Location

Austin, TX

Hometown

Hudson Falls, NY
#00402

Jennifer Bullard

Bio

  • Jennifer Bullard is a 15 year video game industry veteran who started in California and wisely moved to Austin, TX. She has worked on titles large and small such as classic favorites Heroes of Might & Magic III - IV and expanding the Sims II franchise. ¬†Other smaller titles were products like X-Men the Next Dimension, Backyard Wrestling (not a kid's game!) and several unannounced titles. Jennifer most recently worked at GameSalad, a tools developer for mobile platforms, managing live development process.
  • After landing in Austin and getting a bit settled Jennifer became active in the IGDA-Austin and eventually took leadership of the organization. Since then she has become highly engaged in improving the connectivity of the creative industries in Austin with a large focus on the business ecosystem.
  • Jennifer tried to get a small start-up off the ground, but with an economic downturn and a few years prior to other support services found Austin lacking in the ecosystem required for creative industries. Since then she has endeavored to create an incubator and now has the Chamber of Commerce's backing to make this happen.
  • As an overachiever, Jennifer decided it was a good idea to ensure Austin had a fall conference around creative content, and has developed Captivate that will be happening this fall. Captivate has a fun side to entice consumers into the Expo floor, but a very serious business backend throughout the entire conference. All of the events, happenings and sessions focus on developing strong business, entrepreneurial and professional skills at all levels. Consider this your invitation to join our community, learn something new and have a great time!
  • TRANSCRIPT
  • TALK ABOUT COMING SOUTH TO AUSTIN.
  • I'm originally from upstate New York, the part that's closer to Canada than it is to New York City, so it gets a really brutally cold.
  • Coming to the south, coming to Texas has meant I don't have to spend fifteen minutes warming up my car and shoveling myself under six feet of snow, which is what my entire family just did over the last two weeks.
  • What brought me to Austin was the video game industry. Texas is one of the top states to be a game developer in and Austin is a really cool city.
  • I think of Austin as not like the rest of Texas or at least what Texas' public image is and we really enjoyed the city itself and we liked the people here, they were very friendly, very welcoming, and that was something great to experience after living in LA for six years.
  • If you're thinking about choosing Austin over another city one of the really stand-out aspects is the community and how people come together. What we've had in the past in any part of the game industry is a lot of ups and downs, that means people get laid off and are looking for work.
  • Here in Austin, something that we pretty much uniquely do, is we all get together and we try and help find people their next job -- we want them to stay here. And it's not just the employees, it's actually the businesses, too.
  • They'll host a job fair, they'll try and get other employers and recruiters to come in, and that really means that if you're going to be transitioning which -- everyone transitions these days --you're gonna have a smoother one, so it's kind of a soft landing.
  • And the other aspect of it is the cost of living here is so much less, so you can have a high quality of life and you can do everything that's super cool, there's a great music scene, the downtown is awesome. There's all these places to go and the outlying countryside is beautiful... But at the same, time it's a good place to raise kids and just have a great life.
  • ANY TECH HEROES?
  • So, one of my heroes in technology is Jon Van Caneghem he was the founder of New World Computing and that was the first business that I worked at. He really taught me the basics of business, how to build a creative technology business that had sustainability. That is super important in our industry because most people are this one hit wonder.
  • So, I really respect him, he also happens to be an incredible strategy designer and if you ever get to play with him just expect to lose.
  • One of my other heroes is also Richard Garriott, he founded one of the other very long-running, stable companies, Origin Systems, that was founded here in Austin, Texas. He showed me how creativity can be brought into this very zeros and ones, very binary world, and he continues to have these very creative ideas and continues to expand and move with what the customer wants.
  • So I really appreciate people like that who understand how to be creative and also keep a good business.
  • WHAT IS IGDA?
  • IGDA Austin is the International Game Developers Association, and we're the local chapter for Austin, Texas. What we do is we represent game developers at the government level, to the city, the state, the chamber of commerce, trying to advocate our needs for the entire community.
  • Other things that we do is we try to provide support services for both individual contributors and business leaders so they can conduct business, get their next job, grow professionally, and we can attract more people here in Austin.
  • One of the things that we have long since learned is the more companies there are, the more developers there are, the larger and the more stable our business ecosystem is, and that's really important to us.
  • So, one of the really good success stories IGDA has is a gentleman named Chris. He was going school in Orlando, Florida, and one day, he gets done with college, there's nothing there for him. So he packs up and drives across to Austin, Texas, and becomes a bartender locally, cuz that's what he could find.
  • And the IDGA runs micro-talks once a quarter at KLRU studios and he was our bartender. And while he was there, he was talking with the developers and interacting with them and he meets the lead QA manager from GameSalad and she says "Man, I gotta hire you!"
  • So she brings him in for an interview, he made this game that he presented to the GameSalad employees, that he made with GameSalad and they hired him on the spot and he got his first career, you know, first job in his career. And he's now a game designer working on mobile games soI really like to have those kind of success stories continue.
  • ANY GUIDANCE FOR NEW GAMING ENTREPRENEURS IN AUSTIN?
  • If you want to get involved in the game industry, there's two things that you really need to do: the first thing that you need to do is you need to get to know some game developers. We're close-knit community but we are open and welcoming so come out to our events and meet with us. The second thing you need to do is you just need to make a game.
  • The barrier to entry right now is super low. A couple hundred bucks and you're essentially a game developer, and if you put some product up on the Apple Store? That's worth so much more than any college degree or anything else.
  • So, just get out there and meet people and do it.