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FUN AND GAMING
(a Body Horror genre love story)
(a Body Horror genre love story)
Samantha Arehart, GRHS Class of 2016, is a video game concept artist who started a new indie game company with friends from college. All are now independent developers working to create new and unique experiences. Their current "Fiasco Restoration and Repair" game puts the fun into free-form art restoration!
Man dies in an accident, wakes up in the afterlife, finds that it’s not nearly what he expected. To this day, the sound effects in that project haunt my friends. Horror games need their monsters. "Silent Hill" and "Resident Evil" and the above-mentioned "Divine Favor" would be nothing without video game concept artists, like me, responsible for the ideas and references (i.e., digital art) that 3D artists then follow and create for the game.
Short attention span, deep-rooted love of The Phantom of the Opera and no formal art lessons – that’s where I was until the literal final days of high school. But my love of the ugly, monstrous aesthetic of children’s pulp horror actually started expressing itself in middle school, mostly by doodling. As a kid I was really into the “Goosebumps” series and would always pick a book based on the front cover art, which I would draw and redraw in my free time. Later, when I got a computer, I got into horror games and movies in the Body Horror genre, but I never really grew out of love with the kids' pulp horror aesthetic, even if I do prefer to take it to the next extreme.
A lot of young artists, especially in the internet age, start with horror, but most seem to grow out of it once they begin taking actual lessons and learning techniques other than “red paint makes for good fake blood.” I never really got the memo on that front.
My long-standing portfolio of horror pieces (some appear here) is on Artstation, which has led to my getting a few freelance art jobs in horror — assignments perfectly up my alley, aesthetically. (I signed an NDA, so legally I can't disclose any other info about those jobs.)
On to college. The game studio at Champlain, my alma mater, is where I quickly found a group of like-minded students. They were studying adjacent disciplines, such as programming and design, and I was an artist, so it wasn’t long before we formed a team to make games. Our first horror game attempt was a buggy mess, but since then, now re-branded into Fowl Machinations, we’ve all gotten much better at our jobs.
So you're wondering about the name. Our group chose it randomly for our senior year capstone project assignment at Champlain. There was no real rhyme or reason behind it; we all like birds, and we wanted it to sound cool and complex, so we settled on Fowl Machinations. In the end, I'm glad we chose it this way, because who wouldn't want to have an angry chicken as their logo?
Now that I’m part of a game company, I find myself branching out more and more. I’m exploring humor — designing labels for fake store products like edible antifreeze and mystery meat cat food, as well as designing posters that parody famous movies, with art puns!
Sometimes I’ll spend the day drawing, not even noticing that the whole day has passed until it’s already over. My art, I’m happy to say, gives me the opportunity to work for a living in a job that I find both fun and challenging. The creativity aspect is a top requirement; it's what keeps me from crawling up the walls.
But back to humor. The Fiasco Restoration and Repair game came about when Fowl Machinations was wrapping up that final student project and taking the first steps toward becoming an actual full-fledged indie company. While everyone in our group likes horror (hey, we LOVE horror), you’ve probably realized that there’s a very specific audience for that. We wanted to make something that would appeal to a lot of people and decided as a group that fun/humor was definitely the way to go for our first few projects.
We’re excited to branch out of our comfort zones into other genres eventually, in due time. 🕹️