Game development

Former World of Warcraft Senior Programmer Launches New Orleans Games Studio, “Welcomes” Unionization

NEW ORELANS, LA (BRPRROUD) – Former Blizzard programmer Jeff Strain officially announced the opening of a new video game studio in New Orleans on Wednesday.

In a press release from Louisiana Economic Development (LED), Governor John Bel Edwards and Strain announced that the studio, named Possibility Space, will create “large-scale video games for a global audience.”

Strain left Blizzard in 2000 after working on the popular massive online multiplayer game World of Warcraft to co-found ArenaNet in Seattle with which to develop the Guild Wars video game series. A few years after the acquisition of ArenaNet by South Korean publisher NCSoft, Strain launched another Seattle-based video game studio, Undead Labs, which was purchased by Microsoft Xbox Game Studios in 2018.

“The arrival of Possibility Space further strengthens our position as a leader in the development of interactive entertainment, which continues to provide well-paying technology jobs to residents of Louisiana,” said Governor Edwards. “With an industry innovator like Jeff Strain at the helm, this project could be a game-changer for video game development in Louisiana. We welcome Space Possibilities as we continue to develop this exciting sector of our economy. “

Strain said he is looking to change the culture in the tech industry with his company.

“Making a lot of improvements to the work culture and the way we hire people and the great diversity of people we bring into the industry,” Strain said.

LED says Possibility Space will employ 75 people in Louisiana with an average annual salary of $ 100,000, although the press release also notes that it will be a “distributed studio, allowing staff to live where they want to live. and to work where he wants “.

The gaming industry is mostly found on the West Coast, where Strain got its start. But with Possibility Space bringing more video game development to sound, that makes Louisiana a hub of the boom. The pandemic has revealed the possibility of working remotely, which will help the Strain team get the business off the ground, but they are looking to grow locally over the next few years.

“Our goal is to look at that, to build a studio based here in New Orleans with ramps for a lot of local talent here and also to attract some of the really talented developers who are all over the world. Strain said.

In late July, after her former employer Blizzard was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing over allegations of gender discrimination, Strain issued an open letter calling on industry workers to unionize, including employees at his own company.

“I… know I have nothing to fear from unionization, nor any company that pays its employees fairly and equitably, provides quality health insurance, models respect and civility for women, POC, LGBTQ + employees, and supports a healthy and full life. I also know that I have nothing to fear from unionization, nor any company that compensates its employees fairly and equitably, provides quality health insurance, models respect and civility for women, POCs , LGBTQ + employees, and supporting healthy and full lives… I welcome my employees to unionize, and I give my full support and support to an industry wide adoption of unions. Strain said.

He also said that another thing he learned during the pandemic was the importance of communicating with people. The games they are looking to develop will focus on more ways to connect people through games.

“Our goal is to create games that are built deeply around what we call the human experience,” Strain said. “Not just social, not just talking on headsets and typing on your keyboard, but creating gaming experiences around that connection with other human beings.”

Louisiana already hosts teams of video game developers like Electronic Arts, Microsoft Xbox Game Studio and High Voltage Studios.

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