Anti-bullying video game propels two Christ the King students into national spotlight

  • Written by Brian LeBlanc
  • Published in Local
Award-winning video game designers Keira Munko, left, and Gracie Clauson are eighth-graders at Christ the King School in Seattle. The girls and two friends designed an anti-bullying game, “Shredded Secrets,” that is being professionally produced for release in March 2020. Photo: Amy Hall, Christ the King School Award-winning video game designers Keira Munko, left, and Gracie Clauson are eighth-graders at Christ the King School in Seattle. The girls and two friends designed an anti-bullying game, “Shredded Secrets,” that is being professionally produced for release in March 2020. Photo: Amy Hall, Christ the King School

SEATTLE – “Remember to be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” says the trailer for “Shredded Secrets,” an anti-bullying video game created by four local middle-school girls.

Gracie Clauson and Keira Munko, eighth-graders at Christ the King School in Seattle, are members of the team that developed “Shredded Secrets” during a Girls Make Games summer camp.

Since then, their game has garnered the girls a lot of media attention, including an October 11 appearance on NBC’s “Today” show in New York as part of International Day of the Girl celebrations. They’ve been invited to visit Amazon’s Seattle headquarters and meet some of their women programmers. The girls’ game is in professional production and slated for a March 2020 launch.

The inspiration for “Shredded Secrets” was some “minor” bullying that Gracie said she and Keira experienced. “We kind of made our game to focus on helping other people,” Gracie said, “because we’ve already gotten over it and wanted to help other people get over their cases.”

The local and national attention has created a sense of pride in the Christ the King community, a feeling that, “Wow, those are our kids, they’re changing the world,” said Amy Hall, the school’s advancement director.

Grand prize winners

Gracie and Keira credit their school’s robotics team and its after-school coding program for cultivating their interest in science and technology and leading them to Girls Make Games in 2018. The camp teaches young women ages 8 to 18 how to design and code their own video games. At the camp, Gracie, Keira and friends Isadora Tiffe and Crystal Nelson formed the team Sarcastic Shark Clouds.

Gracie came up with the idea of making their “Shredded Secrets” characters look like drawings on notebook paper. Her teammates jumped in with ideas and created the concept of a “diary” that would take a player through the lives of their characters. Players start by playing the bullied girl character, but can later play as the other characters — the bully, a student who is failing in school and a lovelorn teacher — which helps players understand the reasons behind their actions.

During the camp’s National Demo Day, the girls presented their game concept to a panel of industry experts, who praised its emotional content and maturity. “Shredded Secrets” won the grand prize, which included a Kickstarter campaign that raised $30,000 for the team of professional designers that is helping the girls develop their prototype into a full video game.

“We decide everything that’s going to happen — the storyline, the dialogue,” Keira said, “but we do have a professional story writer to help us work out a few things.”

Shredded SecretsThe “Shredded Secrets” video game allows players to experience the life of school nerd Isabella, who spends her school day avoiding insults hurled at her and seeking comfort in ice cream and cotton candy. The game was designed by a team including Gracie Clauson and Keira Munko, eighth-graders at Christ the King School in Seattle. Photo: Courtesy Girls Make Games

Inspired by Catholic social teaching

Gracie and Keira, who both say St. Francis of Assisi is their favorite saint, are inspired by what they’ve learned in their missionary discipleship class at Christ the King.

“What I really like about Catholic social teaching is it’s focused on helping others, and not just helping others, but our environment, helping everything around us that God created,” Keira said.

Both girls hope to attend Catholic high school. Becoming video game designers is first on their career path lists, Gracie said.

“It gives us an incredible amount of pride to know that their values and the education they’ve received here, as well as strong Catholic faith at home, has developed this passion of theirs to take care of every child,” Hall said.

Gracie and Keira are “great ambassadors for girls, for our school in particular,” said Principal Joanne Cecchini. “I find great faith in the future when I know that quality kids like Gracie and Keira are going out in that world to make a difference.”