Byon July 21, 2015
For Tim Day, a 2015 graduate of Drexel University, what started as a school project about two years ago quickly turned into a small game company, two apps available for purchase on the iOS App store and the Google Play store, and some cash.
Sweet Roll Studio LLC, run by Day, Travis Chandler and Jasmine Marcial – all Drexel students – launched its second game, Malevolence Inc., in May. The 1970s-themed interactive game, available for $2.99, pits players against each other as they set traps to catch villains.
Malevolence, which has been downloaded more than 100 times, was made possible through an initiative – the Entrepreneurial Game Studio – that just celebrated its first anniversary at Drexel, Day said.
Directed by Frank Lee, an associate professor of digital media at Drexel and the co-founder of the game design program at the university, the Entrepreneurial Game Studio aims to make Philadelphia a hub for gaming.
The studio is neither a student organization nor class requirement. Currently enrolled Drexel students use the studio’s space to develop their own projects and help turn Philadelphia into a commercial gaming center – something the city is far from recognized for, Lee said.
“All of these students work on projects which never see the light of day,” Lee said. “I felt like it was such a waste.”
“If it becomes the next angry birds, great – even if it doesn’t they’ll, at least get public scrutiny, pubic feedback,” he added.
The studio gets funding from the university and the state to provide resources, software and mentorship to students, and the opportunity to meet others interested in the same field.
Lee said the group takes applications at the start of each term, accepting about 45 students during each round. A year after its start, the Entrepreneurial Game Studio has about 40 students – all who are encouraged to create teams and LLCs. So far, four groups have established companies, while three have shipped one game and one team – Day’s own Sweet Roll LLC – has shipped two.
Day said he developed the framework for his first game, called Gallactikitties, outside of the studio, before it came to market with the help of others in the Entrepreneurial Game Studio. Gallactikitties, which features cats flying in space, has been downloaded about 600 times and is available on the App store for .99 cents, he said.
Day said it’s doubtful that Malevolence, which was created with the help of about nine others in the studio, would have ever come to fruition without the studio.
“We’re using the community as a way to publish our own games,” Day said. “It kind of gives us a platform to experiment and make mistakes.”
That’s exactly what Lee said the groups take away from their time at the studio before going to work for other companies.
“College is the only time in your life where you can take risks without worrying,” Lee said. “I want them to take that risk.”