Pound Ridge mom launches adventure video game with female protagonist
Seery hired young musicians from Pound Ridge —her son Milo, a drummer, and guitarist Gianni Leone— to create the City Run London sound track .
Photos by Rana Faure
Following a worldwide video-game launch, it is raining cats and dogs in Pound Ridge. Natasha Seery settles in at home after her big night making it all happen.
At 8:47 p.m. on an unseasonably warm winter’s night, Seery sat in a Manhattan restaurant alongside a few co-workers and pushed a button on her iPhone to activate City Run London’s smartphone and tablet app. She describes the moment as “surreal” and adds that it went smoothly, aside from a glitch in the translation between German and Korean. “The game is a global release with subtitles in seven languages I don’t speak, so I’m answering emails using Google Translate,” she says.
Seery operates her company, City Quest Games, from her home, a contemporary she shares with her husband and three children. Perched on a breathtaking set of Pound Ridge woodland, she says it’s a far cry from their previous home in LA’s Laurel Canyon.
“I am acting as customer service today,” Seery says. Things are happening on top of her kitchen table, where a tablet and laptop are at one end next to a wine goblet filled with water. “It was a late night of celebrating,” she recalls with a smile, as she begins to demonstrate City Run London. “The game is not a shoot-out one but a rescue adventure where players win through hiding and stealth,” she says. “It’s set in the freezing winter of 1545, a time of civil and religious unrest with King Henry VIII on the throne.”
City Run London reveals aspects of Tudor-era life through a large cast of characters whom players meet as they help the main character, Willa, unlock ancient gate towers and travel through historic sites. “It’s a surreal interpretation,” she says.
“Years ago, I lived in this area of London known as the ‘Square Mile,’” she continues, “and never noticed the medieval trades’ guilds there, let alone the fact that the area had its own Lord Mayor and government at Guildhall.”
The Tanzanian-born Brit explains that the great fire of 1666 burned many of the original buildings, but 110 guilds still remain today, operating behind unmarked doorways. An ancient and active universe exists within the walls, and the guilds, including Goldsmiths, Grocers, and Fishmongers, are ranked by their age and power.
The whole idea intrigued Seery after a friend first described the arcane-political structures in depth. “Once, there was a church on every street corner—111 in all,” she says. “Now most days you’ll see small groups of liverymen process through the streets from hall to church in traditional dress, and seeing this kind of understated celebration of history and heritage, it’s just thrilling.”
Seery says she is just curating true stories and using the game’s medium as her conduit to reveal untold aspects of London history. “I work with historians to get the tone right, and whilst we have a roster of London sequels to this game, we are also toying with making City Run New York.”
While she was never particularly a fan of video games, Seery has sympathy for the parents of kids who play them “all through the day.” She wanted to create more plot-driven quest games with beautiful original soundtracks for all ages and calls her adult target a “Suduko player.”
In 2007, she was mentored in gaming by some of the leading names in the market and quickly got up to speed on how to format games and who the players were. Soon the idea for City Run London took shape.
Seery partnered with Sine Wave Entertainment and then hired a team that included writers, an art director, a composer, vocal chameleon, and even a couple of musicians from Pound Ridge. Finally, she secured a studio in London where they actually built the game. “We’ve had someone on every continent working on this except the South Pole and Africa,” she says. “Who doesn’t like time travel?”
With the March launch of City Run London’s PC, PlayStation, and Xbox versions in sight, Seery looks forward to what she calls a lull in her side of the work. “I need to get off the laptop and get with my children, spend time with them, make some beds.”
And, perhaps a few evening escapes to her favorite local eateries, North Star and Café of Love (“I could eat that mushroom-marmalade burger there every day for the rest of my life”), will be in order as well.