College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Human computer interaction grad develops online sports video game site

joshbrownExperience at Iowa State’s Virtual Reality Applications Center jumpstarts career in online game design

Josh Brown knew he wanted to design games before he was in high school. He just wasn’t sure how he was going to create a career out of his passion.

Thanks to finding the right degree programs at Iowa State—earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science and earning a master’s degree in mechanical engineering/human computer interaction—and gaining some valuable work experience at the Virtual Reality Applications Center on campus, Brown was able to build a strong foundation for his career.

Now, he’s the co-founder and CEO of Longshot Games, an online sports video game site.

As an undergrad, Brown says he wasn’t sure how to start getting involved in the game design industry. When he attended the Game Developers Conference in San Jose, California his sophomore year, he found his inspiration. Soon after, he helped start the Game Developers Club on campus and started working for Virtual Reality Applications Center.

He worked as VRAC’s research assistant as an undergrad when he went to ISU which started his career.

“I worked on 3D simulation software on a few different projects, including a simulation of religious ceremonies in India and an architectural simulation of the entire city of Beijing all in stereo 3D,” Brown said. “I also helped implement VRJuggler, which is one of the main graphics engines used in high fidelity 3D graphics projection systems around the world.”

He worked at EA Sports for eight years after graduate school, where he met his future business partners. Eventually they raised enough money to create and launch Longshot Games.

The most recent game the group has developed is called Bobblehead College Football, combining two things Brown loves: college football and video games. It took him and his team 11 months to create the game, and they launched it on Facebook in November 2015.

The game can be played for free on Facebook, or it can be downloaded in the app store. It is now available for iPhone.

“You build your own college campus, kind of like SimCity,” Brown said. “You can build a bigger and better stadium and more training facilities for your team, and you can build all sorts of academic buildings to help you recruit better players. There are also monuments, alumni buildings, tailgates, parking lots and many other features that help you get cash for campus and your team.”

After users train their players, they can play other bobblehead teams created by other users. If a team wins the majority of its games, the user can be entered to win prizes such as iPads or game consoles.

Brown says Bobblehead College Football has about 35,000 users, and the company is adding 250-500 new users per day.

“Almost everything I do in my career and daily working on our game, Bobblehead College Football, I can directly attribute to the things I learned at Iowa State,” Brown said. “I can think of specific experiences from college that directly set up my entrepreneurial spirit; my abilities and desire to learn and adapt as an engineer; how to negotiate contracts, employee recruitment, strategic corporate planning and tactical execution of day-to-day tasks.”

He works six days a week from 6:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. then goes home to see his family. After 8:30 p.m. he comes back to the office located in Austin, Texas, and stays until 1 a.m.

“Everyone that is considering starting a company should know that it’s really hard work and there’s no substitute or shortcuts to building a good business,” Brown said. “Nearly every company that becomes successful had to slog it out for years building their business slowly by outworking and out-executing their peers.”