News Column

Carthage graduate raising funds to attend video-game design workshop

May 25, 2014

By Joe Hadsall, The Joplin Globe, Mo.



May 25--CARTHAGE, Mo. -- Don't give Arad Reed a hard time for playing too many video games. It may be scholarly research.

And he is surrounded by research materials. A longtime gaming fan, Reed has started collecting vintage video games systems. He has more than 100 games and 10 consoles, including a Nintendo Famicom, the Japanese progenitor of the Nintendo Entertainment System.

"Actually, I've seen only one in this area," Reed said. "Most of the time, something like this has to be imported, which is what I've had to do to get Famicom games. They are really cheap in Japan, but shipping over here is the expensive part."

The recent graduate of Carthage High School hopes to start attending his next educational venture in a matter of weeks. He was accepted into the MakeGamesWithUs Summer Academy, one of only 200 to be accepted from a pool of about 1,500 applicants, he said.

The nine-week program will give Reed hands-on experience designing games for touch-screen platforms, including Android and Apple's iOS. After recently discovering his acceptance, he is now trying to raise funds to meet the program's tuition costs. He has started a campaign on Crowdtilt to help meet his financial goal of $7,000 by June 24.

"I've been working really hard at this because it's a dream for me," Reed said. "I don't want money to be an issue, so I'm really appreciative of donations."

Already programming

Reed already knows what it's like to design programs, apps and other software. Part of his curriculum at Carthage High School included a steady dose of programming classes. He also works for eCarthage, an Internet service provider run by the city of Carthage through its water and electric utilities.

He's already written everything from quick scripts handling automated functions to a Rubik's Cube-solving program. The Rubik's Cube program was one of the more difficult ones he wrote, he said, but it was worth it because he's a fan of the puzzle.

Reed is already well-versed in many aspects of programming, from the raw characters of code to artistically designed graphics. But the most difficult part happens after all that has been done.

"The hardest thing is debugging," Reed said. "You get a lot of errors, so you have to be patient and figure out what is going on. It can be really hard to know exactly what you're working on and where it's at."

Gaming fan

Like most, Reed started playing video games at a young age. A fan of Nintendo classics such as "Legend of Zelda" and "Mario Kart," the first game he became a fan of was "Super Mario Brothers.

Unlike most, Reed turned his passion into a collection. Among his vintage systems are three Nintendo N64 consoles, a Super Nintendo, Microsoft Xbox and Sony PSOne. He also owns a PlayStation 3 and Nintendo WiiU.

Games for those system number more than 100 and include many of those legendary Nintendo titles.

"I really enjoy playing the Nintendo games," Reed said. "They are classics, games loved across decades."

Reed said his collection, while sizeable, is actually small compared to others. He started collecting about a year ago. The Famicom system is the rarest console in his collection.

But now that he has programming experience, Reed said he can see the code behind most of the games he plays. He's OK with being compared to Neo of "The Matrix."

"I do that all the time now," he said, laughing. "When I look at a game, sometimes I can find the errors, and they could easily be fixed."

But that just teases Reed with thoughts of being involved with designing those games in the first place. Reed admitted he might have been born about 20 years too late.

"Those games have a nostalgic feeling I can't get over," Reed said. "It would have been cool to make them. That was a pioneering time."

Into the business

While the game consoles he loves have controllers filled with buttons, the workshop will teach him how to write a game using just a touchscreen. That's no problem, he said. The platform lends itself to the simple games that have become popular for such devices.

While at the nine-week workshop -- to be held in either San Francisco or Palo Alto, California -- he'll learn everything about the programming process, from prototyping to playtesting, from Objective-C to Cocos2D, from monetizing to marketing.

He'll get the chance to meet and network with developers, investors and other people in the app business. And he'll retain ownership of whatever he creates -- meaning that if he comes up with the newest "Words With Friends," "Flappy Bird" or "Threes," he'll earn all the profit.

That would be a healthy step into the future for the recent graduate, he said, and toward a dream of programming. Already, he has been accepted at University of California-Santa Barbara, where he will major in computer science.

He doesn't know exactly what he'll design at the workshop yet but has a general notion that it will be infused with his love of games.

"I'd like to build a simple game people can enjoy and relate to," Reed said. "A lot of adults are wanting a lot of those nostalgic feelings you don't get in games nowadays."

Want to help?

Details about Arad Reed's Crowdtilt fundraising campaign can be found at http://tilt.tc/zdVA.

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(c)2014 The Joplin Globe (Joplin, Mo.)

Visit The Joplin Globe (Joplin, Mo.) at www.joplinglobe.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Joplin Globe (MO)


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