Made in NY: iNK Stories
With more than 5,000 direct and indirect jobs, New York is among the top five states in the U.S. for employment in the game industry. However, with only 5% of companies directly involved in the video game industry, New York trails behind established gaming hubs on the West Coast like California and Washington.
Navid and Vassiliki Khonsari are trying to change that. Navid, who helped develop the mega-thriller game Grand Theft Auto, is the founder of iNK Stories, a new media studio that produces video games, films, and graphic novels. The duo recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to develop 1979 Revolution, a new type of action game about the Iranian revolution, which will be natively designed for the touchscreen.
We spoke with the iNK Stories team about their new project and why New York City is the place for a gaming revolution.
Why NYC? What advantage does it have over other cities when it comes to the gaming industry?
NYC has always drawn the best of the best from multiple disciplines to come and create on the world stage. Gaming draws from talent pools in animation, writing, programming, design, marketing, and, of course, actors and other creative collaborators. The vast and diverse talent pool in NYC is the city's greatest advantage. NYC also provides a desirable place to live if you are trying to lure someone to work on your project. We are proud to be based in NYC—a city that promotes creativity and values originality.
Navid, you were part of the Grand Theft Auto team. How is 1979 Revolution different from the more traditional video games we’re used to?
What separates 1979 Revolution from traditional console games like Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is that our game is based on actual events, drawing from history and allowing players to engage with the real work. However, we want to emulate GTA with the high production value, immersive gameplay, and a deep narrative that has made Grand Theft Auto one of the best-selling games of all time.
What is the next big thing in gaming?
Gaming is going through an interesting phase. New consoles, and a huge growth in mobile and tablet gaming have changed the terrain of what was once a traditional game-in-a-box model. Gaming audiences are becoming increasingly more savvy and sophisticated. Their palate for content has developed, but the market is still underserved with that real, engaging content.
At iNK Stories we are ready to usher in the new movement in games. Over 70% of the world is now playing games and their interests allow for gamemakers to tap into areas that gaming has never gone before. We are on the cusp of a great new wave in gaming.
What has been the highlight of building iNK Stories?
iNK Stories is a studio dedicated to the art of story telling no matter the medium. What has been our greatest accomplishment and certainly a highlight is how we have stayed true to that philosophy. 1979 Revolution is our most ambitious project to date. The multidisciplinary approach to making 1979 Revolution underscores the exciting ways we are looking to push the mediums that we work in, but also create new ways for audiences to engage with stories.
Where do you get inspiration for your stories and games?
Our inspiration comes from people. The greatest stories are those of people who are passionate about the things they are doing, from starting revolutions to becoming the world's greatest arm wrestlers. We thrive on finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, both in fiction and nonfiction, and in telling stories and engaging people with premium content.
With less than a week left in their Kickstarter campaign, you can still support 1979 Revolution. Be sure to also visit our recently opened film and entertainment incubator, the Made in New York Media Center, to learn about other storytelling and filmmaking opportunities.