Phoenix Comic Fest Panel – Getting into Games!

HoloLens at the Woz U booth at Phoenix Comic Fest

According to HuffPost, 75% of American households play video games. If you are passionate about gaming and dream of making your own, the Phoenix Comic Fest is your playground of fantasy, brimming with those who hope to be the crafty minds behind the next Minecraft.

The panel, rich with diverse talents and backgrounds at the Phoenix Comic Fest in May 2018 was designed around the question, “With limited experience in the industry, how does one break into gaming?”


Roger Arias | Cofounder, Screaming Games

Brad Bowling | Art Director, Rainbow Studios

David Koontz | Full-Stack Software Developer and Curriculum Director, Woz U

Brenden Sewell | Creative Director, E-Line Media

Chris Zukowski | Founder, Return to Adventure Mountain

Jorge Portillo | Associate Professor of Game Art & Animation, University of Advancing Technology

Moderated by Ben Reichert, Founder and CEO of Game CoLab

Watch the full video here or skip to the highlights noted below:

  • 1:30 – What’s a “game jam?” Ben explains.
  • 3:04 – Panelist Introductions
  • 7:39 – What goes into the coding of RPGs (Role Playing Games)?
  • 9:19 – The platform RPG Maker and collaborations with artists
  • 10:11 – Learning programming and its role in creating games through platforms like RPG Maker, Game Maker and Unity
  • 10:56 – Pixelated / 16-bit art games and definition of and tools for visual scripting
  • 12:30 – How does someone with a traditional computer science background get into games?
  • 13:22 – Programming languages ideal for a gaming ecosystem
  • 14:16, 22:00 – Time-management strategies for gaming side-hustlers
  • 15:16 – Recommended engines for a game jam
  • 18:20 – What if you want to make games but you don’t like math?
  • 24:00 – How does an audio engineer or music producer get connected with game designers?
  • 29:23 – For a graduating computer science major, what looks good on a résumé to  game companies who might be hiring and what are the ‘hot spot’ cities for gaming?
  • 32:55 – How to keep motivated on a project
  • 35:00 – What’s the best way to learn how to program?
  • 37:30 – How do you go about financing your passion project?
  • 43:09 – Programs used for project management, Scrum and agile methodology
  • 49:15 – Advice for bootstrappers in choosing the right platform
  • 53:20 – Managing game launches and production schedules
  • 55:08 – Recommendations for Story-driven and Episodic games for beginners


If you learn programming as a discipline, much of that will translate from system to system. - @dkoontz Click To Tweet Gaming projects can be a lot more complex than they first appear. To get started, pick a project “that can be done in a weekend … and in a month, you’ll be done. -@dkoontz #phoenixcomicfest Click To Tweet If you learn programming as a discipline, much of that will translate from system to system. -@dkoontz #phoenixcomicfest Click To Tweet

Moral of the story?

Gaming legends are made, not born. So, as panelist Chris Zukowski so concisely summed up:

There’s no excuse for not diving in. If you love it, do it! -@AdventureMtn #phoenixcomicfest Click To Tweet