Concrete Genie takes down bullying with art and imagination

Amidst the huge titles at the Sony E3 press booth sat a beautiful little game with a boy holding a paint brush.

It wasn’t hard to see why, sitting next to Spider-man and Days Gone, I almost overlooked Concrete Genie but after sitting down with the game and speaking with one of the creators, I was glad I took the time to check it out.

With just a team of 16 people, several of whom were new to the games industry, PixelOpus was looking to tackle a very serious topic in a beautiful way.

“About three years ago, we did some brainstorming about what we wanted our next game to be and our VFX artist came in with this really evocative piece of concept art that showed a boy who was standing up to being bullied by painting these huge characters in the walls around him,” Dominic Robilliard, creative director of Concrete Genie, told Gaming in the 6ix during E3.

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Similar in vein to games like Papo & Yo and The Unfinished Swan, Concrete Genie uses art and imagination to express the complex emotions of our protagonist Ash and connects you to his world.

“We thought, if we could make you feel like an artist and make you feel invested in the things you’re painting on walls, it’s quite a good way to get the player connected,” Robilliard explained.

“So when the bullies start ruining the artwork, it’s a way to make you feel what Ash is feeling cause it’s not just your artwork it’s his artwork as well.”

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Painting the world brings life to you town, as well as to Ash and his creations, but on the opposite end, the game uses darkness to show just how toxic bullying can be. Ash’s whole world begins to go dark with the hurtful words for his tormentors.

But you can rebuild and you’re not alone.

Among his beautiful murals, Ash also creates monsters – each with their own different personalities depending on how you paint them.

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“They represent the friends that he wished he had in real life,” Robilliard said.

“The attachments that you add on (to the monsters), there’s a hidden matrix of how the combinations of those elements point to a different personality.

“It is to encourage players to experiment with adding different things on, then you wait, expectantly, to see what type of creature is going to come to life after it.”

How long the game takes to finish depends upon how much you paint. Robilliard said the main story takes about 5 to 6 hours to get through but if you take your time painting, it could easily extend your experience.

Concrete Genie will be coming exclusively to PlayStation at the end of the year.

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