College of Charleston alumnus Jonathon Myers ’00 is writing his own destiny. Literally. The psychology major has written storylines for the nation’s top video game companies. Now, he’s the CEO and creative director of Reactive Studios, a mobile game company he co-founded.
Q: How would you describe your job?
A: I’m a mobile game designer. More specifically, I design interactive storytelling systems, write the narrative content, and then work with programmers and other designers and artists to produce game apps on iOS and Android devices.
Q: What are some of the games you’ve worked on?
A: The first game company I worked for was Zynga Boston and I wrote narrative for Indiana Jones Adventure World for Facebook. I followed that up as the narrative design lead on the title Game of Thrones Ascent for Disruptor Beam, but also tried mobile work as narrative designer and writer on Jack Lumber by Owlchemy Labs and SEGA. After all that I decided to found my own company, Reactive Studios.
Q: What is your favorite part about your job?
A: On the whole, I get to tell stories in an exciting new medium that involves interactivity on the part of the audience. Since I’m part of a small team, the job requires a variety of skills and I’m involved in all aspects of the process from concept to final publication. I really love that I seldom spend an entire week doing just one thing.
Q: How did you get into the gaming industry?
A: The games industry is a difficult one to enter, and all the designers and writers I know have a different story on how it happened.
Right after college, I began to make use of my knowledge of psychology as an actor. This uncovered a talent for playwriting and led to an MFA in Creative Writing at Boston University with a residency at Boston Playwright’s Theatre. I spent much of the first ten years after my College of Charleston graduation writing on evenings and weekends while trying to figure out a way to make a paid career out of it.
When I saw that the games industry was beginning to value storytelling, I began attending tech meetups in Boston. I worked on games in small teams at weekend “game jams” where you make something in 48 hours. I found that my earlier study of the scientific method, statistics, and calculus set me apart from other writers and designers because I could adapt and work with the interactive system while communicating well with programmers whose background was computer science. Eventually I got a break writing for Zynga Boston.
Q: What advice would you offer current students?
A: Study a wide variety of subjects and either learn to program or at least study enough about how digital trends will affect your chosen field. The future is going to be increasingly digital and job security will be tied to understanding how industries are changing in order to keep up with technological advances.
I’d also suggest that any students who want to develop games get together with others and make games in short weekend sprints. Game Jams can be as simple as a programmer, artist, and designer spending a weekend together. The most organized annual event is the Global Game Jam.