Interview with Alan Emrich: Creator of Victory Point Games
This weekend, I had the pleasure of interviewing game designer, professor, and writer Alan Emrich. The long-time gaming enthusiast has witnessed both the good and bad moments in gaming history. As a result, he is now teaching Game Design, Game Prototyping, and Game Project Management to aspiring game designers at The Art Institute of California: Orange County.
Emrich also founded Victory Point Games (VPG), "a desktop publishing company for small, budget-priced games based around submissions from students, amateurs and professional game designers alike."
Victory Point Games started in Emrich's attic and has been building ever since.
VPG may not be some big-name company that can dish out games like candy at Halloween, but it does more in one little office than most companies can claim to do in an entire country, let alone one building.
The company creates a plethora of games, ranging anywhere from a board game to their newest app release, Roundhouse. It also runs the entirety of its business through the office. All manufacturing occurs on the premises, not in a foreign country. There isn't a backlog of games sitting in a storage room somewhere. A game is made when it's ordered.
VPG also provides internships to students studying game design.
In fact, Emrich started Victory Point Games for this exact reason. After sending his students off to the brand-name companies for internships, he noticed them coming back run-down and lacking in any real experience.
So what does any good professor do? He makes them a company to intern for. They have an opportunity to be a part of every aspect of game design and they can even submit their own ideas for games.
Mr. Emrich says...
(little tidbits of wisdom for the aspiring game designer)
- Stay informed! Seriously, go to all the credible sources you can find and sign up for email reminders or follow blogs so you get updates. Get as much information coming at you as you can and then go out and look for more.
- Know who you are talking to. Apply for internships, interview people, research, research, research. If you are going to meet the head of a company (or even just the head of a department), know everything there is to know about the company. Not to say you should overload on information, but make sure you go in knowing the style and the history and make sure you know the latest news.
- Know what you are talking about. General knowledge is great and all, but figure out a focus and try to learn everything you can about it. It's not enough to spout the specs that any gamer with a laptop and some free time could find out. Teach yourself the details. If you can't, find someone who can. Knowing more than a mere gamer will set you apart.
- Start small and work your way up. No need to apply for the CEO position on your first go. Start at the bottom and work your way up. If you push through and outlast the less committed employees around you, you could end up in your dream position.
Same thing goes for starting a company of your own. Do not try and get into the game industry by starting a company. You need to know the inner workings before you can be a part of them. Work for another company first and soak up any insider knowledge you can get your hands on. Then, when you finally have all the tools you need, start a company.
- Make connections. You never know when your cubicle neighbor or someone half way across the world might end up being your best asset.
- Gaming is just another job. There will be stresses just like any other job and there will be days when you just want to take a hike, but in the end you chose to do this for a reason and that's what you need to hold on to during the rough times!
Victory Point Games is evidence that even small companies can survive with the right tools.
Emrich immersed himself in the gaming world from a young age and has managed to make his passion and hobby his career. His advice has helped many of his students break into the gaming industry.
VPG is dedicated to helping out the little guy, especially since it is considered one by most of the gaming world.
(Video interview clips to be posted shortly. Keep your eye out!)