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Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman Talks Indie Development And An Exclusive Female-Led Game

Yes, they are still a thing.


The Ouya made a huge splash when it arrived on Kickstarter back in 2012, and then…then a lot of us forgot about it. The indie-friendly microconsole has yet to catch on in the gaming community, but it’s still alive and kickin’. Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman spoke at E3 about the development efforts her company is currently fostering, including a female-led Ouya-exclusive title debuting later this year.

As reported by Polygon, Uhrman commented that Ouya currently has an international community of 36,000 developers, over half of whom live outside of the US. According to her, around a thousand new devs are signing up every month.

The initial launch of Ouya was focused on newcomers to the independent development scene. What we’ve really been focused on for the last three to six months is extending the platform to up and coming, new developers. Even those that are inspired to build a game but have never figured out how to, and even those that already know how.

Ouya’s developer support team — helmed by Kellee Santiago, formerly of thatgamecompany (Flower, Journey) — has a very hands-on approach to their dealings with devs. They provide technical assistance in twelve third-party game making technologies (the interview doesn’t mention which), and sometimes even foster promising projects from newly minted devs. One such game is Thralled, an “interactive thriller” about the Portuguese slave trade in Brazil during the 1700s. The game follows the harrowing journey of a young Congolese woman named Isaura, who escapes from her captors into the Brazilian wilderness, trying to keep herself and her infant son safe. Not an easy story to tackle, but from what little I’ve seen, it looks to be done with a great deal of care and thought. The game was originally the senior thesis of developer Miguel Oliveira, who Santiago hand-picked straight out of college. Ouya is currently providing Oliveira with the funding necessary to bring the project to a wider audience.

And that interests me. The Ouya may not be as successful as it wanted to be, but its current niche as an ecosystem for new developers strikes me as a good thing for the industry at large. Maybe there’s big stuff to come out of this little box yet.

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