Deana Galbraith is a member of the Gaming, Entertainment + eSports Cluster. As founder and creative director at Captilight, she applies her extensive knowledge of game design to develop creative and thought-provoking games that help audiences gain a new perspective on life.
Read on for highlights from her interview with us about Captilight, her entrepreneurial journey and thoughts on what it will take to foster a diverse innovation community in Central Florida.
What inspired you to launch Captilight?
As a player, I struggled with finding games that I wanted to play. I liked playing games like Journey, games that are relaxing, not stressful, and emotionally impactful. Playing these types of games is what inspired me as a game designer, and at the time, not a lot of people were making these types of games. I decided to work on one myself and founded my studio Captilight in the process.
Our mission is to develop creative, thought-provoking, and emotionally driven narratives in our games and to captivate a broader audience of like-minded players who can gain a new perspective, support each other, and aspire to live a passion-filled life.
How did you get started in the gaming field?
I played lots of games growing up, and on a career day in middle school, a woman came in talking about her work as a story writer for games. A lightbulb went off in my head and I thought, “Wow, this is actually something I can make a career out of!” At the time, I didn’t even think about it as a career; it opened my mind to the possibilities of what was out there in the game industry. With my mother’s help, we researched colleges with game development-related degrees and we came across the University of Central Florida (UCF) and I decided to study game design there. While getting to know the game scene in Orlando (I’m originally from Tampa), I got to meet the awesome folks at Indienomicon. That’s where I met Kyle Morrand, CEO of 302 Interactive. We became fast friends, and by the time I graduated from UCF, I got a job as a game designer at 302 Interactive.
While I worked there, I did online classes for my Master’s at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Game Development and Interactive Media. It was amazing to see the team grow and to work on a dozen different types of projects. During my time there, I started working on the beginning of what is now our debut game, Path of Kami. I founded Captilight, and my team went full force on working on a demo. Later, I got a position as a lead game designer on Neopets and Jumpstart Games, and here we are today!
What is your favorite part of your job?
It truly is amazing how talented and wonderful our team is at Captilight. My favorite part of the job is seeing the team continue to grow as individuals and seeing their work on the project. So much goes into the game, from concept to production and implementing. I love seeing how something can start as an idea and then come to life!
Why Florida? How has the local innovation ecosystem supported your business growth?
I grew up in Tampa and as a kid I moved around a lot, but our last stop was Florida. It’s been my favorite state to live in, and most of my family is here as well. All the schools here for game design/development are also a huge plus! There is so much talent here, and the indie development community is thriving. Cenfluence has been a tremendous help and support system and has connected me with so many other members and opportunities.
How has your involvement as a Cenfluence Cluster Member impacted your business?
Being a Cenfluence Cluster Member has allowed us to stay in the loop about so many funding opportunities and events and connected us with fellow business owners. Thanks to Cenfluence, we were able to exhibit at the Synapse Summit this year, which meant a lot to us. It gave us the opportunity to connect with people in Tampa and show off our game demo.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and have a support group to be able to help advise and be your hype team!
How would you describe the state of diversity in Central Florida’s tech industry?
It’s very diverse, and we have a huge simulation industry, more than five game-related universities and schools, several tech/gaming-related organizations supporting younger generation interest, and more.
What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
The celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture, and society. With the game industry being predominantly male, I feel it shines a light on women and their contributions to making our industry a more inclusive place.
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