Southern Illinoisan creates video game aimed at addressing bully - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Southern Illinoisan creates video game aimed at addressing bullying

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JEFFERSON, CO., Ill. -- An independent game designer from southern Illinois created a new game aimed at addressing bullying.  

"I started doing this professionally when I was 18, my first Xbox 360 game came out when I was 18 but I've been programming games since like grade school," said 25-year-old Michael Hicks, whose games have been played by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. 

Hicks, from Texico, Illinois, signed deals with Sony and Microsoft. 

"I know people don't think of southern Illinois or just the Midwest in general as a place to do game development, and back in the day you kind of did have to move to California or the East Coast but because of the internet, a lot of resources have opened up so I'm entirely self-taught," Hicks said. "I taught myself in high school and I just got online and found examples and ordered books and things like that."

Hicks and Artist Gonzalo Antunes from Portugal joined forces to create the game, The Path of Motus, which they're releasing on July 17 after three years of hard work.

"I wanted to make a game about a little kid pursuing his dream and getting older as he goes through the game," Hicks said.

Motus is a young goblin who gets tested throughout the game and meets bullies who use their words to stop him. Hicks said people can decide how they want to approach the game by either using words to inspire or destroy the bullies. He explained how the game allows players to explore deeper reasons for why people resort to aggression. 

One of his inspirations for creating the game was people telling him making video games would never work. Another big inspiration was seeing kids get bullied as a child, and he wanted to understand where that came from.

"The issue happens where someone is being bullied, we kind of say 'that guy is a bad person,' we feel sorry for the victim and move on, but I think the more valuable discussion is trying to understand what shaped these people to do that," Hicks said.

He hopes the new game will help address issues like bullying.

"I'd like them to maybe think about how our own actions play into these issues, maybe have some introspective moments and also like I was mentioning earlier, the idea of never giving up on what you want to do," Hicks said.

This will be his second Playstation 4 game and first Xbox One game. Hicks also offers resources and tools for folks interested in creating their own video games. Click here to learn more.

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