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With a Little Help from My Friends: A Day in the life of a Game Developer

The game development community here in Massachusetts has really taken off in recent years, with new studios popping up everywhere. I’m fortunate enough to be the co-founder and chief executive of one of them: The Tap Lab.

MassDiGI figured I was the right guy to shed some light on an average day as a game developer. So, here it goes…

It’s 8:30 on a weekday morning. I hop off the T in Kendall Square and make my way down Third Street towards Intrepid Labs, a co-working space that is home to, among others, The Tap Lab. Along the way, I bump into a fellow game developer, Noah Jessop, at Voltage Coffee. We trade some war stories and then head off to our respective studios.

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Intrepid Labs is an amazing spot. There’s never a dull moment, and it will become even more awesome with plans in the works to create an entire section for indie developers. The fine folks from Proletariat Inc. have set up shop next to us, and we’ve finally convinced our buddies at Owlchemy Labs to move in and join the party.

I sit down to knock out some emails before our daily scrum, and feel the overwhelming need to destroy Ara Yessayan, one of our courageous developers, in a bout of NBA Jam. I call him out from across the table, grab my coffee, and we make our way to the old-school arcade system in the kitchen of Intrepid Labs. As usual, Ara lays down an epic jam at the last second to win the game. Boomshakalaka!

Afterwards, designer Liz Cormack and I go through preparations for the massive industry get-together PAX East inBoston, where we’ll be demoing our new game, Tiny Tycoons, at the Indie Megabooth. A bunch of studios from Boston Indies team up every year for PAX East, PAX Prime, and GDC. We stick together at these gaming conferences, and it’s always a blast.

Every Wednesday we have recess here at The Tap Lab. It’s a time for us to play-test our game, and we order lunch for the whole team. Kabir Hemrajani has tacos waiting for the team when we congregate in the main conference room.

After recess, I spend some time with our art team, Joe Williams and Amy Kaufman, and we map out upcoming content for Tiny Tycoons. Then I sit down with Jesse Kurlancheek, our resident game designer, to talk about balancing the economy in our new game. We dive into a massive Excel spreadsheet filled with all the ins and outs of the game.

As 6:00 p.m. rolls around, I pack up and head down the street to NERD (officially, Microsoft New England Research Development Center) and share some insight into game monetization at the Games Circle event. The room is packed with familiar faces. Afterwards, we all stick around for drinks and chitchat. Then I head back to the office to find my teammates, co-founder Ralph Schao and engineer Bryan Yong, still at work, building some amazing stuff.

It’s midnight, and I’m the only one left at the office. I hear the sound of crickets chirping—dinner for our office’s pet lizard—and eight-bit noises radiating from the arcade machine in the kitchen. It’s been a long day. I can’t see myself doing anything else.

Interested in joining the team? Shoot us an email at jobs@thetaplab.com

Want to get more involved in the Boston gaming community? Check out Boston Indies, Boston Post Mortem, and Games Circle.

This post comes courtesy of the Massachusetts Digital Games Institute (MassDiGI), a statewide center housed at Becker College and aimed at promoting economic development within the Massachusetts video and digital games industry.

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