publisher. Habitual tweeter, lover of action movies, sneakers, and hip-hop. He’s also an organizer for the Game Devs of Color Expo!
Nuchallenger’s Treachery in Beatdown City is a fun beat ’em up style RPG. Players get to choose their fighter, create custom combo moves, and take out their enemies on a mission to save the president.
Decoy Games – Ahmed and Khalil Abdullah
Decoy Games is an indie game company founded by two technically talented brothers who had no prior professional game development experience. They used their deep passion for video games and extensive imagination to start building Decoy Games, LLC.
Their latest release, Swimsanity! is a multiplayer underwater shooter that features co-op and versus game modes. You get to play as the hero named Mooba. Using various power-ups and weapons players must try to survive in the chaotic aquatic world. SwimInsanity is available on Nintendo Switch and currently available for Free on Amazon’s Prime Gaming. You can learn more about their game and apparel line on their website and the duo in the interview below.
Studio Zevere – Davionne Gooden
Studio Zevere is a one-person indie game development and film studio based in Cleveland, OH. It was founded in 2016 by Davionne Gooden while he was only a senior in high school. He has since worked in film (features and shorts), commercials, music videos, and comedy skits. The studio aims to tell stylish, culturally-relevant, and emotionally-rich stories from new perspectives with a voice that’s all it’s own.
She Dreams Elsewhere is the studio’s debut video game project and is set to launch later in 2021. It’s a role-playing adventure game that features real-world themes like mental health and self-identity. The main character is Thalia, an anxiety-ridden, comatose woman who must confront her inner fears after realizing she’s trapped in a coma. The game has received praise from top game review sites like Polygon, Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Paste, and Dual Shockers.
“She Dreams Elsewhere is and always was a silly little project that I mainly made for my own amusement, so to think that it could actually impact others in a meaningful way is still pretty unbelievable to think about. I’m grateful that people have reacted so strongly to it, and I hope I can make the Black community proud when it finally launches.” – Davionne Gooden / Studio Zevere
Learn more about Davionne and his upcoming game here!
Game Developer – Neil Jones (aka. Aerial_Knight)
Neil Jones also known as Aerial_Knight is a multi-disciplined 3D artist and game developer currently working out of Detroit, MI. When it comes to game art, he’s a generalist. Jones loves 3D modeling and doing stylized work on a diverse set of art-related projects, mostly in an indie studio setting.
His upcoming game, Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield, is set in a futuristic Tokyo style Detroit. In the 3D runner, players step into the shoes of Wally. He’s a man who stumbled across vital evidence that can change his city forever. The game also has an impressive soundtrack featuring various Detroit artists’ authentic sounds as you explore and race through the world.
These indie developers are just a handful of the black creators making an impact and adding a fresh perspective to the gaming world. We hope you continue to explore new games and support diversity in the industry.