Youth HUB Fellows: TJ & Jose

Jose & TJ Jose & TJ

My name is Tj Ransom and I’m 19 years old. I was born in Oakland and have lived in the Bay Area my whole life. I graduated from Marin Academy and am currently attending Berkeley City College where I’m preparing to transfer to San Jose State University where i’ll major in Animation/Illustration. I’m an artist, graphic designer, web developer, and avid gamer.

My Name is Jose Juan Martinez Maceil and I am 17 years old. I live in Oakland, CA. I am a junior at Life Academy of Health and Bioscience. I am also involved in other programs like: BAM (Be A Man) which is a program about young men learning what it means to be a man, Hack the Hood where I am an intern, and College Track Oakland where I am planning my path to college. What I want UpBeat Games to do is to make the players understand the positive messages. Also that we are here to change the point of view that the person is seeing things in the game as well as in life.

The both of us are also currently enrolled in Gameheads. A new program running out of United Roots that focuses on teaching youth of color about game development.

The two of us are the creators of UPbeat Games, and our mission is to educate, support, and heal the minds of diverse communities through video games. What that means is that we’ll be using video games as a medium to help assist with mental wellness. Our games will create an opportunity for the players to address difficult topics or issues in a welcoming and entertaining environment.

Our first game is called LUCiD and it’s currently in production. LUCiD is a game about grief. It follows the story of a girl named Samaya and a boy named Maliki as they face the loss of a mutual friend, and tackle their feelings head on within a shared dream. It will be a 2-player co-op, platform adventure, full of obstacles and puzzles that will require the players to work together to complete. And as they move deeper into the dream Maliki and Samaya will come to a deeper understanding of their feelings and grief in a way that will invite the players to do the same with their own lives.

In addition to LUCiD, we will be developing a curriculum that can be used in conjunction with the game to create a more hands on experience so that the player may have a deeper and guided path through their emotions. This will be intended primarily for use by groups such as school counselors, therapists, grief centers, hospitals, and anyone else who intends for the experience to be more attentive towards the player’s mental wellness.

After we complete LUCiD, the plan is to continue creating games that help players address and understand tough issues. Anything from difficult emotions, to racial and gender differences. While also promoting non-violence and embracing diversity.

The idea for UPbeat Games was originally just focused on the games. When Jose and I first sat down with the rest of our group and came up with the basic concept for LUCiD, the plan was to just make it and release it into the world. But when we shared our idea with friends and family and received their feedback, it seemed like a waste to simply create a game and leave it at that. We realized this was an opportunity to not just create something fun, but also something that could potentially help people. Grief is something we all go through, but it’s also something we tend to cope with on our own. The reasons vary by the individual, but we often internalize our feelings of loss. We ignore them, bury them under distractions, and try to deal with the burden of those emotions alone. That’s why LUCiD is a 2-player game. Everyone experiences it differently and with varied levels of intensity, but the pain of losing someone to death is a lot to swallow. When someone plays our game, we want there to be someone by their side through the whole journey.

For us, on the short term, every little step we take forward in building our game is success. For the long term success will be the completion of LUCiD, the additional curriculum, and the releasing it to the world in an easily accessible way. Whether our games deeply help someone with their problems or simply start a dialogue about the issues they address, UP-beat Games wins when LUCiD and all the games we’ll create in the future touch as many people as possible.

This is an awesome opportunity to for us to learn and grow as students, creators, and entrepreneurs and we’re beyond excited to be here.

Our website is still under development but feel free to check it out. We’ll be updating it with more content as the game and our business progresses.