• Game Design Students Venture to New York Film Academy Alum’s Escape Hotel in Hollywood


    Last week, New York Film Academy (NYFA) Los Angeles Director of Media Lab Matthew Sheehan took a group of NYFA Game Design postgraduate students out for a heck of a final: the one hour to escape challenge from Slaughterhouse at the Escape Hotel in Hollywood. The stakes: solve the puzzle or pay the ultimate price — no, not a failing grade, just the pain of defeat.

    For the uninitiated, an escape room is a little bit theater, a little bit puzzle, and a whole lot adventure. Groups of anywhere between two to eight, whether coworkers, families, friends, or even couples, are placed into a themed room filled with puzzles and surprises, and have one hour to solve the clues to find their way out.  Escape rooms are amazing fun and they are all over the place, but nobody is doing them like the Escape Hotel in Hollywood.

    Photo courtesy of Cassie Hunter (NYFA).

    A soon as you enter the Escape Hotel in Hollywood, you know you are about to go on an adventure. Going into the hotel is like stepping into a story line. The lighting, the sound, and the costumed employees of the hotel all set the stage.

    When the NYFA group talked over the choice of which of the rooms we could go through with a macabre bellhop, MFA student Fabio Ribak’s face lit up when we were told, “You start the Slaughterhouse room blindfolded and handcuffed to the floor.” Challenge accepted!

    In the end, we did not make it out. But it was okay, as the room was so much fun. The teamwork, the panic, and the discoveries were worth every second of it. These rooms are more than padlocks and puzzles; they are stories, little movies, games come to life, with you in the center. For a group of students who had recently completed story-focused visual and performing arts training, it was the perfect evening.

    Photo courtesy of Cassie Hunter (NYFA).

    Escape Hotel co-creator Ivan Leon sat down with us afterward. Ivan is also a NYFA alum, who after completing his education went to work starting the Escape Hotel with some of his classmates.

    “It’s what’s next,” he told us. “It’s combining every form of media arts, theater, and games, in a way no one else is doing, and we wanted to make a big commitment, to be on top.”

    If you want to see it, you will have to come up to the Escape Hotel in Hollywood and put your blindfold on. If you want to make friends with the next Ivan Leon, you should come over to the New York Film Academy.

  • Chaucer Barnes Breaks Down How to Market Your Games


    The New York Film Academy Game Design Program welcomed guest speaker, marketing expert Chaucer Barnes (Executive Director, Context Strategy at Translation). Using his “Contagion Cookbook,” Barnes lead an insightful and entertaining presentation aimed to help students answer the golden question, “how do I get players to my game?” Moderated by NYFA Chair of Game Design, Phoebe Elefante, students and alumni were also given the opportunity to ask specific questions during an extended Q&A that followed his presentation.

    chaucer barnes

    Chaucer Barnes

    Chaucer Barnes is a communications planner and creative who specializes in setting the proper conditions for mass adoption. He leads the Context Strategy group at Translation, which enhances creative impact through the often overlooked channels of brand behavior. Chaucer returned to helm his group in October 2014 after a brief sabbatical as a business development consultant for a top social media site, rounding out over 3 years of service that spans the entire creative roster. During this time, Chaucer’s served many major brands including GEICO, BFGoodrich, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and Nespresso among them.

    Earlier in his career, Chauser learned the agency business during his time at Wieden + Kennedy Portland. He worked across many disciplines but later headed up a digital strategy team tasked with tooling Electronic Arts with the analytic capabilities, partnerships, inventory sets, and internal resources necessary for their next phase of fulfillment: wholly digital distribution of their hundreds of games and expansion packs.

    chaucer barnes nyfa

    Chaucer also currently provides his consulting services to socially progressive early- and mid-stage technology companies, and works with his co-author on a forthcoming executive reader: a textbook that demystifies the components of mass cultural adoption.

    Using a few recent examples of popular marketing strategies, such as “The Harlem Shake” and “Straight Outta Compton,” Chaucer broke down how to make an idea or game really explode in the market place. At its essence, here are the five “C’s” that you need for “Contagion”:

    • Content (The idea, content or game)
    • Credence (Appropriate messenger)
    • Customization (Thematic iteration)
    • Co-incentives (Fertile conditions)
    • Concurrence (Public progress bar)

    Chaucer added that, “Fertile conditions where some people can make money and some people can become famous,” are also essential in making an idea go viral.

    “Create the sense that it’s everywhere and everybody is talking about it,” even if that’s not entirely true, he added.

    In a day in age where social media is key, sometimes the simplest idea like “The Harlem Shake” or “The Ice Bucket Challenge” can become the most popular trend in a matter of days. At the end of the day, it’s up to your creative imagination and hard work to navigate the market and develop the proper strategy, with the right guidelines in place, to make your game the next Mine Craft.


    March 25, 2016 • Game Design, Guest Speakers • Views: 4500

  • MFA Filmmakers Collaborate to Develop Klaus for PS4 and PS VITA



    In addition to film and television, games have become one of the most prominent platforms for artists and writers to tell their story. We’ve seen films adapted into games and games adapted into films. Either way, the multi-billion dollar gaming business continues to grow and allow filmmakers another avenue to reach their audience.

    We recently heard from MFA Filmmaking students, Victor Velasco, Aleksandar Cuk and Kshitij Bal, who are currently all studying at New York Film Academy Los Angeles. The team is in the process of developing a 2D puzzle based platformer for Playstation 4 and PSvita. The game, Klaus, which was the brainchild of game designer and creative director Victor Velasco, aims to provide an experience that is narratively innovative and extremely self aware. Klaus is an office worker who wakes in his basement with no recollection of who or where he is. Almost reminds us of the classic Chris Nolan film Memento.


    His only clue is the word Klaus tattooed on his arm — forcing him to find his way out of the mechanical and constructivist world that he finds himself imprisoned in. It his search for these answers of where and who that lead him to the larger question, Why.

    During the course of the journey, Klaus encounters a second playable character – K1, a friendly brute who has been damaged by his prolonged imprisonment. Together the two embark on an existentially definitive journey that explores the idea of the 4th wall and a self awareness of the player playing the game. Will Klaus discover his truth? Will he find a way out? These are questions that are at the core of the narrative that the game presents.

    In terms of gameplay, Klaus is an organic and reflexive 2D platformer, with 2 playable characters, Boss fights and interactive environments. The focus of the gameplay will be on tight controls, environmental puzzles, exploration and a complex yet accessible interaction of the player with not only the characters, but also movement and rotation of objects, jump pads, platforms etc. The game is best designed for the PS4 and uses the touch pad as an integral part of the gameplay.

    “It is an extremely exciting game that allows us to bring our passions and our talents together to collaborate to create a cohesive, creative yet marketable product,” says Bal. “This is a project that is extremely close to our heart.”

    Klaus was awarded the 2012 Square Enix Excellence Prize and was recently showcased at the PS Dev Summit 2014 where it received a lot of welcome attention for its unique approach and narrative techniques. It is also the first game to be developed out of Venezuela for the PS4 and PSVita platforms and has received positive media reception from Media outlets within the country. However, it is targeted to audiences worldwide, as it has a universal feel and story.

    Bal and Klaus have already been featured on the PlayStation blog, as well as HardcoreGamer, GeekBinge, and other gaming publications.

    Klaus is set for release on the Sony Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita platforms that is releasing in August – September 2015. For more information, visit


    April 14, 2015 • Filmmaking, Game Design, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 5279