Three industry veterans have come together to create a new studio that aims to diversify the gaming industry. Manveer Heir, Bryna Dabby Smith, and Rashad Redic are the former AAA game developers who have just opened the doors of Brass Lion Entertainment.
The new studio will focus on creating original fictional universes that center on black and brown characters, cultures, and stories. The studio started work in 2017, but they’re officially announcing themselves now because they’re also revealing the first game they have in development, Corner Wolves.
As mentioned, Brass Lion Entertainment was founded by three veteran game developers who have all worked on award-winning AAA games. You may be familiar with some of their work: Mass Effect 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Fallout 3, and Sleeping Dogs.
Now, they want to make mass-market games that tell the stories of marginalized characters. In a post on Medium, Heir talks about the need for transformation in the gaming industry. While he acknowledges that it is happening, the founders of Brass Lion Entertainment don’t think it’s happening fast enough. They also don’t believe there is enough input from developers who represent the diverse tapestry of the players.
Heir concludes his point by saying, “As a result, we are left with an industry that often misses the mark when it comes to representing our collective communities and cultures.”
That’s where Brass Lion Entertainment comes in. Their goal is to diversify the video game industry one fictional universe at a time. And then go beyond gaming and expand those universes into other forms of entertainment, like film, TV, comics, and podcasts.
“We want to let all players be delighted by our franchises, no matter what their background and preferred medium is,” says Heir.
The first universe
Which brings us to the first property, or universe, Brass Lion Entertainment is developing. Corner Wolves is a fictional universe set in Harlem in the mid-90s. The story revolves around a young Afro-Latina named Jacinte, who embarks on a mission to find her father’s killer.
“Corner Wolves tells the stories of young people growing up in the hood, and how their lives are shaped and defined by the war on drugs, as they are caught between dope dealers, hustlers, and overzealous police,” explains Heir.
In his medium post, Heir says that Brass Lion Entertainment started developing Corner Wolves purely as a video game. It quickly became apparent to the team that it could be much more than that. So, they’re bringing the universe to multiple media, both interactive and linear. Linear would be media like TV, films, and comics.
Hope for the future
Heir is hopeful that other studios will see what Brass Lion Entertainment is doing and emulate them. He wants others to realize, “diversity in entertainment is more than just a check-box; it’s a way to achieve high quality, authentic results and expand sales into new demographics and audiences, which are growing by the day, while telling unique and compelling stories.”
Gaming studios often make decisions based entirely on money to the detriment of their games, often alienating players. Heir makes a strong case for studios that are solely focused on generating revenue to diversify. Exploring historically marginalized stories could end up netting them more income. It’s not the best motivation, but the end result is good for both sides.
You can keep up to date with Brass Lion Entertainment and the development of Corner Wolves by following them on Twitter.