by Max Braun

Play the full Upstream series here.

Artist Statement

Maximilian Braun is an artist who utilizes game design, sound, drawing, and video to realize his visions. These visions are centered around the world as he believes it should be: kind, equitable, (and most importantly) fun. In his works, Braun explores themes that relate to issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community such as exploration, belonging, individuality, and community. It’s his passion to bring these topics to the forefront of people’s minds, to highlight queer struggles and triumphs. He especially enjoys presenting these themes through the whimsy and freedom of virtual worlds. Braun often blends hand-drawn works with programs such as Unity and Processing in order to execute his unique style, an art form he likes to call Manu-digitalism (combining manual and digital art). Braun enjoys adding elements of his interests, such as fantasy and pop culture, to his projects. Maximilian Braun is based on Long Island, New York with his dog Romeo.

Project Statement

Upstream by Maximilian Braun is an episodic, interactive flat game series consisting of hand-drawn elements, whimsical sounds, and an original story. Upstream follows main character Flip through his move to a new side of the sea. Players go through this phase of his life with new experiences, new friends, and new challenges.

Players can access all five episodes of Upstream through the main website. Players enter the aquatic digital world as Flip and use the arrow keys to move from scene to scene within each episode. As the player progresses through each scene and episode, they learn more about the characters and the world of Upstream.

Upstream was inspired by themes of coming of age, the queer experience, chosen family, and exploration. The fluidity of fish in water is a representation of the flow of life and is meant to portray a comforting and serene environment. Players will find the familiar story of a “fish out of water” with a fun twist. Hand drawn elements made to look like childhood drawings further the focus on the transition of childhood to adulthood. Players can get lost in this digital world and immerse themselves in the story of Flip.