The Game Plan

Resolution I could hear the faint voice of Nina but failed to pull open my eyes. Perhaps, I was bogged down by fatigue. Suddenly, I felt vibrations in my body. At first, they were subtle, but eventually, the shaking intensified. I woke up with a jerk and sat on my bed, confused. Faint rays of the sun were peeping through the translucent curtains. “C’mon, sleepy head. Open your eyes. Look at this.” Nina was jumping on the bed like a frenzied kid. It took me some time to realize that the tremor was man-made...err...lady-made, and not the result of a natural calamity.  “Why? What’s wrong?” She handed me her cell phone. "Check this! It’s all over the news.”  My eyeballs nearly popped out of their sockets as I read the caption- The birth of an Extraordinary Gaming App. I was awestruck. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Is this for real, or am I in a dream?  “Yeyhey! Congratulations. See, your efforts paid off. I’m so happy for you.” She gave me a tight hug. “This is just the beginning, darling. You have a long way to go.” I felt blessed, for this was the fruit of my trust and patience. I uttered a silent prayer and made a few calls to express gratitude and share my joy. My dream wouldn’t have fructified without Nina, so I promised her a grand treat.  The following weeks were packed with launch events and corporate parties. Ours was a ‘Free app with a subscription’ model. Five days from the launch, and the app was generating fair revenues. I was on cloud nine. Once the celebrations concluded, I boarded the flight home to have that long pending  Happy Holiday. Falling action My vacation got postponed. When I called home to share the news, my parents understood the situation and wished me luck. We stayed glued to the lab for the next six months and worked industriously to complete the project. The Animation Pipeline and the storyline were set. We opted for the Hybrid. It took a hell lot of expertise and planning. We cross-checked every minute detail, rectified the glitches, and worked on the sounds, dialects, expressions and gestures. The characters got their identity and voice. As thrilling as it felt, the exhaustion was draining us down. We cracked jokes to ease our mood. At times, colleagues from other departments stopped by to cheer us up. It refreshed our mind and kept us fuelled.  Dreaming was easy. Planning and developing was fun. But the rigorous brainstorming and the physical strain were tougher than a high-altitude trek. Once we were done, boss approved three days leave for us to revive our sanity. When we joined back, he summoned us for a meeting. I was surprised to see a few new faces in the room.  “I’ve uploaded the game on these tablets. We will explain the strategy and rules. Try your hands on and jot your feedback on the sheets provided. It’ll help us to identify the glitches if any.” Boss handed the tabs to them and told me to explain the rest. I did as advised.  We felt euphoric. The game was on, finally. Soon, everyone got busy on the screen. They were enjoying and interacting; smiling and discussing the steps, the design and the characters. They appreciated the gestures and the tone. One of them was euphoric when he earned three certificates in a row. I was concentrating on their reactions. We noted the technical glitches that popped up along the way and assured to rectify them.  “Consider them as the end users. Work on their suggestions. Remember, the program has to be faultless.” Boss was very particular about it. And so were we.   Another set of hard work and a few more trials were down the line. I was going through a set of mixed feelings about the whole thing. We were almost there. Maybe, a week more, and the game will be ready to hit the systems. Mr. Henry joined us for the following meeting. He seemed mighty pleased with our presentation and tried his hands on the game. He appreciated our efforts and assured to help us to launch and market the product. We were about to leave the room when he called my name. I paused.  “Well done, young lady. Let’s hit the road and top the charts. We have a long way to go.” As he praised, the room reverberated with the sound of claps.  It was over to Mr. Henry. They say his magic wand work wonders. We crossed our fingers. Our fate; my fate was in his hands now. Climax “This isn’t just a game. It's a world in itself.” I stated. “The picturesque backgrounds, graceful gestures, and the interactive mode will surely interest the kids. They can add cartoon filters to form characters. Kids will love the funny sounds, the easy steps and the earnings- stars, badges and educational items. They can even store them in an inbuilt cupboard.”  I ignored the silence and continued. “Even the grownups will love it. They’ll have their own version to choose from and can play along with their kids by sharing the same screen. It’ll be a teaching-learning process. I kept that in mind while designing this. For example, When a kid helps an adult player to climb stairs or lends a book, he will earn a star for kindness. Something like, sharing is caring. Kids can choose a school or a park setup to play with their friends. When he teaches his friend about a plant or gathers them to play, he earns a badge. The other players can earn stars by complying. This will boost their communication and leadership skills.”  “Sounds good to me,” said one. “But it’s age specific. So the market will be limited.”   “Nope. Hang on! There’s more in store.” I informed. “There’s a separate mode for young adults, and I’m sure they’ll love it. I’ve considered the aspects of teen life while designing the game. They’ll earn certificates and degrees. For example- You help your friend with studies; you earn a cert. for being a Helpful Soul. You stop a street fight, you earn a Responsible Citizen cert. You inspire someone, you earn a Motivator badge. People love to flaunt their scores, so I included a ‘Share’ option to make it interesting. And there are no opponents in this game. No violence, no bets and wins, no demolition. Nothing to build but the player's own character.” The odd stare of the best brains in the room made me nervous. They’ve designed amazing games and apps; they worked from dawn till dusk on projects. They were the sharks and knew the market well. And I was just a newbie; a dreamer. I didn’t have a degree from some noted university or a famous mentor to back my talent. All I had was a heart full of dreams and a head full of confidence. I learnt from the online tutorials and googled the rest.  Gosh, it's way past the lunch hours, but nobody’s talking about it. I’m starving. Can’t we continue post-lunch? Surprisingly, they continued discussing the pros and cons and how it could be packaged and marketed. I sat like a mute spectator, listening to their discussion inattentively since the borborygmus kept distracting me. The meeting continued for three long hours. They seemed interested but their verdict was pending. I felt happy and thankful that the experts spared their precious time to hear me out. Off to lunch, I went then.  Days passed, and somehow the interest subdued. No one spoke about the project in the office. Boss was moving in and out of the office, so I didn’t get a chance to catch up. I felt restless and shared my thoughts with Nina.  “Relax! Everything will be fine. Your project will roll soon..” She tried to cheer me up. I kept my fingers crossed.  About a month later, I was summoned to the conference room. I took a deep breath and headed towards my destination. Boss was already in, and beside him was a man I had never seen before. I stepped in and took a seat.  “Mr Henry, this is Kathryn. And Kath, this is Mr Henry, CEO of Matrix technologies. He’s here to hear about your project. Keep it short.” Gosh, he should’ve told me earlier. I could’ve prepared a bit. Damn! The chilly air from the aircon pierced through my epidermis, almost making me numb. I felt the bile rising, but I gulped it down, cleared my throat and spoke my mind out. Seven minutes and I was done talking. Phew! It wasn’t that hard. After all, the project is my baby, and I can speak about it anytime.  “Alright, you may leave now. Thanks.”  I stepped out, but my head was clouded with assumptions. Did they like it? Or, did they find it useless? They sent me out without a word. Mr Henry was all ears. I could see it on his face. Arrgh! This isn’t fair. I drank half a litre of water to calm my nerves. I was missing home suddenly. It was three weeks to my annual leave, but my sixth sense seemed unsure about it. Kay Sera...Sera... My project got the precursory attention, but it was at its rudimentary stage. A fortnight later, I was called in for another discussion. I saw a few known faces and wondered about the agenda. Shortly, the room went dark, and the projector came to life. Clueless, I stared at the screen. And whoa! I gaped in awe at the amazing outcome of my concept. My project was rolling on the screen. One by one, the experts explained their execution plan. I felt my goosebumps rise. After all, my dream was taking shape. The guys were highly skilled, and their plan of action looked perfect. My contribution seemed meagre compared to their inputs.  Teamwork rocks. And we proved it right.  Rising action The company I joined was a storehouse of talent and a lot to its credit. From highly skilled geeks to brand evangelists to digital media ninjas, the czars for interactive media, marketing experts, content gurus, and models to represent the in-house products...They have everyone. And now they have me, Kathryn. An aspiring techie who wants to develop a unique game that will be loved by people of all ages around the globe. A game with humane dynamics that’ll teach empathy and focus on improving the EQ. But I was clueless. I didn’t know where to start and how to start. I had faith in my idea. I wanted to learn and give shape to my dream. And wings too, eventually.   I know a few programming languages, but I still need to learn a lot. I want to develop an iOS app, for which I have to gain detailed knowledge about Xcode, Swift and the iOS SDK. While all these were popping inside my head, I heard someone call my name. A girl in her late twenties stood smiling at me.  “Hi, my name is Leena. I’m the receptionist here. How’s your first day going?”  “So far so good,” I replied hastily. “It’s alright, gal. You’ll catch up gradually. I’m here to ask if you’d like to join me for lunch.”  “Sure.” I followed Leena. We gossiped over lunch. She was quite friendly and jovial. Refreshed, I went back to my table, and on my first assignment, that boss handed me that morning. In the months ahead, my willpower experienced a cyclic rise and fall but my confidence remained intact. I received less praise and more criticism for the tasks I handled. But I embraced them as lessons for personal growth and professional refinement. I often patted myself for self-motivation and utilized my leisure time to learn Data Structures, Algorithms and Python. Eventually, I got the chance to handle clients, work for marketing, and our social media sites. My pace was gearing up, and my excitement was skyrocketing.  It was a regular day, and our boss seemed to be in a jovial mood. I asked if he could spare some time. He agreed. I went with my project plan, for it was time to let my dream spread its wings. He went through the file and read about the product requirements, where I included the user flow of my app, for each type of user. He frowned as he read about the collaborative process, which included a business analyst, a user experience designer, a developer, and a product manager. And then ‘Kathryn Rabezoza, Game Designer.’ A smile flickered on his face. I guessed the reason.  He kept the file but didn’t say a word about the proposal. I went back to my desk, millions of thoughts crisscrossing my mind. Later, I shared the situation with Nina, but her words failed to ease my mind. We went out to eat at Yo Sushi! my favourite restaurant, but that too didn’t help. I went to sleep with a restless head. The next morning when I went in, I heard that boss would be out of the office for the whole day Hais!  There went my chance to talk to him. Frustrated, I sat to work on the tasks at hand. Three days passed, but I didn’t hear back from him. The ignorance and silence bothered me immensely. Then on the fourth day, I was summoned to the conference room. Four guys, along with the boss were present there. Right then, my eyes spotted The Blue File on the table. The file with my project plan. My heart paused with a jolt. We had a round of discussions where they shared their opinion, spoke about the escalation plan, revenue generation strategy,  design and development costs.  The meeting went on for an hour and a half. It ended on a note of praise for my brilliant initiative. They loved it. They had to. Another meeting was scheduled where I was to present my ideas to a different set of people. Exposition The minute I landed at the airport, a bunch of mixed feelings, overwhelmed me. It was my first time to step out of my hometown Mahajanga, a small province in Madagascar. I was sceptical at first but my dreams forced me to fly off to the land of dreams and opportunities. I had no choice but to take that leap of faith. And I did.  After finishing High School, I, Kathryn, enrolled at the Technical College in my town and completed a Diploma in Computer Programming. My love for Coding and designing gaming apps was spreading wings. I read articles on the developments and knew that my access to a chance lies beyond the still waters of Madagascar. It wasn’t easy for me to convince my parents, but I did. And here I was, in a new city, all set to start a new phase.  My childhood friend, Nina, picked me up at the airport. I checked in at her accommodation, and during our chitchat, I shared my plan to go job hunting.  “Great! But first, get accustomed to the climate and vibes of this city. In the meantime, I’ll call up a few connections. Let’s hope for the best.” Nina was a blessing in disguise. Luckily, a month later, a Digital Solutions company took me in. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I agreed to join. “This is good enough to start with. I needed a chance, so I won’t turn this down.”   That evening, Nina took me out to buy a few essentials since I didn’t carry much. As we went around, the tall buildings shimmering with lights, the busy streets, huge malls and tempting food joints enthralled me. I’m glad I came here. Now all I need to do is work hard. And smart. I came here to learn, and excel, and so will I.  The following day, when I walked into the office, I noticed that it didn’t have fancy interiors, but the place was buzzing with busy heads. After a brief exchange of words, the receptionist led me to the HR office for orientation. Shortly after, I was assigned to a cubicle with a desktop and a cordless phone.   It was a new beginning. The beginning of a life I’ve been dreaming of for years. And I promised to make it big.    Penmancy gets a small share of every purchase you make through these links, and every little helps us continue bringing you the reads you love!