ASHWAUBENON Wis. — Part of Ben Kvalo’s job is playing video games.
After all, he and Midwest Games are there to help the developers bring those ideas and products to market and in front of gamers.
He recently demonstrated one of the titles Midwest Games is working with.
“This game is RA RA BOOM from Gylee Games in Cincinnati, Ohio,” he said. “It’s a four-person beat-em-style game with four female protagonists that are basically trying to save the world from AI.”
Midwest Games launched in late August at TitletownTech in Ashwaubenon.
As a game publisher, it provides help to independent developers through things like financing, quality assurance, marketing and other support.
It’s focused on helping game developers in the Midwest.
“One of our big goals it to really change where games come from,” said Kvalo, a Portage native who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. “So much of the industry is consolidated in three states in the U.S. and there’s a lot of opportunity and talent in regions like the Midwest and Wisconsin that could be staying in the Midwest if they had the opportunity.”
TitletownTech Partner Cordero Barkley said Midwest Games fills a gap in video game publishers in the region.
“Many people don’t realize there is a ton of development talent that happens here,” he said. “Developer talent, studio talent and a lot of that talent ends up going to the coast to find those opportunities. As a publisher in the Midwest, there are no major publishers in the gaming space that exist, but Midwest Games has a chance to change that narrative.”
Over the past five years, TitletownTech has grown the number of companies it’s supporting to more than 30.
“The unique part of what’s happening now is we’ve kind of moved from people thought this would work to now people believe it will work,” Barkley said.
Kvalo has worked for some of the biggest names in video games and entertainment — outside of Wisconsin.
He said other game development hubs, like Austin, Texas and parts of Scandinavia, sprung up from small beginnings.
“I see a lot of potential here to be able to grow into something so much larger,” Kvalo said. “It just needs a little bit of a push from folks who have come from the industry and know how it works and know how to build it. It’s just building the ecosystem.”