14-year-old develops games for App Store

nick seahonlijne

By JO TIMBUONG bytz@thestar.com.my

PETALING JAYA: While other boys his age are busy with math tuition or tennis lessons, Nicholas Seah is working on a possible future in the videogame industry.

The 14-year-old already has two games on the Apple App Store to his credit and hopes to create even more.

“It’s also a great way to earn pocket money,” said the student shyly during an interview with Bytz at his father’s office here.

Nick only started developing games last August and released his first game, Cannon Blaster, on the App Store soon after, and is now working on another called Monster Blocks.

He hasn’t turned a profit on his games yet but is confident that he will do so soon. “Not that many users have downloaded my games yet but hopefully this will change,” he said.

Nick isn’t alone on his journey and sometimes turns to his father, Sunny, for help and inspiration.

“If I’m in a rut, I can always count on my father to give me some ideas for a new game,” he said. Sunny, 53, runs his own ­advertising company.

Sunny advises his son to do a lot of research when creating a game because this will give the boy a better idea of what gamers would want. This has been good advice for the fledgling game developer.

“I go to many forums and ­­­­developer blogs to check out what kind of games are popular, and find tips there on how to improve games,” Nick said.

He is a student so he’s often busy with homework and other school activities, and doesn’t get to spend as much time as he would like on his hobby. He reserves his game development activities for ­weekends and school holidays.

“I take about six months to develop a game, given my ­schedule, and I’m most happy when I’ve ­completed one,” said Nick.

Play testing is done by a close group of friends and his six-year-old brother. He graciously accepts bouquets and brickbats from them and will then make tweaks and improvements based on their ­feedback.

Sunny said he encouraged his son to start designing videogames after noticing the boy’s great interest in playing such games.

He also thought it would be a great outlet for the creative lad, who is also keen on playing the guitar and is currently taking lessons.

“Instead of just passively playing games, I suggested that he create his own games, especially since he has so much free time during the school holidays,” Sunny said.

But sometimes the father ­worries that his son may be a tad too­ ­passionate about his hobby. “When he’s quiet in his room, we’re not really sure whether he’s working on his game or doing his homework like he should,” Sunny said.

The dad is also taking this ­opportunity to plant the seed of entrepreneurship in his young son. “He has the passion (to program) so I thought it would be a rewarding experience for him to also make some money off his venture,” Sunny said.

Cannon Blaster and Monster Blocks retail for 99 cents (RM3) and US$1.99 (RM6), respectively, on the App Store. “I am hoping to earn enough to get me an RM1,200 Ibanez guitar,” Nick said.

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