Interview: Aaliya Mondesir on being a black woman in game development

Image: Trevor Smith-Holbourn

Run Alob Run is a platforming adventure game that was released for mobile devices back in 2021 and follows a small alien that crash lands on earth, and is trying to find his way home. Aaliya Mondesir was a core member of the small independent development team that brought the game to life, and spoke with us about her experience.

  • LoopBreak: Run Alob Run follows the story of an alien that crashes on earth and is trying to make its way home. What made you want to tell this story?

Mondesir: So the story was written by one of my teammates, Hamna Faisal. There were five of us on the team and we all pitched an idea for a game we wanted to create and then voted on which one we thought we could accomplish. I had pitched a platforming game with no story and my game got voted to be the one we’d create. However, it didn’t have a story and we all really loved Hamna’s adorable story about Alob so we based the game around it. While we think our game can be enjoyed by people of all ages, our target audience was kids and we all agreed that this story would be great for kids.

  • LoopBreak: As a level designer and music designer, can you talk about how those two aspects of development influenced each other?

Mondesir: My goal when creating the levels was to make levels that people would make people sit there and think. Since it’s a puzzle game, I wanted the player to be engaged with each level for a few minutes if possible. With that in mind, I knew that the music had to be upbeat and positive. Since I was trying to make the levels get harder as the player progresses through the game, I wanted music that might calm the player down if they get too frustrated. And while this goal might be obvious, I really wanted the music to be catchy. If players are truly stuck on a level for 5 or so minutes, I knew I had to create something that could loop nicely and not annoy the player while they’re already annoyed that they’re stuck on a level.

Alob standing on a platform in Run Alob Run.

  • LoopBreak: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced while making the game, and how did you and the team overcome them?

Mondesir: We were all beginner game devs making our first game on a time limit. We had so many ideas that we, unfortunately, had to cut due to both our time limit and lack of skill. We overcame that by making a vision board and discussing the things we absolutely had to have to publish our game. For example, Run Alob Run would not have been published if we did not have an enemy. We made sure that we had a working enemy before publishing. We had actually planned on publishing more enemy characters that had different abilities but at the time, we made sure to focus on having just one working enemy so we wouldn’t lose sight of our goal and it worked.

  • LoopBreak: What advice would you give to black women looking to get into game development?

Mondesir: Network, network, network! I’m still very new to the game development world but I’m positive that I can make it in this field due to all the positive experiences I’ve had meeting other people in the game development world. Put yourself out there and join groups, whether they be in-person groups or online. You will meet wonderful people that will either help you in your career path or will be great friends. That’s advice I think is important to everyone. However, as a black woman, putting yourself out there might not be the easiest thing to do. If you’re starting out meeting small groups of people (20 or less), you will most likely be the only black woman. Possibly not the only black person but definitely the only black woman. If there’s any advice I truly want to give to black women looking to get into game development, it’s to not let being the only black woman on the team, in the room, etc. discourage you. There are a lot of people who do not look like you or understand how hard that can be that will still support you and will do what they can to help you succeed. Never let being different stop you from achieving your goals.

Run Alob Run is available for free on the Google Play Store. Visit our interviews page for more insightful chats with game developers!