Imagine a video game about an artist making it through the rap scene of Detroit; in each battle the character gains recognition, fame, a prize to perform at the hottest concert of the summer, and a record deal. Gamers don’t have to imagine for much longer because Detroit Native Shannon Williams created Detroit On Fire, an interactive video game inspired by the lifestyle of local Detroit rappers. Williams named his creation after the song “Detroit On Fire”, a collaboration which featured artists from the groups Real Street Ent. and Doughboyz Cashout.
Shannon like other kids played video games growing up. His ability to have the discipline needed to create one displays his true passion.
“I was 6 or 7, the first games I can remember playing was a Super Nintendo game Goof Troop and Tetris. You had to blow it (the cartridge) and put it in the game. We didn’t get to play the fighting games, my momma would not let me play any of those games when I was younger,” he said.
Now that he’s older, gaming options are unlimited for Williams. Video game content that was once off limits to him as a child; he is now able to create it in Detroit On Fire.
When playing the game there is a story mode where the main character is a rapper trying to build his name up. The player builds the character’s name up by winning fights. The end result is performing at Summer Jamz and getting signed to a major record label. This portrayal is quite similar to how many local artists gain celebrity in Detroit by performing at Summer Jamz.
Williams had been designing graphics since he was in the 8th grade, but this is the first time he decided to make his own game.
“I’ve just been 24/7, I don’t get any sleep no more I just been on my games,” said Williams.
Even though Shannon is a gamer at heart, he revealed that he recently began to take real interest in creating a video game. The Oakland University sophomore didn’t venture into his new craft until he was inspired by the release of Icewear Vezzo’s The Clarity, Summer Jam 2014 and a conversation with his brother. He said when Vezzo dropped the Clarity 2, he thought about how rappers in Detroit got paid just to rap.
Williams later had a talk with his brother that encouraged him to make a game in 2011.
“I just brushed it off, but over the past summer we were brainstorming about ways to make money and give the city something it doesn’t have. We were sitting and talking and I thought about it… I just kind of tried it,” said Williams.
After being apprehensive about creating the game, Shannon made his first character of Detroit On Fire, Kid of Doughboyz Cashout.
“When I made Kid, everybody liked it and it just took off from there,” he said.
Being new to game design, Williams is still continuing to bring his dream to fruition. He said that the city of Detroit, the music scene and the work ethic of the artists here all played a role in inspiring him to create the game. Staying true to himself, Shannon doesn’t plan on selling his idea to a larger gaming company unless his contract promises him to have full creative control.
The Detroit On Fire demo is available now on Xbox and Windows computers. Physical copies can be purchased from Shannon Williams. The final game is set to release in May 2015, so be on the look out for it!
Edited By: Taylor Bembery
Photo Credit: Drea Marie