Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nicholas Fortugno, Playmatics

Video games have become an integral part of our present-day society.  We play games on our iPhones, we gather together to play on our friends' X-Box 360.  We even participate in corporate-sponsored video game tournaments.  However, in terms of media, video games are often overlooked.  Very few schools even offer game design.  It is amazing, then, that Nicholas Fortugno has made such a name for himself in the industry with Playmatics.

Nicholas Fortugno was an avid gamer since childhood.  He started out as a dungeon master in several role playing games, and eventually even hosted public role playing sessions.  He started out as an intern in Gamelab, an early game company, where he worked on level design and testing for about a year.  After a few more years in game design, he funded Rebel Monkey with Margaret Wallace in 2007.  That, unfortunately, didn't survive the Recession, so Nicholas worked in consulting until eventually he and Margaret founded Playmatics.

Playmatics is a game company that has worked with several organizations to develop innovative interactive experiences.  They developed an interactive online comic to tie in with AMC's Breaking Bad, and worked with The Millenium Institute to develop a game called Shadow Government, where you can build and possible destroy your own country.  As of late, there are about 15 employees at Playmatics, including digital artists, programmers, designers, and producers. 

Nicholas also had a lot of insight in the gaming industry.  He highly suggests taking game design courses in school for more hands-on experience.  According to him, aspiring game designers should "hop along unstably" for a while so that they can get more work.  Any artists who want to get into the industry should learn to use Photoshop, and anyone who studied digital art should study sculpting instead.

Nick also has an interesting view on technology.  In his view, a successful technology is something that is ubiquitous, something that you don't even think about.  In that regard, the pen and paper is the most successful technology.  He doesn't see much of a future in augmented reality or QR codes because they are "too flashy" and completely miss the point.

Up until now, I never really thought about finding work in the video game industry.  I don't even play video games that much, and I never bothered to take any real courses pertaining to it.  However, after this meeting with Nicholas Fortugno, I now have a but more of an understanding for the field.  I'm not saying that I now want to jump into it head first, but I do have a lot of respect for it now.

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