Bryant Young is an alumnus from USC who graduated from USC Games in 2017 and Viterbi’s Master of Computer Science program in 2020. While at USC, he began development for the VR experience Our America. Currently, he’s working full-time at Scopely while simultaneously working with his team at Fishean Studio to release the project.
Here are some highlights from our talk with Bryant, edited for brevity.
What do you hope players walk away with after experiencing Our America?
The whole entire point of this was just to get people who aren’t Black a tiny peek into what it’s like to be Black. They won’t completely know obviously cause to completely understand what it’s like to be Black, you have to live the Black experience. And that’s a daily thing, it’s not just five minutes, ten minutes inside of a VR experience. So hopefully, make people more open to listening to the things that we go through on a daily basis and trying to understand what it’s like to be us.
What was the experience like for opening up your own studio?
USC Games has a Bridge Program, so if they think your project is good enough, or that it’s promising enough, they’ll help you start your own company. So that’s how we got that company and the name and everything. But I think the most challenging part is funding of course. Without money you can’t function, and you can’t hire people. And of course after that, you have to find talent for people that’ll want to work with you and work with your project and whose vision aligns with yours basically.
The hardest part, like I said, is the funding for the actual project. Pitching. Learning your pitch and doing it often, is probably the best thing for you if you’re looking to start a company cause that’s the only way you’re going to get funding– is just pitching to as many people as possible, and eventually something’s gonna stay. And you get your funding that you need and then you go about your way. But once you hit that, that’s like the hardest part. But I’m still very new to this, so, take that with a grain of salt.
How is it having a job while working on your own project?
It’s a matter of balance, really. Scopely does a great job with deadlines and avoiding crunch. So that itself is good. It allows me a lot of free time to do things like playing the guitar. I work out. I’m doing this project. It allows me time to also do things that I love.
Did you always know you wanted to make games?
Yeah, yeah. That was just going to happen. It was either making games or building airplanes, it was one of the two. There was nothing else I ever wanted to do.
Are there any games that had a huge impact on you?
Probably Fallout 3. Being able to customize my character and make a Black character was the most important thing to me. At that age and seeing that, it was a big impact.
Do you have any plans for future projects?
Actually the next project will probably be about the immigration policies in America and how they affect different families and people. That’s after I get this one out the door. So hopefully I can get this one out the door sometime soon. And then if we have enough funding to get a writer, we’ll start on that and start working on that next project.