Tulsans see opportunity in gaming industry

Ken Mayfield jump-started his career in Tulsa before following the gaming masses to the west coast. He worked for several board game companies and then transitioned to digital gaming in California. His résumé boasts more than 50 published games including the popular Might and Magic series.

Today, he relies on his valuable experience to lead a new generation in the gaming field. Mayfield is a 3D graphics and animation instructor at Tulsa Tech, a career and technology center. He is responsible for preparing secondary and post-secondary students for four-year university programs such as TU’s computer simulation and gaming degree.

Ken Mayfield“TU has always been known as the college for petroleum engineering and geology, which involves many different elements of simulation,” Mayfield said. “But this gaming degree is designated for students who want to learn how to create simulation and games.”

He and many of his students participate in TU’s annual Heartland Gaming Expo, a two-day series of exhibitions, competitions, forums and vendors aimed at promoting the gaming industry to high school and college students. Accomplished game designers and company executives serve as guest speakers and often attend the expo to recruit new talent.

“The event really solidifies students’ desires to take their skills to the next level and apply what they’ve learned,” Mayfield said.

Simulation and video gaming jobs lure professionals to companies around the world, but Mayfield said many students who earn a degree at TU benefit from staying local after graduation. He tells his students they don’t have to work at multimillion-dollar AAA title games to find success.

“When people leave, they’re pulled back to Oklahoma because it has a terrific history of creating top talent in many fields,” he said. “Tulsa is a hidden gem — one of the country’s most livable cities and has a wealthy spring of up-and-coming gaming companies, professional gamers and simulation developers.”