Roles: Game Designer, Quality Assurance

Genre: 2D Text Adventure

Development Time: 9 months

Team Size: 7

Software Used: Unity 3D, Adobe Illustrator 

When Rivers Were Trails is a narrative driven game developed by the Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab for Elizabeth LaPensée, with a budget of $100,000. The game features stories from over 20 indigenous writers and is designed to teach players about indigenous culture and history, specifically the struggles faced during the 1890's Allotment Acts. 


  • Conducted QA for over 12 levels

  • Designed tutorial level so players were able to learn the game's mechanics

  • Worked with Creative Director to re-work UI/UX design


  • Won Adaption Award at IndieCade Festival 2019, Santa Monica, California, United States, October 10-12, 2019.

  • Curated for the "Narrative Innovation Showcase," Game Developers Conference, March 18-22, 2019, San Francisco, California, United States.

  • Curated for the "heart of the game" Exhibition, Hedreen Gallery, December 1, 2018–March 3, 2019, Seattle, Washington, United States.

  • Accepted to "Serious Games Showcase & Challenge", Orlando, Florida, United States, December    2 – 5, 2019.

  • Accepted to the "Indigital Play" Exhibition, Native American and Indigenous Studies Association Conference, University of Waikato, June 26 – 29, 2019, Aotearoa, New Zealand.

  • Showcased at "Play at CCFF" Exhibition, Capital City Film Festival, April 18 – 20, 2019, East Lansing, Michigan, United States.

  • Accepted to the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, October 22-27, 2019, Toronto,

  • Ontario, Canada

  • Accepted to Game On! El Arte en Juego Festival 2019, November 22-30, 2019, San Martín Cultural Center, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Windows & Mac Version


Constant Play-testing

As a QA tester, I was constantly play-testing the game and all of its content. After a weekly play-test of each map, I would report back to our team about what bugs were found and what parts of the game could be improved. I talked to our Creative Director, who was also our UI Artist, about what changes to UI would need to be made to provide a richer experience to the player and ensure that assets stand out when needed After the team created changes, I would go back and play-test it to make sure it the best experience for our players.

Tutorial Design

During my time play-testing, I realized that players were not taught what all the icons on the screen meant. Other testers would start the game having no idea how to move, where their player icon was or what to do. Others would die and had no idea how it happened. When River Were Trails is a complex game with many different events happening at once and it is easy to get lost in it.


I pitched to the team on doing a tutorial level that would teach the player what Wellbeing, Foods, and Medicines were. This would teach the player how to maneuver through the maps by pointing out where the player is and how they can move throughout the world.

In-Game Screenshots


The pause button