Debbie Petry had every reason not to believe. What does a 64-year-old know about video games? She can barely play them — how could she create one? Yet, that is what she set out to do.
“I wrote this story,” Petry said. “And I keep getting this nagging feeling that it is supposed to get out to kids all over the world.”
It is a story that just came to her one day, and would become the core of a new video game, The Guardians of Peace.
“It’s about a child fighting the evils of the world,” Petry explained. “Not just the outside evils, but also things inside us that we all struggle with: jealousy, self-doubt, and fear.”
The story behind The Guardians of Peace is one of empowerment, strength, and compassion. Petry felt most video games were too violent and that as teachers we must present a better way for our children. She could use her game to teach that instead of solving problems by fighting, shooting, and destroying, that patience, courage, and meditation work better.
“I want to teach children about inner strength,” she said. “They need to understand power doesn’t come from a gun. It comes from inside of you.”
Petry knows how difficult these lessons can be to learn. Her own daughter struggled with depression and addiction. Exposure to violence only added to the tension and confusion.
“We went to countless professionals who tried all kinds of things that just weren’t working,” she said. “My daughter was in terrible pain but when she tried meditation, energy healing and Qigong, it saved her life. I genuinely believe this can help.”
But simply creating a game like The Guardians of Peace wasn’t a guarantee anyone was ever going to play it. Petry knew she was going to have to compete with all the other games using great graphics, strong characters, and a compelling story. A game-changing moment took place when a friend connected her with developer Bret Wright at Toolshed, LLC. He immediately understood the importance of her mission and agreed to use his skills to help fulfil it.
“Even though I wanted a teaching game, we agreed it would have to be cool and fun,” she said. “After two years of developing, The Guardians of Peace was created.”
Since its release it has been downloaded a million times and is now available on PlayStation and Xbox.
“Once I started this project I never stopped to look back,” she said. “There is so much more to do, but I am proud to be part of a team that is making a difference and helping parents and children all over the world.”
Another important lesson from Petry is that age did not deter her, nor did her lack of knowledge of the gaming industry. She describes herself as someone who gets confused using her phone. Yet, she had a message she believed in, and the tenacity to see it through. Her goal was to change lives, she did not expect to change her own.
“Here I was at 64 thinking I was going to be retired and fading away, but now everything is different,” she said. “I have found a new purpose; a new adventure and I am so energized. I thought I was headed towards an ending but instead I feel I have a whole new beginning.”