Dec 22, 2015

Two Video Games Created in Madison Make Apple Inc.’s “Game of the Year 2015” List

December 22, 2015

Two video games created in Madison appear on Apple Inc.’s recently announced “Game of the Year 2015” list. The game Prune, made by local developer Joel McDonald, received top billing as Game of the Year for the iPad, while the game Lost Within, made by local company Human Head Studios, appears 22nd on the list for iPads. With thousands of games released in the past year, boasting two spots in the top 25 from Madison illustrates the region’s immense talent and capability in this industry.

“I’m honestly still in shock,” says Joel McDonald regarding his top ranking. “These types of accomplishments aren’t supposed to happen with your first game release. I feel so privileged to have landed in Madison where I’ve met and learned so much from a bunch of amazing game developers. It’s definitely an exciting time for video games and I count myself lucky to be a part of it!”

“Madison is ripe for attracting and growing top-notch video game talent, as evidenced by this recent ranking,” notes Paul Jadin, president of Madison Region Economic Partnership. “We congratulate Joel McDonald and Human Head Studios, two game developers that reflect the vibrancy and growth potential of this industry cluster. We look forward to continuing efforts that catalyze this growth as Madison makes its mark on the global video game scene.”

The newly-formed Madison Game Alliance (MGA) is a group of creative minds that aims to build on the local industry assets already in place to establish Madison as a premier location for video games. MadREP—the economic development agency for the eight-county Madison Region—played a lead role along with UW-Madison’s Games+Learning+Society in forming the MGA, convening industry leaders, and spearheading the initiatives this group undertakes. The MGA is developing, branding and leading the local video game industry cluster through regular meet-ups, strategic planning sessions, and collaborative technical assistance.

“The Madison Game Alliance was formed at a critical and exciting moment for Madison’s video game industry,” says Tim Gerritsen, director of business development at Human Head Studios. “This group is committed to making Madison a continued competitor to gaming hotspots worldwide, and I’m confident that our critical mass of talent, companies and resources will ensure this status. Human Head Studios is thankful to Amazon Game Studios, our publisher, for giving us the chance to show a new depth of play on the iPad with our horror survival game, Lost Within.”

The region’s gaming industry has been gaining momentum over recent years, with a handful of anchor companies like Raven Software, Filament Games, PerBlue, and Human Head Studios growing steadily in the Madison area and at least 15 additional start-up companies taking root. Training and education in the gaming industry is available locally through programs at UW-Madison, UW-Whitewater, UW-Stout, Madison College, Madison Media Institute, and Herzing University. The industry is further buoyed by UW-Madison’s Games+Learning+Society, a research program housed in the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and the Higher Education Video Game Alliance.

Apple Inc.’s yearly ranking assesses the best iOS Apps and Games released within the App Store during the previous 12 months. It is based on Apple’s weekly Editor’s Choice rankings.

In addition to winning Apple’s Game of the Year accolade, Prune was also named TIME Magazine’s best video game of 2015.

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