BreakAway Games CEO Doug Whatley Teaches Guildhall Practicum

Originally posted on guildhall.smu.edu

BreakAway Games CEO Doug Whatley visited The Guildhall at SMU January 19 to lead a practicum for students that evening. Whatley, an industry veteran with nearly 20 years of successful game development and management experience, told Guildhall students stories about the early days of game development and also shared with them his perspectives on the game industry today.

A key point of interest during the practicum surrounded Whatley's background in the "serious games" movement. In particular, students were fascinated with an upcoming BreakAway release called "A Force More Powerful." The game is designed to educate political activists in oppressed global regions about methods to effect change.

Whatley's final thoughts also made an impact as he told a story illustrating the importance of considering player experience when designing a game. He explained that he once discarded months worth of complex code in a football game he was developing in favor of a simple, quick AI sequence because players found the AI element more entertaining.

A lifelong gamer, Whatley's avocation allowed him to transform a "hobbyist's pursuit" into a thriving business venture. He got his start with board games back in the 1970s and later designed and produced the original America Online PC client software in the 1980's. He also developed the Promenade online service for IBM and worked on AppleLink for the Macintosh and Apple II during that time.

Whatley's career goals and skills really developed while at MicroProse Software in the 1990's. He founded BreakAway in 1998 after serving as Director of Product Development at OT Sports, a spin off venture of ABC Interactive and MicroProse. In the six years since it was founded, Whatley has managed to position BreakAway as a leader in simulation, modeling and 3-D visualization technology.

In fact, he has attracted high-profile customers in both the entertainment industry and in the Federal Government. Under Whatley's direction, BreakAway has distinguished itself as the developer of the US Army's premier War Game; Unified Quest '03, and most recently developed the latest in the award-winning Civilization III Series; Civilization III: Conquests.

Whatley's vision to pursue a dual market strategy for BreakAway, Ltd. to bring innovation and commercial best practices to military, government and policy makers has paid off. The Company ended 2003 with just under $5 million in revenue and counts Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft and The US Army among its customers.

The Guildhall was pleased to have this outstanding professional teaching at the school.



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