Indie dev parodies internet life for fun and profit

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Nathalie Lawhead makes art that you can buy (and play for free). Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Nathalie Lawhead makes art that you can buy (and play for free). Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Nathalie Lawhead speaks swiftly, a gentle European lilt in her accent. On the screen behind her is a random-seeming collection of internet memes rendered in outsider art chic. At first glance, her games look absolutely absurd, random, and ridiculous.

“If Monty Python made games, the Orange County-based developer told Cult of Mac at the Game Developers conference last month, “this is what they would look like.”

Lawhead’s games are freely available on the web in both Flash and HTML 5 formats. They’re also on iOS and Android platforms, some of them, like They Came From My Inbox, will run you $0.99, while others — like Froggy (It’s Hungry) — are completely free to download.

Not only that, but Lawhead has made the source code (the underlying computer instructions that make games an apps work) completely free through an open source license. You can download it to use in making your own games, free of charge.

“I don’t think we’d have the internet we have today without open source projects,” said Lawhead. “It would be more socially and culturally relevant if artists were more open about their work instead of secretive.”

While connecting with the gaming press for exposure was tricky at first, Lawhead loves the creative freedom being an independent games developer affords her.

“I get to do absolutely ridiculous things and they don’t have to make sense or be playable,” she said. “I can totally experiment–that’s important to me.”