Making computer games isn’t all fun for Mediatech West, a personal computer game developing company in Olympia. It’s also work, sometimes involvs excruciating detail.
Creating one of these time-consuming entertainment games can take 100,000 lines of computer coding, says Brent Erickson, technical division director.
“Ideas are a dime a dozen. It’s getting it from start to finish that’s the hard part,” says Erickson.
Mediatech West is the creator of “Burnout: Championship Drag Racing” and “XCar: Experimental Racer” published by Media Technology’s Bethesda Software Division.
“Burnout,” released in April, has been so popular that Mediatech West is developing a player’s choice edition scheduled to hit stores for the Christmas retail season, says Erickson.
There are over 1,400 members of the Simulated Hotrod Association who race weekly on the Internet, he says. Media-Tech has even given away prizes for the virtual races, marvels Erickson.
“Burnout” won the PC Gamer’s editor’s choice award. This is a big deal in the highly competitive computer software industry that Erickson says is becoming bigger business than even the movie industry.
Erickson says there are a dozen major players in computer games software with a few companies running the show and buying smaller companies.
On that point, he speaks from experience. He founded Flashpoint Productions in 1992 in Utah. The fledgling company’s most popular games were “Noctropolis” and “Sega Sports Golf” starring Fred Couples.
In 1995, Erickson sold to Media Technology Limited because he had come to a crossroads. He had to decide whether to begin publishing and marketing his company’s games or become part of a larger firm that would handle publishing and marketing, he says. Becoming a self-publisher can take $1-2 million in capital.
Erickson says he chose to become part of Media Technology, the company that makes Bethesda Software, because of its size. There are only 60 to 70 employees in the whole company, only nine employees at the Olympia division.
“It was large enough to have a presence and small enough that I could have a say in it,” says Erickson.
Bethesda Software is a significant player in the software industry, releasing three to four new games a year. The Olympia-based affiliate develops two games a year for Bethesda.
Erickson’s short-term goal for his business is to double the size of his division and release a couple more games each year, he says.
Recruiting more programmers to record that growth shouldn’t be a problem, says Erickson, who typically gets 100 applications (nearly all from men) for each opening.
“There are not as many female programmers, period. The industry was built by males, and there’s not a lot of female influence,” Erickson explains. “I don’t think the industry as a whole has appeal to females.”
By Marie McNamara, Business Examiner staff