More Information About Me

Simeon Peebler started out in the early 1980s programming his Commodore 64 and making his own games and music when he should have been doing "more appropriate" things. Flash forward to the present day; after years in game development and technology, he works as a game designer and programmer and has been working the last few years in teaching game design and game development at a leading digital arts college in Chicago Tribeca Flashpoint Academy In 2011, Simeon created Brain Bump, a trivia game for the Amazon Kindle. He also has been working on composing original music and songwriting (go to his songwriting site and hear his latest album).

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Chemistry of Game Design

I was very interested in reading this article published on the always great, entitled "The Chemistry of Game Design" by Dan Cook -- here's a preview below. At Flashpoint Academy in Chicago, our game development program will consume every analysis we can find out there on the topic of gameplay, game design, and what makes something compelling and interesting and addicting, and most importantly, worth the time it takes to play.

"Mechanics and aesthetics are certainly important pieces of any model of game design, but in the end, such analysis provides little insight into what makes a game enjoyable. You end up with a set of fragmented pieces that tell you almost nothing about the meaningful interactions between the game as a simulation and the player as an active and evolving participant. Games are not mathematical systems. They are systems that always have a human being, full of desires, excitement and immense cleverness, sitting smack dab in the center. To accurately describe games, we need a working psychological model of the player."

Full link is here:

Friday, July 27, 2007

Video Games - What is Art?

To much complaint (or support), Roger Ebert released an opinion last year that video games are not art. I happened to be present at a very public rebuttal of this statement a few weeks ago by Clive Barker, a respected novelist, filmmaker, and game maker, at the Hollywood and Games Conference. Responding to Barker's statement at the conference, Ebert has posted this new opinion piece:

Ebert's main point I think is that he has a feeling that interactivity extinguishes the artist's message, thereby ruining it. The fact that the user can direct his own command of the experience seems to bother Ebert, whereas in "art" he suggests the artist must command the entire thing, enveloping the communication of the experience by injecting it straight into the observer. This of course comes from Ebert, himself a filmmaker and movie freak. My summary may be off base a little, but I think generally that's what Ebert is saying.

Here's my opinion -- my own experience in observing "art" -- in music, literature, visual medium, other any other medium that you can think of -- is that this interactivity exists but it is very much internalized and intellectual. We react to "art" in real-time and therefore are not static recipients of a one-way communication. We continue to connect to what we see and hear and feel not only with continued input through our senses, but now through this additional "mindtrack" of our own making. All art is interactive. It may be internally interactive, intellectually or physically so, but interactive nonetheless.

So games take this intellectual "mindtrack" we superimpose on everything we experience and give it some power. What an amazing advancement for art and for an experience that other humans work so hard to create to make for us to enjoy and learn from and respond to just as the classic mediums we have been used to in the whole of modern human history. It will take another generation to recognize this completely.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

User-Generated Content in MMOGs A Big Deal!

At Flashpoint Academy's Game Development program in Chicago, our focus on MMOGs will take us into such platforms as Second Life. User Generated content is nothing new, but check out this piece just published by, and in particular the interest people have in pushing their own content into these worlds...

"Jim Purbrick: Second Life and User-Generated Content

User-generated content is set to become a big issue in games, and virtual world Second Life has hinted at what's possible. Linden Labs' Jim Purbrick exposed some of its secrets at Develop.

While it's not technically a game, Second Life has a lot to teach the industry about user-generated content in persistent worlds, according to a lecture from Linden Labs' Dr. Jim Purbrick. Dr. Purbrick claimed that users were 30 times more likely to create something for Second Life than they would be in The Sims.";title;0

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Flashpoint Academy Game Program Description Update

Hello! I've updated description of the game program on our official website, which can be found at this page:

"Do you have a passion for games?

You can be a part of this exciting industry. There are many challenging roles to play in the game business, and the foundation you will find at Flashpoint Academy will prepare you as a top candidate for those entry level spots. If you want to be a producer, writer, designer, artist, modeler, coder, or any of the other dozens of possible roles that our training can prepare you for in this field, here's what you can expect in our game development, design and production program (if you're not yet sure what it is that you want to do, that's OK! Our program will give you a great start so that you can find your area of specialization -- see What kind of careers are there in the Game Industry?).

Flashpoint Academy features:

Critical training in professionalism and teamwork appropriate to the industry.

Transmedia collaboration.

Building online student portfolios.

Hands-on workflow with professional digital asset management systems.

Training and creative content building with key tools such as 3D Studio Max, Maya, SoftImage XSI, ZBrush, MudBox, Adobe Creative Suite (including Photoshop), Dreamweaver MX, Microsoft Project, Microsoft Office Suite, Microsoft Developer Studio, plus various modding tools for cutting-edge game engines.

Side-by-side work with game professionals and actual contracted work with companies throughout many industries.

Interfacing with local studios in Chicago including Midway Games, Electronic Arts, Wideload, Pop Cap Games, Day 1 Studios, and others, including work with the International Game Developer's Association.

Ultimate innovation and creativity in all things while understanding all aspects of the business.

In addition to our seasoned teaching staff from the game industry, we are actively bringing in additional lecturers and industry talent including such developers as Sleepy Giant and thatgamecompany.

Are you ready to take the next step? Please click here to give us your contact information so that you can learn more about our Game Development and Design program. Our admissions counselors are looking forward to answering your questions once you complete the contact form -- we have an open house coming up that we hope you can attend, and if that doesn't work out, we invite you to a private tour.

Classes begin September 17th."

Sunday, July 22, 2007

BioWare MMO Information

For those of us interested in producing and designing content for MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games), take note of this information released from BioWare in Austin. They have announced the use of an existing platform for their new MMO -- and it is with a special focus on being able to develop active, realtime stories that can engage people realtime without rebuilding a whole new technology. My feeling is that they and others will need MANY new designers developers to produce, build and invent this content, not only at BioWare, but at all of the other similar studios out there with potentially great virtual entertainment channels out there. In Chicago, Flashpoint Academy's Virtual World Management course will be following these updates with great interest.

From BioWare:

"The key points that we're gonna do that no one's done before in an MMOG are bring story, character, and emotion to it. Decisions matter, [non-player characters] aren't just Pez dispensers, and you're not in a grind," Rich Vogel, co-studio director and "MMO veteran", told
the magazine.

"You're really compelled to get on and play what's happening today, kind of like watching a series like Lost on TV - putting page-turning in an MMO. It's going to be extremely challenging thing to do, believe me."

Latest Flashpoint Construction

Checkout Howard Tullman's site for the latest construction photos --

We are so fortunate to have such amazing facilities located right in the heart of Chicago. This is the first new school built in the Loop in the last 45 years!

Brain Age Great Family Fun!

We finally busted out the Nintendo DS as a family event and fired up Brain Age, which is a true "killer app" that, after a bit of a test, determines one's "brain age." It then provides simple exercises and routines to improve thus decreasing this brain age value. When I first experimented with the program, my initial brain age was into the 50s! What is interesting about it right now is in the fact that my wife and I are now in a brain age competition, which provides a new level of family fun.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group - $100 Million to Online Casual Games Business

A combination of the virtual world content management course and the casual games project at Flashpoint Academy will help build the kind of talent this growing business requires...

"MTV Networks’ Nickelodeon Kids and Family Group Commits $100 Million to Its Online Casual Games Business

NEW YORK and SEATTLE, July 18 — MTV Networks’ NickelodeonKids and Family Group today announced its commitment to invest $100 millionover the next two years in development, distribution and creation of casualgaming titles, sites and platforms."

Perry Harovas, Visual Effects and Animation Chair

Perry at Flashpoint Academy has posted a link to his blog on Flashpoint Academy's website, which I will replicate here --

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Danny Boyle's SUNSHINE in Chicago

A crew from Flashpoint Academy (including Paula Froehle, Peter Hawley, Perry Harovas, and yours truly -- plus a film student from our school who later posed with the director after the show!) attended a special screening of Danny Boyle's new film, SUNSHINE, at a great theater in Chicago (The Landmark, at Diversey and Clark) on Monday night. After the exciting science fiction film, we were enchanted by a long Q&A session hosted by AINTITCOOL.COM's Capone.

Perry asked Danny Boyle about the use of visual effects and in particular the presentation of the Sun as a character, and the director gave a passionate and elaborate reponse about his work on the film and use of effects and the coordination of how actors interact with off-screen or green-screened elements (Mr. Boyle simulates events in the room at additional cost if necessary where other productions might just say, "PRETEND YOU SEE SOMETHING INCREDIBLE").

The next day, the Associate Chair of Film at Flashpoint Academy Peter Hawley interviewed him one-on-one in a special feature that we will edit and present on our website soon.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Jobs in the Game Industry -- what's out there?

Although the resource listing on this linked site does not contain Flashpoint Academy (they are fixing this now!), this is a great resource for those interested in finding out what sort of jobs are out there in this exciting field.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bring out the Wookie!

Well, E3 2007 last week was a really interesting thing to observe, since I happened to log into’s live web feed and viewed the live broadcasts of the press conferences. I found, unfortunately, that I kept getting drawn into the live chat directly beneath the video where participants from around the world would very frequently enter statements like “THIS SUCKS” – and I found myself agreeing, on one occasion, that in fact, Sony’s information was lack luster and the people giving the presentations were fairly lifeless. Then, for measure, Sony brought out a “Star Wars” branded PSP device and Chewbacca came out on stage. Yes. A Wookie. When all else fails, bring out a Wookie.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Daniel Burnham, Architect

Daniel Burnham, architect of the Burnham Center at 28 N. Clark in Chicago -- Flashpoint Academy's main campus (the building was completed in 1915 -- our new state-of-the-art digital arts and sciences campus construction is being completed now, in 2007, 92 years later) -- is quoted as saying:

"Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will not themselves be realized."

How to REALLY Get Your First Job published on

Here's the link posted today, which is a great opportunity for us to share our ideas about being a good candidate with others in the field:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

How to REALLY Get Your First Job in the Game Industry

How to REALLY Get Your First Job in the Game Industry

by Simeon Peebler

Getting a job in the game business is not easy; however, with preparation in the right areas, being a top candidate is something you can achieve.

Here’s the challenge. The CMP Game Group’s Game Developer Research division has revealed in its recent census that the number of people working within video game development and publishing in North America is nearly 40,000. With many new education programs throughout the United States, there are thousands of graduates looking for entry-level opportunities while relatively few new openings exist. As a result, game studios and publishers are now facing a daily avalanche of resumes, demos, reels, and others types of submissions seeking these coveted spots.

Getting an initial job in Quality Assurance (QA) is what many people recommend with respect to getting a foot in the door in this field. Forget starting out in QA if you don’t really have any special skills or interest in that area. If you want to start a career in the industry as a designer, story builder, artist, composer, producer, production technician, production assistant, or programmer, you are going to have to do things at a much higher level than those competing for those same entry level spots throughout the industry. In my research and discussion with employers in my role as a professor at a new digital arts school in Chicago called Flashpoint Academy, I found a distinct and consistent thread that is guiding what we’re doing in making a new breed of digital artists in the fields of game development, visual effects and animation, film, and the recording arts.

Here’s our school’s general breakdown of what it takes to be a top entry-level candidate for the game industry.

1. You need to have…Professionalism

If you can demonstrate by concrete example that you are dependable, trustworthy, a team player, and an excellent communicator, and that you are willing and eager to learn and do the hard work and drudgery that is required to complete assignments accurately and on time, this will really increase your value to a potential employer. You can actually learn these skills by working with professionals who mentor you along the way; the traits and behaviors I mentioned sound obvious and easy, but it is what you learn after you know everything that really counts. In school you can learn all of the tools of the trade, but, in most schools, you can’t learn in the classroom what most people traditionally learn through accident and trial and error when they are lucky enough to survive their first big breaks. And your potential employer will value this – they don’t want to suffer through your terrible twos. At Flashpoint we integrate professional productions and projects into the classroom and we take students out of the classroom to bring them real world opportunities to work side-by-side with and for professionals in their field of choice.

2. You need to have…Passion

Do you really love games? Do you really have a passion for this business? Having passion means that you have an internal pilot light that is ready to ignite your soul at a moment’s notice when it comes to this area of your life. It is a powerful energizer that will give you the ability to innovate, create, and commit yourself personally to the long hours and sacrifices required in this line of very challenging work. It is amazing how many people show up but fail to be excited or proud or happy about what they are doing. Not everyone can be a Steve Irwin in this world, but we can in fact ignite our passions and share them with others in a positive way.

3. You need to have…An Online Portfolio

Use the tools of the information age to tell your story; all you need to start is a weblink. Every potential employer can more effectively promote your “credentials” and what you have to offer decision makers by forwarding simple links to various staff members, HR departments, managers, business owners and so on. Create this website yourself, and make sure it is simple to navigate. Test it out! Present only your very best work. Leave your learning exercises off of the site. Favor quality over quantity. Buy your own URL too, since that is easy enough to do and cheap enough these days. You are worth it! And keep your site up to date when you are working with material that you can share even from work. This is your digital life story. At a moment’s notice you never know when a new opportunity can come to you through the web.

4. You need to have…Experience

Just because you haven't had an internship doesn't mean you can't get real experience out there. If you are a student and you are in a program with no curriculum to support team or group projects which result in valuable demonstrated results that you can share in your portfolio, get together with some other passionate people and make your own work experience. Create your own game dev team with like-minded people; join the modding community; do some highly creative indie work that demonstrates your passion and makes a great addition to a compelling portfolio; work in teams; and work with other people in diverse settings. Today’s games are made sometimes in teams comprising of over a hundred people! At Flashpoint we have an in-school publishing and development studio, and this provides great experience for students before graduation since the work completed is really not just another student project – it is made in conjunction with professionals and the industry.

5. You need to have…Domain Expertise

Know your tools. Know the technology. Know the industry and its history and the business. Know the players. Understand not only the facts, but the concepts, patterns and trends. Be a smart contributor -- not just a button pusher. Hey, and don’t forget to know your hardware! Even if you think that you have no business knowing anything about programming because you are in marketing, guess again: your exposure to the technical details will empower you in incredible ways and allow you to effectively communicate with and understand the hardcore geek talk in a much more reasonable manner. At Flashoint we give all of our incoming game developers lots of general training in this highly complex field before they focus on their specific area of interest.

6. You need to have…Problem-Solving Skills

Make creative problem solving a central tool at your disposal. This is a serious skill that requires a lot of work to develop and demonstrate to employers. It’s such a valuable skill because the game business and technology behind it is constantly changing. There are very few cookie cutter projects or even game studios out there. The business pushes the limits of everything and everyone in every aspect of how it operates. This requires that the people who are the producers and creators must constantly adapt to changing goals and technologies like no other business or industry in existence. To succeed in this environment, you must be able to solve new problems every single day.

7. You need to have…Talent

You need a certain level of talent and skill in your area of interest and focus and you need to demonstrate this in your online portfolio. This “talent” can be learned. And really what this means is that you are outstanding at what you do if not a bit original. And here’s a helpful hint: Be wary of people who tell you that everything you do is great. Go to a wide range of people who give you some negative feedback. Learn from it. Don’t take it personally, and try again. Look to find mentors out there who will give you this honest feedback when you are preparing work to share with the rest of the world. This will only serve to help train and improve your own sensibility.

So to sum up what I have laid out in terms of how to really get a job in the game industry, this is the formula: you need to have talent, problem-solving skills, domain expertise, experience, an online portfolio, passion, and professionalism. With this set of qualities and abilities, you will be a very valuable member to any team in any capacity. Flashpoint prepares students looking to start a career in this industry by building a framework for these things, which you can see may or may not directly relate to how to write a line of code or construct a model in some specific software or program.

My final comment and word of advice is that a key thing to do for your career is to revisit this list once you are in the door. Constant revision, improvement and hard work in all of these areas will elevate your position and open more opportunities once you are in the thick of things in this very demanding and competitive field. It won’t take forever. There’s room at the top. It may be lonesome but at least it’s not crowded.


Simeon Peebler is Department Chair of Game Development at Flashpoint Academy in Chicago, at He has over a dozen years in the game industry working as a programmer and designer for such companies as Imagination Pilots Entertainment, FASA Interactive, totalPlay, Jellyvision, Brain Block Interactive, and itoons. He has also worked as a senior software engineer in the trading technology business.

Experience E3 2007!

Despite the fact that E3 is not what it once was, it remains an incredible event with many key industry players doing their thing in grand style. G4 has a terrific network of VJs if you will that are amazing gamers and entertaining interactive entertainment documentarians, and it is great to see them cover E3 so we don't have to go there ourselves to see the latest and greatest!

Starting on Wednesday at 11 pm CST...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Midway in Chicago Reveals Business Challenges

The game business is brutal, and this really interesting interview proves what a challenge it can be. Midway is right in Flashpoint Academy's backyard! I do like the information that is presented in this piece that suggests that over 60% of heads of households in the US are now video game players (although I will have to check this out in further detail -- this classification may only suggest that this population has indeed at one time in their lives played a video game based on survey results).
"Where combat is really mortal
Midway Games chief finds real-life competition as dangerous as screen game"

Monday, July 9, 2007

Anticipating the Obsolescence of Fast Thumbs from NYT

Peter Hawley, Associate Chair of Film at Flashpoint Academy, sent me this link. I love hardcore gaming, don't get me wrong. I have long since been on the bandwagon for casual games and the casual game marketplace (see my games at, and even for my own life, I don't have the time to spend three thousand hours playing some amazing new game experience (well...I usually buy them and play the first few hours and then get depressed that I don't have more time on my hands!) --

"JOHN RICCITIELLO is assembling his video game legions, and he wants you.
No, not you, desensitized, caffeine-mainlining, virtual-gun-toting twitch artist. No, not you, high school Madden fiend or video basketball jock. After all, he’s already got you in his back pocket.
He wants to sign up everyone else. That means you, soccer mom. That means you, cubicle-dwelling Dilbert clone. That means you, seventh-grade girl. You may not think of yourselves as gamers now, but if Mr. Riccitiello has his way, you just might soon be."

Sunday, July 8, 2007

E3 in 2007...the real story!

I have attended E3 in the past and found it to be a mixed bag for my own interests, but its intended purpose seemed to be a losing proposition (product developers and publishers pushing products to retailers and distributors, getting them excited and interested in buying into what was coming down the pipe, etc.). Anyway, here's what this article has to say about the latest incarnation:

"Spot On: E3 absentees sound off
Many publishers and developers are steering clear of next week's trade show--they explain to GameSpot what's keeping them away.";title;0

"After months of uncertainty, next week the gaming industry will finally experience the new E3 Media & Business Summit. The event is the dramatically overhauled successor to the Electronic Entertainment Expo, which had been the central event of the North American game industry for the previous 12 years."

Friday, July 6, 2007

Nintendo DS in Australia

The Nintendo DS continues to dominate markets across the world...

"DS top-selling game device in Australia between April and June

Nintendo DS sales in Australia almost equal to all three next-gen consoles combined; PS3 top-selling new console."

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Hollywood and Games Summit 2007

I accompanied Lindsay Drucker from Flashpoint Academy to LA last week to attend the Hollywood and Games Summit. We saw some great technologies (Eyetronics, Gamester, and a few others), and met some amazing people from around the world with great passion in the converging and collaborating industries of film and gaming. We also met with Activision, and they are coming to see our school in late July.

Check out Lindsay's Eyetronics face scan!

Headline: Video games rob reading, homework time

This is very interesting (see below) -- because while they pitch the headline as negative, the results may be in fact less negative than it appears. I love reading and I think there is nothing quite like the cognitive benefit of doing it; however, for a hard-core game player, they are processing just as much complex information visually. It is a different type of learning and enrichment, but it certainly is an active process, engaging much of the mind. It is in fact rewiring the way we process our world and work within it. It is engaging on many different levels, and hardly a waste of time (although it can diminish some social activity, as I've personally experienced; I don't have as much time to hang out with people who don't play games! Just kidding...).

This commonly held idea out there that gaming robs one of good things in life is rather backward. It dramatically changes the way we live for sure. A recent UK study found that nearly 100% of children under the age of 10 play video games (or at least have played them in some form or other).

Study: Video games rob reading, homework time

Story Highlights:

Study: Gamers spend less time reading and doing homework
Girls spend less time doing homework, boys spend less time reading
Gaming does not impact time spent with friends and parents
Video game play can be a distraction but may not hurt grades Reveals Online World Atlas

Check out the following site. This sort of coverage should be interesting to watch, especially as we study, build, and give life to new Virtual Worlds at Flashpoint Academy.

"Alongside our daily coverage of online worlds, is also building up a database of the major virtual worlds in this new Online World Atlas.

The virtual world guide, which will become the basis for the forthcoming Game Developer Research papers on virtual worlds, MMOs, and virtual items, includes information on the world, its payment model, key features, useful links, and a brief in-world guide, including exclusive screenshots and analysis on in-world interactions.

We're expecting to add approximately two worlds per week to the Online World Atlas, so check back often to see the latest specifics on a multitude of virtual environments."

Future Flashpoint Student!

Check out the awesome mod work by a future Flashpoint Academy student at He has given me some great feedback and suggestions and I look forward to having him join the school.

Some of My Art...

As a hobby, I do from time to time enjoy painting; here are a couple of pieces from my private collection. I think it is important to explore creative expression in other mediums.

A Few Retail Titles...

Here are the box art for a smattering of the retail titles I've worked on, including Eraser: Turnabout, You Don't Know Jack: 5th Dementia, Veggie Tales: Veggie Carnival, Where's Waldo? Exploring Geography, and Warheads SE. In working on these released titles, I've coded in C, C++, Java, and ActionScript. I also did music composition using various MIDI and MOD technologies for Eraser and Warheads SE. These products were released from 1996 to 2003. Others are not pictured at the present time, including the Ultimate Mah Jongg Collection published by Encore. Unpublished projects include Mechwarrior 3 and You Don't Know Me.

Some Games From My Past...

These are some of the games I created with Brain Block Interactive, where I designed, produced, engineered and published my own titles. The release dates range from the late '90s up to a few years ago. I will add the rest soon. These include Arcade Mah Jongg, Logication, and Super Bubbles as pictured below. Others not pictured include Bloink and AmmoBoy. I also composed original music which is featured in Super Bubbles and Logication.


Hello, and welcome to my cozy corner where I've decided to set up shop these days. Stay a while!