BrainPOP's Food Fight
Food Fight was my first published game! Food Fight is a two-player game about ecosystems. Players take turns introducing animals of different species into an ecosystem managed by a simple population dynamics model. The object of the game is to keep the population of your chosen species high and the opponent's population low.
I got involved in the project shortly after coming to NYC and starting my Masters program at Columbia. The community of educational game makers was still largely unknown to me and I was networking like a champ. I went to the second or third Serious Games Conference out in Redmond, Washington and, among many other interesting people, met Norman Basch, with BrainPOP at the time. I asked him a ton of questions about making educational games, spouted all my fledgling theories of learning and then forgot about it.
A month later, I got a message on a site called gameful.org from Karina Linch, VP of Product at BrainPOP. This site was created by Jane McGonigal to connect people interested in making games. Karina and I messaged back and forth a few times before she asked me to come in for an interview!
I remember the interview well. It was in the main conference room, with a grand view of downtown Manhattan and a big smiling Moby on the glass wall. Jon Feldman, Editor in Chief, and Sam Potasznik, Games Team Programmer, interviewed me first, followed by Karina.
They were impressed by my technical experience programming as an undergrad. I talked about the game that a college buddy and I had been making in GameMaker to give practice with basic math operations. Also, my Honors thesis on the population dynamics of the Chesapeake Bay oyster, which was then being reviewed for publication (published here), was a surprise homerun of relevant experience. They offered my a job on the spot and I was suddenly on top of the world.
Over the next few months, I was Quality Assurance for Food Fight. It was mainly technical but, with a team of about five people, I got to do a lot of design work as well.
people, I got to do a lot of design work as well.