New local video game studio headed by CEO Wei Zhang sets up shop

Local game developer Vinyl Games Studio may have only been around for a few weeks, but it’s already starting to show its work to the general public.

Last week the small independent company put out a call on the popular website Reddit asking for mobile game testers for its first offering.

Not bad considering the company only officially started in mid-February and the CEO went to school for finance rather than game design.

“Eventually I just came to the point where I couldn’t imaging doing this for the rest of my life.” former University of Toronto Mississauga student and VGS CEO Wei Zhang told “I started this because I love video games and it occurred to me that I could make my own.”

While many game development companies are based in Toronto, Zhang said he chose Mississauga for his business because of its central location for all his staff. “We have a bunch of people from across the GTA and we’re located near the Clarkson GO Station so it’s easier for people to get to,” he said.

Lower real estate costs also make things easier for the young startup. “If we had the funds I’d definitely move downtown, because that’s where everyone else is,” Zhang said.

While a game’s graphics and design are important, the young entrepreneur from Windsor recommended studying programming languages rather than illustration or fine arts.  “It’s really high in demand,” Zhang said. “I can pick up lots of artists, whereas a really great programmer is hard to come by.”

Zhang also stressed the importance of networking at industry events in Toronto like the Gamercamp conference or the Toronto Game Jam. “It definitely helps you socialize and create networks for yourself to meet other developers,” he said.

Those events are also crucial to entry-level testing jobs or getting an internship. “If you don’t do the networking or socialize with the actual gaming scene it’s really hard to get yourself a job,” Zhang said. “Don’t shut yourself out.”

Unfortunately, Zhang said there aren’t many local events here in Mississauga even with Sheridan’s new game development program.

As a result, students or interested artists and programmers really have to market themselves. “For me, it’s not really about where you got your education,” Zhang said.  “It’s a combination of personality, getting along with the team and the skills to back it up.”

Vinyl Games Studio has eight full-time employees at its Mississauga office in Clarkson on Royal Windsor Drive.

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