Name: Eric T. Elder
Company: OW! (Online Worlds) Entertainment
Job Title: Founder/CEO
Time in the industry: 20+ years
Can you describe why you chose the industry and the path you took to get to your current position?
I’ve always wanted to have my own company and studio. I started working on my first animation studio business plans in 1993. As a budding entrepreneur, it’s all been an evolution.
In terms of teaching or training and development – I started doing it out of necessity. I did not want to teach but it was a way to progress my career. When I was younger, I didn’t think I could teach AND have a studio career at the same time. It turns out that teaching provided me with everything and I discovered that when you contribute to others – and your focus is there – you get so much more in return.
What games do you enjoy playing when you’re not working?
I love Euro style board games. My current favorites are The Voyages of Marco Polo and The Castles of Mad King Ludwig.
With over 20 years of experience, what would you say are the high points of your career so far?
The thing I’m most proud of in my career is creating, developing and maintaining the Game Wizards Video Game Production Team Program at the Art Institute of California – Los Angeles.
This was a unique program that provided it’s participants with the closest experience they could have to working as a game developer and still be a college course. This program was a direct result in us achieving an over all 90% success rate in placement with graduates moving on to work at Sony Santa Monica (God of War titles), Blizzard, Treyarch (Call of Duty franchise), Infinity Ward, Neversoft (Guitar Hero), EA Los Angeles (Command & Conquer franchise) etc.
As a veteran, are there any lessons learned you’d like to pass along?
Of course. The one I’m most present to right now: never give up. I know it sounds cliché but it’s so important if you really want to succeed. As of this year, blacks still make up less than 3% of the professional game development community. It’s staggering when you considering that we spend more time (an average of 16 minutes per day, more than any other ethnic group playing games) and more money on media in general.
Is there any advice that you can to pass down to those interested in pursuing a career in the video game industry?
I am a professional video game career coach with over 10 years of experience and a 90% placement rate. The most important thing is to have a clear specific goal or target in terms of role and studio. The next thing is to start making games right now. Find or create a way to do it. If you want to be a game designer, “Be” a game designer right now. Get some dice, index cards, plastic figures or some pieces from other games and design one and have your family or friends play it. Don’t wait!! If you want to be a programmer, start coding something. If you want to be an artist, then start making some assets and build a portfolio.
For more information about Online Worlds Entertainment, visit http://owentertainment.biz/.
For more info on the Game Wizards production team, visit http://gamewizardsai.weebly.com/.
Black Girl Nerds would like to thank Eric for his words of wisdom.