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I recently given the chance to sit down and talk with Ben Walsh, the CEO and Founder of Pure Bang Games; a Baltimore based independent game studio focused on creating social games for Facebook and mobile. Ben is a video game producer and designer, who paid his producing and designing dues while working for game development titan Bethesda Softworks. Ben Walsh is also a leader in the Baltimore technology and game development community as the visionary leader and co-founder of Innovate Baltimore, a community for creative technology entrepreneurs, professionals, and enthusiasts in the region.
Examiner: What sparked your passion for gaming?
Ben: Well, I grew up on games an eighties cartoons. I had an Atari 2600 and I played Space Invaders and Pitfall and although at the time I thought a lot of the games were cool, I couldn’t understand why I could never beat them; but looking back I now understand that they were really hardcore games and I just didn’t know any better, nevertheless, I really enjoyed them.
Examiner: Thinking back to your time with Bethesda Softworks, what was your favorite game to work on?
Ben: I worked of quite a few games and I liked all of them. I really enjoyed WET, which was the last one I did before I left. I was the producer on that project. It had a really cool vibe, it was like if they made Kill Bill into a video game, it would be WET. I really loved the grindhouse style of it and it was great to work with A2M, a game studio in Montreal.
Examiner: Now that you are CEO and President of your own gaming company, what served as your inspiration to focus on social games?
Ben: The number one thing that I liked about social games was that they were reaching new audiences. So for me, having started playing games with the Atari, which was new back then, I really got excited about what Facebook was doing for the industry and how you had people who had never played games before are playing games now due to the accessibility through Facebook. Mobile is the same way. Apple has opened up the market with their iOS, so people who five years ago would have never been caught dead playing a video game, millions of them are playing Draw Something as we speak. So the excitement for me and social game is that I kind of get to be this generations’ Atari.
Examiner: How are you feeling about Baltimore’s future in the gaming industry?
Ben: I feel pretty good about it. We have some pretty heavy hitters here already, Bethesda Softworks, Firaxis, Big Huge Games and Zynga East. We have a great young talent pool with the universities that are in the area. UMBC and UB both have great game degree programs. I think it’s a bright future, but do think that Baltimore could help more by making the environment more appealing to developers outside of the state to get them to migrate here easier. It’s a great place for game development.
Examiner: Speaking of the industry, with the recent Capcom DLC fiasco, what are your thoughts on the business of DLC?
Ben: I think it’s a good business and it’s going to increase. I actually think that retail is going to suffer over the next few years and the way that developers are going to offset that is by offering more DLC options. I think it’s a great way to provide players with extra content and there are people who are not going to want it, but here are going to be more people that will. For those die-hard fans that want more, why not give it to them.
Examiner: When did you get the idea for GameScape?
Ben: It was about three years ago. I met with a lady from BOPA (Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts) at a tech meeting and she was describing what ArtScape was and what BOPA did and that’s when I was struck with the idea. So I asked her if they had video games at ArtScape because video games are art and she was like no. Then I asked her if she would like to have video games there and her eye lit up and she was like YES!…how do we do that. That was the genesis of GameScape.
Pure Bang Games is a jewel in the Baltimore gaming community. Developing social games that are creative and fun to play! Although Ben could not divulge any information, but Pure Bang will be showcasing new titles at GameScape 2012; which will be an exhibit at the 2012 ArtScape Festival. It will be exciting to see what the creative minds at Pure Bang Games have come up with to satisfy our social gaming appetites.