July 7th, 2017
The last year and a half has been one of the most exhilarating, formative, difficult, and revealing periods of my life. Let’s recap briefly, then we’ll get to the good stuff.
In early 2016, I made the difficult decision to leave Rampant Interactive—the studio that I co-founded in 2010 with two amazing partners—to pursue new opportunities in games. I loved working with the team at Rampant and our sister studio Happy Badgers (we did some wonderful work together), but I was itching to find different experiences in the field. In late spring of 2016, I wrapped up my time there just as we finished one of our most remarkable projects, and right after I shipped my first card game.
In mid-2016, I started working with St. Louis-based game studio Butterscotch Shenanigans as a PR/BizDev/WebDev/IDK/BBQ/etc. I learned a lot, traveled a lot, and discovered a lot about what’s important to me as a creative professional. I left that position by the end of 2016 with no plan in place, other than “DESIGN GAMES” and “MAKE PEOPLE’S LIVES BETTER.” At the beginning of 2017, I took the helm of PixelPop Festival, the indie game conference I’ve helped organize since 2014. My co-organizers and I rebranded and restructured the festival to make it a more targeted celebration of independent design and play—something I’ve been passionate about since the festival’s inception. Also in early 2017, I began my semester as an instructor of design and interactive narrative at Lindenwood University in Belleville, IL. Teaching was rewarding as heck, and I even managed to create a couple of small art games in that time.
So, the semester’s over, and PixelPop is a month away. What’s next?
I’m moving to New York.
I’ve been accepted into the NYU Game Center’s Game Design MFA program. For the next two years, I’ll be studying game design, making games and interactive projects, and working in a structured environment alongside a group of talented peers and mentors in Brooklyn. Devoting so much time to creative projects, self-improvement, and focused growth is one of the most exciting opportunities I can imagine.
I will maintain my direction and support of PixelPop Festival throughout my time in school. The community in Saint Louis will always be very important to me, so I hope to continue to help cultivate the community and raise up the midwest as a great place to make games. My hope is that PixelPop and other game-related events in the St. Louis area will help shine a light on the creative and professional opportunities here, providing even more resources and mentorship opportunities for creators in the region.
My post-graduation plans are still relatively open. I might continue trying to find commercial traction for my own projects. I might join a team as either a game designer or a producer. I might seek out a career in the arts, creating interactive cultural installations. I might pursue a career in academia, hoping to pass on some of the knowledge and perspective I’ve gained over the last decade. I might do something totally different from any of these things—who knows! All I know is that I want to create positive, memorable experiences for people, and that the time spent studying and working at NYU will help to bolster my ability to do that.
Thanks to everyone for your support while I make this massive life shift! I’ll be heading to NYC in mid-August, so if any St. Louis friends want to see me before I go, let me know. You can also catch up with me, of course, at PixelPop Festival on August 5 & 6.