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There was a different world inside “KlickNation’s Hosted Meetup of Awesomeness,” held on Thursday night at 1015 20th Street. Gaming enthusiasts amassed in groups to discuss things like frame rates, metrics, RPGs, MAUs, and DAUs. When one attendee brought his iPad out of hiding, a group of three or four others swarmed around him and the discussion quickly turned from the specs of the iPad to the battle between the Kindle and books. Equipped with tech talk and hours of gaming experience, they were there to prove that the Sacramento game culture is growing.
With about 30 people in attendance, the event featured talks by employees of KlickNation, a company that makes games for Facebook. Talks touched on everything from their history and future, to how to market and make games.
Attendees of the event included artists and programmers, both working and looking for work, as well as game studios, and people who were merely interested in making games themselves.
Mark Otero, KlickNation’s co-founder and CEO, said that while it’s still a small culture, the interest is there. “It’s a lot of hobbyists, a lot of small teams that are still working a full-time job, building games on the side,” he said.
Otero’s first venture into the business world was the Mochii yogurt shop located at 1530 16th Street after he grew tired of the daily nine-to-five grind of previous jobs. His interest in gaming and his degree in computer science from the California State University, Sacramento, led him to his dream job of designing games.
Otero and KlickNation are relatively new to the gaming world. Founded in 2007, KlickNation started out making gifting applications on Facebook, including one called Happy Pills, an application that allowed users to share virtual versions of prescription and illegal drugs with their friends on Facebook.
Superhero City, released on Facebook on June 16, 2009, after only three months of development, became the first game on Facebook to feature animated battles. It “was contrived through watching the TV show ‘Heroes,’ being a big fan of Marvel comics, and having seen ‘The Watchmen,’” he said.
Even though the game had a lot of problems on its initial release, Aaron Nemoyten, product manager for the game, said at the meetup that it still got a fairly receptive response. "Everything can suck except the gameplay," Nemoyten joked.
Devin Becker, 28, was one of the unemployed attendees. Looking for leads on jobs in programming or game design, Becker said he decided to attend the event after finding the meetup group through the web. "I Googled 'game design Sacramento,' and this was the only good result. I thought it was definitely worth a try," Becker said.
His curiosity with the Sacramento game community drew him to the event. "Sacramento is far enough out of the Bay Area that we need events like this," Becker said. "There's no good forum for game design in this area."
According to Otero, that forum is beginning to take shape. He said that organization would allow hobbyists, educators, and businesses to thrive in the gaming industry.
Otero added that it might be another three or four years before Sacramento makes it on the map in the gaming community.
“We’re very happy to be a part of the gaming culture of Sacramento,” Otero said. “We owe it to Sacramento to do what’s right for the city. I’m tired of seeing the creative people move away.”
Enter “Age of Champions.” KlickNation workers revealed a sneak peek of their newest game at the meetup on Thursday. "I think it’s going to be one of the best investments we’ve ever made," Otero said of the new game, set to debut on Facebook sometime this week. The game will have three integral features that will connect with gamers: a 3D avatar creator, a mass combat system, and an incredible story. "It’s about leadership," Otero said. "It’s about building and amassing an army and to compete with other players. That’s the emotional connection our game makes."