City Pages' People Issue celebrates people making Minnesota a better place.
Evva Kraikul and Nicolaas VanMeerten want anyone to be able to create their own video games, regardless of their tools or resources. So they founded the nonprofit GLITCH to help people realize their dreams.
“We’re both really passionate about that,” says VanMeerten. “Anyone should be able to make games, no matter what background you have.”
It all started eight years ago at the U of M with T-shirts they sold to raise money, which they used to buy equipment.
Four years later, the group opened up to anyone looking to learn about game making and the industry. It offered a variety of ways to make that happen, including intensive programs, online chat boards, talks and workshops with industry insiders, a multi-day convention, and open play sessions at beer halls.
In addition to these programs for developers of all skill levels, GLITCH is now producing and releasing its own games.
“We’re also an independent video game label that is home to the offbeat and experimental,” says Kraikul. “A big part of what we do is design and produce games that — we hope — will challenge inspire and share stories through play.”
They do that by investing in and offering resources to emerging game developers with radical and innovative ideas. Take Charles McGregor, a trailblazer of sorts in the Twin Cities.
“Charles is the first black game developer who has shipped, launched, and owns a video game studio or development studio here in Minnesota,” says Kraikul.
He’s currently working on HyperDot, a super-addictive game where players attempt to dodge objects. The gameplay is smooth and intuitive, the look striking yet simple, and the 100-plus ways to play should make it a hit at parties. They’re hoping the game will be released this year on multiple platforms.
In the meantime, GLITCH will continue to support experimental play.
“We’ve spearheaded a lot of local initiatives because we wanted to make sure we had our own community here,” says Kraikul. “We hope that this space can become a viable area for people to make and create games — and also stay here.”
Kraikul believes there is something magical about games.
“Games are two-way,” she explains. “You speak or have inputs in games. With music, you listen and that’s it. You don’t have that two-way communication. Same with film. You watch a film. It’s a passive engagement. That active engagement in digital games is something that is super special.”