Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

A constant topic of conversation in the Hawaii tech community is - what tech niches would work in Hawaii or, even better, be really well suited to the islands. One that seems to be a natural is social gaming. Why? A couple of reasons. First, our affinity with Japan (and close ties with the culture) give us a huge leg up on the gaming future. Anyone who knows the history of RPGs in Japan knows that Farmville (and most other Zynga titles) came from Japanese RPGs (or flavors of them) that rolled out years (if not more than a decade) ago. Zynga leveraged Facebook beautifully to make these games work. But there are tons of social gaming companies that are succeeding through sales of virtual goods and its a booming business. This is also a totally location agnostic business - marketing is almost all online and via viral / social means.


Best of all, start up costs and barriers to entry are fairly minimal (at present). It's more about story telling. Using Cloud economics, too, makes it cheaper than ever to reduce all startup costs effectively to manhours with no hardware or licensing costs necessarily incurred. Startup costs for a solid social gaming release run from $500k to $2 million. That is a lot for a local startup but in the grand scheme of startups, its peanuts - and its about on par with launching a restaurant in Hawaii. Except the margins are closer to 60% as opposed to the 4-5% margins of most food establishments. And the hours are WAY better. So has anyone got game in Hawaii? I don't mean the Square model - that is super cool but massive, expensive, and involves insane amounts of CGI and rendering engines. Rather, I mean good storytellers, good UI guys, and a decent architect (probably 3 people would be enough, in truth) to launch a game here in Hawaii. If so, let me know!

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Comment by Daniel Leuck on June 13, 2011 at 11:08am
That is an interesting thought. Our connection to Japan, where the largest social network by membership (Gree, which passed Mixi last year) is partially game based, could be an advantage.
Comment by Gorm Lai on June 12, 2011 at 12:30pm

Please all feel free to come to tomorrow evenings Obscure Game Night, setup by the Retrogamers group and International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Honolulu chapter. There will be plenty of opportunity to network and talk about plans for the future as well :-)

Comment by Will Doom on June 10, 2011 at 10:54pm
Good post.  I too believe HI has the potential to become a Mecca if not a hot bed, I am confident we have the talent as well.. You still on the island or back on the mainland, hit me up off line, lets chat.
Comment by John Sydney Yamane on June 9, 2011 at 10:50pm
The only local guy I know that is making a gaming mecca is Henk Rogers of  he is still my hero in this realm of the software industry.      I come from the 80s and my "social gaming mecca" used to be Pac-Man, Astroids, Galaxian, Atari... as I was the head technician for Game World in Waikiki 82-84 when everything was booming in the gaming industry on Oahu.  Of course that's not software development... but i could remember copying cloned ROMs from cloned Pac-Man arcade systems for taiwan investors on weekly basis. Those were the days!  Then personal computers and internet took it all away.


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