Northfield resident Richard Garcia is working in a “recession-proof” industry on Division Street. He’s a video game designer for a company he founded 13 years ago called Monster Games.
“People will still pay for entertainment,” Garcia said, adding that profits throughout the video game industry are mostly on the rise, despite the national economic slump.
Garcia credits the steady increase to the growing public acceptance of video game playing as a “valid” form of entertainment. Nintendo’s recent widespread marketing of video games as “something for the whole family” with its latest “Wii” system has accelerated that acceptance, he said.
The success of the industry might be helping Garcia’s business thrive, but he said his location has also been a plus. The Twin Cities has a deep pool of talent, he said, and he can usually have his pick of designers since few other video game engineering firms exist nearby. Competition would be much stiffer on the West Coast, he said. Garcia has also hired a number of Carleton College graduates. Garcia, a Saint Paul native, is a 1988 graduate of Tufts University outside Boston.
Right now, the 20 employees at Monster Games are working on a top-secret video game for Nintendo. They’ve worked on it for two years and are nearly finished. The process is so private the designers must darken their monitors when the bottled-water deliveryman enters the office.
The company won Yahoo’s “Best Racing Game of 2006” award for its last game for the Nintendo Wii called “Excite Truck.” Wendy’s fast-food restaurants across the nation, including the one in Northfield, promoted the game with Excite Truck kids’ meals. But, Garcia said, he believed few Northfielders ever realized the game’s designers lived right in the city.
Garcia is married and raising two daughters, who aren’t quite as avid video game players as he is, he said.
“I encourage them as much as possible,” he said, laughing.
The only bump Garcia foresees for the company in the near future is securing another contract with a video game developer once the contract with Nintendo ends.
“It is kind of nerve-racking,” he said. “Because, with this kind of work, it’s like having to find a new job every two years.”