Beyond The Workweek: Bea Flowers (Game Designer)

[Welcome to Beyond The Workweek, a series of profiles featuring young people doing cool work beyond their day jobs. I had the opportunity to meet with creatives in order to pick their brains about how they work and what gets them excited. Quotes are paraphrased then fact-checked because recording and transcribing is tedious. Enjoy!] 

Bea Flowers is a game designer – video games, board games, and even functions as Dungeon Master for her friends’ Dungeons & Dragons campaign. By day, she works as a Barista in Seattle’s Pioneer Square Neighborhood, but she hopes to free up more of her time to focus on her other projects.

She currently works three days a week at the cafe, and spends two days a week focusing on her creative outlets. She is currently taking a break from making games since she feels she has lost the feeling of being creative for creativity’s sake. “I want to get inspired again and reconnect with that feeling of flow.”

Bea grew up in Georgia and moved to Seattle after college, hoping that the new city would lend itself more opportunities to pursue game design. She is no stranger to the struggles of working for oneself. She and her partner ran an Etsy store selling leather goods, and later Bea joined a Kickstarter project in which she pushed for the launch of a Jenga-like board game called “Grow”. Now, she doesn’t know what to do, since most of her time seems to be focused on navigating the ins-and-outs of adult life.

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“It would take six months to make a profitable product, like a demo video game,” she tells me. “I just need enough money for myself. If I make enough money for me to quit my job for a year, I can focus on this game.” Bea has considered applying for grants, but feels strange about it. “I’m not a grad student. I’m not the kind of person who applies for grants,” she says.

Bea shows me a game she made at a game-jam this year. At game-jams, developers meet and crunch out a working video game prototype in 48 hours. It’s a difficult sprint, but the game she shows me is cute and fun: a lumbering, doughy character carries different gems to a pit in the center of the screen. “My video game is queer, non-violent, and for my community,” she tells me.

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All things considered, Bea believes she has a good grasp on taking responsible steps forward. “I don’t have to think of ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes in order to get things like healthcare anymore. It makes me feel like a human being, and that I belong and that maybe I’m allowed to have ideas and make these things.”

As a barista, Bea often has to fight an uphill battle against time and capital.  “I don’t know people, or I don’t know that I know people who just have money lying around. As far as I know, I don’t have anyone in my peer group who just gives out money to do things.”

When I ask her what she thinks her creative community should be doing with their time in order to start getting paid, she isn’t quite sure how to answer. “I don’t want to be too much of a dreamer, because sometimes I feel helpless. I guess the bottom line is to support each other. I know that if you work in a coffee shop you are probably not doing what you want to be doing. I want to know what you aspire to be, and I want to make you feel like you are already that person.”

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