A new business incubator meant to foster video game development in the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti area launches Thursday, Jan. 19, with an introductory meetup
at SPARK East
in downtown Ypsi.
Organizer Larry Kuperman says the short-term goal for the collaboration between Meetup group A2 Game Designers
and SPARK is to offer monthly meetings for developers to network, collaborate, and get advice from industry players working in the area already.
"Initially we're looking to create a shared space with developers, including students, and exchange ideas and practices," Kuperman says.
Local game studios currently include PC game maker Revival Productions
and mobile games maker Gaudium
in Ann Arbor, as well as PC game producer Stardock
in Plymouth. Gaudium cofounder David Cai will speak at next week's meeting.
In the long term, Kuperman hopes to help launch and grow startups that can tap into the region's venture capital resources and make connections with other sectors.
"Whether it's an auto manufacturer saying, 'Hey, we want you guys to design a game-oriented technology we can use for our cars,' or the university says, 'We're looking for people to design educational games,' that's what I see in our future," he says.
Kuperman, an Ann Arbor resident, is director of business development for Nightdive Studios
, a Portland, Ore.-based company that specializes in re-releasing and remaking classic video games. He says gaming's low startup and overhead costs make it an attractive industry.
"A games development studio can be one to two guys with a laptop, if you're thinking about mobile games development," Kuperman says. "Some of those monetize really, really well, when you think about the return on investment."
Kuperman's motivation is partly personal. His adult children moved out of state after college to pursue careers in tech and nursing, and he sees no reason students in any of the gaming programs offered at nearby colleges and universities shouldn't be able to find employment or set up shop here after school if they want to.
"These bright graduates come out of school, and there isn't any place for them to go to work in this area, so they gravitate to San Francisco, to Seattle, to New York, and I want to change that," he says.
Eric Gallippo is an Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.