Over the last two days I've been talking to Keystone Games about their game development and publishing enterprise. At first sight they may seem like just another indie game company, until you dig a little deeper and you realise that they are more than that. And while only formed 19 months ago and announced officially last week, Keystone is quickly becoming a rising name as I discovered in an interview done with them yesterday.
Perhaps the most amazing feature isn't that they donate to charities for the disabled and less fortunate, although that is pretty close to the top. After having been through the interview, the matter that amazed me the most is that many of the developers and artists have some form of disability themselves. In the interview, the COO of Keystone, Jane Whittaker, tells us what her life has been like as a developer with physical challengers:
I was determined to be a games developer since a child, but over 40 surgeries (I am a type of siamese twin) threatened to get in the way. I actually was determined not to slow down and the hospital became my college. I had programming books and a small Sinclair ZX81 computer by the bedside and I taught myself to code and make games whilst spending the long months in hospital.
And Whittaker isn't the only one with these challenges. The Head of the Art Division, Katie Bailey, with many awards and named one of the most gifted 3D artists in the industry (she even has her own art gallery), was born with no hands.
So besides donating profits to charity and being managed and staffed with such unique talent, what's making Keystone rise up so quickly? One needs only to understand Whittaker's background in coding and development to understand.
I started as a trainee programmer and worked my way up the chain to Vice President level. I have been very lucky to have developed a large number of chart games over the years, with everything from Alien Vs Predator for the Atari Jaguar to a range of titles at EA and MGM.
Keystone is quickly becoming surrounded by more and more talent from the gaming and film industries. Their charities are filled with the likes of Tom Hanks and Danny de Vito, and Warwick Davis has recently signed up as an actor for upcoming games. It seems as though they have taken all their talents and celebrity contacts to form this development company to do everything they can to aid the less fortunate.
Keystone was the brainchild of Kevin Mathieson, the CEO of Over The Wall, the UK branch of Serious Fun, the charity founded by Paul Newman and supported by a host of A list actors to help seriously ill children. Kevin wanted to unite the gaming and entertainment industries with the charity to do something really special. Only this week, Warwick Davis, the Star Wars and Harry Potter legend, joined Keystone in a long term relationship.
One need only watch their Facebook and Twitter pages to see famous actors, anchors and writers retweeting and sharing their announcements. It's as if Keystone was born in the heart of Hollywood and promises to brings us the best of the best.
I will be watching this company closely to see which titles they treat us to first. Some indications hint at a FBI Crime game called Homicide Detective, a Safari Management Game, a puzzle game called Puzzleverse, a cyberpunk RPG titled Neon Sword, and a unique game called Tactical Blob Takedown. For a company that's just starting up, this is an impressive lineup.
Source: Pulse Entertainment U.K.