RIT Lecturer Launches Ambitious Kickstarter Game, Chain Gang Chase

Joe Pietruch is attempting to Kickstart his indie game, Chain Gang Chase, in his last year as a lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — After spending over ten years at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Joe Pietruch, 27, will finally say goodbye to Brick City at the end of next semester.

Pietruch earned both his undergraduate degree in new media design and his graduate degree in game design at RIT. He worked as a teaching assistant and as a graduate assistant while pursuing his master’s degree, and at just 23 years old, Pietruch became a lecturer for RIT’s School of Interactive Games and Media.

“I sort of fell in love with the idea of making things with art, and then making them move with code,” Pietruch recalled.

And although his planned departure is drawing near, Pietruch isn’t quite finished with RIT yet.

Last month, Pietruch launched a Kickstarter campaign for his dream project, Chain Gang Chase. The game, which has a projected release date of May 2014 for Ouya (an Android-based gaming console) and PC, allows two to eight players to cooperatively play as escaping prisoners that are chained together as they run for freedom. Teamwork is heavily emphasized as players are forced to work together in order to dodge obstacles in the game world.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Chain Gang Chase is a special feature that allows players to “split” a controller, making it possible for eight players to play with just four controllers. In this manner, players are chained together in the game as well as in real life.

Thanks to Pietruch’s hard work and research, it appears as though Chain Gang Chase will be funded successfully. The project has a goal of $10,000, and it has already garnered $9,685 in donations from 265 backers with 3 days left until its expiration.

One of the Kickstarter’s goals has already been met: as a reward for reaching $7,500 in donations before Nov. 11, Pietruch shaved his head. The event was streamed over the internet via Twitch TV so that all of the project’s backers could watch as Pietruch sacrificed his mop for Chain Gang Chase.

“I’ve got backers from Ireland, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia…all over the world,” explained Pietruch.

If the project is kickstarted, Pietruch plans on hiring up to two RIT students to help him design and create the game.

Pietruch hopes to have the game completed in time for the Imagine RIT festival and showcase. After that, he will be leaving his position at RIT and heading to the Big Apple to be with his fiancée.

“I’ve always enjoyed sharing stuff with other people, showing people how to do things, and helping them with their problems. Teaching is a natural extension of that,” said Pietruch.

But after teaching at RIT for the last 4 years, Pietruch now has his eyes set squarely on New York City.

“Up until now, I haven’t really really chosen my career path. I’ve just sort of gone with the flow,” said Pietruch.

- Derrick Hunt

Note: This is an updated version of a story I originally wrote for my news blog, PIXLreport.com. My interview with Joe was conducted last week.

Published Nov. 14th 2013

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