Combining Technology with Social and Cultural Issues

"It was a huge advantage for the game designers to use Storyboard Pro to draw directly in the system, set camera moves, create panning, and put sequences together." — Angelique Mannella, CEO, Decode Global

Combining Technology with Social and Cultural Issues

Toon Boom and Angelique Mannella crossed paths in May 2012 and haven't stopped since. Considering her unique technology and socially conscious profile, Angelique inspired us to feature her as a source of inspiration, as well as a demonstration of the power of the new generation.

The first project that connected Angelique to Toon Boom was Random Hacks of Kindness, a two-day games event she organized in Montreal in June 2012. The idea was to bring the games community together with the international development community to collaborate on how games can be used to increase awareness, drive action, and possibly solve important social challenges. In addition to Toon Boom, companies such as Nokia, Microsoft, Google, UNICEF Québec, and PlayMob were involved. In preparation for the event, Toon Boom offered a workshop on Toon Boom Storyboard Pro to the participants and made the software available for them to use during the event. Topics such as homelessness, street kids and hunger, as well as water issues served as causes to develop social games. "The event was a wonderful opportunity for participants to discover technologies, learn new techniques and demonstrate they could create a project in a very short time," stated Angelique.

Get Water!

In parallel with the event, Angelique created her own company called Decode Global in which she works with humanitarian technologists. Her fellowship program attracted five individuals coming from Finland, Ukraine, Brazil and the U.S.. They arrived two days before Random Hacks of Kindness and stayed several months to work on Get Water!, an iPad/iPhone game her company developed as their first venture into the social mobile game world. Launched on World Water Day 2013, Get Water! has already won the Create UNAOC 2012 challenge, a global competition co-organized by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in search of mobile apps and games that enable new avenues for intercultural dialogue.

This would not have been possible without the support of the TAG Centre at Concordia University and Hexagram-Concordia. "We selected water scarcity as a theme and developed several concepts to make a fun game out of it. We spent a lot of time prototyping and used Storyboard Pro throughout the process," explained Angelique.

  • Get Water! Storyboard
  • Get Water! Storyboard

Different versions of the narrative were created, along with several iterations of the character designs for the personality of Maya, the main character. "It was a huge advantage for the game designers to use Storyboard Pro to draw directly in the system, set camera moves, create panning, and put sequences together," she continued. "Our fellowship program enables participants to feel responsible and see the positive impact of their work. It served as a perfect launch pad for them while giving them a unique hands-on experience," she concluded. Maya is a strong character that Angelique and her team are looking at expanding in complementary media in the coming months.

Working closely with Concordia University, Angelique embarked on a new partnership, adding Dawson College to the roster and offering a ten-week summer program. The program is called Critical Hit and it's open to any Canadian willing to create a collaborative game motivated by contemporary social, cultural, and political concerns. Its mission is to foster open communication, collaboration, and creativity among the next generation of game designers while pushing the expressive potential of video games in contemporary society. Toon Boom will provide workshops on Storyboard Pro and Harmony right from the beginning to enable the summer campers to get familiar with these technologies and use them during camp.

  • Get Water! Menu
  • Gameplay

In addition, Angelique acted as a consultant for infoDev, a global partnership program in the Financial and Private Sector Development Network of the World Bank Group, as well as for the Canadian International Development Agency. As such, she ran a business pitch competition to foster mobile and tech businesses in the Caribbean. This was the first event in a multi-year program for regional development in the Caribbean. Launched in November 2012, the pitchIT Caribbean competition was open to aspiring or beginning entrepreneurs in the mobile or web space. Angelique facilitated the mentoring, matchmaking, and coordination between Canadian seasoned professionals and the Caribbean entrepreneurs participating in the competition. "Such initiatives promote economic empowerment in emerging economies and truly help entrepreneurs enter the mobile space," commented Angelique. Considering Toon Boom's extensive work in the Caribbean, Angelique called upon Joan Vogelesang to be part of the jury, tapping into her expertise. "We are fully dedicated to the region and were honoured to participate in the competition to help the Caribbean develop in new creative and stimulating technology projects," shared Joan Vogelesang, president and chief executive officer at Toon Boom.

Dynamic, bright, and resourceful, Angelique Mannella is paving the way for the creation of a new breed of technologists who are committed to putting technology in service of society, in a constructive and sensitive fashion. One can only bow to that and join the cause.

About Angelique Mannella

Angelique has 14 years of experience in technology product design, and has lived in six countries worldwide. Angelique is a professional engineer, and has degrees from McGill University (BEng), the London School of Economics (MSc), and INSEAD (MBA).