Yiwen Chan – Marketing Associate
First and foremost, you should know that I have never really been much of a gamer. And for once I can’t really play the blame-game on my conservative Asian roots; after all, the Inferno Leoric King was defeated by the South Koreans just 3 days after Diablo III was released.
Truth be told, like most parents from the post-war, baby-booming generation, my parents have always shunned the notion of video games, dead convinced that games have zero educational value and centers about the concept of players shooting brainlessly at anything that moves, an activity which will automatically make you a moron. Throughout childhood, my sisters and I spent most of our days force-fed with Aesop’s fables and slews of Greek mythologies; an oft-repeated bedtime tale was one of young Icarus who disregarded his father’s advice and flew too close to the sun, fatally plummeting into the deep blue sea after the wax holding the feathers together in his wings melted.
So to me, I’ve always been conditioned to think that games have always been the root of all evil – a major catalyst for crime, academic failure, natural disasters, and everything bad. Growing up without game consoles and cartridges and brothers explain a lot about my perfect eyesight and my tame hair. (Though naturally I have very fidgety fingers)
But in March earlier this year, I was accepted into an entrepreneurship-focused work-study program by my home university where I will reside in Philadelphia for a year, work 32-hours a week at a start-up company and take Entrepreneurship modules at the University of Pennsylvania. In April, I had a lovely chat with Eric over Skype. He introduced me to Shenandoah’s latest project – the Battle of the Bulge, a turn-based hardcore strategy war-game on the iPad – and even though I wasn’t a gamer, thousands of miles across the globe, I sat and listened intently as he explained everything to me at a comfortable pace, in a quiet, confident voice. I could tell that Eric and the Shenandoah team were so obviously excited about what they were doing and it made me want to be a part of something so passionate. So I tried to convince Eric that my lack of gaming history wouldn’t be a problem and the next morning, he offered me the job. I said yes, and here I am!
I arrived in Philadelphia at the start of August, nearing the end of the sweltering summer, loaded with inconceivable misconceptions about the gaming industry and on the first day of work, Eric instructed me to read up on Video Games, World War 2, and the Battle of the Bulge. Contrary to popular, conservative belief, there are tons of benefits associated to video games – the boost in creativity, multi-tasking, finger-flexibility, and critical analysis, just to name a few; and as clichéd as it is, I think game stories are a lot like life, withholding numerous valuable life lessons. Like in Dungeon & Dragons or the World of Warcraft, the story often begins with a weak character and over time, as the story progresses, through trials and tribulations, the protagonist builds strategic alliances and learns from setbacks, pick up valuable skills, attain incredible insights, defeat monsters and all odds, and at the very end, emerge stronger than ever before. The end score really doesn’t matter as much as the character-building process.
The Shenandoah Studio is making history fun. The Battle of the Bulge is a turn-based strategy war game based on the bloodiest American battle in World War 2, spanning a period that began from December 16, 1944 and lasted till January 25, 1945.
By the end of 1944, the Germans were suffering from the impact of supporting the war on two fronts. The Battle of the Bulge was Germany’s last offensive on the Western Front so that Hitler could then turn and fully focus on the Eastern Front. In a flirting period, one that spanned only slightly over a month, both sides suffered about 200,000 casualties, including the deaths of 3,000 civilians. The battle ended with some German soldiers managing to penetrate behind enemy lines but failing to capture the strategic town of Bastogne.
But in Shenandoah’s Battle of the Bulge, we transport you back to the bitter winter of December 1944, straight into the heart of the battle, presenting to you a terrain to practice military strategies. You can take this opportunity to perfect Sun Tzu’s Art of War or apply Napoleonic tactics to rewrite history.
Here in Green Village, in Philadelphia’s City Center – where the air-conditioning is tripping to the point that it is necessary for you to remove yourself from your desk every few minutes to thaw outside – it’s a self-sufficient knowledge incubator.
At this very moment, Jeff is simultaneously reiterating quotes from “The Killer Angels,” his favorite historical novel, as he polishes up the Bulge’s game script. A few steps away, I can hear the deep bass tempos from Miguel’s headphones as he plugs himself into the Bulge’s battle theme while pounding away at his keyboard, whipping up Artificial Nazi Intelligence. Right across the table, David announces – to nobody in particular – that he has unintentionally fixed a bug on the game system. From the corner of the room, Nick casually remarks something about David being some sort of genius while he himself makes magic happen by punching data into his Excel spreadsheet to formulate valuable financial projections. And finally, with his back towards us, and his front facing the large windows, overlooking a magnificent view of Philadelphia’s skyline against the clear blue skies and the setting golden sun, Eric wraps up the spontaneous evening conversation with an insightful quote from Woody Allen. Eighty percent of success is showing up.
I’m here and I’m excited about the things to come.