Photo/Courtesy of Ariana Washington
Ariana Washington spent most of her childhood entranced by the spellbinding nature of storytelling. The seed that was planted by the books that she read, led Ariana to create and design her own immersive story. One that she packaged in the form of a fantasy and adventure video game called Kyrion.
The attorney turned video game storyteller and designer was born in New York to a Barbadian/Jamaican mother. As an only child growing up in a single-parent household, there was little scope for adventure. Money was tight, the cost of living was high, and family vacations were scarce. Reading books was her escape. Interwoven in the fabric of literature was a doorway to all realms of fantasy and adventure - one which she could travel to and explore at will. The supernatural appealed most to Washington, but romantic comedies remained a firm favorite. "Give me a 400-year-old vampire returning to high school any day," she noted.
Lawyer By Day, Storyteller By Night
In her final year of Law School, Ariana began to get cold feet about her career prospects. The idea of working long and grueling hours for a "boring" law firm felt daunting. At that time, the law student was not aware of jobs in the legal field that would allow her to tap into her creative side. Looking for an alternative career path to a seemingly monotonous existence, the law student tried her hand at screenwriting.
It had been a while since she had done anything creatively fulfilling such as writing and Washington was missing it. She began to write romantic comedy scripts that she felt could fit into the CW network's show roster. However, writing a great script was half the battle. Getting an interview with a network executive to pitch her TV show idea would be no easy feat. She lacked the industry connections to get her foot in the door. After churning out several romantic comedy scripts, with no success, Ariana placed her screenwriting aspirations on pause.
Since completing law school, Washington has been working as an advertising and marketing lawyer at Uber. One year into her job, the young attorney still felt the urge to do something creative. "Once I opened that door to my creative side, it was back with a full vengeance," she told Unstoppable Yes You. Washington wanted to write a story she felt emotionally connected to and had full control over. If it couldn't be done for a TV network, she'd create something for herself.
Making the Leap to Video Games
Ariana Washington's decision to become a video game creator and designer was twofold. Washington wanted to tell an authentic and original story.
The idea for her video game came to Ariana one day while she contemplated what she would do if she was tasked with saving the world from extinction in real life. A figurative light bulb went off in her head, and her lead character, "Kyrion Dawes" was born.
Who is Kyrion Dawes? He is a young Black man living in the Midwest. Kyrion's life is changed upside down dramatically in 2062 as he is suddenly tasked with saving the world from the brink of destruction. The problem for the rest of humanity is that this late 20s male is a serial underachiever. Can he overcome his lack of ambition to rise to the challenge and become a hero, or is humanity doomed?
The main characters of video games, especially fantasy RPG games, are hardly ever Black. When included, they are riddled with stereotypes like the villain or sidekick. For this reason, having a Black main character free of racial stereotypes was very important to Ariana.
Like other entertainment mediums such as film and literature, Black representation in video games has come a long way. However, Washington would like to help take it further. Her next step is to secure an investment partner who shares her vision to bring Kyrion Dawes’s story to life.
Ariana Washington has an ongoing love affair with adventure and fantasy; no one can argue that. In a little over six years, she took her video game idea from concept to a released trailer – while balancing a demanding job as an attorney at Uber with her personal life. Ariana notes that she would like to continue developing as a legal professional; however, her ultimate goal is to become the first Black woman to create the story for and design a triple AAA video game. Without a doubt, she is well on her way.