When my brother and I were growing up, our mother was always a huge inspiration to both of us. A fiercely determined individual, she decided to attend university and work, all while raising her kids. At Lancaster University, she studied to become a social worker. It was always very important to her to help others, despite always having an incredibly busy schedule. To this day, I remember attending her graduation ceremony, when I saw her receive her diploma, she inspired me to mirror her hard work and achievements in my own future. Through all of her struggles and hard work – raising a family while learning the best practices to help others, she taught me that you can achieve anything when you put your mind to it – a belief I’ve held strongly throughout my life, and a big driver behind Iron Fish.
My dad was always the laid-back, caring type, so naturally he drove tanks for a living. In the armed forces, he achieved the rank of Corporal, before leaving to become a long-distance lorry driver. Both my brothers and I used to stay at Dad’s house on the weekend, renting movies and – crucially – games from our local store. The time we spent together allowed me to amass a knowledge and appreciation of games from a young age. And like many who grew up with games, they’ve remained close to my heart as I grew older.
The military has always run in my family. Granddad on Mum’s side was in the army too – a member of the band. He used to regale us with stories of his time spent there. He’s a family man, and always has been, through all the difficulties he faced. Each week he called Nana, who was waiting patiently by a payphone on a specific time of a specific day. That call was a lifeline to them, and it was important to them to keep the family together as best they could, even when they had to be apart.
My grandparents on dad’s side moved to South Africa while Dad was in the army (“they abandoned me!” he still jokes). The times I visited gave me a real respect for the vast array of wildlife, and resulted in my and my brother’s understanding the animals there very well. From those visits I acquired a love of animals and their environments. My twin brother Shane and I have always been very close, and shared many interests like these in our early years. While our interested eventually started to separate as we grew older, he still remains a great support in my life.
Finally, I’d like to mention my younger brother, Sam. He’s ten years old and – and much like all ten-year-olds in the universe right now – adores Minecraft. He’s a gamer through and through, which is great: I’ve always believed that games are a medium that can be enjoyed by anyone.
All of this talk of my family is to say that they, and their interests and lives, are what formed my inspiration for Iron Fish. While it’s a horror game, it’s also the product of my experiences and those of the family around me. The close family ties I have been fortunate enough to enjoy have influenced the character I always wanted Cerys to be: strong-willed, highly skilled and family oriented, someone who’s been through struggles but comes out on the other side. And as for Sam… I want to use everything I learn in the creation of Iron Fish to show Sam that if he really wants to do something, he can – whether that’s in games, or elsewhere, just like Mum showed me.