Neal LaurenzaMeet Innovator of the Week

Neal Laurenza
Managing Director of Skymap Games

 

 

Please provide your 30-second pitch about your company.

Skymap Games is a New England based video game design and development company. Our flagship game, Bacon Man, is a goofy action game about a guy made of bacon (go figure) who has been framed for murder by the other food groups. It will release during the 2015 holiday season for Xbox One, PC, and Mac.

I am also co-founder of a video game coworking space called Game Assembly. Game Assembly NH is a game development community made up of a passionate group of video game developers who plan to transform New Hampshire into a hub for the video game industry. As part of this plan, we have opened a space in which professionals, hobbyists and student developers can work side by side. Our goal is to grow New Hampshire game studios, retain talent in the state, and educate the public in STEM and how the game industry can create jobs in New Hampshire.

 

Who or what was your best resource for starting your company?

Other game developers, such as the people at Game Assembly and Boston Indie Game Collective, have been fantastic about sharing their knowledge and networks. One of the reasons I’m so attached to developing a video game industry in New Hampshire is because of our friends in Boston. When Bacon Man was first starting up, I went down to the city on Fridays to pick the brains of the developers. That sense of community is really important for startups.

Game Assembly NH

I am excited to watch Game Assembly grow in New Hampshire.  New Hampshire’s startup ecosystem and tech community seem eager to support our efforts.  For example, the Alpha Loft will be hosting the New Hampshire chapter of the International Game Developers Association meeting on July 14th for networking, food and presentations. The NH Tech Alliance hosted an event earlier this year to highlight the growing game development industry in New Hampshire. We’re also discussing partnerships with area colleges and universities to establish internships and course development around game development. This type of support will help Skymap Games grow and may lead to more developers starting up in New Hampshire.

 

What was your biggest obstacle in starting your company and how did you overcome it?

A big obstacle was the lack of a dedicated office space. When Skymap first started, we worked from our homes and suffered from inconsistent work days as a result. Eventually, we started meeting in person a few times each week in temporary locations, but this was never a great solution. Game Assembly has been a fantastic solution for us because Manchester is a central location for my team, and we’re surrounded by other game developers. Every day we have a regular time we can meet.

 

What about the NH lifestyle appeals to you? 

I love having access to anything. Manchester is a great place to shop and eat. It’s also great for easy traveling. In a short ride, you can go to the mountains, the ocean, and the city. I hope to take more hikes this summer with the Game Assembly crew.

 

What does the future look like for your company? 

When Bacon Man is released, we hope to expand. I would like to see Skymap employ more local game developers, such as the interns we have at Game Assembly. It would be very rewarding to watch the Manchester scene grow from our tiny space to something huge.

 

Connect with Neal on Twitter and LinkedIn

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