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Papo & Yo creator on risk, therapy, and future of gaming

7:45 PM on 03.06.2013 // Jonathan Holmes

Former Army of Two dev reveals all

Last Sunday's Sup Holmes (now on iTunes) was a powerful one. The subject was Papo & Yo, one of the first openly autobiographical games to hit home consoles. Vander Caballero created the game based on his relationship with his his father. Themes include love, addiction, and  abuse, all explored through a dreamlike surrealism that draws parallels to Pan's Labyrinth or Life of Pi.

In our long, varied discussion, Vander revealed that as a child, videogames gave him an escape from a abuse but did not give him the tools to deal with the trauma he was set to endure. With Papo & Yo, he wanted to make a game that would have the potential to provide both escape and a therapeutic outlet to those who played it, while also sharing his life and experience with the world. 

Vander had plenty of words of advice for developers starting out. Like Shigeru Miyamoto, he was educated in industrial design, and believes that this is a better path for budding game designers than study focused solely on game design. From there he went on to created Army of Two at EA, but after reflecting on the real-life gun violence he'd witnessed in his life, he swore off creating games about gun violence, which led to his creation of the Boogie series, his departure from EA, and the creation of  Minority Media Inc. It was a huge risk, but armed with the trust that sincerity and hard work conquer all, he prevailed.

There is a lot more where that came from, like Vander's story of raising 1.5 million dollars to create Papo & Yo, his goal to help dispel racial stereotypes in his gaming, David Cage, Warren Spector, the PS4, plans to port Papo & Yo to other platforms, new games he's at working on (one about love, another about bullying), and tons of other hot business. It's worth checking out. Thanks again to Vander for hanging out with us. Come back this Sunday at 1pm PST/4pm EST when we welcome Erin Robinson (Global Game Jam, Gravity Ghost) to the program. It's going to be a good 'un.

Jonathan Holmes, Bad Joke Uncle
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