Like many kids, John Meister played video games as a boy. However, this Danville native has turned his childhood dream of creating video games into a reality, by starting Super Soul with friend, Richie Hoagland.
According to the website, Super Soul is a company designed to “develop interactive experiences with an emphasis on fun, innovation and experimentation” using video games.
“It’s definitely what I’ve always wanted to do,” Meister said.
After graduating from Danville High School in 2000, Meister went to Purdue University, where he obtained a degree in computer engineering. From there, he returned to Kentucky and began working in Lexington as a software architect.
“It was nice I could come back to Kentucky. I could get a lot of experience running a business, working a team, and that helped me take the next step of starting my own company,” Meister said.
He was grateful for the experience and, after a few years, decided it was time to try his hand at making video games, which he had taught himself to do at a young age.
“I had ideas about games. Over one summer, I read thick manuals and programming and just kind of taught myself to program. I made some OK games, but it was really just that experience of learning to program. And it was a lot of fun,” he said.
Creating video games is the real reason Meister says he learned to program.
However, after evaluating what he could do to bring games to life, Meister says he realized there are few people who are able to create a game all on their own. It requires collaboration of skills, from a technical side of understanding how to program the games to a creative side of envisioning and producing the art.
“It was basically that kind of realization, to do the things I wanted to with games, I needed that collaboration, that I saw was basically right here in Kentucky,” he said.
According to Meister, Kentucky is a great place to find those connections. It was during a conference, where people could pitch ideas to attendees for opinions, that he first shared the concept of game programming in Lexington.
“There’s technical people here, art people, … . Out of that, they all encouraged me to start something and start meeting,” he said.
RunJumpDev was built on the concept of collaboration and Meister’s realization that those talented individuals were all around him.
RunJumpDev is a game developer group, based in Lexington. It brings individuals with the desire to build video games together, helping them learn more about others in the community and find individuals to work with.
“Basically, RunJumpDev is just a group of people that are interested in making games,” Meister said, explaining that the group, which started in 2011 has grown from two or three to about 50.
“We’ve seen the (gaming) community grow. We’ve also seen these other companies get together,” he said, referring to new video game companies.
To Meister, the idea of recognizing Kentucky as a potential location for gamers seems natural, because of an abundance of “creative people.”
“When I looked at what was out there, I was looking for those collaborations in the community. It was obvious that there were so many kinds of creative people out there, with different groups and in different places, like UK, like Centre, where I’m from in Danville,” he said.
Meister believes the area is full of these creative-types, and that offers a great potential for collaboration.
During the beginning phases of RunJumpDev, Meister already had begun really seeking out options for starting a career in gaming. Hoagland was a student at UK and was showing an interactive art exhibit consisting of pieces he had created.