I’ve always seen video games as an artistic medium for expression from moment one. That first instant I played Mario for the NES, I knew. I felt it. I saw it. It was an image, a painting, a cartoon that I could control. And it could mean something.
In game design, I’m uniquely filling a space, a gap, that I’m specifically qualified for. There’s a need to bridge teaching, mentoring, and gaming together into a cohesive whole. As I’ve been a professional mentor & life coach for over 7+ years, and involved in gaming MUCH longer than this, I’m integrating the two. In additional to my own ideas, I’ve studied the works of, and connected with, top luminaries in these fields. I know it well. Theory and practice, theory and practice.
What startup/tech projects have you worked on?
Quite a few. I’ve been building game levels, mods and prototypes since I was a kid.
I’ve launched and continue to run a mentoring business (7+ years). I’ve written several books. I’ve also created my own media publishing startup (includes games, books, social media, etc.) that I’ve been running for two years.
Why are you interested in startups?
We’re in the midst of a business, tech, and creative renaissance right now. Unlike anything anyone has ever seen. Ever. Its easy to overlook or take for granted, as we carry our smart phones everywhere. But I can’t state enough how awesome it is to be alive right now. You can grab an idea, muster the resources, and get to work.
The tools for video game creation are freely available. There used to have a *substantial* startup cost (in terms of time, money, energy, and especially talent), even more than traditional software startups in many cases. Now, there are more people playing games, more people from different industries converging into making them, more talent and resources are available than ever. There’s no excuse not to do something.
What tech/tools are essential to you?
Oh God. Where do I begin? We’ll stick to gaming software. I am an equal fan of both Unreal Engine and Unity3D. Unity is excellent due to elegance and flexibility (there are thousands of plugins for it), and the Unreal engine has always been powerful. Now Unreal4 has made incredible strides in smoothing out the experience of building games, and is (very rapidly) catching up to unity in terms of elegance and extensibility. A common misperception is unity is only for mobile and unreal is only Triple-A, for big budget studios. Neither is true. These are tools and become what the creator (you) can make of it.
Most of all? Pen and paper. I think its important to get away from the computer and think. Its understated. Paper prototyping frees you up from being inundated (or limited) by your toolsets. A carpenter who talks more about his wrench than his design may miss the point. The idea counts most. Better tools help you get there.
How do you stay informed & on top of emerging gaming trends?
More than anything, I ask myself what people need. I feel this is at the heart of nearly any trend. Asking the right questions helps one to more easily gauge what’s happening.
There are a key handful of people who drive this industry forward. I keep tabs on them from time to time. Not obsessively, but I check in if I feel it’s relevant.