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Is Intrepid Labs becoming the new hub of Boston's gaming scene?

Posted by Scott Kirsner  December 19, 2012 10:47 AM

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For a while, it felt like the beating heart of Boston's videogame cluster was in Central Square: Harmonix Music Systems, Zynga Boston, and gamerDNA were all based there.

But Central has emptied out (only Harmonix remains), and it seems like a new gaming community is starting to take root at Intrepid Labs, a shared "teamspace" for young companies on the top floor of the American Twine Building in East Cambridge.

Proletariat Inc., a tablet-focused games company founded by five former Zynga Boston employees is there, right next to The Tap Lab, a TechStars Boston alumnus that is working on a new location-based game, Tiny Tycoons. Owlchemy Labs, which makes iPhone and iPad games like Jack Lumber and Snuggle Truck, is a few steps away. (Dave Bisceglia, co-founder of The Tap Lab, is at right. The Proletariat team is at left.)

Proletariat has three iPad games in the works, and is starting to talk with prospective distribution partners, according to co-founder Seth Sivak. The crew is also doing some contract development work to bring in additional revenue. At The Tap Lab, Bisceglia says that Tiny Tycoons will be out in Q1; it is the second game from the eight-person studio, following Tap City, which didn't exactly catch fire. The Tap Lab also plans to invite other developers to use a new location-based games engine it has developed.

proletariat.jpgMark Kasdorf, who set up the Intrepid Labs space in late 2011, tells me that six more indie game developers will be moving in next month; most had previously been working out of the Space With a Soul shared office in Fort Point Channel. He's planning to create an area within Intrepid especially for the game companies, called Intrepid Arcade. (And yes, there's already a cool stand-up arcade machine in the Intrepid kitchen that can serve up a zillion different classic videogames.)

Oh, and some other news from Intrepid this morning: founder Mark Kasdorf tells me that he has raised $360,000 for an iPhone app that he created, Timbre. Timbre helps you find great live music happening near you. The money comes from Atlas Venture and Boston Seed Capital, along with angel investors Joe Caruso and Marco Buchbinder. I asked Kasdorf how he'll use the funding:

Stage one is get what we have into more hands than just the 8 percent of global smartphone users that are US iOS users.

Beyond that, we've got a pretty good roadmap that involves doing more of what the app does best without messing up the UX with feature bloat.

(I wrote on Sunday about the New England videogame cluster, which had a rough year in 2012.)

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About Scott Kirsner

Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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