At first,please briefly introduce yourself.
Hello. I am Somi, solo indie game developer based in Busan, Korea. I’m developing in my spare time in between kissing my boss's ass and looking after my little cherub. As a solo developer, I have made my first title, Rabbit Hole 3D in 2014, and RETSNOM in 2015. Replica is my third project.
Could you tell us the current situation of Korean indie games?
In Korea, a lot of indie game developers are eager to make innovative and fun games. There are a few events for indies like BIC (Busan Indie Connect, which will be staged in September, Busan), and OOI (Out Of Index, will be opening this month, Seoul). But in Korea, regulation and red tape regarding games is too strict and is blocking innovation and creative thought in indie games. For example, people can't publish games as a hobby. When someone tries to make others play their games, he has to be a company or registered as businessman. A all games should be under classification review before they’re distributed. Of course it costs money and infringes upon the freedom of expression. If these things can't be changed, there will be no possibility that Korean indie games can survive.
What do you want to express through Replica?
In Feburary 2016, South Korean lawmakers staged a filibuster to protest an 'anti-terror' bill by speaking without pause in relay, because the bill gives mass surveillance rights to the Korean National Intelligence Service. Of course, it failed and the bill passed. In that filibuster, one of members of parliament read aloud the novel titled Little Brother, written by Cory Doctorow. The main story of the book was about children who organize resistance to surveillance in San Francisco after a terrorist attack. After I read that book, I was really shocked. It was not because the story of the novel was shocking,but it was because the reality was worse than the book, I thought. I was impressed by the main theme of the book and I thought I could change this reality with a game.
The main theme is not judging the massive surveillance or anti-terror services that government is performing. I wanted to tell people that we should think about the banality of evil. If we don't think about what's wrong and right, and just follow orders, we can be like Adolf Eichmann who was one of the major organizers of the Holocaust.
Why choose the anti-dictatorship subject?
I don't want any totalitarianism, any dictatorship, any fascism in my country. But I'm afraid to say that I can see many precursors these days. Of course it includes the anti-terror bill. Every time the economy is bad, there's a tendency to ignore individuals and totalitarianism, dictatorship spreads. We can see that throughout world history. I wanted to talk about them to make players think about it once more.
All your three games are quite different from each other - why?
I think all my games are showing the process of my growth. When I made Rabbit Hole 3D, I had no idea how to make games and had to learn. I'm studying more and more by developing the next game and I think my skill, which can express my thoughts and perspectives through the game,is enhanced. And I hope my next game can deliver myself in a more effective and fun way to players, because I think the genre of game is the best art medium for me to transfer my thoughts and stories to people.
We heared that you are a police officer in the real life, did this job provide you any new perspective for your game?
I'm sorry but I don't want to expose my real job. Because it will make me in a bad situation like being fired from the job, or ...something like that.
What kind of difficulty and experience do you meet by developing a game in your spare time?
All difficulties are related to time and money, like other indie developers are. During the daytime I work hard to get enough money to survive and be able to take care of my baby girl, but once midnight hits I’m all into game development. It is just 2-3 hours per one day. So I'm always busy and it takes many days to make one game.And the money thing. My games didn't make a fortune and I'm still thinking about stopping making games and find another way to make money in spare time.
What do you think of Chinese market?
Frankly speaking, I have no idea about any market's status. I just think about new ideas and try to make them in the form of a game. And play some innovative games. That's all I do regarding to games. I think it's the reason of my poor living that I don't analyze or think about the markets and what games players spend their money on.
What do you think of the cooperation with indienova?
I'd like to express my heartfelt gratitude to indienova for supporting and localizing my game. They gave me a good chance just because they like my game even though I'm not a famous developer, nor is my game is a famous game. Thanks very much to indienova for supporting my tiny little humble game and I have to say that their service is the best. Not just for the localization, but also for all aspects around the game, they support as like they are one of my team. I hope more indie developers have a chance to work with them.
From your perspective, what kind of assistance do foreign indie developers need when they want to promote their games in China?
Of course, it is localization. It's very important because most of games are translated just using Google translator and the result is awful. Besides localization work, foreign indies need the way to communicate with Chinese players. It is really difficult for foreigners to get an ID on QQ or Youku and don't know much about them. So If indienova can deliver what players want to developers and what developers intend to give to players, it will be for the best.
Do you have anything to say to Chinese indie developers?
Nice to meet you. I really wanted to come to GDC China this year. I really envy that China has that great an event for games. In September, there will be BIC Festival in Busan, Korea. It's for all indie developers around the world. It's just the second time and not yet famous but you can meet many other indie developers gathered from all other countries and the organizers support all accommodation as far as I know. So, please come by. I really want to meet you and talk about games :)
And to Chinese players?
It's my honor that I can show my game to Chinese players. Thank you very much for playing and enjoying my game. I know that lots of chinese players are playing, sharing words, and promoting my game. I appreciate it. I'll do my best to make more creative and fun game.Thank you!It is very difficult for me to write in English. I had to think again and again and find appropriate words and sentences. But there are lots of bad sentences. And I'm afraid that someone can get bad image from my interview. So please make them more smooth and correct. Thanks a lot!