FunPlus proudly enters its fourth year of partnership with Creative Art Works, dedicated to empowering youth through art programs


Hello everyone, and welcome back to our exclusive “Insiders Info” interview series, where we share with you unique insights into FunPlus, FunPlus People, and our Games!

Today, we would like to announce that FunPlus proudly enters its fourth year of partnership with Creative Art Works (CAW), a non-profit organisation based in New York, that since 1986 has been dedicated to empowering the city’s youth through art programs. With a shared vision of nurturing a diverse new generation of video game talent, FunPlus has been supporting this initiative, championing the Character Design Program — a beacon of success with hundreds of young participants to date.

This year 2024, we embark on another year of collaboration with Creative Art Works, and we couldn’t be more proud to support it. We echo the sentiments of the CAW team, who believe in ‘putting creative art to work’ as a transformative tool for personal and professional growth. And let us tell you, it’s the kind of feel-good story you’ll want to be a part of. We’re all about helping the next wave of video game wizards, and thanks to the collaboration and the amazing work that the Creative Art Work crew is doing, hundreds of cool, creative kids are already on their way.

But don’t just take it from us. The real magic comes from the stories of those on the ground. So dive deep into this narrative, and read some of the stories that the CAW crew has shared with us, and also the one from Eleanor Twilton, Global Head of PR and Corporate Communications.

Are you ready? Keep reading and get a glimpse of their personal stories and statements!


“We’ve built a strong partnership with the team at Creative Art Works and each year sees this program adapt and grow to suit the needs of the young people who participate” – Eleanor Twilton



FunPlus Creative Art Works Crew Stories_2024

Creative Art Works Crew share their stories and journeys with us


Karen Jolicoeur, Creative Art Works Executive Director:

Karen expresses her gratitude for FunPlus’s crucial role in nurturing the Character Design program and how the partnership enriches the educational experience.

The support and partnership provided by FunPlus has been vital to the development of CAW’s Character Design program since its inception. In addition to their sponsorship, which allows us to provide creative workforce development to more than 100 NYC youth each spring, we truly value the real-world perspective that FunPlus professionals bring to our interns through guest lectures and studio critiques.

This program engages students at NYC Career and Technical Education high schools in a “workplace challenge” in partial fulfillment of their work-based learning requirements. Our interns are receiving real-world experience that follows the collaborative model in practice at video game design studios such as FunPlus. Working in small teams, interns are telling stories and building worlds to find solutions to common urban challenges that are important to them. Thanks to FunPlus’ participation, they are getting a deep look at everything it takes to bring video games to life, as well as learning about creative sector career pathways.”  – Karen Jolicoeur.


Riki Sabel, Creative Art Works Program Manager

Working in Teams – Riki highlights the shift in the structure to promote teamwork, mirroring the nature of the professional world.

“In past years, interns worked independently on their own portfolios. This year, we structured the program so interns work in groups of three to six to collaborate on a proposal. We did this partly to reflect a real-world experience, where working in groups is the norm, but also so that our young people have a better understanding of differing perspectives and opinions. So far, it’s been really interesting to see them compromise as they work out the direction of their story, the depth of the characters, what kinds of strengths and weaknesses they have.” – Riki Sabel.

“T” People – She explains the concept of ‘T’ people and how the programs’ group structure nurtures these collaborations.   

“The group structure helps develop what Mustapha Mahrach from FunPlus called ‘T’ people. ‘T’ people have a really solid understanding of one thing or a particular skill set, but they also have a broad understanding of what the other members of their team do. [The stem of the T represents your expertise while the arms of the ‘T’ represent your generalized knowledge]. And when you are in the early stages of developing a game, you need “T” people who are good at collaborating, which includes not just voicing your own opinion and backing it up, but really listening to what other people have to say.” – Riki Sabel.

Giving and Receiving Feedback – talks about the importance of communication skills.

We have included presentation skills as a key element of the curriculum. We wanted interns to get feedback on their ideas early in the process so they would have time to adjust and make changes. I think it provided an opportunity for our interns to understand what was working about their story, their world, and their characters because they had to explain it to us. So when Eleanor Twilton zoomed in to tell us about how often she gives feedback, how to receive it, how to give it, I think that was pretty impactful for them.” – Riki Sabel.

Non-Violent Solutions – encouraging CAW scholars to explore non-violent solutions.

“We never told our interns they couldn’t make a violent video game; however, this curriculum is grounded in finding solutions to real-world obstacles that are happening right here in New York City, things like the housing shortage, income inequality, or climate change, so the issues that they chose precluded violence as a solution. Nobody thinks the solution to gun violence is more gun violence.” – Riki Sabel.


Dani Coca – Creative Art Works Teaching Artist 

Dani shares with us how the program emphasizes the importance of narrative and character development as the scholars tackle real-world issues from a world-building and storytelling standpoint.

“Throughout the course of this program, interns are exploring what goes into world-building. While many of them are eager to draw their characters, they also have to consider what makes this character who they are. What is their role in their society? How does this society work? As an audience, what would make us root for these characters and their obstacles? Being able to break apart these elements that go into world building allows them to explore a variety of resources and discover what makes a story interesting to not only themselves but to a broader audience.

Since the start of the program, interns have been working in groups to craft their narratives and prepare for presentations. They are in the process of understanding the dynamics of teamwork, learning how to effectively divide up work, and taking individual responsibility for their contributions. Additionally, as they collectively gather the pieces for their stories, they are also expected to present, give feedback, and receive feedback. While many of them are accustomed to presenting as students, this long-term project provides them with valuable practice in communicating effectively within a professional setting.

In our early sessions, groups were tasked with creating mood boards around the ‘obstacle’ at the center of their stores. The groups were immediately enthusiastic about their ideas. One group, in particular, caught my attention by focusing on what they wanted to exclude rather than include. This group, ‘Pink Team’, chose to address homelessness and poverty in NYC. They aimed to set their story in the 1990s, a period when the city was notably “filthy,” especially its subway trains. During feedback sessions, a student from another group highlighted the graffiti on subway trains during that time. However, the Pink Team decided against including graffiti in their fictional world. They didn’t want graffiti and street art to be associated with negativity. I was impressed that they addressed challenging issues and questioned societal norms about what is considered ‘bad’ or ‘dirty.’ These young people defied social expectations and crafted stories from their perspectives. This, in my view, is what gives their stories particular significance.” – Dani Coca.


Syr-Ivan Bennet – Creative Art Works Teaching Artist 

Syr-Ivan Bennet, shares with us the skill set that the scholars are developing throughout the CAW program.

“The technical skills the interns are learning are rather varied. They are also learning character design skills such as creating color palettes for their characters and scenes, using mood boards, and multiple drawing techniques to bring their characters to life. They are also learning the day-to-day skills of working on a collaborative team, such as presentation tools like PowerPoint or how to clearly label and upload documents in Google Classroom.

The career skills these interns are developing will be immediately beneficial to them in the workplace. For example – we’ve gotten the interns used to public speaking without notes or a teleprompter. As a result, they have to know their material inside and out to field spontaneous questions. They also come across as more passionate about their ideas and design as a result. Other career skills they’ve touched on are time management and group interaction. Also, many interns were not used to working with people who were strangers. In the real world, you don’t get to choose your best friend for every assignment, you’ve got to learn to work with lots of different people.” – Syr-Ivan.


Joey Jimenez – Creative Art Works Teaching Artist

“What gives me the biggest sense of satisfaction in this program is being able to show the interns all the different avenues they can take in this field. They’ll tell me ‘I didn’t know you could do this!” – Joey Jimenez.


Eleanor Twilton – Global Head of Communications at FunPlus

Eleanor reflects on the collaboration between FunPlus and Creative Art Works as we celebrate the fourth year of empowering youth through the Character Design Program.

“FunPlus is very proud to be sponsoring the Character Design program for the 4th year running. We’ve built a strong partnership with the team at Creative Art Works and each year sees this program adapt and grow to suit the needs of the young people who participate. It’s an opportunity for FunPlus team members to inspire the next generation by sharing their expertise and experience, and in return, we learn so much about how young people see the world, the challenges they are facing, and how these can be expressed through creative means. We’re excited to see what this year’s cohort will achieve.” – Eleanor Twilton.


FunPlus & CreativeArtWorks 4th year of partnership_2024

FunPlus & Creative Art Works 4th year of partnership


If you want to know more about the Character Design Internship program from CAW & FunPlus, you can find all the information on CAW’s website. More content from the program will continue to be shared on FunPlus’ LinkedIn, and CAW’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and blog.



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