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The Living Dream of Gaming: Why I Quit My Job to Make Games

Games have changed the way I’ve learned, socialized, appreciated art and music, and even stayed fit over the years. I hope to bring everyday people the gamer experience, but still put a smile on the faces of experienced gamers like myself.

“On my business card, I am a corporate president. In my mind, I am a game developer. But in my heart, I am a gamer.”

Satoru Iwata
CEO of Nintendo

 

More Than Entertainment

I went to PAX Aus in November 2015 where I sat on a presentation of a game from the early 90s that was getting a big budget sequel/reboot. As I walked out with my brother, we commented how the new game looked rather bland and really seemed to invoke more nostalgia than any attempt at innovation. A young man next to us (I’m guessing ~20 years old) over heard us and said that it looked innovative to him and after all, “it wasn’t our childhood we were reliving”. We looked at him puzzled for a few seconds, then realized that he thought we were his age. The truth is that video games have been a part of my life for over 30 years.

While commonly viewed as a source of entertainment, games have changed the way I’ve learned, socialized, appreciated art and music, and even stayed [reasonably] fit over the years. As I leave behind careers in finance/consulting, I look forward to creating experiences for people that could show some of the many artistic facets of video games… as well as to find the temporary cure for boredom.

 

Leap of Faith

Jumping from derivatives at an investment bank to entrepreneurial game development is a leap of faith. Friends and family gave me hesitant words of support when I told them about the recent switch, but I don’t expect everybody to give me a standing ovation for diving into a brutally competitive industry at the indie level. In a world where the big players have Hollywood-esque budgets and the app stores are graveyards for anything outside of the top 50, who in their right minds would want to step in now? There are a lot of answers I can give regarding the growth of the industry, our unique game concepts, marketing strategy, etc., but the only one that matters is that I love games.

I certainly don’t like EVERY game ever made, but there have been many throughout the years that have had profound impacts on my life; impacts that would have been dulled or simply impossible in other forms. Only in a game, can a player choose how they experience art, music, and story at the same time. The developer makes the world and the player that chooses how they want to spend time in it, but it is how the world reacts to the player’s choices is the difference of games. That difference results in why I’m making games.

Between updates on our current project, I’ll try to elaborate on the specific games that influenced me over the decades and break down the impact they had on me. Here’s a sample of some of the older stuff I grew up with:

What’s Next?

Games with impact aren’t easy to make and often not easy to play as well. Most of the games we play now have a degree of familiarity with regards to controls: A UI with player information and visual cues to direct us towards the objective. Some of the most innovative games throw all of that familiarity out the window and create something entirely unique, but it’s so daunting for players to learn that only a few bother to do so.

The mistake would be to think about what kind of games I enjoy now, since my experiences put me in a rather narrow niche. Instead, I hope to replicate the impact of the games I grew up with on modern platforms, mobile devices in particular. The characters and story will be original, but the entertainment value, challenges, and lessons learned will be reminiscent of the games I played over the years. They will focus on giving the everyday person the gamer experience, but still put a smile on the faces of experienced gamers like myself.

 

Telly Lee

@saladhunt

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