Geisler creates new video game
From play to pay, SR grad launches video career

Mary Mattingly

A South Ripley graduate has what many would think was a dream job. Kevin Geisler, current COO and lead programmer of the independent video game development studio called Young Horses is realizing his dream of creating video games. Based in Chicago, Young Horses, Inc. launched its video game “Octodad: Dadliest Catch” on January 30 for downloadable purchase onto PC/Mac/Linux via Steam, Humble, and GOG online. A release is also planned this spring as a download for purchase by PlayStation 4.

Kevin Geisler

Left, Kevin Geisler, Young Horses COO, and Phil Tibitoski, CEO, are with Octodad at Sony’s PS4 launch event in New York.

Geisler is a 2006 South Ripley graduate and the son of John and Lisa Geisler, Versailles. He is the grandson of Rev. Richard and Linda Burcham of North Vernon and the late Raymond and Esther Geisler of Versailles. He collaborated with eight others from programmer to audio composition and webmaster to create and design the game. The young men were all part of a selected 18 member team of Chicago’s DePaul University students who released the original “Octodad” as a free downloadable computer game in October 2010 which went on to become an Independent Games Festival Student Showcase Winner in 2011.

At that time, Octodad had received enough attention that eight of the original team decided to run an online Kickstarter fundraiser to form the video game development studio Young Horses and create a bigger, better, more polished game about Octodad. Two and a half years after beginning production, “Octodad: Dadliest Catch” became available January 30 to its Kickstarter supporters and for purchase on Steam. Steam is similar to iTunes and YouTube, and is a big market, with 75 million users and actually more profitable for gamemakers than a game console, Geisler said. The exposure from something like YouTube is great, with 3 million views a day. The Young Horses studio is now finalizing the game for release on the PS4, and have been grateful to Sony for all of their generous support and time taken to encourage independent game developers to create games for their new console system.

Geisler , 26, first began creating computer games in elementary school and went on to win honors for media fair entries during junior high and high school. He started his own business, Eclectic Video Productions, at the age of 14, and was creating websites and videos for community members and local businesses, which included Ripley Publishing, Stratton-Karsteter Funeral Home and Woolum Real Estate. Upon graduating from South Ripley in 2006, Kevin chose to continue his studies in video game development at DePaul and was part of DePaul’s very first video game development team to become an Independent Games Festival Student Showcase Winner with the school’s very first ever entry “Devil’s Tuning Fork.” A 2010 DePaul graduate, Kevin went on to take his first gaming industry job in New York at Vicarious Visions, an Activision-owned studio, where he went on to receive credit for the short time he worked on the game “Skylanders: Swap Force.”

Kevin returned to Chicago to work in 2011 and form the Young Horses Studio to continue the development of “Octodad: Dadliest Catch,” a game about destruction, deception, and fatherhood. The player controls Octodad, a dapper octopus masquerading as a human, as he goes about his life. Octodad’s existence is a constant struggle, as he must master mundane tasks with his unwieldy boneless tentacles while simultaneously keeping his cephalopodan nature secret from his human family.

Geisler returned for the Versailles Pumpkin Show in the fall and said some of his classmates were surprised at what he was doing for a living, others were not. He admits it’s “pretty cool” to make video games, something he loved to play as a youth and still enjoys doing so. “But it’s much harder than most imagine. There’s a lot of math to it, such as trigonometry, calculus and algebra, to make things appear and be impressive on screen, with the lighting just right and the graphics,” he told Ripley Publishing. He also said a good design sense helps with the career.

Growing up, he liked Super Mario Brothers and Final Fantasy game series, and it’s not too different from those programs. Video game programmers have to keep on top of things as every new game is better, he said, adding there is increasingly more software and free tools for wanna-be creators available. And yes, there is good money in this field. “You can become a millionaire overnight, but there is a lot of competition. It’s part luck, part good game,” he said. He’s not there yet, but the Steam launch did pay back his work hours within a week’s launch, and the video game has helped pay back his student loans. He’s not sure if the next game will be a continuation of Octodad or something different. It all depends on the reception, he said.


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