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Team Spotlight: James Shipp, Junior Programmer

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

A photo of a young man smiling with long brown hair and red sweater

Hi fellow foragers! I’m James, the junior programmer on the Forage Friends team. I’ve been assisting Kei with bringing the features of the game to life and making sure all the amazing assets from the rest of the team end up where players can experience them. This is my first job in games and I’m so happy to be working on a project that resonates with me and seeks to affect players’ lives in a positive way.

Where are you from?

I grew up in Bloomington, Indiana. I moved to Chicago for school and have been living here for the last five years or so!

What got you into games?

Growing up I always had a fascination with how things were made. I put that energy into a lot of different places, but when my friends introduced me to video games in middle school I grew a belief that they’re the most interesting form of media that humans can create. A blend of art, design, sound design, and code that can be experienced by almost all your senses! Maybe we’ll come out with some games you can smell too, at some point?? I made my first game in Unity in 8th grade, and from then on game development has been one of the most important parts of my life.

So how did you end up at Pie Trap?

When I started thinking about college, I wanted to study something that could grow my game dev skills but also allow me to get a job elsewhere- the game industry is notoriously hard to break into. I majored in computer science, and during my junior year I went to GDC for the first time! That’s where I met Kei, who would later become the lead programmer on Forage Friends- he’s a great guy, and we quickly became friends. He introduced me to Chris and Pri and eventually I got brought on to the team, where I’m very happy to be coding it up!!

What is it like working on Forage Friends?

I have never met a more friendly and wholesome bunch than the Forage Friends team. Everyone was so welcoming when I joined, and we’re all very into what we’re working on. Pri and Chris do an amazing job of making sure everyone feels healthy and happy, and they prioritize our growth in a way that I haven’t heard of many other studio owners doing. I think the inclusive and positive energy of the game is reflective of the people working on it!

What other games have you worked on?

A bunch of random indie projects. I’m a game jam addict, so there’s lotsa weird and half-finished stuff on my laptop- but also some finished games, some more game-y and some on the experimental side. Forage Friends is the first larger-scale title I’ve worked on!

Screenshot of an RPG game showing a neighborhood with houses and a few characters. Dialogue box reads "Bud: There's so much I still want to do with my life..."

I programmed my school capstone team’s narrative RPG about the end of the world

Screenshot of a maze game

This is zip: set one, a timed maze game I made in 2017. It’s still my most downloaded game, I gotta make something better!!

A screenshot of a video game with grass, leaves, and plants with a type box that says "Type something you've never told anyone"

I like to make slow, thoughtful game experiences like this one from time to time

What would you change in the gaming industry to make it better?

Despite being one of the most interesting forms of creative expression, video game development is pretty inaccessible compared to other art forms. Many people can’t afford a computer strong enough to run a game engine, and a lot of the best tools for making assets cost money as well- unfortunately most things cost money in this world… in my lifetime I hope to see game creation tools become more affordable and also more lightweight, so you don’t need a monster computer to make a small game for yourself. I think this process is already well on its way! With many different kinds of people becoming game devs, I think this art form is going to continue exploding with creativity in the coming years. I’m so excited.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I spend lots of time on my laptop for work and creative stuff, so as much as I can I like to be outside and/or talking to people! I love going for walks and cooking and taking care of my plants.

Where can people follow you on social media?

Check me out!

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