“We value RIT as a partner,” said Jason Arena, CEO of Workinman. “Many of our employees are RIT graduates and have turned into full- time employees after their one or two semester co-op with us—it’s such a great program for both RIT and Workinman.”
In an effort to spur new companies and games like Workinman, New York state’s Empire State Development has designated RIT as one of three digital Gaming Hubs. The other hubs are Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and New York University. Each will receive $150,000 a year over a three-year period. The hubs’ goal is to provide resources and mentoring to encourage students and entrepreneurs to enter the growing gaming industry.
Andrew Phelps, director of RIT’s Center for Media, Arts, Games, Interaction and Creativity (MAGIC), will lead RIT’s management of its gaming hub with the goal of promoting multidisciplinary, entrepreneurial research and development activities at RIT and through its network of partners and affiliates. RIT’s MAGIC Center is a nonprofit, university-wide research and development laboratory and a for-profit production studio.
“RIT’s MAGIC Center has established a network of dozens of companies, university resources, and partners— including regional community colleges and K-12 institutions—to continue to spur regional economic development and keep our talent within New York state,” said Phelps.
In addition to Workinman, local companies such as Second Avenue and Darkwind Media leverage RIT talent. Nationally, companies and games studios such as Disney, Nickelodeon, Microsoft, and Electronic Arts hire RIT alumni.
“The relationship between RIT and gaming companies is invaluable,” said Arena. “It’s a perfect storm for creating game developers and great game development companies who are able to compete at the highest level in an incredibly competitive industry.”
And it was a perfect storm when three games with ties to RIT, Workinman, and Darkwind Media were exhibited at PAX East 2016 in Boston at the highly competitive Indie MEGABOOTH. The games were “Deathstate” created by Workinman, “Wulverblade” produced by Darkwind Media, and “Super Daryl Deluxe” created by Dan and Gary Games LLC. Dan Plate, fourth-year illustration major, and Gary Porter ’15 (game design and development) are the creators of “Super Daryl Deluxe.” Their game, which will be released later this year, has already won several awards including the top prize in Microsoft’s U.S. Imagine Cup National Finals in 2015. Steam, the world’s largest online game distribution service, has already released “Deathstate,” and “Wulverblade” is expected to be released later this year on Xbox One and Steam. Each of the teams that created these games includes RIT alumni from a variety of majors.