An Interview with Timothy Loew of MassDigI

Image courtesy of MassDigI. The Game Challenge Team, from left to right: Monty Sharma, Alicia Basoli, and Timothy Loew.

MassDigI’s 2013 Games Challenge is coming up on us quickly. Prior to this weekend’s big indie gaming event, MassDigI’s Timothy Loew was kind enough to agree to the following interview.

So I hear MassDigi is a statewide center, designated by the Commonwealth, for academic cooperation, entrepreneurship, and economic development across the Massachusetts digital and video games ecosystem. How’d that start? What’s are you guys doing to fulfill those goals?

MassDiGI started up back in April of 2011. How we came to be is a neat story. Neat and long. In a nutshell, MassDiGI launched out of a series of conversations held at Becker College in late 2010 and early 2011 among industry, academic, and government leaders focused on academic cooperation, entrepreneurship, and economic development across the local games ecosystem. Our ultimate goal is to support the development and publishing of more local games–the way we see it, the more games published here, the better!

What’s the role of a group like MassDigi in the industry at large?

MassDiGI is a unique operation. Looking around, we don’t see anyone quite like us anywhere else. Right now we are locally and regionally focused though we plan to extend our reach with some interesting new programs and services soon. Stay tuned! Follow us on Twitter @Mass_DiGI  to be the first on your block to know what we’re up to…

MassDigi is a relatively young program. What have been its greatest successes to date?

We’ve been lucky.  Since we started up many great things have happened. A few that stand out are the success of our annual Game Challenge, the amazing outcomes from our Summer Innovation Program, and our role as an EDA University Center.

Describe the Massachusetts digital and video games ecosystem. As a proud gamer and an even prouder Masshole, I want to see the Commonwealth become a leader in the industry. How are we doing?

The game industry is a spiky sector. Over the last year, the region has seen some ups and downs. That said, all the trends are very positive and with the growing number of students studying some aspect of game development in the academic pipeline, the future looks exceptionally bright. Games are a brains and creativity business and we are a brains and creativity state!

I also hear you guys have organized a blog for boston.com. What’s that been like?

Ironic, huh? A blogger asking another blogger about what it’s like? As you know, it’s a ton of fun. We call it the “State of Play”. The Boston.com folks have been great. We’ve received tons of great content from local developers and others. Check it out at – http://www.boston.com/business/innovation/state-of-play/ And for anyone reading this, if you have a post you want to send us, we’d welcome it!

I’m looking forward to attending the 2013 Game Challenge. What can I expect?

You can expect to have two of the best days of your game development life at the Game Challenge. Great ideas, great mentors, great workshops, great people, great competition, great prizes, great food–all at a great location! You will walk away richer, in some shape or form, for having attended.

What’s the history of the Game Challenge?

Monty Sharma, MassDiGI’s managing director, came up with the idea. He saw a need for a pitch contest in the region that focused on games. Given the success of last year’s event, he was totally right. In fact, last year’s event was voted one of 2012’s top ten events at Microsoft NERD center!

What kind of groups typically sign up as competitors at the Game Challenge?

For 2013 we primarily targeted indie and student developers. We capped the number of competing teams at 40, a dozen more than last year. Not only did we hit that number but we added 3 more from the wait list. This is an important indicator that there is burgeoning growth among students and young entrepreneurs in the sector.

Indie gaming has taken off quite a bit in the last year. What do you think is the role of indie development studios compared to that of the bigger developers?

Indies are awesome. Big studios are also awesome. The democratization of games is changing everything–and for the better. A healthy games ecosystem has companies and organizations of all shapes and sizes with people of all sorts doing really interesting things.

What can those of us who aren’t developers or wealthy donors do to help out MassDigi?

Spread the word. Learn about the local industry. Get involved in the local scene. Volunteer to help out at our events or the many other great game community events around the area like Boston Post Mortem, Boston Indies, PAX East, MIT Enterprise Forum Games Circle or Boston Festival of Indies Games etc.

In a recent article, we asked our staff members to describe their favorite gaming romance. What’s yours?

Hmm. Having just played local developer Disruptor Beam’s new (anti) social “Game of Thrones Ascent”, would it be wrong to say the Lannister siblings?

If there’s one thing you’d like to see happen in the world of video gaming this year, what would that one thing be?

It would be great for someone to add another couple of hours to each day so we could spend more time playing games!

Kickstarter: great way to funnel money to developers that maybe wouldn’t get a chance otherwise, or exploitative means of potentially ripping off gamers?

Like everything in life, crowdsourcing will be a positive for many and negative for a few. Caveat emptor comes to mind.

Thanks again to Timothy Loew for taking the time out of his busy schedule to participate in this interview.

For our take on the Playstation 4, check out the latest episode of the D Pad D Bags podcast.

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