SQ News

Spotlight: Meet Games Grants recipients Fuzzy Ghost

The booming Queensland games industry has attracted some impressive new talent to establish and create in the state, with indie studio Fuzzy Ghost the latest to join the local sector. 

Fuzzy Ghost are one of 14 recipients of Screen Queensland’s Games Grants funding in 2024. Helmed by developers and couple Pete Foley and Scott Ford, Fuzzy Ghost are renowned for their surreal yet affecting queer narratives and fantastical game worlds. Their two previous walking simulator games, Pebble Witch and Queer Man Peering Into A Rock Pool.jpg attracted considerable industry attention and the duo have won multiple awards including the 2024 Freeplay Award and the 2022 AGDA Excellence in Emerging Games Award.  

We caught up with Fuzzy Ghost to discuss their Games Grants success, their inspirations, style and latest project, Janet DeMornay Is A Slumlord (and a witch)

Beginning their screen journey as animators and having experimented with various creative projects like short films, comics and illustration, the Fuzzy Ghost team found they had always been drawn to the games industry.  

Pete and Scott of Fuzzy Ghost

“We both loved video games growing up, but working in the industry just didn’t seem viable, and making them ourselves seemed impossible. We didn’t know how to code, for a start. But around 2020 we started noticing things like Dream and node-based coding apps like Bolt, and we decided to give it a go.”  

The duo were encouraged to continue experimenting with games and were attracted to the ‘liveness’ of this screen medium, as practitioners whose work aims to build community, especially for queer people. “When people can sit down and actually be in the world, to interact with it and make changes, the engagement with a story is just so much stronger.” 

Their current project, Janet DeMornay is a Slumlord (and a witch) pays homage to their previous games while taking a new stylistic turn. Inspired by their love of supernatural horror—“a genre [which is] allowed camp and style and doesn’t feel it has to take itself too seriously”—as well as the classic survival horror games of their childhood, Janet DeMornay taps into the unique terror and absurdism of navigating the Australian rental market. 

The third-person role-playing game (RPG) is an escape-room set in the haunted share house of a group of queer friends, where the player must evade its landlord Janet DeMornay—who also happens to be a witch. Pete and Scott were inspired by their personal experiences as renters. 

Renting is like having a spectre that sits over your shoulder at all times—can I ask for this to be fixed without punishment? Will I get kicked out in three months? Will I be able to afford the inevitable rent raise?—so, the content was never far from our minds. As soon as we began riffing on the idea of renter-horror, it was just so real and so funny that we had to.”  

Screenshot from Janet DeMornay is a Slumlord (and a witch), courtesy of Fuzzy Ghost.
Screenshot from Janet DeMornay is a Slumlord (and a witch), courtesy of Fuzzy Ghost.

While their latest work in progress maintains the surrealism of their previous projects, the tone is decidedly darker and more thrilling. Fuzzy Ghost sees the genre of horror as facilitating a more communal gaming experience that reflects their ethos of representation and inclusion.  

“We wanted to capture the world and the people we love. It feels like there’s so little media that captures the Australia as we have experienced it, but also that talks about how we want it to be, how it could be. 

With Games Grants funding, Fuzzy Ghost will be able to enrich the world of Janet DeMornay is a Slumlord (and a witch) through sound design and music. 

“Sound is so important to horror. We can do a lot of things—programming, modelling, filling out forms —but we can’t do sound. So we are most excited about being able to pay a local sound designer, and to licence some creepy music, and who knows, maybe even get one or two things composed.”  

More generally, the funding allows the duo to commit additional time to developing and testing new puzzles and refining the gameplay —“it gives us the space to make a much better, scarier game.” 

For Fuzzy Ghost, the Queensland games industry presents a vibrant creative community to experiment and collaborate with. “Some of the country’s’ most exciting [games developers] live here, so we’re excited to see what they make next and maybe get some sneak peaks.” 

Games Grants

Cozy Caravan from 5 Lives Studio, supported by Screen Queensland's Digital Games Incentive

See previously supported games