Game Design

30 Under 30 In Games 2017: The Creators And Founders Behind TSM, and ‘Stardew Valley’

Matt Perez ,  FORBES STAFF Andy Dinh of Team SoloMid

(Credit: Jamel Toppin for Forbes)

“It was really about doing something that I loved, doing something that I had a lot of fun with,” Andy Dinh said of starting his eSport organization, Team SoloMid in 2009. Dinh intended to drop out of high school to attend college early, but in looking for work to pay for school, he found a lucrative business in offering guides to the then fledgling game, League of Legends. Looking to compete in the early tournaments for the game but failing to persuade an existing eSport organization to pick up his team, Dinh formed TSM with the revenue from his website.Seven years later Dinh’s Team SoloMid is North America’s top team in LoL, which now attracts over 100 million players monthly and sells out arenas like Madison Square Garden for its live competitions. Early on, the tireless Dinh both captained and managed the organization before stepping down from the former in 2013 to focus on the latter, bringing in sponsors like Geico, Axe and HTC and building a massive social following for its in-house content.Research firm Newzoo projects eSports to become a billion dollar industry in 2019, and Dinh’s relentless pursuit has made Team SoloMid one of the titans of the industry, as evidenced by audiences this year chanting “TSM, TSM, TSM” inside the sold-out Air Canada Centre as the team won its record fourth North American championship. TSM stands as perhaps the industry’s top brand as high-profile investors like Peter Guber, Joshua Harris and Rick Fox enter the scene.ADVERTISINGinRead invented by Teads“A lot of people that go into eSports look at it as a pure business,” Dinh said. “And for me, it’s much more than that.”Gallery2017 30 Under 30: GamesLaunch Gallery30 images Dinh highlights the FORBES 30 Under 30 in Games 2017, a class of founders, artists and of course, gamers. It’s a group at the forefront of a rapidly evolving technological and artistic industry – whether it’s directing the visual look and tone of Far Cry 4 in the case of Liam Wong, crafting AI experiences in the Halo franchise like Olga Zinoveva or standing at the center of the Las Vegas Convention Center as the world’s best Super Smash Bros. Melee player like Juan DeBiedma.In describing how one becomes a successful eSport athlete, Dinh defined the prevailing characteristic of the 30 people representing FORBES’ games list. “You look at anything in life: the more time you put into something, the better you are, no matter how talented you are or not,” Dinh said. “So passion is 100% necessary in order to be at the top.”Eric Barone’s Stardew Valley (Credit: ConcernedApe)Eric Barone embodies such a sentiment. After graduating from college with a computer science degree and striking out in finding employment, Barone spent four years crafting every aspect of his first game, Stardew Valley. As the sole designer, programmer, artist and composer, Barone dedicated 70 hours a week on the farming simulator. It paid off as Stardew Valley became one of 2016’s biggest hits, selling 1 million copies in two months and sitting amongst multi-million dollar giants at the top of Steam’s best-selling chart for 2016.Barone’s success further illuminates the possibilities present for entrepreneurs in gaming. The industry is unique in that it branches off into a multitude of creative avenues, all fresh and ready for innovation. The youngest of the list at 19, Matt Salsamendi brought a new spin to live streaming this year with his startup, Beam. Allowing a live-streamer’s audience to alter the conditions in game as a collective body, Beam sold to Microsoft eight months after launch.Tomber Su is making his mark in the world of eSports, not as a player or a team owner, but as the managing director at High School Starleague. His company promotes gaming as an extracurricular activity, organizing tournaments for thousands of students and awarding over $95,000 in scholarships to date.Virtual reality made its long-awaited grand entrance in 2016, and Alex Schwartz’s Owlchemy Labs stands at the frontlines with its tongue-in-cheek title Job Simulator and the upcoming Rick and Morty VR, based on the popular cartoon.The multitude of options for entrepreneurs is matched with a low barrier of entry. Free design platforms like Unity, GameMaker and Unreal Engine 4 allow creators like Daniel Mullins to develop his surreal indie game, Pony Island. Broadcasting platforms offering monetization options like YouTube and Twitch give players like Hearthstone pro Andrey Yanyuk the chance to amass fervent followings to build new entities like his eSports organization, Tempo Storm.Cards Against Humanity’s Ben Hantoot (left) and Max Temkin (right) (Credit: Brent Knepper)Crowdfunding sources provide startup cash to the next hit-makers like Max Temkin, who along with his partner Ben Hantoot, designed the massively-popular party game Cards Against Humanity. The team raised $15,570 on Kickstarter to launch the game in 2010 –

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