22nd Nov 2011 / Kurt Reiner 6

Our latest featured employee is none other than Kevin Teich, Development Director and Resident Vegan here at Demiurge.  Kevin's low-key demeanor and problem solving superpowers (as well as his artful use of the post-it note) are part of what makes Demiurge tick.  A homebrew master and proud cat owner, he spends his spare time watching foreign horror movies on Netflix and generally being a pretty cool guy. 

How long have you worked at Demiurge?

My four year anniversary was on October 22. It was on a Saturday, so I was expecting Al to surprise me with breakfast in bed. Maybe that's a five year thing? We'll see.

What's your favorite part about working at Demiurge?

My favorite part is that I get to sit right next to Evan. Seriously, he's like two feet from me. He lets me use his yellow highlighter. There are no other ones like it in the office; the only ones in the supply cabinet are pink and blue, so I think he has an external source. I use it to highlight the due dates on milestone schedules. Then, when he asks why we don't have enough time to implement something, I point to the date and say, "Isn't that your highlighter? Yellow."

My second favorite part is working with and alongside such a talented and scrappy bunch of developers who dive into every new project with a sparkle in their eyes. It's a great mix of their sober professionalism and infectious enthusiasm that gets me through the day. The other thing that gets me through the day is the tea selection. We have a fantastically stocked selection of tea.

What other career options did you consider before getting into video games?

My first job was a stint as a short order cook at a Chinese food restaurant, and I have the burn scars to prove it. I only mention this for completion's sake; I did not consider it as a career.

With college graduation looming, I applied to twelve video game companies and one neuroinformatics research lab. I got one job offer, and ended up writing visualization software for brain imaging scientists for seven years. It was a great environment and I learned a lot--and it's pretty cool to be able to call yourself a neuroinformaticist--but there comes a time in a man's life when he realizes he has to make games.

If the games thing doesn't work out, though, I would look into beer brewing. I do some at home but not in the volume at which I would have an excuse to buy a huge grain silo, and if I was a brewer, I would. You think it's cool to have an excuse to have three video game consoles because you work in video games? Here's my grain silo.

What's the most underrated game you've every played?

The Bionic Commando remake by Grin was criminally underrated. Swinging around on a grappling hook in that game was pure joy for me. I've always secretly wanted a bionic arm with a grappling hook. That would be way better than flying or invisibility. You know why there was no jump button in the first game? Because that guy didn't even care about jumping.

Besides ketchup and mustard, what condiment do you think should be on every table and why?

Nutritional yeast. It's a dry, flaky, yellow substance that has a really unique flavor. And it's super high in B12, without which vegan programmers fall asleep at their desk around 3pm. True story! There was an issue.

What viral internet video do you wish you could wipe from your brain for forever and ever and ever for the rest of time?

Pretty much all of them. Seriously, what is wrong with the people that make internet videos? I wish I could wipe this question from my brain. This was going so well, too. Oh, except for Kitty City. Mike had a link to it in his Gmail status. I make my wife watch Kitty City every Monday night. I'm going to watch it now, even though it's Sunday. Okay, back. There's one about cows, too, by the same guy, that I hadn't seen before.

Is there any game that, to you, has and will continue to stand the test of time?

Mazes, like hedge mazes or cornfield mazes. I had a gerbil as a kid and built a maze for it out of cardboard. The gerbil wasn't into it, and just sat in the corner and peed for a while. But I love them. You may think that mazes aren't really a game, but I would ask you if baseball is a game. I mean, is it really a game? I'll be dragging my wife and friends through cornfield mazes long after people figure out that baseball is actually pretty boring.

What do you think about working with a smaller developing team in comparison to a gigantic, hulking, powerhouse video game developer?

I love being able to see and get into all the parts of development, from brainstorming sessions and being in peer reviews for other people's pitches, to closing out the last bug and kicking off the final release candidate build of a game. I even got to work the Demiurge booth at Pax East.

I like programming and production, but ultimately I really like video games, and making stuff with people. It's very rewarding to me to be involved in that in a really wide-ranging way. I imagine that if I were at a bigger company, while I'd get to work on some awesome titles, my role would be narrower. On a smaller team, I get to engage my overall interest in games in many different ways. If you're into video games, I highly recommend it. Actually, I have never worked at a gigantic, hulking, powerhouse video game developer, so you should make your own career decisions.

If Demiurge was a gigantic, hulking, powerhouse video game developer, I bet we'd need a bigger office, and it'd be a much longer walk to where the tea is. Stay real, Demiurge.

What is the best species of bird to keep as a role model?

I'm not sure. I don't really think that's a good kind of role model; birds' priorities are very different than ours. It could be that I don't know that much about birds. I just try to do my thing in my own way.

How do you think the world would change if more people played video games?

Maybe we would all get raises! We should get on that.

It's fantastic to see video games become popular enough that developers can take chances to making these crazy, innovative, inspiring games, and see people buying and playing them. I hope that as more people play games, more people start making them, and we get crossovers from people in other creative fields making games. At the same time, big studios get even bigger budgets and make even more amazing AAA games. We wouldn't see these epic, huge games like Skyrim if there weren't more and more people buying them. So I'm looking forward to more titles from new developers coming from different fields, as well as the further refinement of the huge blockbuster games.

It's also great to see people discover gaming for the first time. I can talk to my mom about which mobile games she likes on her phone. Rock Band created a new kind of social experience for people who neither liked video games nor made fools of themselves in public. My wife watches me play video games the same way we sit down together to watch movies. It's great to see video games find their way into my friends' and family's lives, when twenty years ago it was this super nerdy niche thing. Maybe one day families will sit down to watch the big Thanksgiving Starcraft tournament game.

So really, I hope the future holds more personal gratification, and less ostracism by society. And to keep getting paid for it!

Congratulations, Kevin.  Nice writeup,

Dec 21, 2011
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