Freud’s Bones — Interview with Axel Fox

Işık Barış Fidaner interviews game developer Axel Fox about her ongoing game project. (Turkish)

freud

As a Žižekian who did some game development of his own, I was really excited to encounter a game project about Sigmund Freud. It’s called Freud’s Bones. It’s exciting and the graphics look quite good too. I’m not one of those Freudian people who were extremely disappointed by the Netflix series Freud, even though the series portrayed Freud differently from the facts. I believe in the value of doing a variety of projects about Sigmund Freud and I don’t expect perfect accuracy. Turkish psychiatrist Cemal Dindar suggested that people watch the Freud series like a “dream about Freud” and I agree with this idea. That’s why I wanted to learn more about Freud’s Bones and interviewed its developer.

Will you introduce yourself?

My name is Fortuna Imperatore (aka Axel Fox) and I am a 28-year-old, self-taught game designer with a degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Philosophy. I work for a cleaning company in a hospital during the day, whereas at night I work at developing Freud’s Bones. I spent two consecutive years (about 20,000 hours by myself) studying and understanding the dynamics of Game Design, multimedia storytelling and programming, in constant fear of wasting time and energy; yet I never stopped believing in this project.

How did you start doing game development?

I took a Master’s in Philosophy and Cultural Anthropology and I wrote a thesis that had the narrative power of videogames as its central theme. My life and my spiritual crises have always revolved around video games: games are tools to deepen our gaze on ourselves and the reality that surrounds us. I developed the desire to discover how video games were produced (I knew absolutely nothing about this world). I started from the end! I downloaded Unreal and Unity and learned how to use them little by little and without a manual, then I switched to RPG MAKER and at the end I tried to write a script, studying animation and Game Design always by myself.

Will you tell us a bit about your interest in psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis is a weapon in my opinion. At the University I studied Freud’s texts and learned to analyze myself, dig deep, understanding the mechanisms that have determined the way I am today. Psychoanalysis is a wound that has allowed me to calm my anger and my ignorance. I wanted to give thanks to this branch of knowledge so important through a game.

What inspired you to make a game about Sigmund Freud?

Freud was a great instant love. I felt close to him because he was an outcast, a person obsessed with an idea. Freud accepted to become an enemy of bigoted society in the name of a higher purpose: to reduce the concept of human rationality and to show us the shadows of the monsters that inhabit us. In my opinion the fundamental point of his theory (which I wanted to include in my game) is this: it is not only important to know that monsters exist and live there, but it is important to learn their language, their codes, because no brutal part that dwells in us wants to hurt us … just want to communicate what we do not know!

Why the name “Freud’s bones”? Is it to evoke the English idioms about bones?

That’s a great question! I’ve read the various possible meanings and I’ve always: “entirely, to the core”. I have an idea of the story of Freud that I wrote that is very visceral, internal, and the player must go down into the depths of his soul. But above all “wear” his bones to live an interesting experience.

Can you tell us a little about the game’s mechanics?

The mechanics I created are hybrid, like my general idea of video games in the name of gamification. I can say that within “Freud’s Bones” there’s a managerial component (we’ll have to manage Freud’s life and finances), a component of interaction typical of click and point adventures but above all a mechanics based on dialogue choices with clear consequences. During the therapeutic session we should understand which communication technique to use with the patient and create a sufficient transference.

How can people help your project? Also with their labor, effort?

People can support the Kickstarter campaign that will start on July 6th, download the demo, give me feedbacks and help me bring the full game to life. There will be many unlockable stretch goals … including Dr Freud’s dog and maybe a spin-off with a famous surrealist painter! This is the link of the campaign.

Anything you want to add?

I would just like to say that I created this game from scratch, endured deep periods of discouragement, got lost in the mazes and in the words of people who told me that everything was bigger than me but I resisted: if someone heard what I heard, I’m sure he will be able to help me. Thank you very much and remember to trust your instincts.

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