Erin Hoffman's Inside Job

Erin Hoffman's Inside Job
Inside Job: Interview: Zeitgeist Games Founder & Full Sail Real World Education Course Director Dustin Clingman

Erin Hoffman | 15 Feb 2008 17:00
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IJ: Winter in Florida is certainly looking nice from upstate New York this month. How was Zeitgeist Games born?
DC: One day, Dave Arneson (co-creator of D&D) and I were playing in a session of D&D. I asked Dave why Blackmoor wasn't a videogame. He said he didn't know and that it would be a good idea. Before I know it, we're in business and publishing tabletop RPG rules of the d20 system in an effort to build up an IP for later electronic development. We've slowed down substantially on the paper gaming, but we still love it. As our reputation grew, we began to be approached by interesting groups and companies. Before you know it, we were working on national properties while at the same time developing internal technology that would serve us well once we began console development. We started in 2002 and we're still going strong.

IJ: Can you talk about what you guys are working on for the Wii? What's in the future for you and ZG?
DC: I can tell you that we're working on titles for the recently announced WiiWare platform. These are original titles that we hope to see in the channel by year's end. As for future efforts, we're going to continue to focus on Wii, XBLA and PC downloadable casual games.

IJ: What made you want to teach game development?
DC: I've made a lot of mistakes in my career. I wanted to help others miss out on at least a few of them to their benefit. That's the core reason I teach. It's a lot of fun and it keeps you enthused for your art. Every day I get to work with people for whom game development is a big, shiny present on Christmas Day. There's no substitute for being around that boundless energy. It makes me a better and happier developer.

IJ: How did you get involved with Full Sail?
DC: One of my college buddies, Shawn Kendall, told me of a position that was opening up. I interviewed for the job and thought that I had a good shot of getting in. When they didn't call me back for six weeks, I was sure it wasn't going to happen ... but then I got the offer and started working at Full Sail in January of 1999. Random sidebar factoid: I became a vegetarian on January 1, 1999.

IJ: What do you think of game development education as a whole? It can be rather controversial.
DC: Yes, that's definitely the case. The only validation that you can have as an institution that's teaching game development … is the games that your students are producing. I see a lot of great games coming from Full Sail, DigiPen and a select few other schools focused on game development. I tell my students that, in the end, it doesn't matter where (or if) you went to school. The only thing that people are going to care about is what talent or ability you can bring to bear on a game project today. Some of the biggest names in our business never went to or finished college.

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