Lu, 21, is an indie game artist and director, studying a masters in Game Art at Falmouth University and currently working as a 2D artist at Strange Folk Studios.
I had the pleasure of asking Lu a few questions on working/studying in the game industry with Tourette syndrome.
Hi Lu! Firstly, you seem to have a few projects on the go at any one time! Have you always had this creative side to you?
Hello there! Yes I have, ever since I can remember I would be drawing or doing craft projects. Creativity has always been a core part of who I am and how I express myself as someone who struggles in more “academic” subjects. Art has been a consistent part of my life that has allowed me to take part in a lot of fantastic opportunities that I am extremely grateful for. Moreover it has helped me have a focus and direction when things have been difficult.
Lu is currently a Game Art masters student who recently graduated BA(Hons) Game Development: Art at Falmouth University. Prior to that Lu studied a BTEC Level 3 Computer Game Design at Priestley College.
When did your interest in Game Development come in? Have you always been an avid gamer?
I began playing games on the Nintendo DS when I was about 5 years old. It was always something I had an interest in however my passion for games development didn’t start until I went to college at 16. I had never considered game development as a career option until I found out about a course nearby to where I was living at the time. I took a lot of time deciding what I wanted to study but game development stood out to me in particular. It felt like I had finally found a place where I fitted in and could thrive.
What were the video games you enjoyed growing up?
Growing up I played a lot of Nintendo games such as New Super Mario Bros DS and Animal Crossing. However as I got older I branched out onto different consoles and really enjoyed playing Team Fortress 2 for a long time. To this day I still play Animal Crossing and have recently been enjoying playing through the Persona Series.
When were you diagnosed with Tourette? How has Tourette syndrome affected you in your studies and career in game design and development?
I was diagnosed with Tourettes when I was 18, however it started to affect me from the age of about 15. I struggled for a while trying to accept myself and feel comfortable with the condition. It definitely caused me a lot of anxiety for a while, but thanks to the support of my peers I have learned to embrace it. I was very afraid that it would stop me from succeeding in the career I want but I have refused to let it stop me from trying.
I will admit that there are times where it has directly affected my studies, for example struggling to sit through long lectures or stand for a long time in workshops, but thankfully everyone throughout this has been very understanding when I did voice my difficulties. I found that once I did voice my concerns to those around me, that they were happy to come up with solutions to help support me.
Growing up with Tourette, what was your experience regarding support and treatment, if any?
This is a difficult question, I definitely had a lot of support through my colleagues, family and friends, which I am incredibly grateful for and I am receiving support and medication through a Tourettes Clinic in the north of England.
However I strongly believe there is not enough representation or understanding in other areas of the medical field. I know I’m lucky to be getting the support that I am currently, as many others are still left without any kind of support at all. Moreover, it was a struggle to get the support I needed in the first place and mainly only happened through coincidence. I fear that without the events that got me to get the support I have now, I would still be without treatment.
I have to ask… do you believe there will ever be character with Tourette syndrome featured in a game? Have you ever thought personally about creating a character that reflects our experiences with TS?
This is a great question and one I’ve definitely thought about before. I strongly believe that one day we will have a character with Tourettes in a game and I would love to work on a project like that. I have considered making a game about TS and I probably will work on it one day as I believe games can be an excellent tool to help others understand conditions like ours.
However, it would be a difficult project to work on due to the complexity of the condition, as other media has shown its very easy to make a joke out of TS or use it as a punchline and I don’t want that to be the case. I strongly believe that if a game was to use a character with Tourettes, they would need to be written by someone or a group of those with the condition to fully create the depth needed in the character.
Everyone’s experience is different and personally a lot of my tics are influenced by my daily life and experiences, I wouldn’t just want to make a character and give them TS as an afterthought. If we’re going to be represented in a game it needs to be done with purpose and a lot of thought.
You’re currently developing a game called SpiritSweeper, it looks very cool! What is it like working day to day on an upcoming game?
Yes I am! Although SpiritSweeper development has slowed down a lot due to team circumstances. However, Strange Folk have been busy working behind the scenes.
I find it to be extremely rewarding to be able to work on something I’m so passionate about day to day. Its a great feeling to be working on an upcoming game and I feel incredibly lucky to have this opportunity. I do a mix of working from home and in studio development which has allowed me to be flexible and work in an accessible way that suits my needs. Its nice to be able to have access to the studio and have team discussions in person whilst also being able to work from home on days where I may not feel 100%.
Where can we find your work Lu?
You can find my work online under the username “Aceantt”! I have a website and most regularly post to my twitter with game updates, artwork and DIY projects. 🙂