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Hard Drive

BY LINDA BAKER

“You have to be awesome at everything.” Brian Jamison, founder of game shop Jumpdrive Studios, is explaining how to succeed in the hypercompetitive world of gaming, where 15,000 games show up on the app store each month.

BY LINDA BAKER

Company: Jumpdrive Studios
Launched: 2014
Founder: Brian Jamison
Product: XO

“You have to be awesome at everything.” Brian Jamison, founder of game shop Jumpdrive Studios, is explaining how to succeed in the hypercompetitive world of gaming, where 15,000 games show up on the app store each month. A veteran game developer, Jamison hopes Jumpdrive’s flagship product, “XO,” will nail that criterion. A loose political metaphor for our times — but isn’t all great art? — the sci-fi game is about being the “leader of humanity’s last hope,” Jamison says. “You have to jump into a new star system, decide how long you are going to stay and who you are going to rescue.”

Strategy games typically focus on micromanagement, Jamison says. “‘XO’ is the only game I know of where you play more as the leader than the grunt or worker bee.” (Of course, it also has “amazing, beautiful” space battles and explosions. “It’s a fusion,” Jamison observes.)

Competition notwithstanding, the game industry is mostly friendly and collaborative, at least at the local indie level, says Jamison, who developed an online multiplayer game in the mid-1990s called “Underlight.” (He also created Web games for Sony, Namco and Midway/Atari.) “Our market is global; we’re not just selling to people on the street,” he says. “It makes sense for us to cooperate.”

Kickstarted by a $12,000 grant from the state film office and a crowdfunding campaign that raised $55,000, Jumpdrive consists of a four-person team — Jamison, developers Justin Pando and Dominic Mandy, and marketing guru Corey Warning. The game is designed for the PC, Mac and Linux and has been approved on the STEAM digital distribution platform.

What’s next? After launching “XO” early this year, Jamison hopes “to make game after game.” He adores spreadsheets and says marrying creativity with market awareness is the consummate challenge. “The art, music, story, controls — every single component has to be fantastic because people have so many choices.”


Startup tip

“I’ve simplified startup advice into the four Fs: focus, flexibility, funding and familiarity. The first two relate to writing a business plan, focusing on what it is and does. Be flexible enough to alter and change it when necessary. Enough funding is key; most new businesses fail because of a lack of sufficient finance. Familiarity refers to the culture of a company, and begins with the style and personality of the entrepreneur. Hire staff who complement you. Keep in mind that one ‘bad apple’ doesn’t ruin the bunch; one different one just ruins the recipe.”

Jennifer Fox, executive director, OTRADI/OTRADI Bioscience Incubator 


Books

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Quantified: Redefining Conservation for the Next Economy

By Joe Whitworth

Whitworth, president of Portland nonprofit The Freshwater Trust, draws lessons from tech-savvy, high-impact organizations to show how we can make concrete gains for the environment and fix the issues of water quality and quantity in the West.

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Growing Up with G.I. Joe’s

By Janna Orkney

The daughter of G.I. Joe’s founder Ed Orkney tells the inside story of what it took to build the iconic sports retail business, from its origins as a war-surplus store and growth into a big-box chain to the company’s sudden bankruptcy in 2009.


Oregon gaming companies

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In 2013 Oregon’s local filmmaker incentive program expanded to include video-game shops. The following year five interactive projects qualified for the incentive, referred to as the Indigenous Oregon Production Investment Fund (iOPIF). Three are still in the system and two were completed, netting $200,000 in rebates, says Tim Williams, executive director of Oregon Governor’s Office of Film and Television. In 2015, iOPIF received 25 applications, half of which were for interactive games. iOPIF caps out at $1 million. There are 35 gaming companies in Oregon, according to the Oregon Games Organization

 

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