Eugene is a city with many hidden gems. Gorgeous parks, fascinating people, wonderful volunteer organizations, and unique industries abound. One of those industries is computer and video game development. Most local Eugenians I talk to seem wholly unaware of the presence of game developers here – and downright shocked when I start listing off the companies on two hands. Our local community college touts an associate degree program solely dedicated to computer simulation and game development; some of the local companies get their supply of interns and entry-level employees directly from that program.
I was one of those interns. Full of enthusiasm and ripe with inexperience, I landed in the lobby of Mad Otter Games, one of these local companies. Fortunate to take a game development class during my high school years taught by many industry veterans, it sparked my interest. Having grown up a home-schooled farm girl, I had always been mildly tech-savvy, having taken computer classes since the second grade, but not really a ‘nerd’ or a ‘gamer’.
What I encountered in that game development class was a new, interesting, and challenging experience based not only on my personal abilities, but in how I worked with a team to achieve something collectively great. It is that experience which drew me to an industry in which I have worked two years. I am happy to be counted among the Eugene game developers, rookies and veterans alike, who are providing jobs and bringing national and global business to our city.
Today I sit in San Francisco, attending a global Game Development Conference (GDC), and I am proud to say Eugene will be represented well. Over the next few days I will be writing a few pieces featuring some my experiences, a little about our local companies attending the conference, as well as discussing the current and future influences game development has and could have on our city’s economy.
I hope you will join me on this journey, and feel free to post questions in the comments – especially if you’re a fellow game developer or interested in learning more about game development!
— Katie van Meter