TORONTO; July 23, 2015 – Independent game developer and animator Chris de Castro wants to make you a Wizard. Today he announced development on his first title, an exercise in games-as-narrative called The Wizards of Trinity Bellwoods. The game is set in Toronto’s largest downtown urban park circa 2003 to present, and explores gentrification and the symbiotic relationship between the growing hipster scene and the can-collecting ‘Wizards’ that keep the park clean and become an important component of the economy and ecosystem.
First created as a demo for Toronto’s Hand Eye Society’s Artsy Game Incubator, The Wizards of Trinity Bellwoods is the singular creative vision of de Castro’s, based on a real place and subculture of which he himself had been a part. The positive reception the demo received upon its debut at the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (TAAFI) and this year’s Game Developers Conference, encouraged de Castro to continue with the project. He is launching a Kickstarter campaign today to help fund further development and the completion of the full game by Summer 2016.
“My friends and I would hang out in the park after work and on the weekends over some drinks. We all lived in tiny apartments with no air conditioning, so basically Trinbell became our backyard,” said de Castro. “These mostly older Asian immigrants would come around and collect our empty cans, sometimes patiently waiting for us to finish our drinks. We loved them and started calling them the ‘Wizards’ because of their large bags and walking sticks they looked like wandering wizards. Your cans would magically disappear when they were around.”
“Once we started talking to the Wizards, we learned their stories – many of them were supporting family with the money they made from returning cans. One guy was using the money to help send his daughter to school. They reminded me of my family, especially my grandmother who took care us as my parents worked 16 hour days,” de Castro, a first-generation Canadian of Asian descent, continued.
Starting in 2003, Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods became the social hangout, cultural hub and ground zero for a subculture rich in art and local music such as Broken Social Scene, Feist, Maylee Todd, Laura Barrett. The park grew busier as the area’s population increased, following the gentrification curve; leading to the can collectors organizing and becoming an integral part of the ecosystem.
The Wizards of Trinity Bellwoods brings these characters to life through game play mechanics, putting players in the role of the can collecting wizards who encounter the hipsters, collect cans, avoid hazards that cause them to lose the cans, and then use the money to customize and improve their homes, wardrobes and more. Progress introduces additional characters and unlocks their back stories.
Since The Wizards of Trinity Bellwoods is based on a real community, de Castro is rewarding the Kickstarter campaign’s backers at most levels by placing them into the game as characters. Backers will be able to place themselves, their family and friends, businesses and even their pets in the park. He is also planning on including music from Toronto musicians from the mid 2000’s era that would attend the park regularly.
A graduate of the prestigious Sheridan Classical Animation program, de Castro has spent more than a decade crafting narratives and creating experiences in film, animation and video as a VFX supervisor, Animation Lead and Designer on projects with Drake, David Cronenberg, Much Music /MTV, IMAX and many more leading entertainment brands. The Wizards of Trinity Bellwoods is his first foray into games.
“I’ve always felt that the games medium is perfect for telling stories for its ability to put people into the action and shoes of others, so this game is my chance to explore that while highlighting important issues surrounding urban life and its diversity, said de Castro. “I’m excited to share these stories and viewpoints, as well as shine a light on Toronto, a place and community that has come into its own and been instrumental in shaping me as an artist.”
You can help support The Wizards of Trinity Bellwoods on Kickstarter now.
Source: Press Release