I was a 15-year-old girl when Trump was elected in America. Immediately, he began the sickening demolition of our country's democratic institutions and norms of civil discourse. He attacked the truth and our growing culture of tolerance. I couldn't sit helpless; I had to do something.
A coder, I decided to build an app that would spread truth and tolerance and fight the Trump agenda. My objective was simple: raise as much funding as possible for non-profit organizations that were standing guard for social justice. I didn't have a large budget, but fortunately programming games was inexpensive. I would need to hire an artist to capture the right look and feel, but I could engage an online freelance artist at a relatively low cost.
I hoped my game could serve as a rallying point for the good people of the world. I knew the name of the game would have to capture everything in a word or two. "Bad Hombre" fit perfectly, as Trump popularized the phrase by implying in one his typical speeches that all Mexicans were "Bad Hombres."
I also wanted the game to be silly and entertaining, not to belittle the awful rhetoric and policies being spewed by the White House, but to keep and maintain the interest of my target audience.
I began by crafting a game design document, outlining the various components of the app and how they would fit together. Most of the coding would be in the gaming levels, but I also wanted sections devoted to profiling accurate journalism (truth) and organizations for social justice (tolerance).
As for the game, I envisioned a series of levels, each one based upon a classic arcade game. I designed it this way for several reasons. Most people are familiar with these classics, and so instructions wouldn't be necessary. These simple games are relatively easy to code, and so I knew I could handle the production myself. Finally, I could roll it out in a modular way, adding levels over time. This would allow me to publish a workable version more quickly.
I developed the app using the Corona interface which allowed me to code once and easily port to both Apple and Android devices.
Once I had the idea and basic strategy, which came together by May 2017, I set a goal to be launched by the end of 2017. I knew that most of my summer and fall would be spent coding.
In late May, my dad helped me create an account on Upwork, where I posted the game design document and solicited interest from artists. Several submitted initial sketches, and I fell in love with the work of freelancer Mark Brown out of Italy. Mark perfectly captured the serious yet cartoonish look and feel I had in mind.
The first level came together by September, and the second level was ready to go by late October. My dad actually learned to code, too, so that he could help me with transition screens, menu pages, and certain features of the levels. By early November we had launched our beta test on iTunes and began soliciting feedback and fixing bugs. We hit my launch goal, publishing version 1.0 of Bad Hombre on December 6th.
The challenge after launch was distribution. I emailed countless journalists, celebrities, and app review sites, but I had little success outside of friends and family. I wrote a blog post on Medium in the hopes of attracting the attention of someone with a social media platform. About the same time, I emailed Amy Siskind, author of The List and ardent anti-Trump activist. She loved the game and shared my blog post with her community on both Facebook and Twitter. After her support, Bad Hombre downloads skyrocketed.
As of this submission my game has been downloaded over 1000 times, and the number continues to climb. I have garnered several reviews on the Apple and Google Play Stores, and Bad Hombre currently has a 4.9 out of 5.0 rating on iTunes. I am hopeful that winning a Shorty Award will help spread the word even further.
From the outset, I planned to donate all profits from Bad Hombre to social justice organizations. I made my first donation in March 2018, giving $1000 to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC has been battling racism and hate for almost 50 years. I was proud to contribute. In the coming months, I plan to donate to the other pro-tolerance organizations highlighted in the app.