journey to the void
When Joe Bourrie was three-years-old, he knew he wanted to make games.
“I had my Atari 5200 and my mom would laugh because most kids my age didn’t even know that people made those things,” said Joe Bourrie, senior game designer at THE VOID.
His obsession with video game design continued into his teen years. He created mazes, designed video game levels on graph paper, and began to teach himself programming.
Following high school, Joe attended DigiPen Institute of Technology in Redmond, Washington, the leading school for videogame developers and the Nintendo campus at the time.
“They had two tracks, programming, and art. I wasn’t an artist and I knew how to program, but I really wanted to do game design. So I went through the programming degree.”
But, he wanted more than what he was getting from the programming track so he started The Student Game Designers Association to learn more about design fundamentals.
In his senior year, he had his first experience of creating a game that people really wanted to play. Rumble Box was a 3D beat ‘em up game where all of the characters were made up of cubes and spheres.
The game received many awards and a lot of attention at conventions, which gave Joe the opportunity to network with some of the best in the industry.
It was a zero budget game that we managed to get 350,000 downloads altogether.
Joe’s first job out of school was for Rainbow Studios. He worked on games for Disney’s “Cars” franchise, Legends of Wrestling, and several others that were never released. He then spent a short time at Red Interactive Agency working on mobile games. Eventually, he ended up at EA in Salt Lake City.
Several years later, James Jensen caught wind of Joe’s push for augmented reality at EA and invited him down to do an alpha test of “Research Facility.” On the day of his interview, Joe showed up in an Evermore t-shirt, and they hit it off.
“After I got through the demo, I knew there were a lot of kinks to work out. But I could still see the potential and knew I had to work there at all costs.”
working at the void
Now, Joe gets to use his passion for designing games and skill set as a programmer to create hyper-reality experiences.
I regularly tell people that I work for arguably the coolest company in the world.
“Joe is one of the most flexible developers I’ve ever worked with,” says Kelly Mondragon, senior producer of VOID Studios. “He’s a designer and a gameplay engineer, and he does both tremendously well. You couldn’t ask for a better employee or coworker. Joe’s unique mix of skills, experience, and personality make us all want to hug him daily.”
“I’m a part of the game design early on in the process, and then work as a gatekeeper of certain features throughout the experience. I’m also a part of the key programming team. Once we get to the point where we’re happy with the creative, I’m in building character AI’s, game flow, logic, and timing in the code,” says Joe.
During the development of Ghostbusters: Dimension, Joe worked specifically on ghost AI’s and game flow.
“When the ghosts are flying around and you shoot at them and they’re zipping away, their AI is determining what they’ll do next.”
He recently had the opportunity to attend the premiere of “Ghostbusters” in L.A. and said it’s something he never expected to do, but is glad for the experience.
“I’ve worked with a lot of big companies and THE VOID is easily my favorite job I’ve ever had. It’s the most innovative, interesting thing I’ve done and just the most gung-ho creative team that I’ve ever worked with.”
a little more about joe
WHAT INVENTION CAN’t YOU LIVE WITHOUT?
WHAT I.P. DO YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE VOID?
WHAT OTHER APPLICATIONS DO YOU THINK HYPER-REALITY could BE USED FOR?
I get out of the office and spend time with my family
WHAT VIDEO GAMES ARE YOU PLAYING RIGHT NOW?
No Man’s Sky and Dark Souls III
WHAT MUSIC GETS YOU IN A CREATIVE MINDSET?
Japanese noise punk, 80’s psychedelic surfer music, basically experimental, weird and completely unlistenable music
WHAT ELSE DO YOU LIKE TO DO?
Play tabletop games (I’ve played “Bang!” over 500 times)
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST PET PEEVE?
The rumour mill, when people share things without first verifying them
I have a hard time seeing how someone could not get along with Joe unless they tell him that Final Fantasy VII is better than XII.
What other questions do you have for Joe about being a Sr. Game Designer? Ask him in the comments below!