Local game development company FreshGames recently celebrated its tenth anniversary.
“After six years of being in retail, I was looking to get into digital distribution and start something new– hence FreshGames,” says company president Stephan Smith.
Smith founded the company with Kevin McCann, who now serves as vice president of production. When they started, they had an office space downtown on 5th Avenue, then moved to New Albany for a couple years before deciding to look for a new space closer to the heart of the city.
“I had been looking all over downtown for almost a year at a lot of spaces and came very close to a deal in the Brewery District,” Smith says. “On a whim I contacted Don Devere, an old high school buddy who does urban development. I told him what I was looking for and he said, ‘Perfect timing. I’ve got an awesome spot, which is currently under development.'”
That awesome spot was on Fourth Street in a building that was just beginning to undergo rehabilitation. Smith bought the building and the space became the second business condo downtown in 2007.
The office was a raw 2,300-square-foot space with high ceilings and a loft-like feel. It was open with original floors and wood support beams. They needed to custom build everything, which included a glass-walled conference room, a bar and kitchen, bathrooms, a server room, and general office space.
“I really like mixing old with new,” Smith says.”It makes a space have real character.”
The character continues in the furnishings and decor that was chosen for the space.
“I wanted our office to have a special, fun, colorful, eclectic look and hopefully inspire employees,” he says.
Smith spent some time searching for and creating the right additions. The main office area has desks from IKEA with office chairs from Knoll, Herman Miller, and Eames. Custom designed aspects include the conference room table, the bar and kitchen area, and some of the lighting.
“The custom carpet in our conference room is a favorite,” he says. “It brings a unique energy to the room.”
Smith has also taken plenty of care in hiring employees. FreshGames currently has six full-time and two part-time employees, as well as numerous outside game development contractors all over the world.
Finding the right employees who fit the company’s culture, as well as finding the right games to create and develop in the shortest time, are a couple of the challenges it faces.
He’s happy that FreshGames continues to be relevant in the game business after 10 years.
“It’s very challenging balancing risk in a hit driven business,” he says. “A lot of companies grow too quick if they have one hit, thinking they can consistently replicate success. It’s not always the case. Cautious optimism is good.”
To those looking to work for themselves, Smith offers a bit of advice.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur all my adult life, so it’s all I know,” he says. “I do think sometimes it’s best not to know things or to be naive about processes. You don’t have time to think all the proper reasons why you shouldn’t do things. You just do them and learn as you go.”
Also, you should also start a business for the passion, not the money, he adds.
“If money is your only focus, you’ll probably have a lesser chance at succeeding,” he says. “If you are passionate about what you are doing, success always finds a path to your door.”
Photos courtesy of FreshGames.
To learn more about FreshGames, visit FreshGames.com.
Do you know of, have, or work in, a creative workspace and would like to be featured in this series? If so, please contact Anne Evans.