As a lifelong gamer, I’ve always had an interest in creating my own video game. Through the countless hours I’ve spent engaged in the popular medium, I felt confident that I could one day accomplish this endeavour. After completing community college and gravitating to English as my primary major, I realized that focusing on the narrative aspects of Video Games would be the best area for me to pursue. While continuing through my college career and into post education, I had begun to involve myself in game-related activities in hopes that I would eventually find a path into the industry. From attempting to learn how to program graphics to attending video game conventions and ultimately joining a start-up studio, my passion for gaming has propelled me into a position where a once distant dream can soon become a reality.
During my early years at Queens College, it was brought to my attention that a course on the Unity game engine was being taught by students who also shared a love for video games. Once per week, after completing my afternoon classes, I would spend an hour or so at the tech incubator learning how to program 2D and 3D graphics in order to create my own game. Admittedly, when it comes to operating a computer, I’d consider myself average at best, but trying to learn a new programming language proved to be quite the challenge. Although I continued to participate in the weekly lessons, I often felt lost due to the complexity involved in programming. Towards the end of the semester in which I attempted to learn the Unity engine, I had decided not to pursue this endeavor any longer. Experiencing this failure had reinforced my decision to focus on the narrative aspects of video games but nevertheless, I persisted in involving myself in the popular world of gaming.
Around the year 2018, I started frequenting video game conventions located inside the state of New York. The idea was to network with fellow gamers and to check out the newest indie games in development. Starting with the Game Devs of Color, this event was located in Harlem, New York and highlighted developers of diverse backgrounds looking to spotlight their upcoming games. I would travel about an hour and a half to get there (I live on Long Island) but it was well worth it to see so many talented gamers who shared the same passion that I had. Also, the information shared at the event aimed to help emerging developers on their journey to becoming accomplished game creators. Individuals ranging from industry veterans to respected independent designers were allowed to divulge their own personal stories while providing insightful knowledge for the next generation of game developers. During my time at the convention, there was one game that stuck out to me titled Swimsanity, a multiplayer shooter based entirely underwater. After watching a short preview, I was impressed by its unique setting and colorful presentation. This would not be the last time I saw the game before its official release. Yet another gaming event offered the opportunity to showcase even more titles developed by talented gamers.
Described as New York’s premiere gaming conference, Play NYC shares some similarities with Game Devs of Color although it takes place in a much larger facility. Located at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan, attendees are allowed to play the latest indie games while also gaining information on several topics associated with video games. To further demonstrate its importance to the New York game scene, representatives from the respected studio Avalanche, were in attendance. They demonstrated one of their well known IP’s titled Just Cause, which naturally garnered a lot of attention on the show floor. Although this convention doesn’t promote minority developers as much as Game Devs of Color, diversity was very much present throughout the event. Individuals of various backgrounds flooded the floor room to experience the newest indie titles yet to be released to the public. To my surprise, I once again encountered the game Swimsanity and gave it a try before congratulating the dev team on their efforts. Before making my exit, I made sure to collect as many business cards as possible, hoping that someday, one of these companies would need a writer for future projects. I attended both conferences twice before the covid outbreak forced live events to go virtual for a few years. While networking and trying out independent games were fun activities to partake in, genuine development experience is crucial to finding a position in the industry.
Through the use of the social media website Linkedin, I was able to join a community looking to create their own unique video games. During the spring of 2020, while scrolling for jobs related to the popular medium, I came across a remote game tester role for the title Monochrome RPG. Although I didn’t have much technical skills (and still don’t), I applied anyway. Soon after, I was contacted by a representative of the studio DVNC Tech, who instructed me to join the Monochrome RPG channel using the social platform known as Discord. As a member of the community, I would eventually gain my first experience in game development. The studio representatives devised multiple creative bout contests where participants were given instructions to create various assets that could potentially be included into the game. For the first bout, I invented a combination of about thirty different item and move skills for players to utilize. After the contest concluded, thirteen of my creations were approved by the studio and I was paid a decent amount for my effort.
Another bout involved writing new characters that would be implemented into the game. This time, my creation was not accepted, but I enjoyed the process of brainstorming characters and figuring out how they could fit into an existing narrative. Once the programmers completed the initial demo of the game, it was time for testers to find any bugs (errors) that had to be fixed to ensure a quality experience. I volunteered to be a tester and played the demo about 5 times, making sure to write down any technical and grammatical issues. Afterward, I would send my discoveries to the studio representatives and wait for the next round of testing to see if these errors persisted. Around this time, I had come across another indie studio who were looking for writers to work on a new project. Thinking this could be my chance to join an up and coming company as a dedicated writer piqued my interest. I took the opportunity which also meant my contributions to Monochrome RPG would slowly diminish until it was time to move on from the project. Currently, I remain with the emerging studio and together, we are on the verge of officially entering the video game industry as an international collective known as Be Wild Games.
Towards the waning days of summer 2021, a message emanated from one of my numerous discord channels, demanding my full attention. The author offered willing participants a chance to gain valuable experience in game development by joining a startup studio with the intention of releasing a new intellectual property to the public. Although I didn’t know the individual who devised the message, I quickly responded to his proposal by stating my interest in joining the company. In order to gauge my level of proficiency in regards to game development, I was asked a series of questions before being invited to the studio’s discord channel. Relying on remote membership to fill its workforce, the organization consists of individuals residing in North and South America who share the desire of turning our wildest imaginations into digital masterpieces. As a valuable cog within the writing team, I have contributed heavily to Be Wild Game’s first project titled ODIN. Along with my fellow scribes, we have created multiple character profiles, story elements and weapon/item/move concepts as well as other written content. Combined with the game and level design teams, we’ve developed unique dialogue that aims to instruct the player on certain mechanics used throughout the game. At the moment, our programmers are focused on completing the game’s initial demo which will then be presented to numerous publishers in order to gain necessary funding. Ultimately, my lifelong hobby of playing video games had greatly influenced my goal of entering the industry as a respected game writer. By relying on my natural abilities and prioritizing teamwork, I've come as close as I possibly can to making that dream a reality.
From a young age, my exposure to video games had inspired me to one day create a game of my own. In the pursuit of obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in English, I concluded that focusing on the narrative aspects of game development would be the best path to follow. Partaking in activities associated with the popular medium such as attempting to learn how to program graphics, attending conventions and joining an up and coming studio has aided me in my journey to enter the industry. Only time will tell how successful this year's long endeavour will become but after making it this far, the only sensible choice left is to move forward and overcome all obstacles to achieve my ultimate goal.