NYU Game Center Incubator

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The NYU Game Center is a unique place that sits at the intersection of academia and the game industry. Our students strive to push the boundaries of what games can be – inventing, exploring, and discovering new forms of play. Part of our commitment to fostering experimental work means providing our students with opportunities to create successful careers immediately after graduation.

The purpose of the NYU Game Center Incubator is to bridge the work being done at the Game Center with the realities of the marketplace. The Incubator gives promising projects from our graduate students the time, space, guidance, and resources they need to become successful commercial games. Our initial selection of games for this Summer’s pilot version of the incubator will come from MFA thesis projects – games that are in a fairly finished and robust state already after year of development. The incubator will give these projects an opportunity to focus on final polish and business and marketing strategy. By the end of the program each team will launch their game in some form. This may include publishing on an existing platform, the beginning of a crowdfunding campaign, a pitch to a publisher, an open beta on their website, or some other form of public availability.

Projects

Students in our MFA program are creating an amazing variety of work, including making digital games, organizing conferences, putting on interactive exhibitions, and more. The incubator is for the subsection of those MFA thesis projects that are most suited for a commercial release. To determine which projects are accepted into the incubator, applying teams present their project to a large group of industry partners who evaluate the projects on three key criteria:

  • Commercial Potential: Does this game have the possibility of finding success when launched to the public?
  • Production Feasibility: Can this game be completed and launched in three months with the proposed team?
  • Innovation: Does this game reflect the Incubator’s mission of facilitating new kinds of games?

The debut projects that have shown their ability to meet these criteria range across game genres from the exploratory, emotionally-driven Gemini to the experimental twin-stick action game Soft Body and the space rescue puzzle game Kaleidoscope. More information about each project, and the teams behind them is available here.

The program begins on June 2nd and culminates on August 29th. There will be many opportunities to stay connected to these exciting projects, both in New York this Summer, and online. To stay informed about the Game Center Incubator, you’ll hear from us on any of these channels.

Industry Partners

The Incubator is not an extension of graduate school, it’s a new context where teams are given a structure to address the marketing, legal, monetization, and other business issues of launching a successful commercial game.

In order to create that context, we are developing genuine partnerships with individuals and organizations from the games industry. We’re starting with a small group of carefully selected partners who will collaborate with the Game Center to build the Incubator and advise the teams in this pilot year. This group of volunteers includes technology companies, publishers, designers, lawyers, consultants, journalists, and other game industry experts who will lend their expertise to help the teams launch successful games.

Together with our Industry Partners we’re creating a new context for cultivating truly innovative and groundbreaking games, The NYU Game Center Incubator.

A partial list of our Partners includes:

Adam Saltsman – Studio Director, Finji
Adam entered the game industry in 2006 as a freelance 3D modeler before working as a designer, programmer, artist, and incompetent foley artist. He co­founded Semi Secret Software in 2008, and released his first notable independent game, Canabalt, in 2009. Since then Adam has had the good fortune of contributing to games like Hundreds, FEZ, ALPHABET, and Capsule. In 2012 Canabalt was inducted into the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. His Flash game dev library Flixel remains a popular tool for both commercial and personal game releases. Adam also helps organize GDC, Fantastic Arcade, and Juegos Rancheros. Adam is currently running a new indie game company called Finji with his wife Rebekah in Austin, TX, where he lives with his two crazy kids.

Joost X. van Dreunen, Ph.D. – CEO, SuperData
Joost is co-founder and CEO of SuperData Research, a research firm specialized in the digital, mobile and online games market.

As one of the first academics to study video games, Joost also has over fifteen years of commercial research experience in interactive entertainment and technology industries. Before receiving a doctorate from Columbia University on the topic, Joost worked as an analyst on both the financial and consumer-side of the games industry. Anticipating the shift to digital games early on, he founded SuperData in 2009. Today SuperData is a leading games industry researcher, collecting digital point-of-sale data from over four million online gamers every month. Clients include publishers such as Activision/Blizzard, Bandai-Namco, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, SEGA, Square-Enix, Ubisoft, Wargaming.net and Zynga.

Joost is a recurrent speaker at major industry events such as GDC and Casual Connect, and is regularly quoted in both industry publications and mainstream press. In addition to his business adventures, Joost teaches at the NYU Game Center and the Stern School of Business. He lives in the East Village in New York, with his wife Janelle and son Maximus.

Amelise Javier-Lane – Global Public Relations Manager, Autodesk Inc.
As a member of the Autodesk brand and communications team, Amelise drives external communications and global market awareness for Autodesk’s media and entertainment and consumer businesses. Amelise also manages special projects for the Autodesk government affairs team, helping raise the Autodesk profile among policy makers and legislators. She has launched several high profile AAA, indie and mobile titles including: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, Red Dead Redemption, Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Guild Wars 2. Amelise earned a BA in English and American Literature from New York University and is currently pursuing her master of public administration at California State University.

Aaron Isaken – Indie Fund & AppAbove Games
Aaron Isaksen is an NYC-based game developer and a founding partner of Indie Fund (www.indie-fund.com), which aims to support the growth of games as a medium by helping indie developers get and stay financially independent. He has co-created with his partnership AppAbove Games (www.appabovegames.com) more than 10 mobile games and most recently Chip Chain for iOS and Android. A graduate of UC Berkeley and MIT, he is now a PhD student at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Game Innovation Lab, studying under Professor Andy Nealen. Aaron is also working with Babycastles to help encourage sharing of independent games with visitors and residents of New York City, as well as improve communication, social opportunities, and collaboration between indie game developers.

Margaret Robertson
As part of Hide&Seek, Margaret made big games (like the city-wide 12,000 player New Year Games), small games (like the Tiny Games project), silly games (like Drunk Dungeon) and serious games (like Dreams Of Your Life). Her previous role as an independent consultant enabled her to work on a huge range of projects, from AAA console titles, through download and mobile/ handheld games, to indie and art-house projects. She’s worked with brands, broadcasters, and film studios to develop their game strategies, and was part of the team that built the Channel 4‘s BAFTA- and Emmy-award winning educational game slate. Previously editor-in-chief of Edge magazine, and part of the team behind the GameCity festival, she is an internationally top-rated speaker on game design theory.

Cindy Au – VP Community, Kickstarter
Cindy Au is VP of Community at Kickstarter. After joining Kickstarter in 2010 as the second community team member, she has since gone on to lead and grow the team to 30 people, all working together to support Kickstarter’s mission of bringing people together to create new things. Over the last four years, she has helped build Kickstarter’s community of independent game developers and studios through education, engagement, and outreach. Since 2012, she has organized the Kickstarter Arcade, an annual showcase of independent games, and speaks regularly on Kickstarter and the changing landscape of video game development. Prior to Kickstarter, she worked as a writer and teacher covering games and comics culture. She holds a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she focused on African American Literature and Civil Rights History. She currently resides in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and loves game night, corgis, and pie.

Giordano Constestabile – VP of Product Management and Revenue, Tilting Point
Giordano is a mobile gaming veteran with over 10 years of experience in product development and operations, five of which were in free-to-play games. As VP of Product Management and Revenue, Giordano works closely with all of Tilting Point’s partners, a roster that include 1337 / Senri (Leo’s Fortune), Uber Entertainment (Super Monday Night Combat, Toy Rush), Signal Studios (Toy Soldiers), Housemarque (Resogun) and Quark Games (Valor), advising on design, monetization, retention, engagement, and user acquisition strategies, and providing them with the means and tools to reach a huge audience and mainstream success. Previously, Giordano served as the executive producer of the Bejeweled franchise at PopCap Games (acquired by EA for $1.3 billion). Giordano led the team responsible for Bejeweled Blitz, a top 10 mobile game. Prior to that, he managed PopCap’s mobile products, and PopCap’s business operations in Asia Pacific.

Brad Hargreaves – Co-founder and Chief Product Officer, General Assembly
Brad co-founded General Assembly and is largely focused on guiding General Assembly’s strategic growth. From developing the initial business models down to the day-to-day operational execution, Brad has played a key role in General Assembly’s expansion to more than eight global markets in less than two years. Today, Brad is focused on directing the organization’s digital efforts, including the development of its online educational products which will help expand General Assembly’s reach and bring high-quality online education to millions. Most recently, Brad was named to Vanity Fair’s “The Next Establishment”, Inc Magazine’s “30 Under 30”, and Business Insider’s “Silicon Alley 100”.

Prior to starting General Assembly, Brad built several other companies that bridge the online and offline worlds including GoCrossCampus and Aloysius Properties, and was Entrepreneur in Residence at Tipping Point Partners, an early-stage investor and incubator. Brad attended Yale, where he co-founded Yale’s first university-run entrepreneurship initiative. He writes about entrepreneurship, New York City and life at http://bhargreaves.com.

Zach Gage
Zach Gage is a game designer, programmer, educator, and conceptual artist from New York City.

His work often explores the power of systems, both those created by social interaction in digital spaces,
and those that can be created for others, through the framing of games.

An Eyebeam Alumni, Apple Design and Game of The Year Award Winner, and BAFTA Nominee, he has exhibited internationally at venues like the Venice Biennale, the New York MoMA, The Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, XOXO Festival in Portland, FutureEverything in Manchester, The Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, and in Apple stores worldwide.

His work has been featured in several online and printed publications, including The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, EDGE Magazine, Rhizome.org, Neural Magazine, New York Magazine, and Das Spiel und seine Grenzen (Springer Press).

In games, he is best known for SpellTower, Ridiculous Fishing, and Lose/Lose.

Kelly Wallick – Commanding Officer – Indie MEGABOOTH
Kelly is the founder of Indie MEGABOOTH, a showcase that brings indie games into the heart of conferences previously dominated by AAA budgets and works to create support networks for small development teams. She’s involved in local community building along with creating cross community networks and acts as an advocate for indie developers with platform holders, distributors, publishers and press. The MEGABOOTH’s current focus is on expanding community support efforts and addressing discoverability issues for indie games.

Mathieu Nouzareth – CEO and co-founder, FreshPlanet Inc.
Paris-born, serial web entrepreneur Mathieu Nouzareth is CEO of FreshPlanet, the New York-based developer of the highly-popular social mobile game SongPop, the turn-by-turn, simulated real-time play game for music lovers that has built a global following of over 80 Million players since its launch in June 2012.

Jason Walters – Games Evangelist at Microsoft
Jason Walters is a game developer and creative coder, living in NYC, whose work ranges from full body interactions to immersive virtual worlds. He uses code as a tool of artistic expression and enjoys working at the intersection of art and technology.

S. Gregory Boyd – Partner and Chairman of the Interactive Entertainment Group, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein + Selz PC.
S. Gregory Boyd is a partner and the chairman of the Interactive Entertainment Group at Frankfurt Kurnit, where he represents a wide variety of interactive entertainment, new media, privacy, and data security clients. Mr. Boyd has extensive experience negotiating and drafting game development agreements for consoles, PC’s, mobile, and social games. He also advises brands, media companies, and advertising agencies on a large variety of digital matters, including the creation and management of privacy and data security programs. The Legal 500 has praised Mr. Boyd for his work with media and technology companies.

Bryan Cashman – Manager, The North Highland Company
Bryan Cashman is a fourteen year video game veteran and a manager at The North Highland Company, where he provides management and consulting leadership for project management, business process design, gamification, digital advertising and content management. He also independently operates the video game research site CONSULGAMER, and is an active guest-lecturer at NYU Game Lab and the NY Film Academy.

Bryan was nationally recognized as a Top 30 Consultant Under 30 by Consulting Magazine for his leadership role in the video game industry, and was a member of the Casual Games Association’s Leadership Committee, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the IGDA. While at Gerson Lehrman Group, he led the creation of video game investor research products for hedge funds, private equity and venture capital investors.

Alexander Bruce
Alexander Bruce is a game designer and programmer from Melbourne, Australia, responsible for creating Antichamber, one of the major independent successes of 2013. His career as a game developer began in 2005 when he started studying a degree in computer science, using any spare time he could find to prototype unusual game ideas. Before finishing his degree, he was hired in 2008 at one of the top game studios in Australia, but was ultimately left unfulfilled by studio work at the time. He returned to university in 2009 to complete his degree and began taking interest in independent games.

He first stepped onto the international stage in 2009 when he was nominated in Sense of Wonder Night in Japan, and he later went on to become one of the grand finals winners in Make Something Unreal, run by Epic Games. Together these two festivals gave him the connections and the finances he needed to try turning his side project into a full commercial release. After going full time independent in 2010, Alexander made a name for himself by taking his game to festivals around the world, showing his game anywhere that would take it and talking about it to anyone who would listen. After several years of constant iteration, hundreds of mistakes, many awards and a hell of a lot of personal growth, he finally released Antichamber to major financial success at the beginning of 2013.

Ben Cammarano, Sr. Creative Director – 343 Industries, Microsoft Studios
Ben Cammarano is a CG and interactive entertainment veteran with over 20 years of experience who has worked across the post-production and games landscape at companies such as Manhattan Center Studios, Microsoft and EA. He serves as the Sr. Director of Central Media at Microsoft Studios contributing to over 120 different projects and initiatives. He has led award-winning teams chartered to provide game, visual, audial, UX and narrative design direction and support for the publishing and development teams, evangelize and demonstrate 1st-party standards for best-in-class quality and innovation. Her recently transitioned from being Sr. Director of Central Media at Microsoft Studios contributing to over 120 different projects and initiatives, and now serves as Sr. Creative Director for 343 Industries’ publishing teams.

Greg Wohlwend, Founder – aeiowu
I’m a designer living in Chicago collaborating with other developers around the world to make videogames–most recently Threes, Ridiculous Fishing, and Hundreds. Currently I’m working by myself on experimental videogames that explore stories.