In early 2003, the WPI Game Development Club was approached by the WPI administration. Richard T. Moore, a MA state Senator, asked WPI if they’d be willing to make a game about balancing the budget of the state of Massachusetts. WPI aked the Game Development Club if we could do it. I was Executive Officer at the time, and we were very excited about taking on our first “real” project for an outside client.

We were given 9 weeks to complete the game. Actually, it was closer to 7 weeks. Anyway, we were scheduled to begin development in mid-March of 2003. Luckily, I was headed to my very first Game Developers Conference just beforehand. While there, I met Ben Sawyer at the Academic Summit and later at the Serious Games Roundtable. He runs the Serious Games Initiative. He liked the idea of the game, and offered to be our advisor. Which was very cool of him to do.

Long story short, we finished the game. I am credited as “External Relations,” even though my role was more of “Executive Producer.” But hey, who’s nitpicking? Ben even invited us down to Washington, D.C. for a games lobbying event. We got to sit at the Serious Games booth and show off the game to congressfolks, senators, and their staff. They were actually all pretty interested in the game, which I suppose makes sense considering who they are.

While MassBalance isn’t my favorite game in the world, it is the project that got me pretty heavily involved in the games industry–that’s “heavily” for a full-time undergraduate at a four-year university. For that, I am thankful.

Relevant links include MassBalance itself, plus an article by Boston Globe tech columnist Scott Kirsner. Oh, and that’s me in the orange tie in the article.

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